Mail Bag #9

Lots of mail to get through this week. Let’s not waste any time!

kai writes:

fan mail

I’ve been reading your reviews for a little while and going through the comics you recommend and so far I really like them! (I was already reading a bunch of the comics allready and i totally agree!) But I also love to read your negative reviews! I like being told what I might be getting into but also most of them are comics I was reading and feeling pretty down on but couldn’t spot what was wrong so I didn’t want to let them go or if I did I felt like I should give it another chance, but when you explain what’s wrong it’s like, of course! That’s why I don’t like it! It’s so obvious now! Even on things I do like, it’s like, …true. really helps me be more critical of the things I read. Also its super nice that it’s both, if it was only bad reviews it would be to much like the bad webcomics wiki, which for a while i thought it was pretty fun hating on bad old comics that I used to read…but it got really discouraging. But also it might get a little boring if you only did good reviews and then there would be no contrast/comparison.

What a nice message, thank you! I agree: the internet doesn’t need ONE Bad Webcomics Wiki, let alone two. I don’t ever want to mock people who’ve committed no crime greater than making art and posting it to read for free online. I definitely get a little enjoyment out of mocking people whose work is exceptionally harmful, though.


Noora writes:

Webcomic recommendations

Hello I’d like to recommend few webcomics if I may ūüôā Always Raining Here: a comic about two gay teenagers (love) live¬†http://alwaysraininghere.com/index.php/arh/cover-2/ Mare Internum: a story about people living on Mars in distant future¬†http://www.marecomic.com/archive/ Thank you for reading this message and have a nice day! ¬īu`)/

Thanks for writing, Noora! I’ve read a bit of each of these: Always Raining Here seemed like it was marked (at least in the early pages) by creepy consent issues that made me uncomfortable; Mare Internum is an excellent story by a skillful comicker but it’s just a bit too heavy for me! The depictions of mental illness, suicidality, and childhood sexual assault are over my threshold for what I can deal with reading.


Elise writes:

Trans women in comics!

Hi! I noticed you have a trans women tag for your “what I read” but can’t find one for your reviews. I just see the trans characters tag. Seeing as transmasc people don’t represent me in any way, it’s not terribly useful for me. Could you add that or point me in the direction of where it is? Relatedly, do you know of any comics (especially ones written by a trans woman) that feature a trans woman that is a lesbian where the comic isn’t just about being trans? Like, trans woman and her lesbian trans woman partner as a hacker team in a cyberpunk universe or something? Or even anything that features hard-femme lesbian trans women at all? Last of all, thanks for the site and the work you put into it. It’s my favorite resource for finding web comics.

This is a great question, Elise, and one I’ve been pondering myself since I implemented the tags on the reading list. There’s not an easy or obvious way, from a PHP code perspective, to make a¬†comic¬†in the¬†list share tags with the corresponding review, so I’m going to have to do something clever.¬†I will reprioritize solving this problem soon, now that my neck is mostly healed. Thanks for bringing it up!

As for comics recommendations, try The Blue Valkyrie, Computer Love¬†(nsfw),¬†or¬†Iothera¬†(nsfw), all¬†written by trans women and featuring trans lesbian protagonists. The Blue Valkyrie is about a trans fledgling superhero, Computer Love is a slice-of-life comic about a dystopic future city in Antarctica, and Iothera is about alternate universe space-race intrigue. Other good comics, not necessarily written by trans women but many by trans writers of other genders (or I just don’t know the author’s identity): Bad Bad Things, about post-apoc teens, including one very formidable trans girl; O Human Star, a story about a man who is resurrected as a robot twice, and one of the versions turns out to be a teenage trans girl¬†(who can fly); and Threads from the Blue Rock Tapestry, which is about a shy trans woman writer trying to talk to girls in an alternate universe featuring faeries and mermaids.

Anyway thanks for reading, and look forward  to the site continuing to improve!


Hunter M writes:

I make a queer mecha comic!

Hi there! I’m the author of Light Earth Defenders (found here: http://ledcomic.tumblr.com/ or here: http://zazzcomics.com/light-earth-defenders/) about a team of giant robot pilots who span wide spectra of races, bodytypes, and orientations, defending the Earth from an alien invasion. The queerness hasn’t been made quite explicit enough yet, but I can assure there isn’t a single straight character in the main cast.

“Wide spectra” I see what you did there. I’ll check it out!


Jamie writes:

Recommendation

I think someone might have recommended this before, but if you haven’t read Go Get a Roomie (http://www.gogetaroomie.com/index.php) then I really recommend you do. It starts off as NSFW shenanigans involving the regulars at a local gay bar, but as the comic progresses the characters get more development, the sex gets toned down (a bit), and it becomes a really interesting story. Besides that, it is absolutely chock-full of amazing queer characters, giving amazing representations of everything from homosexuality to trans-sexuality to polyamory. If I had to recommend any others, I would say perhaps Supernormal Step (Starring an ace aro woman,¬†http://www.supernormalstep.com/), Dumbing of Age if you haven’t read it already (http://www.dumbingofage.com/), or maybe Always Human (http://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/always-human/list?title_no=7262) if you want to read a beautiful webcomic that’s only just got started.

Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve read some of Go Get A Roomie, and while it seemed like it had potential, the writing strayed into white hippie crap too often, and the dynamic between the two main girls didn’t feel like it was¬†going anywhere interesting. Supernormal Step is too obnoxiously white for me to tolerate, and Dumbing of Age has an ableist joke in its title which scares me off no matter how good it is. Always Human is one I’ve been following, and it looks very promising, but it just got taken down temporarily in preparation for becoming a Webtoons feature, which is really exciting!


Anonymous writes:

Opinions on Out Of My Element?

**I wanna preface this with the fact that I didn’t leave my real email. I am active in the authors’ comments section and community, and if you do review them and the review isn’t favorable, I don’t want to chance them banning me from participating. I like the small community there and if you don’t like this comic, I don’t want my email or username attached to this in any way shape or form. Sorry, and I will understand if that disqualifies this comic from being reviewed.**

Here’s my conundrum: I’ve been reading Out of My Element by Jim and Alli Perry for a while, and I was wondering what you thought about it. I got into it because the setting appeals to me. It’s got a very final fantasy 6 vibe with the ‘”big steam tech stuff meets elemental magic” thing going for it, and I am a sucker for that. I think it has the potential to be a very good comic if it sticks it out in the long run. But. Ever since I discovered your review site on twitter, I’ve never felt more aware of the diversity or lack of diversity in comics. As a lesbian myself, I understand that diversity is important because until recent years I’ve never seen myself represented very much in the media that I consume in a way that is flattering or relate-able or in a way that isn’t specifically catering to men who find lesbians hot.

I think what I like most about your website is that, until I read it, I hadn’t realized how much the “straight is default” mindset affected ME, someone who is decidedly *not* straight. As a result, the importance of diversity in things I enjoy has recently been at the forefront of my thoughts in a way it never has been before, and I’ve been consciously making an effort to hold the things I like accountable. What I’ve discovered is that a lot of the things I like are suddenly a lot less enjoyable.

I checked in to see if there was a new update a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me for probably the first time ever that none of the main cast reads as queer to me, and that any nonwhite characters that I’ve encountered have been more window dressing than anything else. I almost left a frustrated parting comment on their website, but I didn’t end up hitting submit and decided to think on it for a bit. Normally I’m pretty nonchalant about media and can pick it up or drop it without a second thought, so my own reaction to this shocked me a little. Maybe it’s just because, up until I looked at it a little more critically, everything about this comic was my jam, or maybe it’s because I find the lack of diversity in fantasy specifically more insulting & frustrating than in other genres because fantasy asks us to believe that cool elemental creatures and infrastructures that run on steam exist but, in this case, asks me to accept that everyone in the story is straight and that poc are only good enough to be background characters.

I initially started writing this email with the hope that you’d review it and it would redeem it a little for me so I could enjoy it again, but the more I write, the more I realize that *I* wouldn’t give it a very favorable review, so *you* probably wouldn’t, either. I wonder a little if reviewing it would make the authors a little more conscious of the lack of diversity in their comic, but there’s an equally good chance that it would just create unnecessary drama.

I’m actually not sure what I want out of this email anymore since this turned into me endlessly venting rather quickly, so instead I guess I’ll just say thank you, whether you review this comic or not, you’re doing a good thing here. The reviews you’ve already done have pointed me to some really great comics that I definitely feel represented by, and I’m pretty sure that if I keep reading your reviews, I’ll eventually find something that both represents me AND perfectly fills the Out of My Element shaped hole in my RSS reader. Keep this up, no matter what. You are doing an important thing.

Oh gosh… first off, I gotta say I wish you’d used your real email for this! I will¬†never publish an email address, even of the scummiest troll – that’s just my policy. What it does let me do is respond privately, and in this case I would love to do so, because I feel deeply everything you’re saying here.

I’ve read enough of Out of My Element to know that I feel the same way about it that you do, and your assessments are correct, in my opinion. The process of coming to terms with how our stories are rarely told is one that sucks, it just sucks, and if I can make it easier for you, or anyone, that’s my goal. On that note, if you want a (somewhat) steampunk story that¬†actually¬†is about people of color and lesbians, try Missing Monday!

And feel free to contact me via the form with your real email if you ever want to have a private conversation.


 

Maggie writes:

Demon of the underground?

I’m not sure if it’s something you just don’t know about, or if it’s not your kind of comic, but have you checked out Demon of the underground? This is the synopsis: “Demon of the Underground” is the story of Pogo, a big-mouthed young thief who falls through a hole in the ground and finds himself in a brutal underground world where survival is based on strength and intimidation. His only hope for escape is his telekinetic ability – and the help of a stray ferret named Annie.” It’s pretty interesting, and the main character is even gay! It seems like pogo is just a dumb, sex obsessed teen at first (which he is) but it looks like he might also have a quieter, more subdued side, and some serious demons to deal with, some that might be more real then expected. There’s also the politics of this crazy world, humor, and some dark stuff to. Also, I won’t spoil it, but how pogos powers work is hilarious.

This is another one I’ve tried to read, and while the art is lovely, the writing I find fatally weak. The dialogue often sounds unnatural, and the worldbuilding makes no sense – I just don’t buy the construction of this underworld and its gangs. Plus the omnipresent militaristic machismo doesn’t really make for an interesting cast. Sorry.


Whew! that was a big one. Thanks for reading, thanks for writing in, and thanks for being such nice people! I have the best readers. <3

 

 

 

 

2 comments on “Mail Bag #9

  1. Aw, it’s to bad you don’t like DOTU, but I understand that if you don’t like how something’s written, it can be hard to get through even if it’s good. Guess the illogical plot points attitude of macho don’t really bother me, though the prob should. And It is a little awkward, now that you mention it, but I guess it’s in a way I still like. ;D

    Just as an aside, would you ever do a review on it? You bring up some good points, but I’d also like to know what pros you see in it as well as the cons, and maybe hear what you think would make it better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *