XENA SMASH

Mar. 7th, 2016 02:14 pm
auronlu: (Fang)
[personal profile] auronlu
Mintywolf is a saint.

For four years, she's been posting Guardian comic every week. She's up to 111 pages. 

The story focuses on relationships between female characters. On every page. From Lady Ginnem's mentorship of Lulu to Ginnem's kickass sister Imogen to Yuna's friendship with Valefor to NoPantsCrusader/LadyYocun'sBiggestFan  the nuanced portrayal of Lulu's friendship with Yuna, which evolves and grows over time. 

It's a well-written, convincing love story in which the protagonists are not het and not in a sexual relationship. It shows, not tells that female friendships can be every bit as powerful as the standard "boy meets girl" romance.

Just as with the game of FFX, the bulk of the story is actually flashback, recalled at the end of the journey. The "present" is the scene in which Lulu volunteers to be Yuna's fayth. That scene is reprised at the beginning of each chapter, only now it's ticked forward to show that Lulu IS going to become Yuna's fayth, in this AU.

Yet reader comments often seem oblivious to all of the above.
  • Readers are excited when Tidus shows up, because now, at last, the story can be about Tidus/Yuna. (It hasn't been.) Some post a burst of Tidus/Yuna art right after she posts an emotionally powerful Lulu & Yuna scene.
  • There are comments like "whoa whoa, Lulu, that almost sounds gay" when her headspace-narrative describes her feelings for Yuna. 
  • Commenters jokingly scold Lulu for being sharp-tongued at Wakka, because she shouldn't be talking that way to her future husband. Did they play FFX?

Today someone wants to know if/when Minty's going to get to FFX-2, because this fan can't wait to see Lulu spawning the Wakkababy.

Even though Mintywolf's already showed that Lulu's going to become the Final Aeon, diverging from the X-2 storyline.
Even though Mintywolf's been focusing on female friendship and cuddles.
Even though Mintywolf's been avoiding sexual content all along.

Said fan kept poking, and Mintywolf deflected with tact. As she always does.

It is difficult for me not to snark at readers so desperately trying to find the het in her story, so determined not to see what the story is about, and has been about, for one hundred pages. 

When we were talking about this, Minty pointed out that "where is the straight?" comments on stories about female relationships are hardly unique to Guardian: Sister Claire's had such comments just this week.

I'm not surprised that these comments happen, of course. I'm just very frustrated on her behalf that people can't see, appreciate and engage in what she's trying to do, and has been doing very effectively, for years.

All I can do is support it. 

Date: 2016-03-08 03:18 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
So much sympathy to Mintywolf. I have, at times, caught some shit for Utena and Anthy being in a functional relationship in Archimage because some people in the fandom think they're "just close friends." You should've seeeeeen some of the comments on the Harry Potter story Akycha and I write together (Friends and Strangers) when they hit the fact that Hermione and Ginny were the "surprise ship".

Minty handled that beautifully. But it's really fucking shitty that someone can't see past their heteronormative noses and keeps trying to enforce compulsory heterosexuality on someone else's narrative.

Date: 2016-03-09 01:34 am (UTC)
cumuluscastle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cumuluscastle
But that's the internet. None of my fanart gets as much traffic as fanart that contains a popular pairing or nudity.

It's fandom's relentless pursuit of pairings in all of its forms that's turned me off the most in recent years. There's nothing wrong with any of it, but, you know, romance is just one literary genre. I can only read so much of it before I want to read something else.

In the end, I think it just has to be its own reward, creating the art you want to create.

That said, her comic is amazing and I should comment more and recommend it more (not that I can recommend it anywhere where I'll reach a big audience - I don't interact as much with the internet as I used to). It's so refreshing that she has based her whole story around a sisterly relationship. She really needs to be commended for it.
Edited Date: 2016-03-09 01:50 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-03-09 04:31 am (UTC)
flynn_the_cat: A cat plays with a mouse (Default)
From: [personal profile] flynn_the_cat
I think one problem is that the fact this is rare is something people actually need to learn the hard way to appreciate - if all kinds of diversity and representation were equal, people would still ask for different kinds, but it would be less tone deaf.

Date: 2016-03-09 08:14 am (UTC)
zen_monk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zen_monk
I can't help but think there's a gender bias that plays into people who read het into the comic, in that it's far more expected to anticipate het feelings among women (even more so people expecting it to align with canonical het pairings as though that is immutable among transformative works). And you know, I also tend to think that if the comic were instead featuring male characters going through the same development as the comic is going through, there might not be as many people calling into question the intention of their relationship and might implicitly understand what the comic might be going for. Or that romantic or sexual fulfillment is still centered around a dude and their reproductive purposes (and apparently traditional gender roles if people are feeling like Lulu might ruin her chances at marrying Wakka is she keeps slinging barbed words at him)

Obviously both genders have people with the straight goggles on too firmly (or outright wanting to deny it) but it seems more apparent to me that female relationships have to be even more explicit to get the message across for some people.

Date: 2016-03-09 09:35 am (UTC)
melchar: (auron)
From: [personal profile] melchar
I love Mintywolf's 'Guardian' and long to see new panels on Fridays. ^_^

The relationship shown between Lulu and Yuna is perfect and tugs at my heart. I adore that Lulu is loving and protective and a wee bit jealous of Yuna's love for -everyone-. Yuna's heart wants to encompass the world .. and much of it does not deserve her.

That said, I've known that this is an AU and this story will end differently. Of course, a part of me is relieved since I -really- dislike that FFX-2 paired Lulu and Wakka.

[My own pairing there was that Wakka would end up with Rikku, assuming that Wakka's stubborn streak would *ping* him away from Yevonites to *pong* into an appreciation of the Al Bhed .. and that sparks would fly as Wakka went from teasing Rikku to more romantic realms.]

Date: 2016-03-12 02:54 am (UTC)
mintywolf: (lulubell miffed)
From: [personal profile] mintywolf
(Oh, I should remember to check DW more often! I missed the whole discussion. Though this is the first free time I've had all week.)

I try to be patient with commenters even when they get argumentative but that question kind of threw me off guard. I thought she might be asking because there is a good bit of unexplored story in X-2 that might be interesting to address in comic form but nope! She just wanted to see the baby. :| I mean, I understand a lot of people following me don't know me well enough to know that the stupid baby plot is dynamically opposed to everything I hold dear about FFX, but even so that was a bit oblivious. (If you get a chance to see the stuff I put up on Patreon this month . . . I have some emphatic anti-Vidina opinions, haha.)

It's tiring sometimes - especially when there's a Tuna Tsunami suspiciously soon after I post certain pages - but it's rewarding to see there ARE some people who understand and appreciate what I'm doing even if they are few in number. So thank you for championing Guardian as always. :) All I can do is hope that by the end more people will understand that it's not just a novelization-type straight retelling but an exploration of all of the reasons WHY Lulu volunteers to become the Final Aeon, which I feel is the defining moment of her character arc and also not given nearly enough emphasis in the game. (As I know you well know and understand.)

Sister Claire really is an excellent comic in terms of representation. It has a large, diverse cast of characters, most of whom, since the main plot arc is about a war between witches and magical nuns, are women. So naturally there is a very satisfying amount of time spent exploring different types of female relationships and there has been since the beginning. Also, as I've mentioned before, NONE of the main characters are straight. (And not all of them are lesbian, either; there are bi, ace, trans, and genderfluid characters as well.) But, although it's gotten a lot of criticism for being soapboxy or "trying too hard" to be representative of different sexualities, I think it's a good example of a story where the characters' non-heteronormativity isn't their defining trait or what's driving the plot. (It's not a comic about a bunch of gay nuns; it's a comic about a bunch of nuns who happen to be, among other things, gay.) And even if the diversity point does come across a bit forcefully, it's one that needs to be made.

But when people started complaining this week about Azi the wolf-witch offhandedly mentioning she had a girlfriend because "there are no straight romances in this comic that we can relate to!!" I literally yelled out loud "Well now you know how we feel!!" :P

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