I’ve never had my geek cred questioned. No one asks me if I “actually read this stuff” as I work behind the counter of my LCS. When I say how much I enjoy a book like Ms. Marvel or Wonder Woman, people take me on my word. When I check out a store in another…
Excellent dismantling of fandom hierarchies and the inane “fake geek girl” phenomenon.
This hasn’t happened to me for a while, so I can complain about it without feeling bad about calling someone out!
If you love something online, sending the creator of that thing a nice note is an awesome way to let them know. It makes our day! But when you’re doing this, please please please don’t say “I love your comic, it’s so much better than [some other comic], I honestly can’t stand that thing!”
A lot of us are friends, so that’s a crappy thing to read! And even if we’re not, even if it’s a complete stranger, hearing “you’re better than this guy who sucks” isn’t the greatest compliment in the world. When I get messages like this I hesitate to even write back, because I feel like by even accepting the compliment I’m also endorsing the criticism of someone else!
Instead of “I love your [x], it’s better than [y that sucks now or perhaps has always sucked]”, I recommend "I love your [x], it’s had [y impact on my life, in any way great or small, and I wanted to say thanks]."
END OF SOCIAL CRITICISM, THANKS Y’ALL
Good advice from my pal Ryan North (who is obviously my inferior. Obviously).
As promised, I’ve gone and compiled a short list of common questions of what exactly this project is all about!
It’s a side project I do in my free time to create a painted illustration to accompany every chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion, as well as provide supplementary illustrations to round out the characters and world in general. My motivation is to create a Middle-Earth visually unique from the style of the Peter Jackson films. I like the movies, but I miss the days when there was more diversity and interpretation to Tolkien illustrations.
A second motivation is to provide a greater representation of women and people of color in the narratives. While Tolkien made more than a few missteps regarding race and gender, the “everyone is white” trend in adaptations is a symptom of other people ignoring what’s in the texts. Additionally, all of Tolkien’s writings are presented as if they’re written from a limited and flawed historical perspective (LoTR and The Hobbit were “written” by Hobbits, etc). The position of my adaptation is to present what “actually” happened- the events upon which the flawed or biased history is based. Just like with real historians, the presence of women and people of color, and their achievements, are frequently ignored.
I’m never going to contradict what’s written, but I’m definitely going to use all of the tools at my disposal to emphasize the importance of those who don’t always get their rightful share of historical credit.
This is completely unrelated to Dresden Codak, but regarding an ask about Tolkien to Gingerhaze you called Aragorn and the Dúnedain "Middle Eastern". Is this based on how Aragorn is described as "dark", or on something else? I've never really considered the skin colours of the people of Arda so I'm really curious.
In his letters and also in Lost Tales/Unfinished Tales/Etc., Tolkien connects the crown of Numenor historically with the crown of Egypt. This was inspired by Plato’s idea that Egypt, etc. were founded as colonies of Atlantis. (This is likely why the Numenorean language has semitic roots). Tolkien explicitly made Numenor his version of Atlantis, and it’s no coincidence that the kingdom of Gondor roughly corresponds geographically with a Mediterranean/North African colony. Given the thousands of years involved, Gondor had to have been multiracial by the time of Lord of the Rings, but Aragorn, being of a direct line of Numenoreans and all but explicitly stated to be the ancestor of Egyptian royalty, would be what we would call Middle Eastern.
What’s fun is if we go further back, even the Numenoreans are multiracial in origin, comprising at least three distinct races of human (the Edain), none of whom were intended to directly correlate with or represent Anglo-Saxons or other groups of people historically associated with Northern Europe. Their adventures took place on a continent that sank and has no geographic analogue in the real world (in fact, they all originated somewhere “far East” just a few centuries prior). And, like I said before, they are collectively meant to be the ancestors of what would become essentially Egyptians and, possibly, all Middle Easterners. It’s actually one of the very few times where we can connect an ethnic group in the real world to one of Tolkien’s fictional groups of people. In general, the different races of people are kind of random, and rarely stand-ins for or ancestors of historical groups of people. Their physical and cultural descriptions rarely correspond with any real-world geography and racial groups.
Tolkien had some racist issues to be sure (his depiction of what might be black people is, at best, dismissive), but it’s a lot more complicated that what’s often assumed. To associate him with Wagner-esque Aryan wankery is way off the mark, when he openly derided that philosophy more than once (including when he told off some Nazis). The fact of the matter is, the cultures and races in the books rarely line up with anything in the real world. And when they sort of do, it’s not what people often think. What he called “Easterlings,” for example, would have corresponded with Slavic people, if anything, not East Asian people (who would be on a different continent, if you tried to make the maps line up with the real world). In any case, it’s dangerous to make those assumptions, as we’re talking about tens of thousands of years of human migration in between “when” Tolkien’s history occurred and “when” real human history started. Also, the geography and even continents are pretty different. Looking at the maps and trying to point out what each race/culture is “supposed to be” isn’t going to bear much fruit.
Was Tolkien racist about some things? Absolutely, but he also deliberately left a LOT to the imagination, because he knew better than to spell it out. At the end of the day, it’s mythology, and that’s open to interpretation.
We DO need criticism of female characters but we also need support
And you can’t give real criticism if you’re blinded by your biases, if a character trait you’d love on a male character is a dealbreaker for a female one
If a character is never JUST a love interest or JUST there for sex appeal…
Can’t support things when there’s nothing there worth supporting. Pretending oppression doesn’t exist doesn’t make it vanish. Pretending something is “okay” or “progress” when it’s not doesn’t make it okay. That is why we are where we are today—people apologizing away the fact that women are treated as props for male characters and objects of consumption for male consumers.
Side note: I love that at this point critical evaluation, subject and referring to decades of rigorously debated theoretical construction, counts as ‘bias’. “Your ignorance is not equal to my expertise,” and all that.
You REALLY think that there’s NOTHING to support? About ANY of these characters?
What makes a character “okay” then? Do they have to be written by women (two out of three of the writers on The Hobbit are female), never fall in love with or interact with men (Mako Mori must be JUST a love interest), be always strong and empowered, have none of their body shape visible (JUST a pair of tits), be good (because clearly her character must represent all women everywhere) but not TOO good (Mary Sue!!)
We all were born into a society that hates women. It would be ridiculous to think that that doesn’t affect women and their thoughts/actions too. It’s called internalized misogyny, and that’s what I’m referring to as “bias.”
This is a good post about the biases we can still carry, even when we think we’re being objective in our criticism. There are a host of double-standards female characters are subjected to, and they won’t go away if we never allow them to break into mass media.
It helps to play the gender-swap game to test your biases. If all of the genders were reversed in the film/book/etc, would you be voicing the same complaints in the same way?
If you're still taking questions, a couple for you. Your art style and composition have changed dramatically over the years, so what I want to know is: what changes and improvements are you satisfied with/proud of, and what things are you still aiming to change and improve on? Secondly: how much research and fact-checking goes into the actual science of your stories, how much of it is artistic license, and what currently theoretical science do you think might become reality in the near future?
I’d say I’m proud of teaching myself to paint and handle lighting and color theory. My figure drawing’s also gotten a lot better. That said, I still need work when it comes to general page composition, as well as general speed and efficiency when it comes to putting out work.
As for researching, I did a lot when it came to Hob, and some of the one-shots like The Sleepwalkers required a great deal of technical research. For Dark Science, there’s not much speculative science, so most of the research has been design-driven. I have a big archive of art deco and vintage world’s fair photos, as well as a good number of propaganda posters (mostly from Britain) dating from about 1920 to 1945.
Loving the little details in the most recent comic, like Alisa still cowering behind the booth and then climbing to safety, but the expressiveness you achieved with Father Abaddon is simply incredible. I didn't really notice it the first time he appeared, but he seems strangely familiar now, like I've seen someone similar before. Is he based on someone specific?
Thanks! Father Abaddon’s appearance is loosely based on Boris Karloff
Thanks for your questions! Here are some of the ones I’m able to competently answer:
I think Brazil is leagues better than 1984 (with Orwell, I’m more of an Animal Farm guy). The “enemy” in Brazil is invincible in its facelessness. It’s much more haunting because it mirrors real life, where incompetency and complacency are far more dominant than conspiracies. The more obvious influence for Dark Science is Metropolis, but my take on the bureaucracy is much closer in tone to the infinite mess in Brazil.
New Doctor Who theme alterations for the 12th Doctor revealed.
This is why I gave up on this show. I used to sit down on the bed and watch the old Doctor Who on T.V. with little brother and sister and my Mum. We used to absolutely love it. When the new Doctors showed up, still good! Really good. Then things started getting ridiculously mental and childish and stupid a little while after 11 showed up (don’t get me wrong, he’s a brilliant actor, and I don’t blame him for anything), and now the show had just fucking gone downhill. Please don’t tell me this is actual music for the new Doctor. Please just tell me it’s not. Jesus fucking Christ this show has been butchered.
human life is incredible
I hate the excessive need to “modernize” everything in TV. It’s like, this wouldn’t be so bad if they actually made it still feel sci-fi, but now it’s this weird new-age bullshit, like they’re trying too hard to be “progressive”. I know I’m making a big deal out of a THEME SONG maybe, but thing is, they’ll probably end up carrying this ideology into the series itself. Where the fuck are things going.
it keeps happening
Sometimes, I fucking hate Steven Moffat for what he’s done to Doctor Who. Look, I know I’m fairly new to the show-having only come in during Matt Smith’s first season, but I went back and watched every episode of the old series and Moffat has just completely altered the tone. He’s trying to make it his own creation, which is fucking despicable, to mess with something as perfect as Doctor Who. I know it’s just a theme song, and I know the difference isn’t that drastic, but it fucking sickens me sometimes.
never forget my legacy
Nah I think the people disagreeing with this move are right, like, this is a really weird and unnecessary departure from the iconic theme, and sure it matches the new mood of the show really well, so I can see were the owners of the show are coming from with the change, but honestly sometimes you have to accept that nostalgia actually matters, and even if you’re taking the show in a different direction Doctor Who is not Doctor Who without the Doctor Who *theme*, I mean it founded electronic music for gods sake! The only thing I would say about this one is it sounds a little dated like it’s a MIDI file but then again so does the very first Doctor Who theme so I imagine after one season or so with Capaldi as 12 (which I’m really looking forward to!) they will do a cooler remix of it like they did with the original theme, and once it’s been around for a while I think people will have got used to it and they’ll like it alot more.
Hi, I'm just wondering as a new fan who only began reading the comic after the completion of the Kickstarter, is there anyway for me to legitimately obtain a copy of The Tomorrow Girl? Do you plan to add it to the DC store anytime soon?
Soon, I think! Copies of The Tomorrow Girl should be in the Topatoco store this season. I’ll let everybody know when that happens!
I have been wanting to assemble a huge post of some of the amazing women artists out there, because it seems like too often they get overlooked when it comes to being honored and recognized. This year, I was incredibly honored to be nominated for a Hugo award in the Best…
Ok, sometimes people get a bit confused when I say I LOVE the Wizard of Oz, but am dissatisfied by the Judy Garland film.
Ok… imagine you’re a Harry Potter fan, but instead of the books having been adapted more or less faithfully into popular films, the thing MOST people think when you say “Harry Potter” is a musical adaptation of HALF of Philospher’s Stone from the 30s, where Harry is cast about 8 years older than he should be, his scar is now in the shape of a star, Voldemort is now bright green and Hogwarts is not a castle but a beach hut.
Now this adaptation is critically acclaimed and iconic and should NEVER be remade.
But you still wish that some day they’d actually adapt ALL the books faithfully! But nope… instead you get stage plays about how this green Voldermort wasn’t actually so evil, movies about Dumbledore’s origin story (which don’t take any of the brilliant information already in the books) and cheap CGI tv movies where they just pick and choose whatever they like and mash it together into their own plot.
THAT’S what being an Oz fan is like.
Sure the “famous” adaptation is a great, enjoyable film… but I can’t help but feel disappointed that the books have yet to be adapted with the same love and care that, say, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings have. Adaptations are never perfect or completely faithful, but the Judy Garland film is such a loose adaptation, it actually spoils some of the greatness of the original books.
I don’t think anyone has summarized my feelings about the Wizard of Oz as well as this.
Have you ever thought about writing out an actual ruleset for Dungeons & Discourse? (E.g. What must my character's saving throw be to negate damage to his/her inherent morality by a Sphere of Nihilism?)
I’m actually heavily opposed to ever having “official rules” to Dungeons & Discourse, not just because I know nothing about tabletop games, but because as soon as there’s an actual system, it kills the humor.
Other people are welcome to make working games (and they have), but it’s never something I’d do because it negates a big part of the joke.