What IS the Character Deathmatch?

Also known as #LuchaLivre, this event brings together authors of all types for a single purpose: to destroy each other’s characters.


The fierce contestants of the first Character Deathmatch at Audrey’s Books.

From a glance, it might appear as though Luchadore masks have resurged and incurred a cult following, with garish colours rippling atop the mouths of sermonizing orators before an engaged audience. An MC wearing a chicken mask seems to be a mediator of some kind. When the brief readings are done, however, the gloves come off, and each of the two contestants articulates how and why their character would defeat the other. Nothing is held back during the ribbing, jeering and taunting. The audience, meanwhile, checks their character stat cards to make their own judgment, for soon, the characters’ fates will be in their hands.

billie eileen masks

Eileen “The Dragon” Bell and Billie “Mysterio” Milholland.


It’s not necessarily the most physically strong that survive the deathmatch.

With some stats ranging from “YOLO : +Infinity” to “Rhyming Nickname: +100” the characters each have strengths and weaknesses that can go either way in the arena. The audience, staring at the two masked character creators, hold up their placards to vote on who will survive and move to the next round. The voting placards themselves sport ridiculous action verbs such as “assimilates”, “summons an elder god” or “HADOKEN!”


The audience votes.


One of the many outrageous voting cards.

The first day / hour of the deathmatch will weed 8 contestants down to 4. The next day / hour will go from 4 to 2, then the winner of the final duel will be adorned with a noteworthy prize that would make The Rock himself jealous. As a reward for participating in the bloodbath, the audience will be offered discounts or perks on the authors’ books if they show the matching character’s stat card at the dealer table of the convention.


A brutal defeat requires a measure of consolation, but not too much.

SG Wong’s character Lola proudly took the title and the glory in the first Character Deathmatch.

Although there is a tongue-in-cheek adversarial tone that precedes the event on Twitter and other social media, the purpose of the deathmatch is really to engage the audience and bring together local creators of all kinds. Inspired by a Peruvian event that was used in a tournament to pick a lucky author to get his/her first novel published, this Character Deathmatch adds a Canadian element of camaraderie and community.

The First Deathmatch: Audrey’s Books, 2014


The first deathmatch brought a variety of Edmonton talent to the table, including Eileen Bell, SG Wong, Billie Milholland, Brad OH Inc., Susan MacGregor, Maura Armstrong, Happy Harbor Comic co-owner Jay Bardyla, and me (Hal J. Friesen). Their character stat cards are shown below.


Angela Simonson, created by Eileen Bell (who has bravely read first in the two Character Deathmatches to date!) :

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Angela faced off against Eva Lopez, Jay Bardyla’s Gravity Manipulator:

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Who do YOU think won? Scroll down to find out!


Maura Mulcair’s Tad Klassen was next up against Brad OH Inc’s playboy Edgar:

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These characters showed that even without supernatural powers, they could still possess incredible strength.

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Undead drunken playboy or post-rehab atheist anti-hero? The audience voted, and the results… are below.


SG Wong’s hard-boiled private eye Lola stood face-to-face against the charming Fra Francisco. Could she resist his wily ways?











Would Fra die on his feet, or would Lola?

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WWC nestor haywire

Last but not least in the elimination round, Nestor Tark, created by yours truly, faced off against Haywire McQuire, created by Billie Milholland:

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Nestor’s proclamation that he fought AGAINST children instead of FOR children may not have helped him in the ensuing vote.

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And the winners were….

(did you guess right?)

CDM Hal point final round

Who won between Eve and Edgar? The allure of Jay Bardyla’s comics seemed to outweigh Edgar’s womanizing ways. And Haywire and Lola? Haywire tried to make Lola’s familial ties seem like a weakness, which didn’t endear her to the audience. So the final showdown was between Eve and Lola…


The quarter-chicken-master outlines the last stage of the event.

CDM cookies

Deathmatch-themed cookies!


Jay Bardyla tried to bribe the audience with Captain Canuck comics. I was swayed.

In the end, a close vote ended in a victory by none other than… Lola Evangeline Starke! Featured in Die On Her Feet, SG Wong’s character displayed depth and roundness, with scenes depicting her no-nonsense side as well as the complex relationship with her mother. An engaging character seemed to the be the most important quality to survive the Deathmatch, making the event an important exercise for writers interested in evaluating how well their character maintains audience engagement. Most important of all, however, was that the audience thoroughly enjoyed the involvement in the readings. Many thanks to all who participated either as a luchadore or as a spectator.

Are you interested in having a Character Deathmatch near you? Let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail : hal.friesen [at] gmail [dot] com.


One Comment on “What IS the Character Deathmatch?

  1. Pingback: All. The. Things. | Rhonda Parrish

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