Mail Bag #11

Okay here’s the rest of the messages I got during the break, plus one or two that I got this week. Thanks so much for writing in, everyone, these things make my day.

kuku writes:

I recommend you read “Elan Meets Rafa”

I highly recommend “Elan Meets Rafa, a boy love webcomic love story with a cat” at When it begins, Elan is a quiet, brainy, piano-and-bird-loving skinny young guy who is suddenly on his own after his rich abusive jerk of a dad disowns him for not doing as he’s told. (His loving and protective mom died when he was … about 12?) Rafa is a sunny impulsive cabinet-maker who grew up from scrappy street kid to the neighborhood gay heart-throb. Murakami is a serene Siamese cat who causes them to run into each other in the first place. What happens among them changes both guys in ways that are still ongoing. There are many other great characters and the whole thing is so thoughtful, funny, sad, humane and generally insightful that I’m deeply emotionally involved with the story. Many people of color in Rafa’s working class neighborhood (Rafa is Latino). The art is in naturalistic drawings with just the occasional touch of water-color. Let me thank you for reviewing Iothera – I woudn’t have known about it if I hadn’t stumbled upon your web-site. It’s kind of a mystery to me why some comics have zillions of commenters and others have so few.

also check out Eth’s Skin (and a few others)

Hi – I thought of another good comic not on your list, Eth’s Skin by Sfe R. Monster, which is a fantasy set in a place similar to the woodsy shores of the Canadian Pacific Northwest coast. It has a non-binary main character Eth (a fisher who lives in a floating township), lesbian mom shapeshifter shorewalkers and their son, a polyamorous lesbian mermaid, an understandably snarly and indignant selkie, and a very cute seal. Lovely line drawings. Check it out here: Maybe you could have a little list for already-concluded classics, for people who come in new? The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E. K. Weaver is just such a fabulous and funny and moving road-trip love story I also loved Prince of Cats by Kori Michele Handwerker, which has gay and trans kids in a rural/small town high school. I adore the character of Frank Murakami. She is apparently going to have a new comic beginning in December called Dragontail. People who’d like to see a mainstream-style superhero comic focused on one-or-more young gay male characters could check out The Young Protectors by Alex Woolfson. (It’s good for what it is, I just wish some of his gazillion Patreon supporters would fund Elan Meets Rafa instead.) I read a historical crowns-and-conspiracies comic called Curia Regis (by Robin Hoelzemann) which just introduced a gay male couple who have the most honest and loving relationship of anyone in the story. They aren’t the major focus by any means, so it would just depend on whether readers enjoyed the art and storyline, which I do. Anyhow, thanks again for your posts, which I think are where I found Dragondove too. kuku

Wow kuku, that’s a big list. I will definitely check these out, except The Young Protectors, which turned me off previously with its bad consent crap, and Curia Regis, which I’ve also tried and failed to get into. It’s just too dry for me! Thanks for the suggestions.

dalaln writes:


Thanks for the game reviews, I look forward to what your thoughts are on so many games. I was wondering if you’re going to do Life Is Strange? It’s just ended and I thought you’d have a lot of choice words about the endings.

I have MANY choice words about the worthless trash game Life is Strange, but I’m not sure if I want to spend a whole review on it! I’d rather keep the games section focused on indie and creator-owned games. But I might review Love is Strange once it drops…

vancho1 writes:

Nice to see you’re back!

It’s very good to see you’re back. I am currently through my second playthrough of Undertale, and though I could not resist peeking at the wiki (I too had a hard time with finding out how to save [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], but unlike you I completed the game with them dead πŸ™ ), I have not been spoiled on everything and would prefer not to be. I find your review to be terrifically spot-on (I was going to question characterizing the playable character as non-binary since Toby Fox mentioned that you are supposed to name the fallen child after yourself, but then I looked at the wiki and also the dialogue in my current run-through has convinced me that you are right), and I also agree with some frustration on game-mechanics, but I would still rate Undertale higher than a B. What game would be your touchstone for an “A” rating? Also, on a different tack, I wanted to ask about something related to “A Lesson is Learned”. Looking back at the comic, I find myself agreeing with your assessment, so I wanted to ask your opinion on a comic by an artist who said he was influenced by “A Lesson is Learned” – Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak. I used to like the comic for its large pages and beautiful art, but I’ve actually soured on it recently. He seems to write on progressive/feminist themes, but I was wondering what you would feel about it. Thanks again!

Thanks for your kind words! I’m not sure if I could give an example of an “A” game off the top of my head, but to use Undertale as an example, if it had clearer gameplay cues or a more satisfying (less insulting?) ending I’d give it a B+, and if it had both, I’d give it an A. Does that help?

As for Dresden Codak, I do have a review planned for it, and I was planning on pointing to the influence of A Lesson in the early pages.Β The review will definitely be… unflattering.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!! *blows kisses into the adoring crowd*

7 comments on “Mail Bag #11

    1. Hey Alex, I got to this page: I just didn’t feel good about a story where an older guy coerces a minor into a sexual(ly charged, at least) situation. I’ve heard that you problematize that dynamic later in the story, but I couldn’t get past that initial hurdle. Maybe I’m too quick to judge, but I’ve read so much rapey yaoi that at this point I just quit at the first whiff of it.

      1. I hear you. I actually do not find non-con content to be erotic myself, quite the opposite, it’s a big turn-off for me, so I understand the reaction.

        It still would be hard for me to say whether you’d enjoy The Young Protectors. While it ultimately does not fetishize coercion, it does explore the theme of consent throughout many of its pages. That, in itself, can be triggering for some folks. As a creator, it’s a topic I find important and worthy of exploring (and it’s been gratifying to get feedback from readers who found the treatment of the topic in TYP very helpful, healing, and cathartic), but while there’s lots of fun in its pages, there’s also a good chunk of drama. The Young Protectors explores mature topics, is not meant for kids, and doesn’t pull punches. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

        I was just curious how far you had gotten when you said my comic had “bad consent crap.” While, again, I’d want to make sure that you weren’t going to read something that would cause you harm — and if you think it would, then I would want you to choose to be safe above all. But this Wednesday we’ll be posting our 350th page, and I would submit that 15 pages might be premature when it comes to dismissing my work as “rapey yaoi.” In general with my work (Artifice, The Young Protectors), things aren’t often what they seem to be at first.

        In all fairness, I was indeed playing with a trope in those first pages — and I did so at the risk of folks thinking that’s all The Young Protectors was going to be. Ultimately, I think the payoff later on was worth it. (And the feedback that I’ve gotten is that most readers agree.) But there are certainly readers like yourself who got a dozen or so pages in and quit, thinking the comic was something it’s not. Like I said, you still might not ultimately like The Young Protectors. But reading your About page is almost like reading word-for-word what I’ve said is my mission as a creator. And since you are a thoughtful reviewer, I thought it might be important to you to damn the comic for what is actually is, instead of what it appears to be in the first few pages. πŸ˜‰

        Thank you very much for your reply. Keep up the great work.


        1. You know what, it actually counts for a lot to hear you say this. I respect that a lot, and that you say you’re deliberately deconstructing a trope I despise definitely catches my interest. I’ll give Young Protectors another chance. Thanks!

          1. Cool. Like I said, it still might not be your cup of tea. But if you get through to the end of Chapter 3 (there will be 5 Chapters when it’s finished), you’ll have a pretty good idea what I’m trying to do. And I’d definitely be curious to hear what you opinion of the work and its themes was then. πŸ™‚

            Take care!


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