philippos42: Paul Rudd (manly)
I have been reading a lot of Narnia fic this week.

I want to praise in particular two crossover fics; the first short and sweet, the second a sprawling novel in progress: Moriwen's What Is This, A Joke?--not a Narnia fic but an Aslan fic--in which William the Bloody meets Aslan; and The Peridan Chronicles by marmota_b, which tries to be as true to canon as possible while retconning Lord Peridan, which I take to be an utterly incidental supporting character I have forgotten from The Horse and His Boy, to be, well, Methos.

I've been going through the Susan Pevensie tag at AoOO, mostly, typically skipping stuff that is marked as smutty and weirdly deviant, or seems like it will be overlong. (I may have seen and closed unread two different fics that threatened to play on King Miraz raping one the Pevensie boys, ew.) I did read some of the grim "deconstructions" (really re-imaginings with terribly unsympathetic Aslan and Lucy), and they were moderately clever.

One thing that all this brings to mind is that C. S. Lewis didn't leave a terribly coherent continuity or built world to work with. He liked to throw things in, even to the point of radically re-imagining the setting as he went on, and not be super-consistent with himself; and that's good, really. On the other hand, he "threw in" a lot of stuff in the last book which was annoying (at least to me).

Another thing is that some of us (like me) have reacted to Lucy's characterization of Susan in The Last Battle a little too strongly.
I was thinking about the Jean Grey School, and what characters I would use if writing X-Men. I had this memory of two of the five Stepford Cuckoos losing their powers in M-Day, and thought I remembered a scene where the five are freaking out because two of them lost their psychic link:

"Mother, I can't hear [name] in my head!"

So I had the idea that there were these two other Cuckoos out there without powers, and there were stories to be told. Well, I should look up their powers, right?

OK, the wikis are telling me that they were already down to three by M-Day, and the other two are not de-powered, but dead. Also some really weird stuff in one of the miniseries, I think it was called Phoenix: Warsong. Anyway, it torpedoes my ideas.

This is why I should just make up my own characters.
philippos42: (despair)
Here, have a nice video. I'm going to say some harsh things about fandom, & thus most likely about you. So I'll start with something positive, and it makes a good soundtrack.
(thanks to Yamino)

I long ago got sick of the sort of fan (consistently male) whose fandom conversation substantially exists of proclamations of how badass his particular favored character is. "Hulk is the strongest one there is!" "No, Thor!"

There is another sort of fan (consistently female) who is functionally the distaff counterpart. Her fannishness is pretty much filtered through "shipping"--sometimes in really contrary-to-the-text ways.

After a decade in online fandom, I can tell you that conventional-wisdom gender stereotypes hold. Boys make everything into professional wrestling, girls make everything into a romance novel. And because comic-books are low art, popular art, they draw a lot of people who fall back on the conventional thinking about character & story. (I should be reading more classic Russian lit or something, right? Get a better class of fiction in my brain.)

And then I guess there are people like me. I find both those tropes a bit silly for the most part, occasionally disturbing in their singlemindedness, & ultimately, after ten years of competing visions of the best badass or the best ship, I find them tedious as all get out. And then there are the fans that I like to read: people who are actually writing about something else.

I'm not immune to feats of awesome power. Let's be clear. I am a Doctor Zero fan for a reason. Supes, Magneto, Ultragirl, I do actually like some ridiculous, over-the-top, stride-over-the-world (alien messiah-hood optional) characters. Sometimes I get annoyed at those who want to jack up a favored character's power level further than I would, or favor a character from a series I find annoying. But if I can be irked at Batman fanboys or Barry Allen loyalists, well, I hope I'm self-aware enough to realize that Supes, Magneto, Ultragirl, & Doctor Zero are silly characters too. Sometimes it's best to back off and not have other characters job to your guy. (I long wanted Ultragirl to paste Gladiator, but on reflection I doubt it's in character for her even if she somehow can.)

And when it gets to the less high-powered characters, well, part of the appeal is how they work with what they've got. I don't need my character to be able to simply and automatically whup anybody, & a story that read that way would be less satisfying than one where the hero had to work at it. (There's a really good example contrasting a Pérez/Andru Wonder Woman story with a Jimenez Wonder Woman story, that I think I have neglected to post for years. And Wondy is not really low-powered even!)

I think it was in Tree and Leaf I read the passage where the writer says that for him the question about heroes of story was, "Are they good? Are they evil?" I think I'm closer to that instinct of interpretation. Power is about what you do with it.

As for romance: I'm not against romance. I actually like romantic stories with characters who are written/designed to be together. But I rarely have non-canon ships as a rule, & I don't naturally seek them.

(I joke that I ship Koiwai and Asagi, but it's not a serious thing. I kind of want Jumbo to win, actually. I don't have, I'm not naïve enough, I'm too flipping old to have deep FEELINGS about it either way. All I can do is wait on Azuma to write what he will write.)

I could say, "I don't ship. I'm a guy." That's true enough. But more than that, I'm not really all that much into character-transformative fic for the sake of teh romance. Once you've turned a character into a different character, it's not quite the same character.

This may be alien thinking to some of comixfandom, as comix seem to think that a character is a name and a costume. But character, that's about who a character is, how they think, what their ethos is--and sometimes who you love, how you love, whether you love is part of that.

Now, some transformation is objective improvement. To get a character to stop being self-destructive, to be happier, to be less of an insulting caricature (1940's comix' portrayal of Orientals pretty much demanded reimaginings)--a fanfic can try to fix it, & sometimes a fan-turned-pro can invent new canon. But sometimes a character is designed to be imperfect. I'm not a great believer in "death of the author." Authors for me are always there, voice inescapably coming off the page. A later author may repurpose the characters, but that's another author using the same tags.

Still, I'm not completely against the transformation of character, not even where it ties into sex & relationships. (I got into Wondy fandom because I wanted to reinvent the franchise, people!)

I find it completely understandable if some het person fantasizes about turning Northstar straight. That makes sense to me on some level--the character, just "improved" to be more like a certain ideal. It doesn't even have to be a girl fantasizing that he's her (or her proxy character's) boyfriend. It can just be a matter of trying to tie a character you like to something in your personal identity or ideals. Reimagining Wonder Woman as a Christian? Sure, I can see where that comes from.

So by analogy I understand someone using fic to turn a character gay.

Someday I may understand what's up with Judd Winick changing the ethnicities of characters who already had sharply defined and unusual ethnic backgrounds. Doesn't mean I'll agree with it.

And that's sort of how I feel about insisting that Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke need to be a couple, or that Batman can beat everyone with prep time. I can understand it, I just reject the assumption.

Superhero comix fandom & the superhero comix industry are so intertwined, so incestuous, so inbred, that a lot of what we get is a totally earnest version of Stan Lee's hoary old captions, where he'd say stuff to the effect of, "And now we get to the fighting! Which is what you really care about!" I miss Ann Nocenti, who didn't come out of comix fandom, & who wrote stuff from a really different place. Now I think of it, I may even miss Steve Gallacci's dry, political anthropomorphs, in their chapters with no big fight, no payoff, living lives of desperation in a world that could go to hell on a scale far larger than themselves.

What I'm saying is that tonight I'm officially sick of it. The novelty has worn off. Most shippers aren't good enough writers to get me to care. In this shippy fans are like writers of ultimate showdowns & other wrasslin'-esque stories.

(blue is a dazzling exception, though nobody's dazzling enough to get me to even read Addison/Meredith fic. That said, I think Harrierverse works in the same sense that revisionist Arthuriana works. Whatever the characters are named, they are in blue's stories who she means them to be. And they're well-written. I just feel sad that she identifies her characters with corporately owned characters that can never really be hers.)

So I really appreciate Aaron Diaz, who is not a ficcer (uses his own characters) is not boring (creates clever scenarios) and when he's writing meta (see blog ) is this wonderfully dorky (if vaguely self-righteous) enthusiast for drawing and visual design.

And Shinga, who is a terrible little snarkblossom.

But ah, you say, these are creators, & not stupid, stunted-brain work-for-hire fanboys hacking out commercial pap about characters someone else owns! Also, their output is really freakin' slow. They are closer to Los Bros. Hernandez than some Big Name Fan like espanolbot or bluefall.

Right. But satirist commentators (or humorist critics) like espanolbot, or even finer, auggie18/magickmaker/freerangenerdity, succeed by tweaking the creators. (And frankly it's that kind of humor helped turn me on to Shinga.)

Am I this kind of smart, cool fan? Nah. I don't write that much, I'm not funny, & sometimes my blog is just links & memes. I hate to say it, but I fit in too well in the tumblr dynamic of just repeating other people's images. :(

Oh, well.

I'm not even as crazy clever-prolific as odditycollector, who would I think insist that's she's just a fan doing memes & jokes--but her memes take more work than most.

On a good day (once a year) I might be comparable to thehefner, or at least he makes sense to me. Reminds me of a smart guy I know in real life.


Doctor Zero could paste all the superheroes, too bad he's near-sociopath on the interpersonal relationship development scale. I just can't write a shipfic about him.

And I don't care. But there is pretty fan art and pretty fan music and funny fan jokes, & I still like internet fandom.
philippos42: zat's bunny (rabbit)
"The Great [Grant] Morrison circle jerk"
Well, yeah, continuity porn.

Read any of Steven Grant's rants about comic-book universe-building.
This isn't even the one I was looking for, but it's apropos
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (funny face)
In a comment you may not be able to see, I said,

"Yeah, I could see Diana with Tasha Teranova (in space), Mala (in the past) or Io (in a self-destructive leading-her-on way), but I never really bought Diana/Artemis, as I've said. I could sorta buy Mike/Artemis, maybe Artemis/some Hellender, but not Di/Temi."

and anyone who knows the Byrne Wonder Woman is entitled to roll their eyes at one part of that.

Read more... )

Like I said, almost.
Does Lady Gaga have a rogues' gallery?

Does Kavita Ramdas?

Did Gandalf? Well, the Necromancer, I suppose. But Lord of the Rings is not like an issue of Batman where he wrassles Killer Croc.

Can you imagine reading biographies of Gaga or Kavita Ramdas in which they are portrayed as having rogues' galleries, full of characters that suspiciously resemble pro wrestling "heel" personae? Would you think these were enlightening or accurate?

Now, they may have recurring kinds of problems to deal with; they may have persons in their lives that annoy them. But if someone were repeatedly trying to violently them & those around them, I'd expect this would find some resolution & not continue endlessly.

Some of you say, "Wouldn't it be badass if they did?" I say no. It would be pathetic.

This is a bias of mine, & I can see where it comes from. I came to superhero comics having already been into children's fantasy & detective stories. Think of The Hobbit, or Nancy Drew.

Fantasy stories traditionally end in resolution for the antagonist/protagonist conflict (except arguably Peter Pan, which is making a point of sorts). The protagonists in fairy-story often go somewhere, meet an evil, & do one of the following: a) defeat the evil; b) escape the evil, count themselves lucky, & seek a life of propriety & safety; or c) get devoured by the evil.

Detective characters may have lots of cases, but they make a point of closing them (except maybe in stuff like P. D. James's work, but that's not about fighting the same person in every novel either). Closure is part of the genre.

Superhero universes appealed to me as a kid because they had sci-fi, fantasy, & detective riffs. They could combine these things. But one aspect I don't like so much is the pro wrestling aspect. This is a bias of mine, sure. But...I's a case of my bias being rooted in good writing & the typical superhero bias being rooted in well, bad writing.

When I see someone say that Wonder Woman needs her rogues' gallery built up, I roll my eyes. Rogues' galleries are stupid. It's as unrealistic as saying that she needs little power-ups hovering around her like Scott Pilgrim, or that she needs to take damage in level-dependent hit points like a Dungeons & Dragons player character.

Imagine a world where someone exists who is at once Kavita Ramdas, Lady Gaga, & Gandalf. Or bits of them. Kavita's social activism, Gandalf's divine mission & weird powers, Gaga's controversial celebrity & hatred of trousers. Imagine that person actually existing; not a pro wrestling persona, but a real life historical personage. Can you imagine reading a biography of this person in which she is portrayed as having rogues' galleries, full of characters that suspiciously resemble pro wrestling "heel" personae? Would you think these were enlightening or accurate? Would they be anything but parody, on the level of Tijuana Bibles (with wrestling instead of sex)?

But Philippos, you say, rogues' galleries are part of the genre! Well, they don't have to be. Until relatively recently, antagonists in action-hero comics didn't universally & always come back. (They do now, or nearly so, as the official works have descended into badfic.) Some antagonists are defeated for good. (And writers who resurrect those characters are usually writing derivative nonsense. Not always; but typically.)

Maybe Marston would have reused his rogues until they became ridiculous (arguably he did; but then his rogues started out ridiculous). But I'm not really looking to read a Marston pastiche. I gave up on trying to read the Marston run because I found it unreadably bad; why would I want more of the same?

So if I ever try writing about a Wondy-esque character again, & I'm not doing a camp parody that's trying to be stupid, don't be surprised if there are very very few recurring antagonists.

There can be gods, or tendencies that are personifiable: Conquest, Deception, & Greed; the Exploiter & his kin from The Challenge of Artemis. But these are less men than symbols of the evils men do; they inhabit different men.

There can be persons who are merely annoying rather than murderous; Mrs. Camellia Sackville-Baggins, Bilbo's hated relative; Ned Leeds, who married Peter Parker's ex-girlfriend; Jolly Jonah Jameson, who libeled Spider-Man to sell newspapers; Reggie.

But fighting a single murderous human being again & again & not actually trying to reform, incarcerate, or just plain incapacitate that person should be cause to take away your hero league membership card.

WW meta

Nov. 25th, 2009 04:12 pm
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (what?)
B' is a lesbian, & she tends to identify as Wonder Woman as queer. I give B' credit for actually writing Diana as bisexual, rather than exclusively homosexual. Amusingly, this comes out with Diana being actively, promiscuously bisexual; not just open to either sex, but seeking both, possibly at the same time.

I am a straight man, & consciously write Diana as straight. (There's a pattern here.)

Actually, I long ago developed a reflex against a certain sort of male-fantasy portrayal of lesbianism, & a sense that it would be unseemly for me to take someone else's character & throw her into such a characterization. I mean in published work, actually, though it affects how I think about fanfic, too. (Weirdly, my flist is full of femslashers--not least B'--by whom I am bemused.) My own characters, sure, whatever--because they're mine, I can do that. (And hey, giving an unattached character some arguably creepy straight love interest--that's just me trying to write romance, badly. :sigh:)

Granted, this is Wonder Woman we're talking about. Bisexuality fits the character pretty freaking well. And yet, actually trying to write Di in a lesbian relationship is not something for which I have great enthusiasm. And writing her as B' does, determinedly promiscuous, is something that I have serious reservations about. Because I'm not just writing superhero fetish porn, I'm thinking about, "How would I write the book?" (The book which started out as a children's series & mass-market. That book.) Sometimes I will miss the mark, laughably, but when I try to put together stories, I really am thinking, "I want to write this book." (Well, in theory. That's not always true. There's a lot of throwaway joke stuff I can say because I'm not actually writing the book. But it is the delusional assumption behind a lot of my thinking.)

And if I were writing the book, with a character who's supposed to be super-intelligent, & "wise," I feel like I have to make her ... prudent. So promiscuity is out.

But prudence does not point toward heterosexuality, does it? No, not really. DC marketing concerns might.

And maybe I'm just a bit offended at writing some woman who's nearly my classic type as a lesbian. Of course, in reality this would just be par for the course for me, being attracted to a lesbian. But I'm not running Jodie Foster as a subroutine in my head, whereas Di, as a character I'm trying to write, is. Eh, I dunno.

Is it that writing Wondy that way, in a way that doesn't apply to say, Hopey Glass, would kind of mess with my own like for the character? Well, I think that's more expectation than likely result, actually. (That is, my expectation of effect more than the actual effect on my like for the character.) I mean, you could make Diana seriously straight & kind of a hausfrau, & she'd still kind of read as queer with the whole Amazon thing.

But that's the thing. If Wondy is a lesbian just because she's an Amazon, then...yeah, I don't care about such a franchise. I really want to have the weird strong woman + normal man dynamic that I remember from old Spider-Woman comics, & if Wondy can't do that, screw it, I'll write something else.

When it comes to Wondy, I probably should just focus on non-romance stories, anyway. Those are the main part of the kinds of stories this character should be in. And I feel like I can get the character's voice a little wrong if I try to push a romance plot on her. But I got to thinking about Wondy love interests during a period when Wondy fandom was riven by arguments about Di's sexuality or lack thereof. Thus I developed an attitude that the character should have an actual recognizable sexuality, & if I wrote the book, I was going to write her with some kind of boyfriend(s).




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