Getting back to business (a little bit of everything)

Okay, folks. So the last two days have been a diversion into unpleasantness that I would have rather avoided, but now it’s time to stop marinating in bile and get back to blogging about the things I want to be blogging about. I’ve got a few different things that need addressing, first, so here goes.

Patrons: Here’s how this thing is going to work

So I’m still new to the Patreon thing and have been figuring out how I want to do this. After flailing around for a little bit, here’s how it’s going to work. Patron rewards for new patrons and patrons who have changed their pledge levels will get processed the first week of the month, once the funds have cleared[1]. For existing patrons with outstanding rewards, I might send a reminder every few months or so? We’ll see. I don’t want to harass you folks, so please speak up in the comments if you have any suggestions or preferences.

As far as people who reduce their pledges (which I understand and support, really, any amount of support is valuable and warms my heart), if you were previously at $3+ and go below that, I’m inclined to leave your requested link in the sidebar. There’s not a whole lot of stuff there yet, so it’s not a huge deal. Down the line if things get crazy that might change? But I don’t anticipate needing to revisit that in the near future.

As for paid posts versus freebies, you’ll see freebies pop up from time-to-time when I want to make a quick-and-dirty post (like my previous post), or like when I post a link roundup – since those require a minimum of effort. I value your support and want to keep paid posts to things that take non-trivial amounts of time and/or energy and/or research to prepare.

What’s in the pipeline?

In the somewhat distant future, you’ll be seeing some patron-requested posts (or possibly series of posts? I’m really not sure yet) pop up. The two I’m working on currently are about the portrayal of sex work in games and the portrayal of disability in games. Neither of these are areas that I’m terribly knowledgeable at, but I’m looking forward to learning. I’m currently plugging away at research, but even once I’ve done that I imagine I’ll flail around a bit before figuring out how I want to come at these topics.

In the more near term, I’m having a conversation behind the scenes with a popular game designer that I hope I’ll be able to blog about once it’s done. And of course, things will pop up that I desperately want to blog about. They always do.

So that you don’t leave empty-handed, here are some links

First up – if I was more on the ball I would have linked to this sooner: Medusa’s Guide for Gamer Girls on IndieGoGo. The crowdfunding ends today - it ends at midnight. Here’s a very brief excerpt of the description of the project:

…But I do want to discuss the problems we face as women gamers and how to overcome them, and some of those problems involve dealing with guys who are not very open minded or who simply see women as objects. I also want to introduce readers to some positive women role models who are industry professionals, and I want to talk about how women can break into this industry–if that is their goal…

If that sounds interesting, or even if you just want to support women’s voices in gaming, consider throwing a few bucks her way.

Next, have you seen Bikini Armor Battle Damage? I keep forgetting to add this fantastic blog by OzzieScribbler to my sidebar when I’m on a computer that will properly run the WordPress.com interface (long story), but it’s really a fantastic blog.

Anyway, thanks to OzzieScribbler I got to see this post about how glorious Final Fantasy XIV is for being the first MMO where the men really are just as sexualized as the men. (No really!)

Lastly, I found this piece over on NPR’s Code Switch blog a really great look at the racist tropes that abound in Street Fighter II. (Don’t read the comments.)

That’s all for now

Expect posting to return to a more normal (ie a lot slower) pace.

[1] Assuming Patreon doesn’t get dicked over by PayPal, as was the case for February’s disbursement. Yet more reason for me to loathe PayPal.

Even more followup: in which the awful is doubled down

So here’s the story so far, for those of you who haven’t been playing along at home thus far. I did an anatomy correction of a piece of art by Jonboy Meyers. Apparently that made a lot of comics fans really, really mad. So since they found this link, I’ve been enjoying a nice little hate-a-palooza from my least favorite segment of the internet.

Because it’s the way I roll, I then posted a response to all the haterade highlighting the good, the bad, and the stupid. This has had mixed results. I got several new patrons from all this extra traffic (hello, you beautiful, wonderful people, you!) – which is pretty cool. So thanks for all the extra traffic, haters. You actually did me a favor there. But responding to haterade is like kicking a hornet’s nest. The results are eminently predictable and never pleasant.

Now, in my previous post I called out J Scott Campbell and Mark Brooks, who are themselves well-known professional comics artists, as being the instigators of a very large portion of the internet bile that has been rolling downhill in my direction. (I can’t know what portion because the trackback doesn’t break it down any further than “facebook.com”. Thanks for nothing, trackback.) Here, apparently, is what they have to say for themselves.

I’m including transcripts below each image since the screen grabs are hard to read. My comments are inserted bolded in brackets.

—-followup-1

Mark Brooks: Hey, look at us! We got picked out in her nonsensical rebuttal! [Because any time you don't like something a woman says, you can just call her crazy and problem solved! True story.] And now we’re apparently bullies too! I guess when you get any modicum of notoriety you’re not allowed to have an opinion anymore. Go figure. [Come on. You draw comics for a living. "With great power comes great responsibility" ring a bell at all?]

J Scott Campbell: Wait a second… So Mark and I get shrapnel kickback, and [anonymized] get’s [sic] away untarnished…?! No fair!!

[anonymized]: I’m apparently not a big deal like you two, and that hurts.

Mark Brooks: It’s official, [anonymized], you’re a victim.

[Okay, so I know they're joking here. I do get that. But it's a little troublesome that they're willing to brush aside their role in stirring up this flood of bile in the first place as, you know, no big deal. Hey! We'll just call her crazy! No need to actually reflect on the implications of my actions. Nope! Not at all.]

followup2

J Scott Campbell: Again, I made my original post having absolutely no idea of her gender, only that her artistic working knowledge seemed extremely flawed, uninformed and incorrect to offer any legitimate lectures or critiques to working published artists. So if she’s blustering on about this being part of some anti-female bla-bla-bla, I think her argument in [sic] unsound.

[OH MY GOD. "Anti-female bla-bla-bla"?? I'm not making this stuff up for shits and giggles. Sexism in the comics industry is very well documented. READ A BOOK. Or, you know, talk to any woman who's worked for DC for more than five minutes. Or just tell yourself that I'm just craaaaaazy. Whichever. That works too]

J Scott Campbell: I mostly feel sad for her. She appears to go through life seeing only the bad in other people and their work. Seems like it’d be a tortured existence. And immediately going after mine and Mark’s artwork the very next day only adds to the appearance of her biased and emotional filled knee-jerk thinking that has little to do with legitimate art critiquing, and more to do with attempting to save face. I hope for her sake that she can pull herself out of this self-destructive mindset and work on bettering her own artwork rather than grabbing at fleeting internet fame by tearing down others more successful than her. [Italicized emphasis mine]

Okay. We’re going to take a break from screen caps for a second to respond to that last one in particular.

So, first of all, claiming that I “went after [your] and Mark’s artwork” just proves how incredibly little effort you put into ACTUALLY READING WHAT I WROTE. Here’s what I actually said:

Which. You know what? In what universe is it okay to use your very large platform to encourage your followers to harass someone? Adria Richards and Anita Sarkeesian are only two of the most recent and prominent examples of the effects that online harassment can have. There is a long and sad history online of women being harassed for DARING to commit the CRIME of HAVING OPINIONS WHILE FEMALE.

And for people who’d say “well they didn’t actually tell their fans to harass you”? BULLSHIT. They made posts in which they called me things like “laughable”, “embarrassing”, and “smug”, then continued to encourage the anger in the thread that resulted. Nor did they make any attempts to dissuade potential harassers, or tell people who made threatening comments to back off. These are grown-ass-men who pointed their very large audiences at me and told them what a terrible person I was on the internet because they want me to shut the fuck up.

 Going through these threads is, of course, about as pleasant as drinking a tuna and brussel sprouts milkshake, so I’m not going to go through all of the comments that have been made so far. I have better things to do with my time than marinate in internet bile. But here are some highlights taken from J. Scott Campbell’s hate-fest before I got too tired of humanity to continue.

(SEVERAL of whom I should note are professional comics artists. I’m not going to name all the names here, because I don’t actually hate myself. But it is worth asking that HOW is any of this anything resembling professional behavior? But then, given that the mainstream comics industry is happy to regularly re-affirm how much it hates women, I guess none of this should come as a surprise.)

Got it? Okay, so let’s review. Did I say that they were knowingly using their audience to harass me? Yup! I sure did. Did I say that their behavior is unprofessional and imply strongly that it was also irresponsible? You betcha! Did I say ANYTHING ANYWHERE about artwork created by J Scott or Mark Brooks? NOPE. Go ahead. Re-read that. I’ll wait.

And of course, the “I feel so sorry for this poor bitter tortured sadsack” tactic is just a fancy variant of the “bitches be crazy” defense. Except, I’m sorry, how is it that I’m the nonsensical crazy one when I’m not the person who is saying straight-up NOT TRUE STUFF? Oh right. I’m a woman, and women who say things that people don’t work are crazy. Right. The ancient Greeks even invented a term for it – hysteria. Somehow that slipped my mind.

Also, you know who hasn’t (to my knowledge) participated in these threads? JB Meyers. You’d think the way J Scott Campbell is reacting that I went and personally kicked his puppy. But nowhere did I ever say anything about his art, or about Mark’s art. So I’m really not sure why J Scott and Mark are getting so wound up about this when JB himself seems to be restraining from participating in this disgusting vortex of internet hate.

Okay. Sidebar over.

followup4

J Scott Campbell: I also welcome counterpoints and as long as they’re civil and respectful (more or less) and I wouldn’t delete them just because the opinions differ from my own. That’s where we are different as well.

[Pretty classic form on the tone argument there, although the equivocating means he doesn't stick the dismount. B+ effort.]

followup3

Okay, I’m not going to transcribe this, but this is basically Mark Brooks plugging all of his portfolio sites. Because when I get traffic from a storm of internet negativity, that’s bad. But when Mark uses a storm of internet negativity to advertise his professional services, thats’… um… good?

Anyway. That’s all I have for now. Since I don’t have anything more clever to end on, please enjoy these links to my favoritemale tears” GIFs. May they brighten your day. (I do apologize to my regular readers for the lack of actually important contact. But hey, you know how it is.)

Regarding entirely predictable backlash [LONG, LOTS OF IMAGES]

First order of business:

First of all, hello new readers! Welcome to my blog. I’ve gotten a huge spike of traffic in the last day, so let me just take the opportunity to say that if you actually appreciate what I’m doing here, consider checking out my Patreon and throwing $1 or 2 my way per month? It helps me prioritize the time and energy to blog about games and to also deal with the grade-A bullshit like the following.

You hate me! You really hate me! *blush*

I’m pretty used to getting gamer hate, but it seems like Jonboy Meyers is a Pretty Big Deal in comics after all because I wound up closing comments after a sudden torrent of abuse started appearing on my recent anatomy correction. I’m not just getting gamer hate now, I’m getting comics hate! It’s an entirely new demographic of geek hate! Progress!

male tears

Unsure of original source, taken from fuckyeahreactions.tumblr.com. (Sorry, guys. Tumblr is awful at attribution. It sucks.)

Creature of the blog lagoon. Or: It came from the comments![1]

A well-meaning reader who was really trying to be nice kindly informed me that there was a lot of facebook hate going on (which I’ll get to in a minute), which I appreciated. However, he then said that I should go to these facebook threads and defend myself, otherwise my opinion “is worth nothing”.

WELL, gentle reader. If this were a reasoned and nuanced discussion of the merits of artistic style, sure! I’d be happy to have a spirited conversation. However, in the 40ish comments that I got before I closed the thread (MISANDRY! FASCISM!), there was an awful lot of abuse and name-calling. The most comment sentiments break down as follows: (There is overlap, obviously, as most comments managed to hit 2 or more of these in the same comment, and several hit 3+. Overachievers.)

  • Your art is bad – 10
  • You are not a professional artist – 7
  • Your anatomy was wrong – 6
  • It’s “stylized/exaggerated” because comics! – 6
  • Your degree is worthless – 5
  • You’re just jealous – 4
  • Your pose is static and dull – 4
  • You are a terrible person – 3
  • You are stupid/uneducated – 3
  • U DELETED MY COMMENT – 3
  • FORESHORTENING! – 3
  • You are nit-picking – 2
  • You are just over-reacting – 2
  • Nonsensical slurs 2
  • You should be embarrassed 2
  • You just need to get laid 1

So please, I beg of you, explain to my why I should be required to engage with people who are so eager to tell me that I am stupid, terrible, over-reacting, jealous, and crazy? No one is entitled to my time and attention, especially people who clearly have no intention of ever attempting to see me as an actual person.

Now, before I respond to the above point-by-point (mostly), there were some highlights worth noting. Like my favorite of the nonsensical slurs:

You [sic] review and correction is full of ASS like your FACE

As a friend said on my G+: “That is some C- trolling right there.” (Incidentally, this had me giggling all evening. I might actually make this my comment policy – that instead of just deleting troll comments that I might grade them as well. Or not. We’ll see.)

This was like watching an unpublished amateur telling Vonnegutt or Hemmingway or O’Neil that they don’t know what they’re doing.

Right. Because comics art is like HEMMINGWAY. Hell, why not go further? (Not to mention picking something vaguely in the same medium.) Picking on Jonboy Meyers is like picking on REMBRANDT! MICHAELANGELO! OR MONET!

I won’t justify any more of these comments with additional words, so Let’s get on with analyzing the hate behind these comments. (Hatenalysis?)

Your art is bad/you are not a professional artist: 

I find the contention that I’m not a professional artist a little baffling. How exactly does one define “professional”? I am an illustrator who has worked in the tabletop RPG industry. And while I don’t pay all of the bills with my art, I pay a good number of them. Sure I have a day job, but honestly – I know artists who have been in the business 10 years and still have day jobs. However, since this is most likely a case where “professional artist” is defined as artists receiving money for their work who aren’t me (moving the goal posts! yay!), I’m not going to bother going into the details of my freelancing life.

As for the attempt to dismiss my work by saying that my art is bad, I find it pretty hilarious that so many haters are tying themselves in mental knots in an attempt to not listen to what I have to say. MY art is bad because it’s anatomically incorrect, but JONBOY’s art is good because it’s “stylized” and “exaggerated”. Or, there’s no such thing as bad art, except for my art which is bad.

And on and on and on in that vein. Instead of actually engaging with any of the points being made, apparently it’s easier to just say NO U SUK. NO U. NO UUUUUUU. And since I’m not six years old, I have no intent to actually have this particular argument.

Lastly, the idea that my artistic skill has any bearing on my cred as a critic of art is, frankly, laughable. Do people demand that film critics make an Oscar-winning film before they are taken seriously? No, they don’t, because that would be ludicrous.

Your anatomy was wrong

Uh. Yeah. I kind of admitted that. But my anatomy mistakes were along the lines of “couldn’t find the right angle of the shoulder” and “might not have the correct angle on the ribcage”. The mistakes in the original were HOLY SHIT WHERE DID HER SHOULDER GO WHY IS HER ARM FLOATING IN SPACE. At least in my art, everyone’s limbs were properly attached.

It’s “stylized/exaggerated” because comics! / FOOOOORESHORTENING!

So, okay. There were a lot of people who jumped all over me to claim that I was wrong because FORESHORTENING and because comics are dynamic because of FORESHORTENING! And, guys. Come on. This is a classic case of “I do not think that word means what you think it means”.

I challenge you to do this pose in front of a mirror. (Not the spine-arch. Just the arms.) Her left arm won’t look like that, because the foreshortening is wrong – as drawn her upper arm is 2-3 times the length of her forearm. And dude, foreshortening is hard. I get it! Your brain lies to you, because it is an asshole. But don’t come to my blog and tell me that I’m wrong because FORESHORTENING when it is the foreshortening itself that is not correct.

As for “it’s stylized/exaggerated because comics!”, that’s taking a pretty restrictive view of what constitutes comics. Sure, the big comics publishers mostly publish art that objectifies and sexualizes women. But that’s ignoring the whole world of comics that is happening on the web by artists who are connecting directly with their audience. And a lot of those artists manage to find an audience without exaggerating anatomy in ways that objectify women.

Your degree is worthless

See, this is where I can never win. I mentioned my education because as a woman dares to criticize something online, people jump down her throat and DEMAND to know her credentials before taking her seriously. And here’s the lose-lose situation that follows. If she lists her credentials, they will be dismissed and she will probably be criticized for being arrogant and superior. But if she doesn’t, they’ll say that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. So in this instance, I erred on the side of uppity bitch. Hell, if I drop five figures on an art education, I’m sure as shit not going to hide the fact that I have it.

Your pose is static and dull

Thank you for ENTIRELY MISSING THE POINT. As blogs like Escher Girls and Comic Art Corrections have been blogging about for years, the problem with art like this is that it relies entirely on heavily distorted and sexualized anatomy to create the illusion of dynamism. When you remove the gratuitous sexualization, the pose itself is not actually dynamic or interesting. The fact that you think my drawover was dull only proves the point that I was trying to make – that objectifying women often becomes a crutch.

You’re just jealous/You are a terrible person/You are stupid/uneducated

What baffles me is that I didn’t do anything that hadn’t already been done elsewhere on some very popular blogs. Escher Girls and Comic Art Corrections are just two of my favorites – there are plenty more out there. And it’s not like I was any snarkier, because nope. There’s been a lot of snark from other bloggers (that I have enjoyed, to be honest) about the prevalence of snake women and centaur women and broken spines, etc, in comic art. So why is it that I come back to blogging after a hiatus of more than two years, do something that is, frankly, pretty common in the blogosphere, and yet I’m the one who gets the ridiculous outpouring of hate?

Also, if you think it’s okay to call someone fat, ugly, jealous, crazy, retarded, or a waste of space simply because they criticized an artist you like? I’d take a long hard look at yourself and the level of bile that you’re prepared to vent over something like that. And the people who made threatening comments or said things like I could “shampoo [their] crotch”? Seriously? You’re just fucking gross.

U DELETED MY COMMENT

Comments policy is clearly spelled out in the sidebar. I am not obligated to give you my platform so that you my abuse me however you like. That’s what the rest of the internet is for.

You just need to get laid

Thank you for being so eminently predictable. There’s always one, so I’m glad that you didn’t let me down.

Facebook haters

Alrighty. I said I would get back to facebook, so here goes. As of the instant of me writing this, I’ve gotten almost 29,000 views in just about 24 hours. The vast majority of this traffic is coming from facebook, where comic artists like J. Scott Campbell and Mark Brooks (and others, I’m sure) are riling up their THOUSANDS OF FANS about what a terrible human being I am.

link

From J. Scott Campbell’s facebook.

YOU try taking screen caps of a facebook hatefest while simultaneously attempting to get a toddler to eat breakfast. Go ahead.

Which. You know what? In what universe is it okay to use your very large platform to encourage your followers to harass someone? Adria Richards and Anita Sarkeesian are only two of the most recent and prominent examples of the effects that online harassment can have. There is a long and sad history online of women being harassed for DARING to commit the CRIME of HAVING OPINIONS WHILE FEMALE.

And for people who’d say “well they didn’t actually tell their fans to harass you”? BULLSHIT. They made posts in which they called me things like “laughable”, “embarrassing”, and “smug”, then continued to encourage the anger in the thread that resulted. Nor did they make any attempts to dissuade potential harassers, or tell people who made threatening comments to back off. These are grown-ass-men who pointed their very large audiences at me and told them what a terrible person I was on the internet because they want me to shut the fuck up.

 Going through these threads is, of course, about as pleasant as drinking a tuna and brussel sprouts milkshake, so I’m not going to go through all of the comments that have been made so far. I have better things to do with my time than marinate in internet bile. But here are some highlights taken from J. Scott Campbell’s hate-fest before I got too tired of humanity to continue.

(SEVERAL of whom I should note are professional comics artists. I’m not going to name all the names here, because I don’t actually hate myself. But it is worth asking that HOW is any of this anything resembling professional behavior? But then, given that the mainstream comics industry is happy to regularly re-affirm how much it hates women, I guess none of this should come as a surprise.)

First up, I loved the number of people who misgendered me.

misgender

Thanks for reminding me why I don’t actually have my gender in my profile on this blog. Also, WTF is up with dude who wants to come to my house and beat me up? Seriously? Thanks for being a terrible human being.

There were also several women who were very eager to let people know that THEY weren’t offended, not like those AWFUL HYSTERICAL FEMINISTS. They’re not out to kill anyone’s sexy fun! Which. Ugh. But I grew up with more than my share of internalized misogyny, so whatever. I know where they’re coming from. I did, however, particularly like these comments from someone who is a female professional comics artist.

fat-red-sonja

Seriously. Someone get on that. I will give you cash moneys to read about a fat, middle-aged, sword-wielding badass woman warrior. No lie.

The one thing that made me laugh, however, was this – in which the poster tries to claim that I don’t have a right to criticize Jonboy and cites my illustrations for SexyTime Adventures.

missing-the-point-satire

I guess this just reinforces the impossibility of satirizing this shit. But seriously, way to cherry-pick images without actually reading any of the actual words about how those drawings are fucking satire.

Now thankfully, there were at least a few people who were willing to stand up to this insanity, in varying degrees, for which I was grateful. Like this fellow.

lets-not-harass

I can’t say I liked the qualifier at the end, but you know what – I can’t blame the dude. Given the level of vitriol I imagine it took some courage to be the voice of reason and say “hey, maybe we shouldn’t harass this person”. So thanks not-crazy internet person.

And then there was this GLORIOUS schooling which I will never, ever get tired of:

SCHOOLED-SON

And then someone who not only agreed with me, but actually called out the hypocrisy of these commenters:

THANK-YOU---MY-HERO

YOU ARE MY HERO!

Speaking of which, Rob Liefeld agrees that I am terrible and my art is bad, which is the other thing that made me laugh.

But, you know, given that I don’t draw my women with broken spines, sameface, or LOTS OF AWESOME POUCHES!!!1!!11!eleventy!, I can see how Rob Liefeld would think that my work is bad and terrible.

Here is where I would normally write a clever conclusion. But I am tired of the universe, so instead here is a picture of a baby sloth.

[ETA: I've just added a followup to this followup here.]

—-

[1] I’m on a roll!

Anatomy: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (GenCon 2013 edition)

Recently, I had reason to take a good look at the GenCon 2013 poster that was drawn by Jonboy Meyers – a comic and game artist of some note[1]. The GenCon posters have long been a source of irritation for me, as each year the design centers around a scantily-clad female mascot. But until recently, I had thought of the 2013 poster as being “not as bad” as some of the others I’ve seen:

CLICK THROUGH FOR LARGER VERSION

And sure. There’s a lot wrong here. Her pose is weird and fanservice-y, the lens flare doesn’t completely obscure the fact that she’s wearing a miniskirt, and her “armor” seems to have individual boob compartments, not to mention that it’s rocking a severe case of sideboob. But bad as it is, she’s at least wearing more clothes than most of the other GenCon mascots I’ve seen? (Damned by faint praise, I know. I hope you realize just how low I’ve set the bar by now.) But then I took a really good look at it and realized, holy shit. There’s actually a lot seriously, seriously wrong with this picture.

So first, a drawover just to illustrate what’s going on underneath that overly-decorated-but-not-at-all-protective leather chestplate:

YIKES! Her breasts are weirdly enlarged, torpedo-shaped, and improperly placed and her ribcage is snapped in half just for starters. Neither of her arms are the correct length – her left upper arm is waaaaay longer than it should be at the expense of her forearm. I would say the situation is reversed with her right arm, except her right forearm is overly elongated but doesn’t actually connect to anything. There is no upper arm or even a right shoulder for it to attach to! Jonboy just lazily went “meh, boob” and counted on the fact that the viewer would be too busy admiring her chest to wonder about a small thing like WHERE THE HELL DID HER ARM GO?

What really kills me is the two different perspectives. The figure is drawn so that you are looking DOWN at the top of her head, but UP at her boobs. The effect is slight, but it’s there – which would only exaggerate the required spine arch of this pose to impossible levels. But of course, with torpedo collarboobs and floating arms it’s obvious that Jonboy was prioritizing SEXAY over, you know, anatomical plausibility.

(Which, can I just sidebar a second to say how gross that is? Look at this poor lady. She isn’t a person. She is literally a collection of disembodied parts, arranged for maximal titillation and shoved together in a mish-mash of lady-shaped sexy parts. Why do so many artists think that PARTS OF WOMEN are sexier than ACTUAL WOMEN?)

Ugh. Moving on.

Correcting the anatomy. Sort of.

So here’s the deal. I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to do anatomically correct draw-overs of this pose and I still didn’t get it quite right. Sometimes in art, you can get something so wrong that there’s just no point in trying to fix it. You’re better off to just nuke it from orbit and start over. However, as starting over would defeat the point of this particular exercise, I did my best to persevere.

You have no idea how much it pains me to post something this terrible and wrong.

So when I started doing my corrected drawover, I discovered YET ANOTHER problem with this pose – this time with her shoulder. (The one that actually exists, not the one floating invisibly in space.) In order to be anatomically correct, you can keep the angle of the ribcage or the angle of the shoulder, but not both. In order to keep the line of the shoulder as drawn, you’d actually be looking at the figure from the side.

This would significantly change the shape of the torso. Not to mention you’d only be able to see one breast, and it would be a full on side view. (That I couldn’t draw correctly. The original lines were just too distracting. Aaaaargh.)

However, since Jonboy seems like the kind of artist who would prioritize seeing both breasts over something as unsexy as a shoulder, I figured it was okay to give up and spend more time on the 3/4 view correction.

This isn’t correct either, but at least it’s closer.

Looking at it, there’s still some problems with my version. Her waist is too narrow, and her left shoulder actually needs to come out further – the edge should be about level with the side of her hip. (I got led astray by the original lines. They’re so hard to escape!)

However! I did manage to correct the most egregious faults. Her arms are now the correct length and properly attached! No more weirdly floating disembodied forearms. Her breasts are also now properly shaped (assuming she’s got a decent sports bra). I know I’m always bitching about basketball-shaped breasts, but torpedo-shaped breasts are just going too far in the other direction. Lastly, I  also gave her some bits of anatomy that she’d previously been missing. Like a collarbone.

Now what’s fun is if I actually combine the two re-draws. The result is… pretty interesting.

Phew! This wound up being one of my more challenging anatomy corrections, despite that I initially thought it would be easy. And of course, now that I’ve spent some time with it, I have to wonder how I could have failed to see how grossly distorted her anatomy is. I guess it just goes to show how omnipresent this sort of nonsense is in gaming culture. It just sort of becomes the background radiation that you have to put up with in order to be a gamer, which is saddening.

[1] As I avoid comics precisely BECAUSE of the type of art he makes, I have no idea if Jonboy Meyers is A Big Deal in the comics world, nor do I especially care.

Male Protagonist Bingo: A study in cliches [MANY IMAGES]

Over in the comments on my post about Joel from The Last of Us, I had occasion to write the following:

Secondly, I’m not saying that TLoU was badly written, or that Joel is a bad character. Far from it. But you know what? I’m so, so, so endlessly tired of the “gritty” white male action (anti)hero. With his angst! And his violence! And his moral ambiguity! And his managing-to-be-sympathetic-while-doing-terrible-things-because-he’s-doing-them-for-LOVE.

I’m just SO. FUCKING. TIRED.

and this:

I want to see stories with characters WHO LOOK LIKE ME. I’m tired of stories, even good ones, about white men being the only options I get. And sure, I can enjoy them in the moment. But ME. ME PERSONALLY. I am TIRED of not being represented. I’m not being “superficial”. I’m being FUCKING TIRED of not seeing myself in the games I play EVER EVER EVER.

and this:

We live in a patriarchal society where the dominant narrative is that men are protagonists and women are scenery. When an entire society has been constructed to tell your story, it’s easy to say “oh well I don’t mind other stories so why are you so hung up on gender/sexuality/race/whatever” – because you have the luxury of knowing that the overwhelming majority of stories that you want to consume will still be about you.

As a woman, I don’t have that luxury. Despite that I have been playing video games for well over 2 decades, there are exactly 4 female characters in games that I have played that I would say are universally awesome and positive protagonists whom I don’t feel critical of on some level. FOUR. (Yuna, Lightning, FemShep, and Ellie, if you’re counting.) And Jesus, I’m white, cis, and straight – so I’m sure there’s shit I’m missing.

So you know what? Fuck realism. I don’t care if a female character “feels” “truthful”. If we can believe in worlds with dragons and zombies and magic and future tech, WHAT IS SO HARD about believing in a world where women can be protagonists?

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Just last night I was bitching to my husband about how unbelievably DONE I am with stories about MANLY MEN PUNCHING THINGS AND BEING MANLY BECAUSE THEY’RE MEN.[1] So I decided to write a post about how unbelievably unoriginal most games protagonists are, but I didn’t know the best way to do it. I hacked away at it for a while and wound up with an outline that would have been 3000 words.

No one wants to read 3000 words. Hell, I don’t want to WRITE 3000 words.

And then I thought – bingo card! Let’s make an amusing feminist meme work for me! A picture is worth a thousand words and all that. …well, okay. Ten pictures is worth 3000 words. It’s the exchange rate.

So here is the bingo card itself. Please feel free to use it how you see fit – just please don’t crop out the credits. (Wheaton’s Law, guys. Removing attribution is a dick move.)

CLICK THROUGH FOR LARGER VERSION

CLICK THROUGH FOR LARGER VERSION

Then I ran ten male protagonists from major video game series against the bingo card, because why not? Including Joel, since I’d spent so much time arguing about him recently.

Bingo-SolidSnake

Bingo-Shepard

Bingo-Riddick

Bingo-MaxPayne

Bingo-MarcusFenix

Bingo-Kratos

Bingo-Joel

Bingo-Batman

Bingo-Altair

Bingo-Agent47

Yup. NO UNORIGINALITY HERE. Nope. No siree! Because this is proof that game devs are SO, SO ORIGINAL.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be crying over here in this corner.

[1] And he was like “Yup. Yup. Yes. I agree. Uh-huh.” Not to be patronizing, just because he’s heard the same rant approximately five million times. I guess I repeat myself when I get mad.

Bits and pieces: the tired Tuesday edition

Hi, folks! There’ve been a couple interesting things floating around my internet recently, but mostly they’re things I probably won’t write an entire post about any time soon. I promise I’m working on some more in-depth posts, including one anatomy correction and a possible post about sex workers in video games. But for now, here’s some interesting quickies.

The Mary Sue had a post recently that looked in depth at publisher QCF’s efforts to make female character icons for their game Desktop Dungeons that varied in gender presentation, age, and other factors. As someone who continually tries to increase the diversity of representation in my own work, it was great to read about other creators working through the same process:

Shorthands for the feminine kept crawling into our work when we weren’t paying attention – smooth skin, homogenized facial structures, evidence of makeup, you name it. Even characters who we thought would easily sidestep trouble (like the female wizard) simply looked like young, pretty women in grunge costume rather than hardboiled dungeoneers. Portraits for some species went through several drafts just to deprogram our subconscious idea of what felt normal and right.

This really rings true for me. Unfortunately, we’re all programmed with toxic stereotypes and biases. Making inclusive work requires really being conscious of those stereotypes and working hard to avoid them. It also means knowing that you’re going to screw up, and being prepared to revise as needed. Is it harder than just slapping a bunch of stereotypes together and calling it a day? You bet it is. But it’s a thing worth doing.

(Really, you should just go read the whole thing if you haven’t already.)

This is kind of perfect – Fake Nerd Guys. (NSFW!) Linking without further comment.

I started doing the first of my Patreon-related gender swaps yesterday. When finished, it will appear here with commentary, but if you’d like to see in-progress pics you can see them here on my art blog.

More Tumblr goodness. Have you seen Bikini Armor Battle Damage? Because it’s kind of amazing. Anyhow, it’s run by OzzieScribbler, who recently made these amazing female armor bingo cards:

Now I want to run a whole bunch of work by the game artists I pick on the most by this bingo card to see who would get the most bingos…

The Impossibility of Satirizing Game Art [NSFW!]

Those of you who follow my art blog over on Tumblr will already know that I’ve been working on publishing a new tabletop game, a satire hack of Dungeon World that I’m calling SexyTime Adventures – meant to parody all of the awful sexism that gets included in just about every fantasy dungeoneering game ever[1]. For instance, here is my description of the Cleric:

Others may be ambivalent in their faith, worshipping whichever god in the pantheon most serves their needs in the moment. Some have no faith at all, citing the existence of monsters, demons, and war as proof that there are no gods. But you, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a god, and that god has touched you deep in your soul. Your bosomy, voluptuous soul.

You have been called to bring faith to a faithless world, to smash down the unrighteous and stand triumphantly over them without any pants on. For pants are the work of the devil. So sayeth the lord.

(You can find plenty more previews of the game text here.)

Satire is always challenging. No matter how hard you work, how carefully you craft it, how blindingly obvious you think it is that no one would ever actually say or think this, someone (or multiple someones) will always think that you’re being serious. Always. It’s one of the sad, immutable truths of satire. But that’s not to say that satire isn’t worth doing. Shows like The Daily Show and the Colbert Report illustrate the continuing relevance of satire as an important form of social commentary.

And honestly? Satire can be so much fun. Everything that’s in SexyTime Adventures makes me giggle. I especially had a blast with names for character abilities – “The Male Gaze”, “I Said Lesbians”, and “Which Way to the Beach?” are just a few of my favorites.

But then there’s the problem of art.

Any decent tabletop product has to have art. It’s something that people expect to get when they pay for a new game or setting book or supplement. And to be fair, a weighty tome of dry rules with no art would be a pretty unappealing product. But the problem of SexyTime Adventures that plagued me was the art. The text has been finalized for months now, but I hadn’t made any headway on finishing it because the question of how to tackle illustrations had me completely stumped. How the hell do you satirize something that is already its own satire?

My first attempt: well-meaning, but a dismal failure

Eventually I made myself a checklist of terrible things that I wanted to hit in each illustration and went to work. As it turns out, given that I actually have an education in anatomy, I wound up referring to Escher Girls as a reference in how to “correctly” break anatomy. Because honestly, getting it as wrong as some professional game illustrators get it on a consistent basis is, um, HARD. Really, really hard.

The problem was that when I looked at the finished products, they made me… uncomfortable. Despite the skull-sized anti-gravity basketball breasts, the broken spines, the stick arms, and the anatomically impossible poses – the art that I’d made still looked too… believable.

This was supposed to be satire. It failed.

These were meant to be illustrations for the Amazon and the Thief.

While I was doing the initial pencils, I was giggling to myself because it all seemed so ridiculous. Look at her waist! And the ridiculous breasts! No one could fire a bow like that! No one can possibly ever take this seriously! But the finished product wound up being completely indistinguishable from the real thing!

BIKINI. LUCHADOR. WTF.

Illustrations taken from Dragon Magazine – an official D&D publication.

And therein lies the problem. The games industry is so tragically, deeply invested in its bullshit sexism that it is practically impossible to out-ridiculous anything that has already been published. How can I possibly make art more ridiculous than a magic-sword-wielding bikini luchador? I CAN’T. I JUST CAN’T.

Because the important thing to remember about satire is this: what makes something successful satire is how it is viewed by the audience, not what the author or creator’s intentions behind the creation were. When you create art, you don’t get to tell people how they will respond to it. They bring their own feelings and experiences to the table, and the best intentions in the world won’t make offensive art any less offensive. And of course, that’s the trap that so many artists and creators fall into. YOU CAN’T GET MAD BECAUSE I DIDN’T MEAN IT THAT WAY.

INTENT. IT'S FUCKING MAGIC.

Unsure of original source, image found here (tumblr sucks at attribution, sorry)

Sorry, folks. Artistic intent just doesn’t work that way.

At the end of it, I had a set of illustrations that I’d worked rather hard on that I couldn’t use because they didn’t read as satire, which sucked because that was the point of the whole damn exercise. So I figured a second attempt was warranted.

Attempt number two: satire achieved!

When I started drawing a second set of illustrations, I recycled poses from the first set. But this time around I threw out any pretense of anatomy. These weren’t human women I was drawing, but plasticine statues, twisted nearly beyond recognition. More importantly, I also changed the style. Instead of making my style more realistic, I deliberately went as cartoon-y as possible.

So much of the worst RPG art also has some of the most nicely rendered anatomical shading out there. Because even though the vast majority of pornified game women are not even remotely anatomically possible, the illusion of “realism” is important. Because sexy.

This time around, I was much, much happier with the results:

So sexay.

New illustrations for the Thief, Amazon, and Druid.

I think the tipping point (for me anyhow) are the ridiculous expressions, especially paired with the cartoon-y style. But even then, I didn’t know that I’d feel comfortable publishing something with just these depictions of women and nothing more. I needed something that would be an equally ridiculous treatment of male stereotypes in gaming…

Such masculine. Very muscles. Wow.

Illustration for The Dude. This is my fucking magnum opus.

The key to successful satire of awful stereotypes is context. And what could provide a better satirical context than a muscle-y Conan-type hero literally festooned in beautiful women? Especially women who don’t mind Conan stabbing them in the boob, or stepping on their head?

Lesson Learned: Satire takes work, it doesn’t just happen

So many times, game creators use offensive humor in their work, and then hide behind the defense of satire, because some people think “it was just a joke” gives you an automatic pass. All too often, people think that ironic sexism (I know that you know that I know I’m being sexist, therefore it’s funny!) is automatically satire because it’s ironic. But the problem that ironic sexism (or racism, or whatever) is still sexist because it does nothing to actually challenge sexism. In the end, ironic sexism and “actual” sexism have the same result, because both only serve to perpetuate a harmful cultural narrative.

By the same token, satire is only successful when deliberate thought and effort go into deconstructing the thing you are attempting to satirize. And even with thought and effort, it’s possible to fall short if you don’t find a way to make your work obviously distinct from the thing that you’re satirizing.

And now for something humorous

Just so I don’t end on a ponderous, pontificating note (I do hate doing that), here’s the first few paragraphs of the introduction to SexyTime Adventures. Enjoy!

The land of Sexonia is a dangerous place, a land of fantasy and adventure beyond your wildest imaginings. Maybe you got into adventuring because your village was destroyed by orcs, or to prevent fire elementals from taking over your kingdom, or maybe just because it was better than staying at home and settling down with that nice boy that your parents wanted you to marry. Whatever the reason, you can’t go home now. The kingdom needs you. And more importantly, that chain mail makes you look totally hot. Are you seeing anyone right now? Could I maybe buy you an ale some time?

…ahem.

Who can say what dangers you might face? What’s important is that you pick up your sword and set out to defend what’s important to you and yours while also looking sexy, because it’s important to always put your best foot forward, am I right? And because the world is a scary place, who better to go adventuring with than some of your closest (and hottest) friends? And if maybe some night you find yourself camped on a glacier with no fire wood and you have to cuddle together in one sleeping bag with no clothes on…

…I’m sorry, where was I?

Adventure! Danger! Sexy outfits! Come, fellow adventurers. It’s sexytime.

[1] I wrote this game entirely for my own amusement, but I admit it will be nice to have something to throw in dudebros’ faces when they get all angry and tell me to MAKE UR OWN GAME THEN. Make my own game, you say? Well! I already did!

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