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#WebcomicWednesday: Webcomic fandoms in Yuletide 2017 September 27, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom.
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The tag set for Yuletide 2017, the annual holiday small-fandom fic exchange, is out!

This post filters it down to the webcomics, along with all the available characters to offer/request. Scan it for old favorites that you’ve always wanted to read or write fic for…and as for the ones you’ve never heard of, now is the perfect time to give them a try.

Always Raining Here
Adrian Hlaváček, Carter Brooks, Jason Keller, Maria Wong

Apothecia
Spore Alien, Jessie

Demon of the Underground
Annie, Jasper Samsid, Merritt, Pogo

Digger (Comic)
Jhalm, Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels, Murai, Shadowchild

Dumbing of Age
Becky MacIntyre, Carla Rutten, Danny Wilcox, Dina Saruyama, Ethan Siegal, Sal Walkerton

An Easy Target
Choi Yule, Ha Kyung Soo

Elsewhere University
Antler Fae, Boy With Frog’s Eyes, Girl With Hollow Back, Stolen Musician

Girl Genius
Axel Higgs, Bangladesh DuPree, Jenka (Girl Genius), Zeetha Daughter of Chump

Gunnerkrigg Court
Antimony Carver, Coyote, Katerina Donlan, Paz Cadena-Blanco, Reynardine, Robot

Hark! A Vagrant
Dr. Sara Josephine Baker, Nemesis, Pirate

How To Be A Werewolf
Elias Ross, Malaya Dysangco Walters, Marisa Salcedo, Vincent Dysangco Walters

Kill Six Billion Demons
Jagganoth, Nyave Anyadis, Allison Ruth, Cio, Incubus, Mottom, White Chain, Zoss

Knights-Errant
Anton, Beppe

Lackadaisy
Atlas May, Dorian “Zib” Zibowski, Elsa Bastion, Ivy Pepper, Mitzi May, Mordecai Heller, Nico Savoy, Serafine Savoy, Viktor Vasko

Lady of the Shard
Acolyte, Old God, Radiant Goddess

Leftover Soup
Carol, Ellen, Lily, Nicole

Leif & Thorn
Agent Delphinium, Matatuhi Kaihanga, Olive Romarin, Patotara Kaihanga, Rowan Muscade, Violet Dupont, Leif of Sønheim, Thorn Estragon

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal
Amal Chakravarthy, TJ Freeman

Long Exposure
Javier Osorio, Jonas Wagner, Mitch Mueller, Scratch Dyer

Monster Pulse
Abel Elizondo, Bina Blum, Nancy, Wanda Lulenski

Namesake
Alice Purcell, Emma Crewe, Selva Chopper, Warrick Chopper

No End
Jenna Reid, Jeremy Edison, Ramona Taylor, Tristan Khouri | Cotton

Oglaf
Orc Captain, Greir, Navaan, Snow Queen, Vanka

The Order of the Stick
Belkar, Bitterleaf Elan, Haley Starshine, Vaarsuvius

Questionable Content
Brun, Clinton Augustus, Elliot, Hannelore “Hanners” Ellicott-Chatham, Pintsize, Shame Orb, Yelling Bird, Bubbles, Faye Whitaker

A Redtail’s Dream
Åsa Skärsholm, Ellu Viitanen, Hannu Viitanen, Jonna Kuikka, Joona Kuikka, Jouko Kuikka, Kielo Miettinen, Kokko, Paju Kinnunen, Riikka Skärsholm, Samuli Tiira, Swan of Tuonela | Tuonelan Joutsen, Ville

Riot Nrrd
Maria Ortiz, Nhi Nguyen, Samantha Jay, Wren Watanabe

Saint For Rent
Jingtian Demort, Kanon, Meilü

Slavonica
Czesia, Luba, Mojmira, Sambor

Sleepless Domain
Kokoro, Tessa Quinn, Undine, Zoe

Small Trolls
Jáhko Hammarström, Veeti Harmonsuo

Stand Still Stay Silent
Agneta, Emil Västerström, Ensi Hotakainen, Lalli Hotakainen, Mikkel Madsen, Onni Hotakainen, Reynir Árnason, Sigrun Eide, Siv Västerström, Tuuri Hotakainen, Kitty

Starfighter
Abel, Cain, Deimos, Praxis

Subnormality
Pink Haired Girl, Sphynx, Zoe Muggs, Ethel

Sunstone
Alan Benson, Allison Carter, Anne, Lisa Williams

Unfather
Kyunghee, Sihyun

Unknown Code
Hammer the Pixel, Kim Bo Gang, Song Ji You, Yoon Phil

Wilde Life
Darcy Flores, Eliza Proctor, Oscar Wilde (Wilde Life), Clifford Norman

Year in Hereafter
Jaakko Ilmarinen, Mikael Lapintaival, Sakari Harmonsuo, Siiri Harmonsuo, Veeti Harmonsuo

Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic
Charlotte, Elzear’bith, Gren Razortooth, Lucas Greyfort, Cadugan, Clover Firelight

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“I talked with the federal authorities two weeks ago, asking for additional federal assistance, I was told point-blank ‘no’.” September 26, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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Paul Ryan’s tax postcard, explained: “The form’s simplicity makes its priorities clear: No matter what rates are applied or which deductions or credits are allowed, a worker would end up paying twice as much in taxes as an investor with the same income.

GOP sheriffs reportedly under pressure from Trump to break the law. Good on them for standing their ground. (Are Democratic sheriffs not getting credit for resisting, or simply not being asked?)

Oregon governor asked the Trump adminstratiion for wildfire support: “I talked with the federal authorities two weeks ago, asking for additional federal assistance, I was told point-blank ‘no’.”

“In the 35 years between their jobs as janitors, corporations across America have flocked to a new management theory: Focus on core competence and outsource the rest. The approach has made companies more nimble and more productive, and delivered huge profits for shareholders. It has also fueled inequality and helps explain why many working-class Americans are struggling even in an ostensibly healthy economy.

“My supervisor, for example, runs a large department. He was just promoted to a new, even more demanding position, but his position running the department will not be filled. He will now be doing what is a 60-to-70-hour job ‘on the side.’

“Virtually all the top political jobs below Carson remained vacant. Carson himself was barely to be seen — he never made the walk-through of the building customary of past new secretaries. ‘It was just nothing,’ said one career employee. ‘I’ve never been so bored in my life. No agenda, nothing to move forward or push back against. Just nothing.’

“We find that white Trump supporters randomly exposed to a black (versus a white) man in the context of soliciting their support for a housing-assistance policy were more opposed to the policy, angrier about the policy, and more likely to blame beneficiaries for their situation.

“But it’s the degree to which the alt-righters differed from the comparison sample that’s most striking — especially when it came to measures of dehumanization, support for collective white action, and admitting to harassing others online..”

“Mr. Hermansson, who was sent undercover by the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, spent months insinuating himself into the alt-right, using his Swedish nationality (many neo-Nazis are obsessed with Sweden because of its “Nordic” heritage) as a way in. It wasn’t always easy. ‘You want to punch them in the face,’ he told me of the people he met undercover.

Monday Works Roundup, 9/25/17 September 25, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Spotlight Noir (art | Walker, Cohen, Being ensemble | worksafe)
Glam and Dapper (art | Camellia, Reseda, Kara Lynn, Jany | worksafe)
Rising From The Ruins (art | a whole Being ensemble | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Blue Sea Glass (comic | Gem!Leif/Thorn, WiB, fusion | worksafe)
A Magical Flight (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)

Hellsing(/Sailor Moon)
Sailor Hellsing sketchpile (sketches | ensemble | worksafe)
The Hellsings (art | Integra, Alucard, Walter, Seras, Pip, Jeeves, Arthur, Thien, Penwood, Integra’s mom | worksafe)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Ribboned Wrists (art | Madoka | worksafe, suggestive)

General/Miscellaneous
Moon Windows (art nouveau graphic, worksafe)
Priests and Clubs (commissioned art, worksafe)
Comfort sketchpile (sketches | Sunset Shimmer, Adagio Dazzle, Moana, Te Fiti, Stephen, Sam, Pocket Gloria Steinem | worksafe)
Handy Escape (commissioned art, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Cybele recompiles! Did the experiment work?

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Thorn lays the foreshadowing for a Significant Contest.

“Even a single page of bullet points on the country seemed to tax the president’s attention span.” September 15, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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“A self-described “email prankster” in the UK fooled a number of White House officials into thinking he was other officials, including an episode where he convinced the White House official tasked with cyber security that he was Jared Kushner and received that official’s private email address unsolicited.”

“Among [McMaster’s] biggest challenges was holding the attention of the president. […] Trump had little time for in-depth briefings on Afghanistan’s history, its complicated politics or its seemingly endless civil war. Even a single page of bullet points on the country seemed to tax the president’s attention span on the subject, said senior White House officials.”

From August: “Residents told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that at least 100 civilians had been killed [by US-led airstrikes on Raqqa] since Sunday, with 55 civilians killed in the eastern neighbourhoods of Bedou and al-Sukhani on Monday.”

And my eleven-year-old asked me what that sticker meant, and what did it have to do with Trump, and weren’t we not supposed to use words like that.”

Meanwhile, when people were lining up for a Hillary Clinton book signing (starting the night before), she sent her staff to deliver them pizzas. Imagine having someone like that in the Oval Office. Imagine.

Good news about escaping from Irma, Chechnya, and/or the KKK September 10, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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The last flight out of Puerto Rico, ninja’ing its way out the narrow spiral between the body of Hurricane Irma and one of the arms. These pilots, and the people on the ground who plotted that flight, deserve some kind of medal.

“They helped him get job training. They helped him get counseling. And now, as a former white supremacist himself, he will receive training on how to help other people. It’s a very individual program and it really works.” The important work of Life After Hate (whose government funding got cut under this administration, because of course).

I was a neo-Nazi. Then I fell in love with a black woman.” It’s more complicated and less Pollyanna than the headline suggests, but the progress is genuine.

“For three months, the [Canadian] federal government has been secretly spiriting gay Chechen men from Russia to Canada, under a clandestine program unique in the world.”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.

Review – Every Heart A Doorway September 6, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Meta.
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There was a ton of buzz going around about this book not long ago, and understandably, given the amazing premise. A boarding school to accommodate all those kids who have wandered off into magical fairylands for a while, and help re-acclimatize them to reality? So much possibility.

Guys, it…it really squandered the premise.

After a promising setup, Every Heart A Doorway turns into “a fairly gruesome murder mystery at a school for kids with weird/magic abilities.”

They don’t actually have any scenes of the kids in classes, much less any “here’s how to deal with reality” sequences. It’s insular, almost claustrophobic — the characters never leave the school. There’s no mention of phones, Internet, pop culture, anything connected to the Real World they’re supposed to be reintegrating with. Early on one of the characters mentions looking something up on Google Images before she arrived, but if it wasn’t for that reference, this could’ve taken place any time in the past hundred years.

When the gruesome murders start, there’s no police investigation, no real-world forensics, no “here’s how crimes are solved in a world without magic.” Even the adult authorities at the school, who are In On The Secret, don’t manage the situation at all. It’s just…left to the teenagers to solve on their own, with the residual supernatural talents they have from their fantasylands.

(How great would it have been to have the cops show up with all their mundane nonmagical expectations, and the teachers run interference, and it takes their combined efforts to make progress? Better yet, what if the investigative team included a former student, who could handle both aspects of the case at once?)

Without spoiling any specifics, by the end of the book, it doesn’t support the idea that “learning to be part of the world you’re in” is a worthwhile goal in the first place.

This in spite of the fact that some of the kids’ fairyland-developed coping mechanisms…do not seem healthy. I don’t mean “sensible by fairyland rules but maladapted to our-world rules,” I mean generally unhealthy.

You know what series handles this really well? Star Versus The Forces Of Evil. The heroine in this case is native to magicland, studying abroad on Earth, and the show does a lovely job of exploring the nuances from “Star learns that this behavior isn’t culturally appropriate for Earth” to “Star learns that this behavior is uncool anywhere.”

And I’ve loved fanfic that explores post-magic-journey culture shock. The Pevensies struggling to balance “solving problems by breaking out our mad skills as former-adult Kings and Queens of Narnia” with “not freaking out everyone around us.” Lyra and Pan having to remember to stay close together. Dorothy getting so much cross-cultural experience so young that, after a certain point, she can drop into pretty much any world and have no trouble going with the flow.

The students in Every Heart A Doorway don’t get any “here’s how to codeswitch to Earth-appropriate behaviors” or “wow, you’re interacting with regular Earth culture really well already” or “this isn’t good at all, let’s learn and grow and develop as characters.” They stay in their insulated setting with all the patterns they learned in other worlds going pretty much unexamined.

So much potential material here! So painfully unexplored!

~*~

People were also talking a lot, when the initial buzz was going around, about book’s the asexual protagonist.

Again: cool in theory! In practice, all it seems to mean is that her narration keeps doing unnecessary and shoehorned-in detours about how totally uninterested in sex she is.

The first time it came up was fine. Awkward, but forgivable. The rest, not so much. There’s a scene where she’s having a friendly conversation, and suddenly goes into an internal monologue about how she’s flirting, and this is fun, but she’s totally uninterested in having sex with the people she flirts with. It’s like she’s jumping in to correct an assumption that the reader isn’t making — I hadn’t even realized she was supposed to be flirting in the first place.

The scene that struck me the most is: she’s admiring the beauty of a male classmate, and thinks all the other girls around her must feel the same, “although she was sure she was the only one whose attraction was aesthetic, not romantic.”

First point: the character is not aromantic. (She says so. In those words.) It’s possible to feel romantic attraction in general, and not specifically feel it toward this guy. For her. But…not for literally anyone else?

Second point: why does she think there are no lesbians at this school? Why doesn’t it occur to her that some people are aromantic? Why does she show zero awareness that even straight girls (and bi/pan girls, although I’m not sure she realizes those exist either) don’t have to feel attracted to every boy in existence?

Is she just supposed to be really blinkered and self-centered, as a character flaw? Maybe, but I never felt like the narrative saw her that way.

Is it a “the lady doth protest too much” situation, where she is falling in love with the guy, and is aggressively denying/projecting to avoid facing the idea? Also possible, but has Unfortunate Implications for the way her asexuality is established by repeating “and she totally wasn’t sexually attracted to people, nope, not at all.”

~*~

The book is really weird about gender. Most of the students are girls (a couple hundred of them, to a grand total of 5 boys), and this is explained as a result of socialization and sexism and boys not wandering off as easily without getting noticed.

Which…doesn’t track with the genre it’s supposed to be commenting on. At all.

For every Lucy and Susan, there’s a Peter and Edmund. For every Alice through the looking-glass, there’s a Milo in a phantom tollbooth. Wendy Darling disappeared with both of her brothers in tow, and that’s not even counting Peter and the Lost Boys. Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin, and Trot are balanced out by Button-Bright and Zeb. Lyra had her Will. I could go on.

On top of that, this main group of characters ends up including 2 of the boys (along with maybe 4 girls).

Why establish a mostly-female setting if you’re then going to overrepresent the male characters that dramatically? Why not just have a roughly-gender-balanced school in the first place?

And it manages to wring a heck of a lot of heterosexuality out of this casting. Every major female character mentions having a male love interest in whatever fantasy world she wandered into. One of the boys basically wandered into Halloweentown and had a romance with a skeleton…very specifically a girl skeleton. I already mentioned the ace girl’s weird obliviousness to the possibility of gay people. And the only flirting we see between students is m/f.

The aforementioned super-beautiful boy is trans. Which is nice! And the subject is handled more naturally than the asexuality. Doubly nice.

But in some ways that only makes the broader context weirder. If there’s a setting where nobody is explicitly LGBT, it’s easy to read that as “underneath the veneer of everyone politely ignoring the topic, people are still LGBT at the average rate.”

Here, the author wants to have explicit representation! But it’s like…she made one of her boys trans, and one of her girls ace, and then just…stopped. Without considering the idea of LGBT people existing generally. In background characters. In sidelong references. In the concept of female characters other than the heroine who aren’t into a hot guy.

~*~

At least it was short? I blew through the whole audiobook in a single work day, so the disappointing aspects weren’t dragged out for long.

But seriously, there were a lot of disappointments. And now I’m worried there are people writing better versions of the premise but getting shot down as ripoffs, or getting publishing deals but no hype because all the “what a cool, unusual premise!” posts have been done.

…Does anyone have recs? I’ll also take recs for your favorite culture-shock fics of existing portal-fantasy series. Anything that takes this books’ premise and actually, wholeheartedly, runs with it.

Monday Works Roundup 9/4/17 September 4, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in And Shine Heaven Now, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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Leif & Thorn
Floral scarf (art | Leif | worksafe)
Iuilic Mom Overload (art | Hyacinth, Tansy, Plum, Mulberry | worksafe)
Keyite – First Fusion (art | Gem!Leif/Gem!Thorn | worksafe)
Fancy Kale (art | Kale | worksafe)
Blue Sea Glass (art | fusion gemsona | worksafe)

Hellsing(/Fake News)
Integra in Blue (art | Integra | worksafe)
The Eagle and Comic (art | Jon, “Stephen” | worksafe)

Steven Universe
The Cutest Rhodonite (art | Rhodonite | worksafe)

Yuri!!! on Ice
They’re Both The Pretty One (art | Yuri x Yuuri | worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
Fantasy Firearms (art, worksafe)
Figure drawings 9-4-17 (life drawing, NSFW)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Cohen’s advice.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
More adventures in unmemorability with the Woman in Black.