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International Women’s Day in Webcomics

HippieVan at 12:00AM, March 11, 2016
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A lovely illustration from The Pirate Balthasar.

Initially, I had planned this week’s newspost to feature a selection of my favourite women characters on DD. But I realized as I was composing my list for this newspost that I was essentially just making a list of protagonists from my favourite comics, and that it was going to get way too long. The truth is, women are represented really well here! Just to illustrate, take a look at the Top Ten right now – 8 out of 10 of our most-liked comics have a woman in the thumbnail!

While mainstream comics (and mainstream geekdom in general) sometimes suffers from a lack of three-dimensional female characters, interesting and diverse characters are all over in the webcomics world.

I can think of a couple of reasons for this. The barriers to creating a webcomic are significantly lower than actually getting into the comic book business, for one thing, which means we get a wider range of people generally who are creating things and lending different perspectives. And while girls have been reading comic books for ages, the industry hasn't really adapted to acknowledge them. The internet, in comparison, caters to just about everyone.


Do you agree that webcomics generally do a good job of including female characters? Who are some of your favourite female comic characters?

BUGS AND SUGGESTIONS SURVEY
Don’t forget to vote on which bug fixes and new features you’d like to see! I’m going to leave this survey up for one more week, and will be closing it on March 18th.
The survey can be found here: http://goo.gl/forms/pW7Vmfxnjc
For discussions and details, see this thread.

MILESTONE

Stellar has a couple different news items to announce! From Stellar:
“On the 10th the last page of GATE, a Madder Affairs story, will be up. It's been a great time, I've gotten some awesome reactions around the net lol (including loosing a patron XD). I'm already working on the next story for the Madder Affairs Mix, which will begin around July.
Then on the 15th the second half of Deadgirl & Sue's 2nd chapter Desolate Love will be returning; which I am impossibly excited and proud to share. DL's arc wraps up much more neatly then I first imagined it would.”



Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com, or leave a comment below!

comment

anonymous?

KimLuster at 5:05PM, March 12, 2016

@dedosaur: I hear ya... but your characters from The Pirate Balthasar (which I love...) are not normal (by that I mean average). Many of them have supernatural abilities, and all of the main ones (women and men both) are gorgeous! Now I totally agree that flaws, quirks, and defects work splendidly to make a character interesting (and relateable), but I really do believe it's the 'above-normal' aspects that draw us to them to begin with. If Kane were an average-looking, overweight accountant instead of a dazzlingly handsome dashing pirate, I can't say I'd follow your comic like I do... Just sayin'! ;)

Peipei at 5:41AM, March 12, 2016

@PaulEberhardt: It's definitely okay to have a girly character as lead from time to time as well. There's nothing wrong with feminine characters and it definitely doesn't deter me from reading and enjoying a comic, whether the lead is tough as nails or pretty in pink xD! I have two active comics here on the duck, my long standing comic has a very tough/bad ass lead, whereas my latest comic (Cosmos Song) has a rather feminine lead character, she (Roxy) is way far from being a wall flower but she's definitely a stark contrast to Orn in DeadFingers. The point is I don't think there is a right or wrong way to portray a female character's personality! So long as she is well written and multi-dimensional (meaning she doesn't solely exist to cater to the male gaze and is an actual character with some pretty awesome sh*t going for her in the story.):D

PaulEberhardt at 4:51AM, March 12, 2016

More traditionally girlish characters do have a place as well, though, and if it's just to have someone for your other female characters to contrast with. It's to some degree what the relation between my main character, Gundula, and her intern, Sophie, is about, the latter being what I think of as a walking cliché of all the young naive undergraduate students I've known. With Gundula, on the other hand, I had kind of a female screwball character in mind, when I created her, just because I found them curiously underrepresented in the media for no good reason. When I got into webcomics I found out I was wrong, so I started to focus on other qualities as well.

PaulEberhardt at 4:32AM, March 12, 2016

I'll spare you the technical details, but it's a fact that every medium activates different parts of your mind in different intensity. One of the things they keep boring aspiring teachers with... Anyway, my point is, webcomics tend to attract a different type of readers by their very nature, and that's probably the ones who are more open-minded and more willing to look under the surface. Guess, Scott McLoud would have something to say about that, too. Anyway, one important result of that may well be that truly interesting female characters find a better platform here.

PaulEberhardt at 4:31AM, March 12, 2016

I think, too, that the key is that webcomics creators are free to do as they like, unlike mainstream artists. You can rely on mainstream publishers regularly checking on what sells best, using statistics, "representative" surveys and stuff. So if generic sex objects that are flat in every respect but the cup size sell best that's what they'll print. It's one of the reasons why I've come to think that webcomic audiences may be quite different from mainstream ones. All of us like comics, sure enough, but there seem to be few teenagers or kids on the Duck, and most of us are much more active artistically than I'd imagine the average mainstream comic reader to be. Plus, reading webcomics is different from reading print comics: it's more interactive and you can't just leaf through them as quickly. It might even be a different process on a subconcious level.

Peipei at 12:26AM, March 12, 2016

Since webcomics for the most part were created by the people, for the people, I think this is why they tend to be much more inclusive of female characters in comparison to mainstream comics. I think mainstream comic creators haven't gotten the memo on what real fans are looking for in a good comic! As far as how a female lead should be portrayed, I think it's important that all types of female leads in webcomics be celebrated! While I definitely do enjoy reading and creating comics with a strong, bad ass female lead, I can also relate to and enjoy the not-so-strong but witty types, as well as the cute and feminine types too! I think that there is so much more to a strong female character than physical strength. I tend to believe that strength goes beyond just muscles and brawn and has more to do with the overall experience of the character as well as the complexity of the character. :3

dedasaur at 11:19PM, March 11, 2016

I also like to base my characters on people I know. I know some incredibly amazing multi tasking beings - good on the job, awesome mom, excellent wives. I know some really klutzy girls, and some chaotic and noisy ones. It is fun to think of them: what would giorgia do, in this crazy situation? What would clyda do? the answer can be hilarious. I like to see them dance around denial or work through life with wisdom. All these things I note down and use. I think if you wanna talk about women in stories, you have to talk about real/realistic ones. It's just more fun. :D (thanks for putting my witches in the post btw :D Nicoli is based on my friend Clyda, she's a goldfish hahaha)

dedasaur at 11:16PM, March 11, 2016

I like to talk about normal girls having extraordinary reaction to surreal situations. I think normality gives a strong foundation to a character - and even when I create strong women I like to give them quirks and defects because I don't believe in perfection. I like to see them spiral up and down, we all have yes days and no days. I also don't very much believe in those tests that say: if the girls in a story have a conversation about guys they are not strong characters. I think if the conversation is superficial then the characters are superficial, but if the ladies are talking about guys in terms of how much of a game changer it is to enter a relationship and how much work goes into making a relationship last, they are not talking about just guys, they are talking about their choices. So long as they don't swoon for no reason there is nothing wrong with swooning every now and then.

ashtree house at 2:15PM, March 11, 2016

@Kimluster- OH YEAH ;)

KimLuster at 2:03PM, March 11, 2016

Absolutely! I want the female front and center with the man as HER accessory!! hehe

HippieVan at 12:49PM, March 11, 2016

I think most (straight) girls like pretty girls just as much as (straight) guys do, although in a different way. I love Grace Kelly, Josephine Baker, Nichelle Nichols, etc. I just want them to also be able to have central roles and play complex characters, darn it! A friend of mine recently told me about the "Sexy Lamp Test," which is kind of like a sillier version of the Bechdel test - if you can replace take out a female character and replace her with a sexy lamp, basically you've done a terrible job.

KimLuster at 12:19PM, March 11, 2016

We want our Fairy-Tale Princesses to be pretty! I wish we all weren't inwardly so shallow, but I do think it's hardwired! My Barbie-dolls could not be average - they were no fun to play with if they were!

KimLuster at 12:16PM, March 11, 2016

Totally! I do think there's a subtle wish-fulfillment in play, but I also think, when it comes to fiction, we just want larger-than-average (I don't say larger-than-life because I still think the best characters are NOT so stratospherically better that we can't relate to them at all...!). But we really do wan't above average in some attribute(s). Even my villains! I want a main villain that's a TRUE threat because of some above average attribute he has (that overshadow his flaws). If he's weaselly and whiny, then he's such a genius he can ruin you indirectly!

ashtree house at 11:24AM, March 11, 2016

But girl power FTW!

ashtree house at 11:24AM, March 11, 2016

@KimLuster- I also agree with this. I have never been very salty about really pretty or fit girls in comics, or even movies. I get how some would want accurate representation, but I don't really want to read about an average/normal lady. I'm average, I don't have a cool life lol.

HippieVan at 10:22AM, March 11, 2016

@KimLuster: I think you're right about that! I think I'm going to write a newspost about wish fulfillment in writing at some point in the future, and how it's not such a bad thing as people make it out to be.

KimLuster at 10:07AM, March 11, 2016

@cdmalcolm1: Anne Rice believes that most readers want to read about someone they can relate to on a level, but also look up to (be good-looking, physically fit, above average intelligence, wealth, unusual skills...). People are normal and average and live normal average lives for the most part - they don't want to read about what they already have, but what they dream about! While it sounds patronizing, I find I tend to agree with her!

cdmalcolm1 at 9:33AM, March 11, 2016

I agree with hippieVan about comic female characters catering towards young men. However, it does place the female characters as powerful, smart and even better than some male characters in the same stories at times. My only problem I have with those characters are that they are almost always athletic and not a normal looking woman in our Society. I'm not just talking about super humans. My favorite female characters are pretty long. I'll list them later with an update to this blog.

HippieVan at 8:41AM, March 11, 2016

(Btw, Kimber Lee was one of the first interesting and well-rounded female characters who I thought of when I was writing this newspost!)

HippieVan at 8:40AM, March 11, 2016

@KimLuster: I do think that part of it is that the comic industry hasn't really redefined who they think their audience is. Most mainstream comic publishers have aged up their target audience a bit, but they're still targeting primarily young men. Which means that the women characters they create are mostly there as eye candy, unfortunately.

HippieVan at 8:37AM, March 11, 2016

Whoops, I was sure I resized that image. Maybe I should stop finishing my newsposts at 1am. Fixed now!

KimLuster at 6:17AM, March 11, 2016

When I first got involved, I was shocked (pleasantly so) at the number of female characters and creators in webcomics! My knee-jerk thinking is why doesn't translate higher up to reg. comics and movies? I'm still pondering this...


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