Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Silver Sprocket: I. Rotman, J Woodall, Io/Dukes/Warner/Fisher

No Gods, No Dungeon Masters, by Io, Rachel Dukes, Andy Warner & Hannah Fisher. Published by Avi Ehrlich, Silver Sprocket has become a publisher at the intersection of punk culture and geek culture. After years of releasing punk records, Ehrlich slowly made the transition to comics, and their most recent line of comics has cemented this. This mini was reprinted from the Subcultures anthology published a couple of years back, polished up a bit and recolored. The story is very much about a genderqueer person deeply steeped in RPG and geek culture who also identifies as an anarchist and part of punk culture. The story involves them going from a D&D session to helping thwart a police crackdown on a squat ("he just started screaming 'cast magic missile' and throwing bottles"), wondering why this cultural intersection didn't seem as natural to others as it did to them. Dukes was a perfect artist to portray this, as a queer person also deeply rooted in geek culture and punk politics. As such, there's a cheery, bright quality to this comic that carries over into the more political aspects of the story, since they are folded into the main character's fantasy life anywya

Girls, by Jenn Woodall. One of the big questions frequently asked by Silver Sprocket is why women (cis and trans), genderqueer folk and people of color aren't more readily accepted in punk/anarchist communities. Ben Passmore's brilliant Your Black Friend takes down the racial aspects of this in a measured, funny and angry way (he richly deserved his Eisner nomination) and Woodall's Girls, a collection of mostly silent images that scream more than a thousand words each, handles sexism. Often, quite literally with a baseball bat. It's a spiritual twin of Hellen Jo's Frontier #2, only with a different kind of aesthetic and purpose. Above all else, this is a comic about agency actively and forcefully expressing themselves in the world  in a variety of ways, from a variety of perspectives and aesthetics. From the young woman vomiting flowers to the weary astronaut on a moon orbiting Saturn, this is one long howl against discrimination, objectification, rape culture, violence against women and the patriarchy in general. It's also very much an affirmative display of women, not just a reaction. Woodall is a talented illustrator who manages to combine fantastical elements with an expressive naturalism. Every woman is vividly brought to life on their own terms, and Woodall emphasizes that despite a common desire to resist and struggle, the ways in which they do that differ for everyone here. There's also a sense of joy to be found in the righteous anger expressed in this comic, as it's a part of claiming that agency.

Siren School, by Isabella Rotman. This is a perfectly executed series of jokes about mansplaining. Rotman takes the sirens of myth and conceptualizes them having to learn modern techniques on how to lure men, as simply sitting on a rock and looking beautiful doesn't cut it anymore. Instead, each of the sirens develops a patter that flatters and encourages men to mansplain to them about cars, video games, Star Wars, fantasy sports and especially allowing men to think that the sirens don't recognize their own beauty and that only men can bring it out of them. The siren wearing glasses and saying that she plays video games, but not real video games, is a hilarious stab at the heart of the heinous "gamer gate" controversy and the whole "fake geek girl" nonsense that is so prevalent in pop culture. Each page is a single panel that continues to build until the inevitable: a siren showing her teeth, getting ready to reel in her prey. The concept of sirens playing to men's fantasies in an entirely different but modern way is a hilarious one, only Rotman tells the story not so much to emphasize the ways men are weak, but rather the way that their egos blind them to reality as they treat women like the weak-willed and ill-informed objects that the sirens pretend to be. It's smart, funny and just the right length at 22 pages.

No comments:

Post a Comment