Trisha’s Take: How to depict female characters in webcomics

Who says feminism and genre works can't be fun and forward-thinking? © Danielle Henderson
Who says feminism and genre works can’t be fun and forward-thinking? © Danielle Henderson

At this most recent CONvergence Con (a sci-fi/fantasy-based convention in Minneapolis, Minn.), I was one of the panelists on two different panels that sought to speak about where and how women can exist in formerly male-dominated genres and spaces.

In The Smurfette Principle in Marketing panel, we tackled the idea that there isn’t often a lot of merchandise available for girls and women because there is often only one woman or girl in a group of men or boys in any given genre show, book, or movie. In the Genre Feminism panel, we spoke about why it was important to increase the visibility of women or girls in a genre show, book, or movie (along with other visible minorities as well) and how people as creators and consumers can promote these ideas.

Specifically to creators, I talked about Geena Davis (whose name I couldn’t remember at the time; apologies, Ms. Davis!) and how back in December 2013, she wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter about how easy it can be for screenwriters to increase the number of roles in film and on TV for women and girls:

Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?

Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know.

It’s not often that I get to see the fruits of efforts like these so soon after I talk about them, and from a formerly problematic source as well. Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: How to depict female characters in webcomics”

Trisha’s Link of the Day: “Zufruh” by Ryan Sohmer and Anna-Marie Jung

Sometimes a great idea doesn't make for a great webcomic. © Ryan Sohmer and Anna-Maria Jung
Sometimes a great idea doesn’t make for a great webcomic. © Ryan Sohmer and Anna-Maria Jung/Blind Ferret Entertainment

I don’t know how many people here read Ryan Sohmer’s edgy/adult-ish webcomic “Least I Could Do,” but it’s been one of my daily reads since I was introduced to it by my friend Harris O’Malley (aka Dr. Nerdlove). Also, after discovering the Vlogbrothers and posting about their very first webseries “Brotherhood 2.0,” I became a huge fan of theirs as well.

Back in 2007, the Vlogbrothers and their audience came up with the concept of the “evil baby orphanage,” which was their solution to the “If you could go back in time to kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it?” question. They thought that the more ideal situation would be to time-travel to when the most evil humans in history were children, take them away from the circumstances in which they became evil, and raise them in an orphanage to be good and responsible citizens. This idea caught on so well with the Nerdfighter community that with the Vlogbrothers’ blessing, an indie game company called Wyrd Miniatures was able to successfully Kick and start a card game.

In a weird synergistic sort of way, Sohmer also had an idea regarding evil babies and decided to create a webcomic and raise funds for it using the extremely new Patreon platform:

“Zufruh” answers the question: What happens when you take the most evil men and women in history and place them in a daycare as toddlers?

It’s a strip I’m doing with Anna-Maria Jung, and I decided to do something a little fun with it, and put it up on Patreon. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Patreon is a subscription based system that lets you pay as little as a buck a month, giving you access to the comics as we produce them.

How much we update, if we create this at all, is up to you. If not, it goes back into the vault.

I liked the concept of the “Evil Baby Orphanage/Daycare” as a thought experiment from the Vlogbrothers, and I liked it enough as a card game to back the Kickstarter. However, judging from the sample comic above (which was the thumbnail image you get if you paste Sohmer’s Patreon link into Facebook), I’m not sure if I like it as a webcomic. (Or at least a webcomic written by Ryan Sohmer.) I’d have to see more before I decide if I’d add it into my blogroll, but I don’t think I’d become a Patreon of his in order to do so.

The video on his Patreon site—though slickly produced—has even less information:

Other questions I have are “Why is it called ‘Zuhfruh’?” and “Why did you decide to include the gay pride logo into yours if one of the main characters was known in his adult incarnation for sending thousands of gays and lesbians to concentration camps?”


Trisha’s Take: The next step in fixing the “Mike Krahulik Problem” at Penny Arcade

My reaction when I feel backed into corner is to be an asshole. It’s essentially how I defend myself. It’s been that way since was in elementary school. I’m 36 now. Maybe it’s finally time to try and let some of that shit go.
—Mike Krahulik, explaining how he reacts to criticism on Twitter.

When I first heard that Penny Arcade creator and artist Mike Krahulik had stated at the recent PAX Prime during a Q & A panel led by president Robert Khoo that it was a “mistake” for them to pull the “Team Dickwolves” T-shirts from their store, I was shocked, but not surprised.

If you haven’t seen the remarks in context yet, press play on the video below, fast-forwarding to about 22:09 minutes in:

Khoo has just asked founders/creators Krahulik and co-founder/writer Jerry Holkins if there were any mistakes that they think that Khoo has made as their business manager. Here’s a transcript of Krahulik’s prompt, out-of-the gate reply:
Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: The next step in fixing the “Mike Krahulik Problem” at Penny Arcade

Trisha’s Link of the Day: “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage”

If you were to ask me where you could find a webcomic which tells the tale of Charles Babbage’s self-proclaimed war against street musicians, I wouldn’t have had any recommendations for you… until now.

The Organist part 1 (c) Sydney Padua // Click to enlarge
The Organist part 1 (c) Sydney Padua // Click to enlarge

With its tongue lodged firmly within its cheek, I present to you this short story arc out of “2D Goggles or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage,” lovingly entitled “The Organist” by Canadian illustrator Sydney Padua.

Much thanks to Jane Irwin and her comic Clockwork Game for the hat tip.