Episode 401 - Stan Lee, a stupid comedian, and the new prudes

Nov 19, 2018

This is Quackcast 401! Error, error! Pitface and Tantz were absent so Banes and myself were left to go quietly off the rails and expostulate all sorts of radical, half formed, badly articulated thoughts. This is an interesting one! We cover the death of the great Stan Lee, titan of the comics and superhero world. Then we sidestream into talking about comedians trying to be political commentators (re: Bill Maher)… I must apologise for my Ad Hominems. And lastly our focus is on a “new puritanism” in some aspects of pop-culture. It all ties together, if a little awkwardly.

Topics and Show Notes

Stan Lee was instrumental in creating a unified fantasy universe populated by a pantheon of godlike superheroes with very human thoughts and failings. Not only that but he helped elevate comics as a medium to the mainstream. No longer are comics seen as something just for children. Cartoons, fantasy, Scifi, and comics have been rightfully elevated to the mainstream where they belong as valid forms of artistic expression. People no longer have to apologise for or feel ashamed of liking them either. You're free to consume or create the media of your choice and Stan Lee was a massive part of that.

This is why the remarks by Mr Maher about Stan Lee are problematic and ill-judged. He said that the veneration shown for a creator of comics, which are “only meant for children”, shows how the US has been dumbed down and why someone like Donald Trump could have been elected.
I'd contend that the reason for “Trump” and people's idea of politics being dumbed down is that we now get most of our political commentary through comedians. They have helped turn complex subjects into simplistic black and white caricatures because that's how comedy works. It's great for breaking down ideas and giving you a simple primer to understand them, but when comedians and partisan talking heads are your main sources then things are going very, very wrong. Bill Maher IS the problem, not people liking comics. If anything, Stan Lee worked to do the opposite; his characters weren't simple 2D cut-outs (like Maher's version of political figures), they were complicated and human. These were A-political characters who strived to do what was right outside of mere party affiliations.

Then we transition into my idea of the “new puritans”.
There's a slow tide of people coming out against sexuality in art. It comes from both the left and right so there's no real political platform. I feel it's very much related to the same point of view that Bill Maher has about comics: this is media for children and we must protect them from anything grown up. When in reality all we end up doing is insulting and infantilising adults when we attack sexuality in media, whether in games, cartoons, books, comics or movies.
This is no more clearly shown than in the word these people use most often: “Sexualise”
They claim that characters are “sexualised”. You cannot sexualise an adult or teen. By biological, physical definition we are ALL sexual past puberty. That doesn't mean we have or even want sex, it means we have sexual traits and that's all it means. You can “sexualise” a non-sexual thing like a toaster or a car but it's impossible to do that to a teen or adult. Sexual traits in adult characters are healthy and normal. I contend that the need to remove them is a perversion.

This is NOT to say that sexual traits in characters should be over-emphasised. What these people really mean when they focus on sexuality is “EROTICISM”, and that is a very important distinction. It has little to do with sexuality though so it's NOT a mistake that should be overlooked. There is a time and place for eroticism and we should never foist erotic depictions where they don't belong or onto audiences that should not be exposed to them. But we should also guard against hyper-vigilance or start attacking any depiction that shows sexual traits.
Ask yourself: Is the character sexual? If yes, then is the depiction erotic? Then is eroticism appropriate for the context of the work, its audience and where it is sold? Those are the questions to ask, not weather or not a male has a bulge or a girl has prominent breasts.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Quixote Coyote… Let’s get a little chaotic with this quixotic jazz jam for Quixote Coyote! Let the organs fill your body (no, not those sorts of organs), let the drums be your heartbeat, and the trumpet will chase the electric, eclectic thoughts in your brain.

Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
Belle Starr - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2018/nov/12/featured-comic-belle-starr/

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean

Featured music:
Quixote Coyote - - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Quixote_Coyote/, by cjoe1377, rated E.

Episode 399 - How many characters is too many?

Nov 4, 2018

3 likes, 2 comments

How many characters is too many? Ensemble casts can be fun and the interaction between characters can be more interesting than the actual plot of a story! But keeping track of characters from the audience point of view or even from the creator's perspective can be hard when you have a lot. Characters can copy each other and just become bad clones or you can forget what some are meant to be doing and create plot holes, audiences can stop caring about some of them or just become really confused. So how do you keep track? I think breaking them into small groups can be one good way to do it… What are some others?

Episode 398 - The sum of all Fears

Oct 29, 2018

4 likes, 5 comments

This week in the Quackcast we were going to talk about fear in general. What are we afraid of? Why do we like or do not like media that may reflect these fears or lead us to new ones? How do such things inspire fear or similar reactions within us. DO we like horror because we like fear to an extent? It's that Halloween time of year once again so it's time to focus on such things. We had Emma Clare on board as well! Oh it was going to be so amazing and fun! Little did we know…

Episode 390 - Imprinting on your characters

Aug 15, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

We nicked the idea for this Quackcast from a newspost by Emma Clare. What we chat about is the unintentional process of giving your characters you own traits or even traits of people you know without realising it: Every time you draw an expression for your character you're not really creating a generic expression but basing it on yourself… when you character is being quizzical or irritated for example people may recognise that as you. It could be in other things too: their taste, the way they dress, what they like to eat, their furniture. things that annoy them, their hobbies etc. It's interesting how tied they are to us.

Episode 388 - Coding for Men and women

Aug 15, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast we discuss the artistic coding used to represent males and females in comic art in a simple, minimal way. Pitface joins us, along with Banes and Tantz Aerine! Much like an expert physicist is able to simplify enormously complex equations into something seemingly simple like E=MC2 a good comic artist simplifies the essence of what they're drawing into something that's immediately recognisable without a lot of complexity. We're mainly talking here in terms of drawing men and women. It sounds like the most basic, silly thing, but even pros with years of experience have trouble with it. Some of the art for the new She-Ra cartoon is a great example of that.

Episode 389 - Intimidating Baddies

Aug 14, 2018

4 likes, 2 comments

What makes bad guy intimidating? Tantz Aerine made a great newspost about the question, carefully outlining various key bad-guy properties like confidence, composure, efficiency, and amorality. Banes, Pitface, Tantz and I stomp ALL over that, traipsing about like drunken, muddy rugby players, as we blather on about our opinions of the idea and finish up with no idea what we're talking about...

Episode 387 - History and Pastiche

Aug 7, 2018

6 likes, 1 comment

In this Quackcast Tantz and I chat about the differences between working with historical settings and the different approaches we take. Tantz's comics (Without Moonlight and Brave Resistance), are both set in a real period of history: Nazi occupied Greece during WW2. Pinky TA is set in the 1920s in an alternative version of history, with Pinky coming from the fictional “Crimean Empire”. Tantz has to keep times, places, and details close to real history while with Pinky TA I can pick and choose the things from history I like the best and create my own idealised pastiche. The advantage of Tantz's approach is that everything is there, nothing has to be invented, just researched and reproduced, whereas my approach involves a lot of creation which slows things down and makes it harder. On the upside Pinky TA is much more flexible, I can easily fit whatever I want into the story, whereas Tantz's comics are bound by the rules of the history she's presenting.

Episode 385 - Drawing the line

Jul 23, 2018

3 likes, 8 comments

In this Quackcast we talk about where the line is for YOU in your work about what subjects and imagery are too far for you. What is too horrible, too controversial, too extreme for you to approach? Is it blood and gore, something controversial and political, swearing, religious, sexual? Maybe you have other borders… perhaps something is too cute, sickly sweet and saccharine?


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