Issue 15 thoughts...

7 years ago | ubersoft (Member)

I don't know, sometimes it seems kind of silly to talk about writing here because we all write pretty different stuff. It's the equivalent of a guy talking about his dog to people who own cats, birds, ferrets, and the occasional rhinoceros (I'm looking at you Wildbow :D) BUT since my wrestling with issue 15 was at least partially as the result of Palladian's review of Curveball AND I need to process it somewhere I figure I'll post here.

This means I'll be rambling about stuff most of you have no reason to know anything about, and will be semi-spoilery to the two or three who are reading, so you should take this opportunity at this point to read another thread. ;-)

So Issue 15 was originally supposed to be focused a lot more heavily on CB. It was supposed to hint that maybe the situation he was in was causing him to drift away from the standards he held when Liberty was alive, and maaaaybe he was starting to drift back toward villainy--if not go full villain maybe at least be in the same ballpark as Crossfire. All well and good, except that I read Palladian's review and realized she had a point about the... um... skewed gender representation in the hero world. So I wanted to fix that, post-haste.

BUT I didn't want to fix it by just "adding the gurls" and pretending nothing happened. I figure since I'd already published 14 issues I needed to find some way to:

- acknowledge the gap
- set up a plausible scenario as to why the characters never mentioned the gap in the past
- set up a plausible reason for why they're acknowledging it now
- set up a plausible way to introduce more in a way that doesn't make everyone think "wait, if that's the way it is, why is everything different now?"
- and still hit some of the points I originally wanted in i15.

So, cripes. I chewed on that for a bit. But then I thought: well, look heroes are handicapped by the fact that they're essentially defending society. Even the vigilantes are defending the status quo, to a certain extent, because they fight people who are disrupting it. So I figured status quo from WWII (when heroes first appear) on down the line has been mostly solidly patriarchical, regardless of the ability of a woman to do the job -- so why wouldn't heroes be any different? I just needed a way to start explaining this.

Fortunately at the end of issue 12 I had Jenny-the-normal-person discover that she was actually a metahuman, so she's starting the "training" phase of her career. And she gets to be the one asking questions that nobody is bothering to explain to her, because they don't think about it. Red Shift knows that half of the metahuman population is female because he's a scientist, but he doesn't really think about the fact that only 4 or 5 female metahumans are known to the general public because it doesn't really affect him. He's a guy. And that bias causes him to overlook a plot point, that Jenny notices, so I was able to use that to move the story forward. So that was good.

I also had the idea that while "traditional Herodom" was very male dominated, there were three other areas where women who were metahuman didn't have as much of a glass ceiling:

- vigilante/fringe groups, since nobody's really paying much attention to them anyway - these would be the "bohemians" of the hero world, for lack of a better term
- government groups, because the government has actual laws and policies about this kind of stuff, especially federal government groups
- and villains, because, in a very broad sense, the bad guys are more likely to focus on what you can do for them

I have a vigilante/fringe group (other than Crossfire -- they're an exception because they came out of the police force in the late 80s/early 90s, which was a considerably more sexist place) that I'd already worked out and would fit nicely, but I haven't had much of a chance to do more with yet. The government I have a lot more opportunity: the new Sky Commando is a woman, and Division M is about 50/50, and they both feature prominently going forward. So there's the new guard.

The next thing would be to figure out if I could represent the traditional set. I haven't decided on how to do that yet, because I don't want to make them cartoons. I mean, any more than superhero fiction characters are, but my point is that *most* of guys on the hero-side probably aren't overt chauvenists, they're sort of sexist by default because they're used to it and they don't really spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Finally, the villains part hasn't come up yet but there will be a few more flashbacks of CB in the 80s as he drifts toward villainy the first time, and one of the prominent characters in *that* arc is Joan, who is very unapologetic about her choices.

But I couldn't put all of that in one issue. Not without going mad. I only had 8-10K words to work with. SO I had to put in enough of my original intent to have the issue title ("Blurred Lines") make *any* kind of sense, and then put in enough of the other goal to move that forward as well.

At the end of the day I'm not convinced I stuck the landing, but I think I did enough to get everything moving again...


Curveball (Updating)
A Rake by Starlight (Updating)

Read responses...


  1. Kess (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Good on you for jumping on feedback so quickly! It's always nice to know other writers who are willing to do that, and with such enthusiasm.

    I've been seeing a lot of 'discussion' (by which I mean: vicious arguing) about gender roles and representation in media lately, and your attitude and solution made me want to stand up and applaud.

    You've clearly given the representation issue a lot of thought, and your approach is refreshing. Thank you for not shoe-horning a token character in there (I don't mean that in a condescending way; it's appreciation, I promise!), and for finding more elegant ways to address it instead. I guess, 'thank you for giving a crap and trying to do it well' is what I mean.

    Also, I don't think it's a necessarily bad thing that you couldn't get all of your changes into the same issue. Spreading out those clarifications can make it merge into your story more naturally, expanding your world rather than adjusting it abruptly. In the end, it'll most likely read more smoothly. Yay for moving things forward.

    Now it's my turn to stop rambling and go find caffeinated goodness. :)

  2. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I can see some parallels in my own stuff. It's been noted that a much higher number of men than women are horribly maimed/violently sodomized/heads asploded. I hope to change that in the near future. Though it should also be pointed out that the female heroes do have a better track record throughout the story.

  3. Palladian (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Sorry to be late to the party, but I finally got a chance to read over what you did with this chapter, and I just want to say thanks. I was a fan of the whole idea of superheroes ever since I was a little kid, but I've long since abandoned any comics I'd been following years ago because I was just so tired of how seeing they treated women. They seemed to either keep them around as someone to be rescued/found dead in a refrigerator so as to inspire the male superheroes, or if they had some little representation in the superhero community, the women were inevitably losing their powers or dying, and always clad in three postage stamps.

    I liked the way you addressed this with the 'new kid on the block', and how frank the discussions were. I also found myself smiling at my keyboard as Sky Commando walked into Division M and found that the representation among the agents working there seemed roughly representative of the population at large. It was great to see, and I really appreciate the effort you went to, and the fact that you weren't one of the, "See? There's one woman in a superhero team of 20. Of course, you're represented, ladies!" guys. : )

    tl;dr I saw what you did there. You rock. Keep doing it!
    Super: Sci-fi/Suspense/Adventure, with Superheroes


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