Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Stake in Tales

Tailsteak's got two major comics online. A very long time ago I ran into 1/0 and skipped it for its cringe-worthy art style... or lack thereof. In the meantime, The Order of the Stick and xkcd have built up my tolerance for shaky, indistinct amateurish scribbling, so as a prelude to Leftover Soup's impending ending, I ran through the full 1/0 archive as well. Aside from the two comics' separate highs and lows, there's something fascinating about the author's own intellectual advancement.

The Tailsteak of 1/0 is among other things still fighting off his own streak of religious apologism, most notably in turning Marcus, the strawman pompous nerd, into a strawman unbeliever as well, refusing to acknowledge the blatantly obvious existence of his creator. By Leftover Soup, though hardly anti-religious, his new main characters have themselves rebelled against religion at some point in the past (Ellen) or are in the process of outgrowing their religious indoctrination (Jamie, Deist, raised by "crazy, fall-on-the-floor Pentecostals.")

Leftover Soup mostly takes place in the sphere of modern identity politics rather than in a philosophical headspace concerned with storytelling mechanics. Tailsteak (in both comic and commentary) expounds on oppressed minorities and sexual orientations and hates the people he's supposed to hate (like anyone telling men to stop being doormats to women.) Much of the story revolves around Jamie the overprivileged-white-hetero-male-designated-loser rendering service to prove his worth to mate and ascending to the sainted status of "boyfriend" while absorbing his paramour's friends' abuse and degradation with all the serenity of an ox.

And yet... the very last scene concerns not in the slightest the rom-com trope of the man declaring undying devotion and two lovers kissing while the credits begin to roll. Instead it shows two male characters shaking hands and agreeing to teach each other about pop culture and cooking for themselves. That's right, he Bechdeled that shit. Two men are having a conversation not about bitches and hoes. For all his dedication to political correctness, white guilt, male guilt, hetero guilt, atheist guilt, this is how he chose to cut things off: equality, independence and willing cooperation.

Regardless of disagreeing with most of his politics and quite a few of his storytelling choices, I'm getting the same sense of wonder noted in Captain Picard a couple of posts ago, watching a rising intellect see the clouds from the other side. Tailsteak's shaking off systems of indoctrination at breakneck pace. Will he advance to independent intellectualism, backslide into reactionary zealotry or swaddle himself more securely in the safety blanket of our contemporary politically correct circle-jerk? It's anyone's guess. Looking forward to his next project.

I would in fact have a request. Your Marcus was a triple strawman: nerd, atheist and transhumanist, and the third you've never addressed. Explore inhumanity.
Above all, keep moving.

No comments:

Post a Comment