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.”
Nerds are frequently bad at naming things. Most of you probably know what “jumping the shark” means – the point at which an ongoing story starts to go downhill. If you haven’t heard of its counterpart “growing the beard” you’d be forgiven, because it’s honestly kind of a terrible name. Like so many fandom terms, it’s a reference to Star Trek; fans of TNG noticed an upturn in the quality of episodes around the time that Riker grew a beard in the second season. In addition to “growing the beard” bringing to mind a bizarre visual out of context, the beard in question isn’t even what caused the show to get better, making the entire thing kind of inexplicable (cue hatemail from beard enthusiasts). Maybe there are better options for how to refer to this phenomenon.
You probably know Yao Xiao’s work already, even if you don’t remember her name. The artist’s recent comic “If you want to say thank you, don’t say sorry“, published on Autostraddle, recently went viral on social media – and for good reason: it presents a simple mental tool for redirecting the impulse to apologize into something more positive. For those of us conditioned to apologize for our very existence, that small reminder of our worth is incredibly powerful.
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.
Yes, I’m going to talk more about early-2000s webcomics. No, I’m not sorry. Okay I’m a little sorry. But the differences between modern webcomics and, for lack of a better word, “historical” webcomics are fascinating, especially when identifying the strengths and failures of the medium throughout the years. For instance, the most obvious stylistic influence on modern webcomics is clearly other webcomics; there’s a self-sustaining culture that has grown up around putting pictures with words on the internet. But back in the day? The biggest influence on most early webcomickers was newspaper comics.