Clock Work (by Justin Gershenson-Gates)
whoa. Buggy, you gotta see this. bugs and robots together!!!
The princess is ready! Now to assemble the pieces, paint, and that’s gonna be that. With any luck, it’ll all be done by tomorrow night!
Made with colored pencil and pencil on recycled bristol!
i’m having a lot of thoughts about representation in media and writing groups you don’t come from or are not yourself and i’m mostly thinking about the things i’ve learned from the late, great dwayne mcduffie, and his Milestone Comics, and him talking about “icons”
and i remember, he talked about, and wrote about, how if you have just one member of a group in your story, they become the sole representative, they become that “icon”. if you have one woman, one queer character, one black character, one trans character, just basically one non-cis-white-straight dude that, whether you expected it or not, they are the icon. they are the representative. and they will be analyzed and criticized to hell and back, they will be put under the microscope. they will have to mean everything to everyone, or mean nothing at all. and i think a lot of writers buckle under the pressure, or the fear of screwing up, and go with “nothing at all” - IE, “a supporting cast member who pretty much never gets to do anything at all” - or they go with no representation whatsoever. it’s too scary for them to handle.
like, i think my favorite example of this is sailor moon. usagi is a clumsy motherfucker, flat out. she’s goofy, she’d often rather chase boys or eat or take naps rather than fight crime, she can fall on her face whether as usagi or in the middle of battle as sailor moon… she’s clumsy, she’s goofy, she’s not what exactly a battle hardened warrior of steel when she starts out!
and she’s loved! she is loved to DEATH. she’s a fantastic, likable, empathetic character, she’s great for audiences to connect with. but i think about her, in relation to the rest of the sailor moon cast, and i think about how there is this vast group of women in the show, from the main cast to the supporting cast, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses, histories, relations, and their own firm, developed personalities.
now, imagine if we took usagi OUT of sailor moon. imagine if we dropped her in some other piece of media, where there are no other women of significance in the story, and usagi - or someone exactly like her - was the only real standout woman in the story.
would the reaction to her be as positive? i’m banking on “probably not”. a girl who procrastinates saving the day to hang out at the arcade or try to meet up with the dude she likes, who’s frequently tripping over herself, or being scared to death initially by the threats she faces? i can’t easily imagine fandom or critical reaction to her being be so kind.
and it’s like, just think on all the media where there’s only one woman, only one PoC, only one queer character, on and on, and think on how shitty or minor their appearances seem to be, or just as often, how little they get to do compared to everyone else, what kind of storylines they get locked into, if any at all
you don’t want just one, is the point. if you’re creating a character and going “this is THE ____ character” in your story, you’re already in for pain. not only have you drastically limited yourself, and your character’s interactions, but you’ve created a singular representative. are you sweating “how do i write ____ characters?” there’s a lot you can do, like, obviously, actually talking to and (this is important) listening to people from those groups, reading stories from those groups, on and on, just fucking digging in and reading and listening instead of speaking, but a very fucking important basic thing is not limiting yourself to making them “THE” character, “THE” representative. it’s pretty shitty for everyone involved, generally.
there will be no variety of representation, no diversity of personality or to these characters, if there is just that one singular character to represent an entire group, and that will suck out loud.
you have to get beyond the idea of the one character, the singular, the “THE”, so to speak. where you would make one character from a group, instead, start with making three. see where that takes you. this is not the end-all, be-all of writing from groups you aren’t a part of, but it is a fucking important and huge step, getting beyond the idea of the singular, the perfect “one”, and getting into writing multiples, many, with all sorts of thoughts and personalities and lives.
"Well at least they’re leaving us alone for now."
You didn’t expect it to end happily, did you?