Pennies About PC Characters

Half.com is making my life DIFFICULT. Won't let me order a few measly books. Grr... Anyway, while I'm trying to sort out that mess, I happen onto Tumblr, where I find EscherGirls posting [so on and so forth]. Anyway, stuff about Strong Female Characters, blah-de-blah. This Person wants a ratio of 1:1 male-to-female and the complexity of Sherlock Holmes. (That's actually a really crude and insulting way of interpreting an excellent article, but Sherlock Holmes isn't a male character, he's asexual. So's the Doctor.)

Chuck Wendig has some sound opinions on the matter of strong characters.

I, of course, have my own thoughts on this.

If a man can't write a woman character well, he shouldn't. Let the characters default to male. It bothers me way less than those fembots-with-a-gun that are the result of trying to diversify casting. Frankly, most single men don't understand women very well. Unless they have half a dozen sisters or are a total mommy's boy, they're ignorant. The moment they understand a woman well enough to create a character appropriately complex and engendered, they're celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary.

Unless the character is beating guys up without mercy. Assuming a lot of male writers weren't the most popular jock in high school, I'm sure the image of a "strong" girl and a tiger devouring prey don't look too different.

The social responsibility to "rehabilitate" interactions between men and women via fiction shouldn't be a deliberate act on the part of popular media. That is, we should never try and bully in exact ratios for casting and character depth. It's popular media.

Instead, anyone who cares about that sort of thing should cry foul when female "characters" are there to look pretty/hot/sexy rather than contribute to the story. But, really, we're just as bad. I mean, what exactly is yaoi besides spectator mind pr0n for dissatisfied girls? (Note my use of the word "spectator" --- BL is for girls to make little heart-shaped eyes at and get into internet shipping wars over.) Guys just take advantage of the opposite sex in a less politically correct way.

So, what do I do about this?

I LET MY CHARACTERS BE WHO THEY ARE. And my last concern in creating a character is their sexuality. I think about that when I'm going over my fourth revision for the story: Is there any chemistry between these two? If there's an established relationship, it's because it's important to the story. Imperative, actually. Sometimes, I even change the gender of my character. Not because I say "There's not enough males/females". It's because I think the character would work better gender-switched.

And writing boys is hard for me. I don't write many as protagonists, because I have to be really comfortable with the character to write him confidently. It's a lot of effort to write a truly male protagonist that I can be proud of. It's a lot like gender-switching yourself.

So I don't mind if the gender ratio is off in fiction created by men. One awesome female character they've put heart and soul into making is way better than littering a story with unremarkable PC female presence.

What I want is just equal opportunity as a creator. I want to know that my graphic novel about superheroes where women outnumber men 4:1 has a shot. I want to know that they'll stop hem-hawing about making a Wonder Woman movie rather than rebooting Batman again --- or at least have proper Barbara Gordon. And I want Brave to have done better in theaters. I want to see Carol Danvers cosplayed in her new Captain Marvel persona more, and I want Kelley Sue DeConnick's autograph. And I don't want to hear Joss Whedon called a closet misogynist for having an archaic villain use an archaic insult to try and tear down his enemy. And I certainly don't want to hear anyone giving Jennifer Lawrence flack for choosing not to starve herself for a role that millions of impressionable girls will by influenced by. Nor do I want to hear people doing the reverse to Anne Hathaway for doing so for a role that's target demographic wasn't kids.

And I never want to hear Emma Frost described as "in charge of her sexuality" again, because an X-shaped pastie or less is fanservice, and disguising fanservice as female empowerment IS insulting. Otherwise, I'm a very cool person. I may not agree with you about something, but I'm not going to be pushy about it. I'm going to appreciate a good story and good characters no matter what their chromosomes look like, and I'm going to hate a terrible story and cardboard characters regardless. And I won't approve of demands to genderbend characters for the sake of a ratio. Do it because it suits that character better. For movies and TV, do it because the actor you want has all the other qualifications (this go for race too) for the role.

Otherwise, just write a fanfic with appropriate disclosures.

And one more thing: Cinderella? Snow White? Rapunzel? They may have been "damsels in distress", but the story is still all about them. No one even bothered to give the "hero" of the story a name. ("Charming" doesn't count --- unless Charming's accrued a larger harem than an ecchi anime. And if there's a fic like that, I don't even wanna know.)

Which is why I like Shrek, the first movie. It was about two people struggling to overcome not just a stereotype, but a stereotyped life they accepted for themselves. So the point isn't that all princesses know kung fu now, it's that maybe they always knew kung fu.

I don't even know if this post is coherent now, it's so late.


Marvel pwns DC

I feel really bad for DC. I really, really do. I mean, they own the ubiquitous properties of Superman and Batman.

That's probably their problem. Their marketing strategy seems to be: Make another Superman and/or Batman movie, commision something to do with Wonder Woman and scrap it, and sell lots of stuff with Bats and Supes logos on it.

Up until recently, they had the corner market on animation, particularly their animated movies. Now that Young Justice has been cancelled, that corner is gone. In comics, they completely rebooted their universe, but I don't think this is an indicator they've got their stuff together. Batman's now ultra-compressed continuity alone is a good indicator of this.

But if you're gonna move into anything like the mainstream, you do it in movies and TV. And here, Marvel officially pwns.

The age-old approach was to make single superhero properties into "adaptations". Isolated stories without any outside continuity or larger universe. But fans of comics and even cartoons know this isn't that fun. You see your favorite characters in live action, sure, but in this scheme, you never get to hear Tony Stark say "Does your mother know thou wearest her drapes?" to a Norse god.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now a true Marvel Universe. It has the Avengers, it has SHIELD, it even has the Guardians of the Galaxy. They just need to work out a deal with Sony and tie-in Spider-Man's continuity.

It works because the people making it are the people who've had the rights all along: Marvel (---and now Disney, who forked over $4 bill for the enchilada).
FOX still has the X-Men, which I can live with because mutants might be a little complicated to tie into the Avengers & co. I really want Spidey and the FF in MCU though.

But it doesn't look like we'll ever get to see Spider-Man, the Human Torch, and Iceman hanging out. My fangirl heart's a little sad.

But back to the point. Agents of SHIELD is further proof that Marvel is audacious and brilliant, and Disney isn't totally evil. It shares its continuity with the big movies, allowing the MCU to expand even further into something unique.

That's why I didn't kick up a fuss that Iron Man 3 wasn't based on a comics storyline, and that thing with the Mandarin was kind of brilliant, disappointed as I was (---but I would've been "disappointed" anyway, because I know Mr Ten Rings from Iron Man: Armored Adventures). I thought it was clear sign that the MCU has its own stories to tell, and its own way to tell them.

With Marvel's Ultimate Universe in shambles (that's what happens when you kill basically everyone in a world where people don't quite have the knack for resurrection), the MCU is now Marvel's "modernized" world.

Whereas, DC's contemplating rebooting Green Lantern and Batman films al-freaking-ready. "Arrow" is a good series, but it really has its own take on everything, leaving it outside DC's multiverse (I think). This leaves Smallville as the standout, and I really don't think that's a good sign for DC. And since there was no real "crossover" involved, just cameos and guest spots, I'm tempted to disqualify it. Otherwise, I'd be citing the Incredible Hulk TV movies co-starring Daredevil and Thor. Hmm, maybe I should...

Maybe if DC had grabbed onto Joss Whedon when he was going to make a Wonder Woman movie for them, they'd have something as stunning as The Avengers to show for it.

(So, who wants to make bets that Man of Steel will acknowledge/hint at the existence of other superheroes? If DC/Warner Bros intends to stay with the times, I sure hope it does.)



I think I've written and deleted about three blog entries in this space over the past twenty minutes. I guess the question here isn't so much what I want to say as what I want floating around on internet archives forever.

I can't escape right now. I just can't.

I don't have much in my life. I own about half of my laptop, not including the warranty. I have some furniture gifted to me. A few books, art supplies, my bike, and a china set my grandmother bought me when I was little. Everything else is intellectual property and, you know, cheap clothes.

So what I do have is my family. I've been trying to make it up to them that I'm unemployed, single, and can't drive however I can.

Just doesn't feel like enough. I must not be cut out for this "adult" thing.

Something needs to change and soon, or I'm going to go crazy.


Distorted Anatomy

So, I was looking through the Escher Girls Tumblr last night, and I was kind of... disturbed.

Honestly, I've gotten really good a completely blocking out all that fetish/exploitive stuff, thanks to those Fantasy MMO ads everywhere, so I'd never even noticed "Boobs and Butt" before.

But, really, I wonder whether the guilty artists took anatomy and they're just ignoring it, or they derive their understanding of the female body from aforementioned MMOs.

I like comics. I even like some mainstream comic titles. (Ultimate Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Action Comics come immediately to mind.) And there's nothing I like more than when a female character gets a decent design and writer.

Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel has all the characterization you could want in a comics lead, courtesy of Kelly Sue DeConnick, and a totally awesome costume to go with it.

And this a big step up from this
Carol's old look

I don't know about you, but as an artistic, somewhat geeky girl, I'd actually want to be the character in the first picture. Not so much the second.

I mean, fanservice may help sell comics to boys, but it's the last thing I'm looking for.

I think if a female character's a lead in a comic title, then she should be less "in charge of her sexuality by wearing pasties" and more concerned with being relevant.

Because this is not okay...

Starfire from Red Hood and The Outlaws. Apparently, being an alien female means you have no sense of self-respect or ability to adapt to the modesty standards of a different culture

I don't mean to come off as judgmental or anything here, but characters like Catwoman, Emma Frost, and Starfire have the potential to be strong, important, and hold their own in any situation. But instead that potential is overshadowed by their sex icon status. That distortion is something that needs to change in people's attitudes about women in general.

You don't have to be androgynous to have gender equality in fiction.

Alice from Pandora Hearts is an awesome character who holds her own. Even though she's in a shonen title, she's treated with all the individuality she deserves.

I don't think it's too much to ask for that the action/adventure stuff I enjoy isn't chock full of centerfold-type stock characters. I mean, it's not hard. Just look at the Young Justice cartoon. Wonder Woman and Black Canary are both in "classic looks" without looking like role-playing tramps.

See what I mean? That's a "normal" looking heroic body type. Take note!

So, that's about it. This rant went on longer than I thought, but I guess I've put some thought into this.



I'll admit it, I sort of have a thing for A.I. characters.
JARVIS from the Iron Man movies, Astro from AstroBoy, Victor Mancha from Runaways. They're all my favorite characters from those titles*. And don't get me started on WALL-E.
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to Iron Man 3 next week and the Avengers AI comic coming out in July.
Die, Ultron-bot, die!
(Also, Victor's totally sporting a metal arm. I almost didn't recognize him.)

I really need to give Duffy (my android character in Resident) a bigger role. I accidently wrote her out with my latest revision. We're gonna have to fix that.

Anyway, today I'm gonna fool around with our busted scanner, see if I can get it half-working, cause I really want to be able to post my panels and concept art. I have a sad robot in particular that would work well with this post.

*Victor is tied with Molly Hayes. 'Cause she's adorable and awesome.


Growing, Changing

So, I'm twenty now. There's no "teen" in my age and won't be for another ninety or so years.

I know I'm different than I was when I was sixteen by leaps and miles. I actually had to go look in my journal the other day to remember what it was like.

Of course, I was nothing like I was at sixteen when I was seventeen either.

That's pretty much when everything started changing. My ideas about who I thought I was and what I was like were no longer concrete.

Funny, I had decided I didn't really like graphic novels or comics when one of my favorite novels, Avalon High, had a sequel published. Only it was a really cruddy, itty bitty graphic novel. (I'm thinking the art was too reduced or something.) Anyway, Ultimate Spider-Man broke me outta that rut. That was when I was seventeen.

I started watching kids' shows too. We got a laptop, and I wanted to watch something without having to worry about whether it was appropriate (esp since I try to be a good big sister, and I was watching with my brother). So I watched Young Justice, Avengers: EMH, Ben 10, Generator Rex, Danny Phantom, Avatar: Last Airbender, and X-Men Evolution. Even a little Teen Titans, but I think Robin on that show is too OOC to really watch. But my younger sister (by about four years) really made fun of me for watching kids' shows, and my parents are convinced they melt your brains. Don't know what's up with that.

So I'm somewhere between a kid and grown and struggling to figure out school, trying to write novel, not really succeeding, and not dealing either.

Believe it or not, I think anime made a difference there. I started watching Naruto and Bleach, and the characters' motivations for fighting and pursuing strength clicked with me in a way only Spider-Man really had.

The importance of family has been forgotten in America and the importance of independence grossly exaggerated.

Trying to break away from my family held me back, because I came to realize they were what was important to me. Trying to prove I was strong enough to do it on my own, to be independent, was a waste of energy. That wasn't a kind of strength I wanted anymore.

What I do what to do is tell stories. As novels or graphic novels or poems or whatever.
And I want to support my family for as long as they need me.

I'd still like to go to college and have that experience, but for right now, I'm happy trying to make my own life right here.

I'd just like some cash :P

Buenos noches,