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,…
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.”
It generally doesn’t help to dwell on things past, especially creative endeavors. When a comic dies – even a great comic – it’s usually for real and good reasons, and in my experience it’s better to move on from failed projects than to try to revive them later. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some that I miss.
I sometimes have dreams where I fall in love with a made-up dream person. The person is perfect for me, and makes me feel safe, loved, and accepted like few people in the real world can. But when I awaken, all that I remember is that feeling; I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the person, not even what they looked like.