Abstract Gender is a webcomic started by Rayne Shikama (pen name) in 2005. The comic followed character Ryan Hawke and, to a lesser extent, his friend Brian Parker after the two are experimented on by a mysterious group of scientists and wake up female. Brian learns shortly afterward that he can change back and forth as he pleases but Ryan cannot. Ryan continues to go to school using a false identity (his cousin Rachel, who lost her house in California) and learns about how different life is as a girl.
Despite both Ryan and Brian being TG'd, Ryan always seems to get the worst of it (feeling out of place in his body, getting hit on by guys...) while Brian used his changing ability to get the girly advantages (sneaking into the girl's bathroom, using his girl half to become a supermodel...). Ryan also ends up being followed by a kid named William out to prove "Rachel" was Ryan cross-dressing. This would've been the focus of the seventh and final (originally meant to be penultimate) chapter, "Gods".
The comic originally started as a straight comedy but got more and more dramatic as it progressed and the focus shifted from slice of life arcs to uncovering the secret organization that changed Ryan and Brian and why. One of the biggest turning points was Brian's mother being shot by a mugger (however, most of the ramifications from this were never seen as the comic was stopped soon afterward).
The comic was famous for its "curse". The comic never seemed to be able to keep an artist (the first artist actually left after only doing five pages) and the update schedule was constantly changing, particularly towards the ends where updates seemed few and far between. Many sections of the site (including cast list) were never completed and there was a time when the comic seemed to shut down completely. The comic ultimately failed and ended before any of the plots could be resolved. Author Rayne tried to start up a spin-off comic called "Abstract Gender University", but only one page was ever finished and posted (on Rayne's DevArt page). Rayne began posting the remaining scripts of Abstract Gender on his DevArt page but this ended, too, when Rayne left for nearly a year.
Despite having a very loyal fan base (many of whom can still be found doing fan art and drawing the un-drawn comics), this comic has also been famous for receiving harsh criticisms. This is especially true when the comic underwent Cerebus Syndrome.
The comic was ultimately unfinished and the vast majority of plot points were never resolved. The main website was taken down, but many of the comic strips have since been uploaded to the RayneShikama's DeviantArt page.
It has been established by Rayne in his most recent DeviantArt journal that He has recently become inspired again and plans to revive Abstract Gender University. This was complete with a cast list and a short blurb for the new work. The most noteworthy thing is that he plans on switching from Comic format to paragraph format.
He has since begun remaking the comic on his DeviantArt page in prose format, starting from the very beginning once again.
This webcomic provides examples of:
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Brittney is so pretty, she manages to get a job as a supermodel.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The comic starts out very light-hearted and comedic and become very dramatic towards the end.
- Character Focus: The "Flip Side" chapter
- Depending on the Artist: The comic went through so many artists that the only way to know who was who sometimes was that their clothes never seemed to change.
- Different for Girls
- Disappeared Dad: Ryan's father left him and his family years ago. He reappeared late in the comic and became the only family member not to know that Rachel was Ryan.
- Gender Bender
- I Was Young and Needed the Money: The second artist (who did the last 20 pages of the prologue) was Ian Samson, who is now the artist for The Wotch and his own comic - City of Reality. Clearly, he has moved up in the world.
- Left Hanging: Even if the webcomic had been finished as planned, Author Aaron Stewart (aka Rayne) said in the forums that many plot lines (including the main arc) were going to be left unresolved for a sequel comic AGU that never got off the ground.
- Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Both Brian and Ryan do this right after transforming (although, Brian's is done in a flashback)
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Towards the end of the comic (in pages only found in script and fan-art form on DeviantArt) it is shown that the secret organization behind the changes can also alter people's minds, including (supposedly) making Ryan attracted to boys and wiping out a morphed boy's personality entirely.
- Orphaned Series: Last comic update: September 2007. Script updates stopped in 2008, and the comic is now officially dead with the website offline.
- Plot Hole: Why can Ryan miss school, yet Rachel absolutely has to attend that year?
- The 'Verse: Many fans believe Abstract Gender takes place in the Wotchiverse because of the frequent crossover fillers.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Brian
- Wholesome Crossdresser: It is noted that Brian crossdressed before turning female, and dressing up is one of his favorite aspects of becoming female.