The Great Nitpicky Live Blog of El Goonish Shive



Me, I'm a religious person. I'm cool with the Jesus. I love the guy for saying crazy, radical shit like "love thy enemy".

I'm sure you know the story of the Good Samaritan, but did you know that the Samaritans were basically the arch-enemies of the Jew? When Jesus tells his people a story of a Jew ignoring a wounded Samaritans, the Jews will just think it's normal, but when he follows up with a story of a Samaritan going out of his way to save and help a Jew, now that is some far-out shit right there.

Anyway, I digress. Do you know what the problem with religion in this instance of the comic is? The problem actually isn't related to religion at all. It's that Shive just isn't interested in inventing or exploring other cultures. He's only interested in setting up circumstances and builds around details to support them and it's just painfully obvious.

He wants to exlain why Tedd has the TF gun, so he has him fix one for aliens. Now he needs to explain why the aliens can't just do it themselves, so, uh, sure, religion. They can't do it themselves because religion. The circumstance is set up, everything else is now irrelevant and not worthy of further exploration.

So in other words, all the other questions raised by the comic are irrelevant. What's the government on the alien homeworld like? What's their religion like (which didn't even get a name)? Why do they disagree with transformations? None of that is interesting because we already set up the situation we want, because it's not like science fiction generally tended to be about exploring the meeting of different cultures or anything like that.

Not that's even hard to come up with some half-assed explanations. Most faiths and religions here tend to say we're created in a godly image, or if you prefer the atheistic angle, we create our gods in our image. Let's say the aliens do the same, so to them their own is sacred, too. This wasn't a problem before they had TF technology, but now there's aliens taking on strange and unusual forms, sometimes even permanently. It's body-alteration to the extreme, it can be a scary thing even for non-religious people.

We could go even further and say it's even a big culture clash. How much do you adapt to a culture and how much of your own culture do you bring? Will and Gill not just completely adapted to one human culture, but they completely gave up their own, they even gave up their own native form. Alien leaders, both political and religious, and even the people I imagine would not be happy with that. It's akin to someone having to change their skin-colour to adapt to a different culture.

To the aliens, the TF gun would become the very symbol of abandonment to their culture. It will stand for betrayal to their own norms and values. Even if the aliens have a largely peaceful culture, you could imagine they would not think too fondly of people like Will and Gill.

But fuck that shit. That could be interesting. No, we had some flimsy bullshit vaguely explaining why the current cirumstances are as they are, so why care further? After all, we've got volumes of exposition for the minutiae of Dan Shive's fabulous magic system planned in the future, we cannot waste any figurative ink on this stuff.

In essence, this is really the same as Dominic Deegan's tale of the Heroic Rape. Culture exists only as far as it is relevant to plot. Personality exists only as far as it is relevant to the plot. The very laws of nature are at the whimsy of the plot. And even then they're all very mutable, changing at a moment's notice as the plot sees it fit.

And in the end, it's just an immersion-ruiner. It's the point where you stop reading the comic and the moment you start realising you're reading a comic. You start wondering why the author just chose to do things this way, you might think it was a stupid and out-of-place development, and as this goes on it gets harder to get back into the story. Your immersion gets slowly eroded away and you're left with wasted postential.

How did this rant start again?
Noxilicious 17th Dec 10
A very interesting analysis. It made me think: One would think that creatures that can transform such as the uryuoms would be more accepting of transformation —not complete obliteration of the original self, mind you — just as their eggs do no necessarily need two uryoums to fertilize it. One would think they would be more like the Asari, but perhaps I am just biased.
MrAHR 17th Dec 10 (edited by: MrAHR)
I disagree about the first panel of 423. I think it is actually a great one, or better, could be a great one, if Mr. Verres proportion wouldn't be warped.

But otherwise, it is a nice change from your usual build up of the panels, the two people in front view way. It gives the scene much more dynamic, because it calls attention to the motion in the picture - Mr.Verres standing up.

Though, it would have been better if this would be the second panel, with the first having him still sitting.

Otherwise, this is stuff as usual, so n this case, even a flashback is better than the huge box of exposition we tend to get. For character "development though, yeah, Tedd sucks, he is a major loser and creep. So apparently, Mr. Verres can't use this amazing technology to the betterment of mankind, thanks to the whole cover up thing. I can accept that, it is part of the premise. However, he can't hand it over to his son so he can life out his sex fetishes? What the fuck? Why? If your son has psychological hang ups about his mom disappearing/leaving, get him therapist, not some unknown technology to fool around with. 2He is kind of handy with this stuff2 is not an adequate argument. This is a horrible written explanation to where Tedd got the gun, because it makes him look really creepy - interrupting his father work, just for his dump fetish- and Mr. Verres rather incompetent, because even in a time of emotional distress, you should handle your work professional. You know, like he acts at any other point in the story.
eX 17th Dec 10 (edited by: eX)
Thanks for the art plug, so glad to be reminded that someone likes it.
ACDrawings 20th Dec 10
Okay, I've sat through fifty pages of this, and I have to say something.

Shive wants to maintain a more or less PG, maybe PG-13 rating on his strip. What is this insistence you have about him breaking that?

Schlock Mercenary keeps itself to a PG/PG-13 rating, the only difference is EGS has vague naughtiness instead of death and violence.

DMFA does much the same thing.

The creators want to maintain a certain rating. Not everything that's vaguely naughty has to turn into a naked-fest! Not every incident of in-scene nudity has to be shown!

Especially since pretty all of the main characters are under eighteen.

KendraKirai 9th Feb 11
I've said it once, I'll say it again. You want to keep things PG? Don't tease at higher rated things. If I want a scene to be funny, I will not add angst and drama, and then still tote it as a funny scene. If I want something to be funny, I need to keep it funny, and cut out any threads that might make it not funny.

Same thing goes here. He wants to make sex jokes and a fetishlite comic? He can't have that and a PG comic. It doesn't work both ways.
MrAHR 9th Feb 11
And yet, DMFA does it, Schlock Mercenary does it.

Schlock Mercenary "teases" at higher ratings all the time, mostly for violence. But I suppose it gets a pass because it's violence, and who cares about that, it's SEX that's ADULT and/or EVIL, even if the jokes are pretty tame (Mostly 'Hey, hot chicks, cool.) The fetishism is there, sure, but I don't see how it's any more fetishy than, say... [[ Sequential Art]].

That doesn't explain DMFA though, which tends towards the 'sexy' side of things while still being PG (PG-13 at worst)
KendraKirai 9th Feb 11
I have not read either of those comics, nor do I care if they have done it. They have either done it badly, or done it right. Either way, EGS does it badly.
MrAHR 10th Feb 11