I know I’ve been very lax around here. I hate popping up and apologising for the delay all the time – it feels messy – but RL has been hitting me like an extended metaphor. I’ve been considering putting up an official notice of hiatus just so people would know where they were, but I don’t think I’ll do that quite yet. I can say that I do have stacks and stacks of things backed up that I want to review, as well as Read Along With Rhube, which I am determined to finish before the next George R R Martin book is out. It’s just a time issue.
Today I actually got some RL stuff done, though, so I’m allowing myself a little blog time. Co-incidentally, I spent most of my breaks today reading the archives of a new web-comic that I’d like to review for you: Real Life Fiction. The title seems apt.The main character is a young woman with geeky interests who wanders through a surreal world where you can get Batman in your cup-a-soup, wi-fi on your giant duck, and off-load your accidentally created quantum-zombie cat at the Shelter for Graveless Zombies. She also walks around with a squirrel companion who seems to live on her head… most of the time. And apart from that, it just might be one of the most Wonderful Things Ever.
I like that it has a female protagonist, but doesn’t make a fuss about the fact that she’s female, nor is it embarrassed by this fact. I read a fair few web comics these days, but even the ones written by women tend to have more in the way of male characters in the lead roles than female ones. Which is not to say that there aren’t some great female characters out there – Judy, from Dr McNinja, is all kinds of awesome, as is Mitzi McNinja; and I enjoy laid-back, commitment-phobe, Jonesy, from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things – but it has to be admitted that these ladies aren’t prominent characters. Granted, other comics do better: NSFW comic, Oglaf, is pretty evenly spread, although the main character, in as much as there is such a thing, is male; and xkcd has a high frequency of female characters, who seem equally as likely to say or do any of the things their male counterparts would. Not to mention that there are a number of comics that I don’t read that make a specific point of having a female protag, Girl Genius being merely the most well-known. It’s still nice to see a buck in what is largely the trend, however, especially on International Women’s Day. And (although I know I sometimes give the impression otherwise) I quite like my equal treatment without any fuss. So I like not only that this is a female protagonist, and one who can hold her own in a geeky discussion, but also that this comic isn’t going out of its way to say anything about gender. It’s just presenting a fully rounded character, who happens to be female, and saying that she is worthy of our chief attention.Moreover, her integration with high levels of geekdom does not see her eschewing the sorts of things that would naturally have been a part of her life as a girl. I was particularly delighted by the comic that depicted her raising a zombie version of Starlite – Rainbow Brite’s rainbow-maned horse. I was cackling with glee at the girlhood dream I recognised mixed with slightly off-kilter adult interests that I share, too. The levels of insanity, geek-squee, and nostalgia-squee are just hitting all the right buttons for me, and I think they’re likely to hit a lot of buttons for other people, too (at least, people who are likely to be guided by my reviews). But Real Life Fiction, like so many episodic webcomics, is not exclusively concerned with its main character’s story, and the tangents are themselves a delight. I am particularly, utterly taken with Manicorn: ‘Mild mannered jeans model and archeologist extradinaire’ by day, were-unicorn by night. This started as a one page gag satirising Twilight, but has progressed to have its own storyline (whether within the RLF universe, or as a story made up by the protagonist, is unclear – but perhaps that’s appropriate, given the title of the comic). Manicorn had me at his origin story. He dons an untested ‘Omega Cologne’ for a photo shoot, turns up the Glitter Machines unwisely high, and is transformed. Soon, Manicorn is off, slightly cack-handedly saving the day, in the company of a small girl who has decided to become his sidekick whether he wants one or not. Every. Single. Moment. Is. Priceless.
This comic is fantastic. Its creator has been away for the last month, with guest bloggers taking the helm in meantime, but it looks like business as usual should be resumed soon. Go! Read the archive – it hasn’t been going so long as to make that a burden, and you won’t regret it!