ModeratorApril 27, 2020 at 4:28 am
@KrisBurgos I think that it depends on the audience you’re looking for. Some of the most enduring, most popular stories in the world are tragedies–Oedipus, Hamlet (and Lear, Othello, Macbeth, R&J), The Great Gatsby, etc. These stories work because the payoff in the tragic structure is earned through the hamatria-peripeteia–anagnoris framework, and the fear/pity catharsis.
Some of the best literature in the world, especially as we get into the second half of the 20th century features ambiguous endings–Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison comes to mind. Catch 22 is another example. These books have passionate audiences and they have stood the test of time.
In terms of mainstream comics you don’t see it as much. It’s really hard to kill off an iconic character like Batman, and even when they do, we all know that character is coming back eventually. I think you see it more in indie and creator owned comics, where you can do a limited run with a real ending–especially a different.
Now, as for what you’re doing, I think the tragic ending works very well since your story is Norse-based. Norse mythology has the concept of Doom hanging over everything. No matter what victories the forces of good win, they are still doomed to be destroyed in Ragnarok in the end. Virtue is acting good in the face of inevitable evil. Tolkien, to take one very example, wrote an academic paper during his professor days where he argued that doom was the most powerful element in literature–or should be. He admitted that in most of Western literature Hamartia is the key element, but he preferred doom. Either way, they are both tragic outcomes. (Tolkien also translated Beowulf, which is a story that synthesizes the Norse concept of Doom with the Christian concept of sacrifice. Beowulf goes into the final battle with the dragon knowing he will lose, but his death saves the people (like Jesus, but more Viking Machismo.)
Since your story is Norse-based, having a doomed hero who stays true to his principles regardless of his tragic situation fits very nicely. They key (returning to Aristotle) is to affect a characterization where the reader identifies with the main character enough to evoke that catharsis.
Personally, I hope you go through with the tragic story. I would love to see some diversity in the types of stories in this anthology.