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 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 357 - Power, baddies, and sexiness

Jan 15, 2018

3 likes, 3 comments

Sexy badguys: power vs confidence vs sexiness. That's what we chat about here. Why do we have sexy bad guys? Are all bad guys and girls sexy? What makes them sexy? Is power truly sexy in fiction or is it confidence? There are so many aspects to this and so many totally unexamined assumptions, misconceptions, and cilches. We try our best to examine all these aspects because we all love a sexy villain and we loved talking about them even better. This week Gunwallce has given us the theme to Really? It's ultra poppy Daft Punk-like, bouncing with joy and enthusiasm, this one wants you to get up and go and it wants you to do it now! Really!

Episode 337 - Interview with AmeliaP of Kings Club

Aug 28, 2017

4 likes, 4 comments

This week we interview the artist and creator of the comic Kings Club, AmeliaP! Her comic was featured and Gunwallace also gave it a theme tune that was featured in Quackcast 335. AmeliaP is a talented professional comic creator and game designer. We couldn't interview her directly because she's not confident enough in her spoken English, so what we've done instead is read out a written interview that I did with her especially for this Quackcast. Amelia has some surprising and valuable insights for comic creators. You can read the full text of her interview bellow. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Abejitas - This tune bounces in like a wild thing, spinning and buzzing crazily, full of black striped yellow techno sweet honey madness and rapid wingbeats of energy, this will sting you into full awareness!

Episode 331 - Retconning your work

Jul 10, 2017

4 likes, 0 comments

Starwars, Ender's game, Captain America… All these are great examples (or bad ones) of “retcons”. But what IS a “retcon”? What it means is that you go back and change an established work by adding new information that has the effect of changing it in a small or significant way. You might do it in your comic, or a director might do it to a movie series, like George Lucas did famously with Star Wars: introducing concepts like “midi-chlorians” as an explanation for the force, having Han shooting Greedo second, sticking Hayden Christiensen in Return of the Jedi, among other things. A lot of the time this has the effect of pissing off audiences who've consumed the story and enjoyed it because it alters or even destroys the understanding they've built up based on it and the relationship they have wit the work. Retcons happen frequently in the comic world because publishers have to keep their franchises interesting and saleable to audiences, so origin stories get updated all the time for example. A huge recent retcon was Captain America revealing he'd been a long time sleeper agent for Hydra, which has the effect of messing up stories going back over 50 years… The writer Orson Scott Card had a great deal of success with his novel “Ender's Game”, but for some reason he can't stop retconning it, going back and adding and editing new bits and re-publishing it every few years, and most egregiously penning prequels from another character's perspective that retcon the original story entirely. As web comic creators we have the role of god-author so we all have the temptation to retcon at one stage or another. Can it ever be a good thing? Is it worth pissing off readers who have an emotional investment? Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Optimum: the future is here and it’s in space! This tune is so upbeat, positive, fun and futuristic, it really exemplifies the cute colourful graphics of Skreem’s comic.

Episode 317 - Hannagrid Wright Interview!

Apr 3, 2017

4 likes, 2 comments

Today we interview Hannagrid Wright aka 5thezombie! She's the creator of the great Sci-Fi webcomic To The Galaxy And BACK! -featured by Kawaii last year. To the Galaxy and back features Kat and Zoey, two girls that have been drawn together by fate, across the universe, to have all sorts of adventures in outerspace. All Zoey really wants is to get back to her dad, but having a dashing adventurer alien companion is going to make the ride a little more fun. Hanna is a cool person, she's just starting out on webcomics and already she has a nicely pro art style. She's mastered an efficient method of storytelling that's compelling, perfectly balanced for frequent updates, and makes her comic very easy to consume! Pit and Banes did a marvellous job in interviewing Hanna with me! I hope you read her comic (To The Galaxy And BACK!) and then listen to the interview! The music of Gunwallace this week is Sedna: A warm, deep blue, liquid, viscous, underwater outerspace world of wonder, joy, and luminescent glowing alien creatures…

Episode 305 - Chekhov's phaser

Jan 9, 2017

3 likes, 3 comments

Chekhov's gun is the principal (as I understand it), that if you have some item, fact or piece of information introduced into your story that you draw specific attention to, then you'd better use it some how later on in your story. The simplest example is a gun: if it appears as a prop lying around in your story AND you draw attention to it, then by the end of the tale it should have gone off. This is because you've set up the parameters for your story in the mind of your audience and they develop certain expectations, if you confound those then they'll be disappointed and think that your story was poor. Having a “gun” on stage isn't so important here, it's the fact that you drew attention to it somehow. It doesn't have to “go off” either, as long as it plays a role in the story somehow. You can trick the audience very easily with these sorts of devices, making them think one item or piece of information will be vitally important, only to make it important in a way they wouldn't expect or to use it to hide the fact that some other thing was important instead. So that's our topic of conversation today! All based off of Tantz's newspost on Saturday. Gunwallace's musical theme was for Grow Up. It's repetitive, relaxing, punk reggae instrumental, with fuzz guitar. A lazy evening on a warm summer beach.


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