It can be done.
The question is, should it be done?
Some writers may balk at the idea. Not me. When it comes to writing I’ve always been tempted to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. And one of the simplest characters I ever created was the eponymous “Billy Bang.” This was a kid who literally exploded with anger whenever he lost his temper. I came up with him the day after a rather raucous party back in the 1980s to launch the “Oink” comic here in the UK.
Perhaps the hangover dulled whatever creative talents I possess because Billy was your textbook one-dimensional character. A definite no-no in the writing profession. Billy had only one personality trait and that was his short fuse. So there was no need for any deep psychological profiling. And, because each strip involved Billy losing his rag and blasting himself to pieces, there was no need to come up with a new ending. There were certain PR advantages. I could promote Billy by saying that each story is guaranteed to end with a bang. That Billy Bang is pure dynamite! That this is an explosive character. What better advert for a comic strip? I was onto a winner and the comic world equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize beckoned. Giants like Stan Lee, John Byrne and Alan Moore would stand in my shadow. Unfortunately I was working on so many other strips that I only found time to do a few of them.
It wasn’t a smooth ride. Not everyone liked Billy Bang. There were complaints that there was very little to the character. Which was true. Once he’d exploded there were only a few bits of him left. Bits of his intestines, liver, lungs. What butchers call the “offal.” Probably because it looks offal. Or that the ending was predictable. True. But I looked at it this way: in a world filled with uncertainty, surely my Billy provided the reader with some measure of comfort. Whereas other superheroes could fall prey to negative thoughts and deeds, Billy would keep blowing himself up come what may. And Billy was a sort of superhero by virtue of the face that he was able to turn himself into a bomb.
A few years ago I toyed with the idea of resurrecting Billy. Resurrection was, after all, the key feature of the strip. Each week Billy would defy the second law of thermodynamics and reassemble himself. Lennon claimed the Beatles were bigger than Jesus…well I could make the same claim. Jesus only managed to resurrect himself once. My creation did it on a regular basis! (If any Americans are thinking of burning copies of “Oink,” they may have trouble getting hold of them. The comic folded in 1988). Anyway, I had this idea of bringing Billy back and giving him a sister who suffered from Spontaneous Human Combustion. (As opposed to Billy’s Spontaneous Human Fulmination).
The two of them could join forces and cause a swathe of destruction. A “Scorched Earth” policy that would make Hitler’s on the Eastern Front look like a garden bonfire. The two of them would have been popular with certain fundamentalist groups. Especially Billy. This was a suicide bomber who could repeat the performance over and over. Of course, the downside is Billy wouldn’t get his 70 virgins.
Still, that seems a reasonable price to pay for immortality.