Tag Archives: Image Comics

Monthly Reading List Part I!

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Unfridged has been on hiatus for a while now, so to get us back into the swing of things, here’s what you may have missed in this first part of 2015:

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With this ring: Why I love Saga so much

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All it takes is a quick perusal of this blog to know that I want more diversity in the relationships that play out in our books and on our screens. I want queer relationships, ace relationships, poly relationships, strong and long-lasting friendships, family relationships, and all the different and wonderful permutations in between.

I want more than just your typical boy-meets-girl love story, both because there’s so much more out there, and because, honestly, heterosexual romantic relationships are kind of old hat by now. I know a love story is supposed to be eternal, but at some point, haven’t we explored all the nuances and subtleties of this particular kind of interaction? What’s left to talk about?

But here’s the thing: We actually do need to see more romantic, hetero love stories, because whenever I see one that’s totally equitable, I’m still surprised. We need love where the woman is an active participant, where the man isn’t automatically the decision-maker, where both partners have personalities outside of their relationship, and tired, gendered stereotypes aren’t played out ad nauseum. And that’s where Saga comes in.

The story, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples for Image Comics, is as strange as it is delightful. To wit: There are outsourced wars, ghost babysitters, television sex scenes (that’s sex between televisions), a wooden spaceship, an infant narrator, and Lying Cat, my new favourite sidekick. But what really sets it apart is the relationship between protagonists Alana and Marko.

Their relationship is one of complete equals. She’s the one who broke him out of jail. He’s the pacifist. They’re both ex-military on the run from their home worlds, trying to start a family. They’re both incredibly capable, and bring tangible assets to the relationship. A relationship that, let’s be honest, needs all the help it can get.

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Normally I wouldn’t spend time championing a relationship that fits so nicely into the conservative, domestic idea of wedding-and-a-baby, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with it, but because there are more than enough people placing tremendous value on those particular milestones already. But when I try to think of straight couples who are evenly matched in terms of their usefulness to the story, the list is awfully short (in fact, off the top of my head, it’s basically just Zoe and Wash). We need more power couples challenging our preconceived ideas about heterosexual relationships. We need more Alanas and Markos.

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+1 to Diplomacy: Pronouns in RPG Manuals

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I unfortunately will have to keep this week’s post short, because these last few days I’ve been pretty busy working. (In this case “working” is code for “starting a D&D campaign, creating my new character, and boning up on the backstory.”) (Oh, and my character is a Dragonborn fighter, nbd.) Despite my preoccupation, I did want to write a quick word about the game manuals I’ve had my nose stuck in for the past few days.

It may be because I spend the overwhelming majority of my time with words, but I always notice how the manuals themselves are written. Are they clear and easy to understand? Does the prose really need to be that purple? And, often, what pronouns are they using?

Most might not find that last question particularly compelling, but it’s something I always seem to focus on. Though my (admittedly recent) experiences with table top role playing games have been overwhelmingly positive, it’s not lost on me that that was never a guarantee. So when I’m scouring page after page, trying to figure out exactly how I’m going to deal with an oncoming horde of yetis, I notice when examples use “she” or even “he or she” to identify the player. (Fun fact: “Yeti” is derived from the Tibetan word for “rock bear.” The more you know.)

It’s a small gesture, but in an area of geekdom that still skews so heavily male, it means the world to feel included in such an official way, to feel like you really belong at the table, so to speak. And I’m definitely not the only one who values the inclusion of women in game literature. Over at Bitch, Lillian Cohen-Moore writes about how White Wolf Publishing made her feel like a legitimate part of their world in her great series Save vs. Sexism:

“I started to actually read the games put out by White Wolf a few years later, when I was 12, [and] being given a game book to read was a big deal for me. I was playing in an environment that trusted me to be mature, to ask questions, and to study up on my own. I quickly grew to feel that it was okay to be a girl and play White Wolf games. As an adult, I have a vocabulary for why I had that feeling… White Wolf books have women in their examples.”

The manuals I’ve come across haven’t been perfect, and I do wish they wouldn’t depend so heavily on such a strict gender binary, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. For normalizing my presence, for not making me out to be the exception rather than the rule, I’d like to offer D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast some heartfelt congratulations.

Top image from Image Comics’ Rat Queens.

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