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CSBG Archive

Comic Dictionary – Mary Sue

I did not come up with this term, but it is such a useful term in comic critiquing, I think that it is worthwhile to post it.

Here is a good definition that I found of “Mary Sue”: MARY SUE (n.): 1. A variety of story, first identified in the fan fiction community, but quickly recognized as occurring elsewhere, in which normal story values are grossly subordinated to inadequately transformed personal wish-fulfillment fantasies, often involving heroic or romantic interactions with the cast of characters of some popular entertainment. 2. A distinctive type of character appearing in these stories who represents an idealized version of the author. 3. A cluster of tendencies and characteristics commonly found in Mary Sue-type stories. 4. A body of literary theory, originally generated by the fanfic community, which has since spread to other fields (f.i., professional SF publishing) because it’s so darn useful. The act of committing Mary Sue-ism is sometimes referred to as “self-insertion.” Warren Ellis is considered to be a prominent user of Mary Sues (Pete Wisdom in Excalibur, for one).

Am I missing any other significant, non-Ellis Mary Sues?


I think Fell is becoming more and more of a Mary Sue.

I think Doug Ramsey in New Mutants was one of Claremont’s many Mary-Sues. I always thought it was telling that when his longtime editor Louise Simonson took over the book, the first think she did was kill him off.

Garth Ennis’ Jesse Custer?

Warren Ellis’ Spider Jerusalem?

Peter David’s merged Hulk?

Not comic related, but Wesley Crusher from “Sta Trek: TNG” was very much a Mary Sue of Gene Roddenberry. Wes’ name was even taken from Gene’s middle name.

Ellis actually wrote a piece for Bad Signal about this just recently


As he points out, just because he writes about a writer, it doesn’t mean tht the person is supposed to be him…

Howard Chaykin’s everything. Every main character Chaykin draws is drawn the same way. Why? It’s an idealized version of him (Blackhawk, Dominic Fortune, American Flagg).

Took a little while, but I found your previous posting on Mary Sues:


That said, I love Peter David, but the Foreigner’s secret ID should have been Gary Su.

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