Jul 3, 2017

Four Small Pet Peeves

Everyone has a set of pet peeves that, while consciously aware we are overreacting to them, just set us off. The sort of little thing that pulls you right out of a comic (or song, novel, etc). That just breaks the temporary illusion of a small world you were indulging in and reminds you this is a made thing, and this time, perhaps, poorly made.

Four Small Pet Peeves I Immediately Overreact To
Travis Hedge Coke


Shapeshifting as a Cheap Special Effect

The simplest, and most innocuous on my list annoys me enough to embarrass me: When someone draws a character shape-changing as a bad tv signal or form of digital static. This looks bad on video, but drawing it on a page, where there was no budgetary concern with something more plausible is lazy squared. Ditto, shapeshifting as an overlay of one image and another.


If the other form is a psychic illusion or a hologram or something, fine. An overlay makes sense. A wavering visual shift is acceptable. But, something physically transforming into another thing? Show it.



Counter-Tonal Eroticism

Nothing makes my skin crawl like, “Men sweat, but women glisten.” But, it bugs me in its subtler forms, too, such as when, in Grayson, Dick “original Robin” Grayson deliberately sexualizes encounters with his boss and students, while trying to sell us on his forthrightness and heroism. He, along with his superiors, conspires to disguise him as a gay gymnastics teacher, so that he can be perceived as sexually “safe” while engaging in close physical activity with a bunch of eighteen year olds he was only pages before inappropriately perving over. That’s his punishment.

That is some 80s sex comedy level stupid right there, and this was conceived and executed only a couple years ago and not in a dumb sex comedy, but supposedly a “smart” espionage adventure comic.

Or, to break it down using old Gen 13, this seems in-line with the scene and the point:


But, this



That doesn’t work for me at all. She’s reacquainting with her father and that’s the visual emphasis?


Humiliation is Endearing

Closely related to the last, I just can’t truck with a story once the author tries to make me care for someone more because they’ve been (usually sexually) humiliated. I already have a hard time with scenes where someone is going to be humiliated or emotionally destroyed, but you turn that into a shortcut to reader sympathy and my brain just throws the brakes on hard.

Any comic that’s pulled, “She’s fallen awkwardly and displayed her underwear for the boy she likes and/or a group of men she has to work with in a professional fashion; isn’t she so cute!?!” fails at making me like the character but succeeds and making me angry with it as a comic, and the author(s). And, that’s just between Kitty Pryde, Miaki Yuki, and and Caitlin Fairchild alone, that is a sad ton of comics.

The woe-is-me, sad sack, all-time loser trope presses my same annoyance button. Oh, poor Peter Parker/Archie Andrews/Beetle Bailey! He has everything going for him, but some scheme flops and he has less success than he’d like. And… I stop caring.


The Mentally Ill Have Super Perception

And, the big one. One, that some people whose work I adore have fallen back on too many times and it drives me batty.



Schizophrenics and OCD sufferers do not have magic perception super powers. It’s dumb if they do. Especially if it’s given no other justification. OCD and an amazing detective? Okeh. Magic eye that sees another dimension and schizophrenic? Cool. There’s probably a good story hook in there. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts and I’m Exceptionally and Specifically Paranoid and Can’t Help Reacting to It. But, when it’s just some crazy homeless person who can see Superman’s ghost dog or the patients in the mental hospital who speak the truth because the crazy see… that’s more than dumb, it’s worse than offensive, it’s dangerous. Dangerous and lazy.

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