Are you looking for a new comic series to start reading? Or looking for a pile of finished trade paperbacks to pick up and read over the holidays? Do you not know I like using question marks and tangling people in my thought spirals? Did I just insult one of your favourite comic series if you already know which one I’m talking about?
The first two answers are all up to you, dear readers (and so is the third, come to think of it), but the answer to the final one is … nope. In fact, I am about to try the gargantuan, though maybe not Galactus-sized, task of recommending four plus years of a Transformers comic series to a non-Transformers audience. Just in time for that series to start a new season (yes, it comes in seasons) with a new number one issue.
In case the title wasn’t fair warning though (and it probably wasn’t), this post is most likely going to be long, and recommending and describing this series is not going to be simple. Starting with the fact that I am recommending a series that leads you to the ever increasing realization that the starting premise was a terrible, terrible idea. The worst of ideas. And yet you end up really liking the characters who came up with the idea and went along with it and enjoy following along on their adventures.
I seriously think the alternate title for the series could have been/could be Transformers: Bumblebee Was Totally Absolutely Right. [The Death of Optimus Prime]
Sometimes, with the benefit of time and distance and the clarity of deep calm thought, you come to realize that … Seriously, what even were they trying to do with this miserable excuse for same gender romance inclusion???
Or, in other words, forgive the lack of screencaps and head below the cut for my thoughts on writing same-gender romance in gaming after revisiting Star Wars: The Old Republic Rise of the Hutt Cartel.
So, for once, I do not think I need to reassure you, dear readers, that I don’t really mean that something is 100% very bad no good but rather that, if you understood every word I wrote in the title, I a) am absolutely serious b) definitely do understand the … fraught feelings us LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) players have towards session play quests.
I have kicked the leeches. I have kicked the leeches more than once and am sure I will again. And yet – I do also have a certain fondness for session play and a desire for it to stick around as an occasional mechanic. And I also, as this article will show, think it can be used to really great purpose and effect.
Unsurprisingly, I also like epic battles. Quite a bit. But, that masochism aside (I kid, I kid, but kidding is more fun than serious answers 😛 ), it’s time to head below the “read more” cut for a discussion of consent, choice, Isildur (and his descendants) kind of being a big time jerk, point of view, empathy, and how LOTRO chooses to engage with the Paths of the Dead section of its source material.
Shrew’s eye view heading north in the Dead Marshes.
Do you want to write queer characters into your tv show, movie, novel, comic, or other piece of creative media? Are you worried about it feeling forced or like “token diversity”? Do you just want to write good characters and have any diversity happen naturally in the course of writing or casting or what have you? Are you very certain that diversity will just happen and that you will create queer (and other diverse) characters in your fictive world, just when it happens naturally?
If so, I have a bridge to sell you. I also do have advice (oh do I ever have advice, so you may want to get a snack and a drink and a comfy place to sit and read because this is not going to be a short post), but let me make it clear in case my article title and the above paragraph haven’t –
Even if you are totally, 100% genuine and earnest in your desire and intent to include or introduce queer characters into a piece of fiction you are involved with and not just trying to fob us off with excuses and smokescreens so we will (and/or so our good-intentioned non-queer fellow fans will) keep reading, watching, and otherwise consuming … that inclusion is NOT just going to happen on its own. Spoilers for everything else I’m going to say, but it’s not. And we know it or we learn it, because you’re not the first person with good intentions (or, again, blowing smoke to cover a lack of intentions) who ends up not including us at all, or who throws us one tiny trampled bone after the fact.
A wizard is never late, neither is he early, and neither is he revealed to be gay until the entire seven novel series and five out of eight film adaptations are released. And the wizard himself is dead.
What does a queer person look like? How do we act? Do we all have laser eyes and love our mothers and listen to musicals while knitting? Do we weep while clutching skulls and enacting a gay version of the death of Hamlet? How do you, questioning, questing writer or other creator (or approver) of fictional media, actually end up including queer characters and how do you shape them so that they feel “real” to you and so that the queer people wanting representation do not fall upon you like a flock of laser-eyed, mother-loving, knitting-needle-clutching vampires of vengeance?
If I can manage to stop laughing and find a “read more” image, I will try to give you a place to start, because, oh gentle content creator with good, pure, genuine intent, I know you are tripping on, getting tangled in, and even, all unbeknownst to you, drowning in swamps full of mental blockades you may not even be aware are there.
And unlike the name for this ship full of queers, you are not really going to get answers writ large for you in the sky.
Dumbledore? What does Dumbledore have to do writing (or not writing) queer characters into fictional worlds? Isn’t Dumbledore canonically gay? Why don’t you look particularly happy? Are you …. cry-laughing into your drink? Should you really be writing as an imaginary person you are talking to?
Those are all excellent questions (and not just because I came up with all of them) and short answer is, besides telling you all to head below the “read more” cut, that Dumbledore is a familiar, well-known, and thus easy to use example who also encapsulates a lot of the problems with leaving queer existence to after-the-fact author confirmation and the imaginations and creative outputs of fandom.
Considering how relevant the things people latch on as Signs of Queerness are to actually being queer, I think I’m justified in throwing in some Rankin-Bass dwarves in bags here as the “read more” image.
In case you missed it, Catwoman finally got her own A Celebration of 75 Years hardcover collection. And it is very possible you indeed missed it. I could (rather rightly) blame life circumstances for my missing the book’s release date, but in the course of trying to track down a table of contents to sate my curiosity (and then to write this when I found out a certain comic was included) I found more people surprised to hear that she had one and that it was already out than information on the book’s contents.
This … may speak to the amount of care and effort that went into curating the collection and to promoting its release, even given the spotty nature of collections in general. And it may make it not all that surprising that I have to give a content warning. Over a celebration/best of collection. So, discussion of the selections for the collection under the cut and warning for rape/rape aftermath and domestic violence. And general whorephobia and terrible narrative treatment of women.
But mostly warning for the cover and first page of the issue they picked to kick off the post-Crisis, pre-New52 section of the collection/continuity.
This of course also applies to non-fan-fiction fiction but many frustrated and disappointing attempts at finding comfort reading later, I’m going to start with fan fiction because …
That includes recommending Dr Oz, yoga, wheatgrass, and also stuff like writing “What if Tony came back from Afghanistan with a life-changing disablity” fic for the Iron Man movie franchise. He already came back with a life-changing disability and until the end of Iron Man 3 had a very obvious assistive device embedded in his chest. (Chronic Illness Cat! <- source link for image)
I really have no idea how to start this (seriously, this opening has had multiple failed attempts plus weird, frustrated placeholder text :P) soooo a) I’m doing a book review! b) it has lots of queer representation! and ladies! and dragons! although there’s really only one dragon (is that a spoiler? I think it might be, with enough sleuthing skills) c) head below the cut for as spoiler-free a review as I can do of the first two books in the Mangoverse fantasy series by Shira Glassman.
I’m not reviewing a comic so finding a read more image is slightly harder but luckily the author loves cute art of her characters so here are two of the series’ leads, Shula and Aviva, drawn by Tumblr user nobunaganoran.