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Rich Morris' Comics - YAFGC and The ComixBlog • View topic - Perceived Prejudice in Webcomics

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Discussion forum for fans of YAFGC and Rich's ComixBlog. Because all the cool webcomics have one.

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 Post subject: Perceived Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:20 am 
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So I was listening to podcast today about stereotypes in movies and how even when they're benign, they cause problems (Cited were: the magical black man, the science whizz asian man, the strong manly woman -who invariably ends up dead- and the gay friend who knows more about relationships than you do, among others.)

And it made me stop to consider my webcomic again and what can I do to not make this a problem in YAFGC?

I'm a white heterosexual male and as such I'm part of the privileged who needs to learn about these things before I can address them intelligently. And I'm trying. But it occurs to me that there are a few areas where there is no way to win. As soon as I declare a race for my characters (And I'm not counting Orcs or Elves here, as they're not real or worthy of serious consideration -I [think I have] established that there are white and black and asian and semetic Elves and Dwarves and Halflings) I am declaring them some sort of stereotype, consciously or otherwise. Perhaps not from intent, but from perception.
(If my nurturing Cleric X is black, am I giving he message that black clerics are nurturing?)

I had to learn that this issue cannot be avoided. I had to learn that making default characters white is not avoiding the racial issue by not giving them a race, it's compounding the problem by declaring white the 'norm'. It's an issue that I'm still struggling with because I still have to weigh the issue every time I create a new character.

I have established that this new thief character's mother is white, therefore she must be white, right?

I have established that most of the people in Elegrost are white (as it was modeled on European medieval tropes), therefore all the knights at the table can be white. -Except that I've established that Elegrost is also built on a population of black people who aren't nearly well enough represented.

Is it wrong to have established a kingdom or country where there is a dominant race? Especially if that race is white? What is that saying to my readers -even if I intended to say nothing at all?

I keep making female priestesses. Does this mean that men can't be priests? Am I stating that women are strong enough to dominate a career or am I declaring the priesthood to be "women's work?"

I noticed that in the current storyline, just about all the key players are female. Is that a good thing? If so, I hope I don't undermine the whole thing by having a male character do something important at some point.

I have two serious gay relationships established in YAFGC, should I show more? Should I avoid showing more heterosexual relationships? Would either of these two options damage the message of Cadugan/Lucas or Caelin/Elwood?

How much can I draw other races before they start to look like insulting caricatures? (I had a debate with an asian friend at the studio once when he "challenged" me to draw an asian face without resorting to caricature. I told him to go first as I wasn't confident enough to try it at the time. There was no resolution to this, but I had to take a crash course when I was designing characters for a proposed Tibetan film a few years later.)

How successful have I been and what needs work? I'd like to hear some reader input if you're up to it.

I could just shrug the whole thing off and say "screw it, I'm not trying to make a statement, I'm just drawing cartoons and having fun." Which is true, but you are never NOT making a statement to people.

And I don't want to hear anyone mention "Political Correctness", that is a totally different topic and a hot button that starts flame wars.

-Rich

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:41 pm 
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I always figured the dominance of priestesses was because most of the ones we've seen are Ch'Thierian (a goddess). Although, continuing the thought, the only named priest of Gruumsh was Gav, Lolth's lot are all female and Brock served a presumably male goblin god (Maglubiyet?).

So it looks more like the clergy are mapped on the gender of the deity. That might be what you want to consider.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:11 pm 
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You're overthinking this.

Screw it.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 6:20 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:07 pm 
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Not really. Saying "Screw it, I don't care" is the problem. Saying "Screw it, I'll try to do better, but I won't obsess about it" is about the best response. Instead of ignoring the issue, or forcing it, you just let the world grow organically as you add the details in a natural way.

If you read OOTS, you know that Rich Burlew tossed in a rather hamfisted mea culpa on the subject that got way too many people arguing against inclusion, just for the havoc wreaked on their escapist reading pleasures.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:44 pm 
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Awhile back I noticed most of my clerics I created were female. When I thought about this I realized that a cleric's primary role in game is that of the healer and women are considered the more caring and nurturing gender maybe that played a part in it. But the odd part is when I played cleric I played against the stereotype and was a warrior first so maybe not. *shrugs* So unhelpful psychobabble aside your comic is one of the most diverse fantasy comics or really fantasy stories in general I have ever read.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:11 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:47 pm 
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Not sure if it was intentional or not I've always had a problem trying to probe my own subconscious. I've played several female clerics and one male and the male was the more nurturing traditional heal bot where as the women were warriors first. Most straight up fighters I've played are pretty similar despite the sex. Now that I'm thinking about it the majority of my wizards were female as well. But I've always suspected that women were smarter than us men so that probably explains that :). Physically you sound very similar to me however I'm not a father so I'm not sure what kind of parent I would be and I've always believed both parents should take both roles of nurturer and disciplinarian instead of the old mother is the caretaker father is the punisher mold of the past. But to keep from veering off on a tangent I'll leave it at that. Back on topic I try to play characters other than straight white male but I also fear that I may inadvertently portray a character as an offensive stereotype. I see where you're coming from. If I had the ability to write I would want my world to be diverse as possible but I'd also be afraid to try to portray someone of a different gender, sexual orientation or race because I've never experienced their world through their eyes. And even though I'm not a biased person I was born, raised and still live in a small town in the southern US that is 99.9% white and in all honesty I am quite ignorant of what the worldviews and experiences of anyone not straight, white or male.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:44 pm 
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Anyway, Burlew decided to rather publicly come to terms with several less than pleasant aspects of the strip, most notably Haley's repeated use of body-shaming, slut-shaming, etc but also the almost complete invisibility of homosexual or transgendered people. As can probably be expected (this being the internet and all), the discussion thread for 959 quickly devolved into into a screaming match about SJW issues. I think three people got banned before I bailed fairly early in the meltdown process.

As the Jagers say, Hyu needs to be mour sottle dan dat.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:16 pm 
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Ahem.
Sorry if anything below sounds preachy. This (values in Tabletop RPG culture) happens to be my PhD and as such, I do have my head full with the rhetoric from both sides.

YAFGC never struck me as sexist, non-inclusive etc. For me, it was more stereotypical in the beginning but not in an offensive way. Later on, there is a conscious effort made to break free of racial and gender cliches and it shows. I honestly think it is ahead of many webcomics and works of art out there.

Having said that, I doubt anyone can get everything "right", and one reason is that there is no exact "right" thing to do. You stay informed, you read on the subject, you try your best and sometimes, you screw up in the minds of some people. Maybe you screw up subjectively, too. Even if you have the best intentions mistakes are gonna get made and all you can do is catch them and correct them in the next character or storyline.
Furthermore, you are not helped by the genre and the game you write for. D&D is as hegemonical as games get. The newest editions try their best to be politically correct (personally I applaud the effort) but some things are ingrained in the game. I mean, D&D is pulp by default so stock characters pop in creator's minds immediately.

Another issue my friends have noticed in TRPG culture: no matter how much artists try to be inclusive, they will do an even better work if they encourace people of color, women, minorities etc to create art themselves. So trying consciously to make YAFGC inclusive is great, especially since you work in the cliche-ladden fields of fantasy, and encouraging other , disadvantaged people in your field to create and thell their own stories is also a great way to help.

By the way, thanks for asking this question.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:25 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:36 pm 
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To simplify Morgana --"Don't sweat it".

OR--"Move forward in good faith, with a kind heart, and that's all you can do".


"To do all that one can, is to be a Man; to do all that one would wish to do, is to be a God."~~ Napoleon

Settle for being a Man.
It's still better than being a poor, scribbling ink-stained wretch of a Cartoonist!
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :) :P

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:55 am 
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Eh, no. I never said don't sweat it. We do have to "sweat it". If we do not, fantasy being the cliche-ladden field that it is will drive us towards very stereotypical paths. The rest -move forward with a good heart- is spot on but do not take the path of least resistance for it is dark and full of chainmail bikinis and noble savages.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:27 pm 
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There's nothing wrong with chainmail bikinis. You just have to remember to give the men chainmail speedos.

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 Post subject: Re: Percieved Prejudice in Webcomics
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:17 am 
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I am shutting up :lipssealed: .

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