On A Sunbeam

A+

There are interesting layers of meaning to the word “soft”. In one sense, it can mean comfortable, inviting, pleasant to touch. In another, it conveys instead looseness, a lack of structure, or a yielding quality. These connotations have an unspoken gendered quality to them – “soft” is code, in so many ways, for “feminine”, and whether something being soft is a good or bad thing betrays much about the speaker’s attitude towards femininity. As a case in point, whenever a dude dismisses something as “soft scifi”, I get the sense that he prefers scifi that follows strict rules, that doesn’t deviate from real-world scientific theories, that dispenses with ooey-gooey trivialities like “romance” and “feelings”, and that he would call these things “hard scifi”. Tillie Walden’s On A Sunbeam is not for that guy. This is a comic that is proud of its softness, and with good reason. A story of young love,…

Les Normaux

C

In the last site news, I talked about how simply including people of various identities in your work isn’t enough. Creators have an increasing awareness that representation of marginalized identities in fiction is important, but lacking good examples, many don’t know what good representation actually looks like. This leads to an effect where creators fill their work with as many different identities as possible without giving those experiences the depth of treatment or culturally competent touch they deserve. Such works can feel like they were cast by checklist: “Okay, we’ve got a lesbian character, a trans woman, and a trans man, we just need a gay guy and a bisexual. Flip a coin for the bisexual’s gender.” 

Travelogue

A

Many, many hands are wrung all the time about the dearth of original ideas in the world, and how to create something new. Sometimes the answer lies in simply combining elements from existing genres – supernatural detectives, alien spies, pop witches. And while the results of these mashups can be a lot of fun and, yes, original, sometimes a better route is to take an existing genre and subtract things from it.

Octopus Pie

C

I admit it: I don’t really “get” New York City. I’ve been there of course, visiting friends, etc. I’ve seen the Met, the village, the park, the restaurants, the bridges, the endless highway gridlock, the claustrophobic streets, the inescapable smells… you know, the whole experience. And I didn’t really like it! Maybe I’m a country critter at heart, but even other cities I’ve seen and lived in have never felt so fundamentally alienating as New York.

Ozzie the Vampire

A-

I was never much of a metalhead. I mean sure, in high school I listened to the same antisocial noise as every other disaffected youth in those days – NIN, Godsmack, Kittie, etc. – but I never had any goddamn taste about it, and I certainly never got into the, shall we say, scene. And given the fact that, in hindsight, that particular scene is pretty hostile to women and people of color, I was always glad I dodged that particular bullet.