dresden codak

The Webcomic Review Awards!

WIth 153 votes, the winners are in. I’m not gonna waste your time with a big speech, so let’s get to it!

Best Webcomic

Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrigg Court is the oldest webcomic nominated, and a deserving winner. With excellent art, writing, humor, and drama, GK has kept its plot moving at a clip all year, and is as fresh and hungry as it was when it started. never losing steam.

Runner-up: Kill 6 Billion Demons

Best Writing

While Zack Morrison’s Paranatural hasn’t been the fastest-moving comic, it’s excellent humor and characterization kept fans happy, even as the current storyline threatens never to end

Runner-up: Sleepless Domain

Best Art

Seriously, just look at it

Runner-up: Gunnerkrigg Court

Best Webcomic Under Two Years Old

Most of the categories were close, but this was a blowout. With great art, great characters, and the best twist opening I’ve ever seen, Mary Cagle’s Sleepless Domain is awesome

Runner-up: Scurry

Best Storyline

Gunnerkrigg Court’s been building to the confrontation with Jeanne for years. When it finally happened, it pushed the whole cast to their limits, to the point it’s actually still going.

Runner-up: Doctor McNinja, “The End”

Best Use of Internet in Storytelling

What sets Octopus Pie from the rest of the pack is its consistency. It’s not just one or two great pages, nearly every page of Octopus Pie pushes infinite canvas to the limit. Most internet-style storytelling can feel gimmicky, but Octopus Pie lives in its format.

Runner-up: Legend of the Hare, Parallax Scrolling

Best Character

Brian, from Camp Weedonwantcha, is doubly impressive. Not only is he one of the most interesting characters in webcomics, he does it with almost no dialogue, letting his actions speak for him. This gentle giant and his temper, and his relationship with Seventeen, is the core of the series.

Runner-up: Undine, Sleepless Domain

Best Drama

Do I need to explain this? I don’t think I do. While not as funny as him getting mad Nintendo ripped off his “girl” idea, Diaz is still the best source of lulz in webcomics

Runner-up: Everyone hates Homestuck, Act 7

Worst Webcomic

While webcomics critique is stereotyped as anti-liberal, it wasn’t the “SJWs” that provoked the most hate this year, but Rayne Summers endless pointless polemics that were devoid of any ideas, but still managed to be overwhelming and smug.

Runner-up: Dresden Codak

Worst Storyline

While this was nearly a 4-way tie, Homestuck’s Act 7 edged a victory. This enragingly short and half-assed “ending” literally finished on a shot of the bad guy powering up, answering no questions, resolving no plot points, and driving BladekindEyewear into a full-on depression. The “Credits” flash that followed a few months later helped a little, but that this ending necessitated another ending and a still-going Snapchat continuation speaks volumes for how little it resolved

Runner-up: Dumbing of Age - Ruth is bad at blackmail

And that was 2016 in webcomics! As we move on to 2017, let’s raise a glass to a bright future in webcomics before the nukes kill us all! God speed!

Any comics you feel got robbed?

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Dresden Codak’s Zelda: Clockwork Empire. I wanted to keep my skills sharp between projects so I started what was going to be a very small fanart project, which turned into this. I have even more unfinished stuff, but I don’t have time to get it all polished right now. I debated even putting up the inventory menu, but whatever, I like the icons.

I am a big fan of older zelda games from a design perspective, although I’m not really up on what’s happening in the continuity or the fandom these days. I also very much like Mr. Diaz’s ideas about replacing the tools usually found in these games with spells and having more of a battle-mage character. It’s a fun idea to tool around with!

I dunno why I made it a side-scroller, sorry if that’s a zelda no-no.

For reasons unexplained, every person in the world is born with a large gaping hole in the center of their chest…while not uncomfortable, it is widely considered unsightly, and pretty much everyone tries to fill it with something…some people fill it with religion, others just buy a bunch of stuff, and some even fill it with other folks…I left mine alone, though, because I found out if you run against the wind at just the right angle, it makes a whistling noise.
—  Aaron Diaz, The Distinctly Essential Dresden Codak Primer
An Open Letter to Aaron Diaz

Dear Aaron Diaz,

Over the past few days we’ve already exchanged some words about this. I reblogged Mary’s comic lampooning your comic (and others like it), expressing my approval of its message. I also subtweeted your work fairly obviously. We are friendly acquaintances and my behavior was inappropriate and rude. I apologized to you via email for being passive-aggressive and thoughtless, and you graciously accepted my apology. I admit: what I did was hurtful, and the wrong way to go about it. With that in mind, I want to try to address the problems I have with your work in a direct, honest, and hopefully respectful way. No passive-aggression, no rudeness, no vague-tweeting. 

Aaron, I have a real problem with the way you write and draw female characters. It is sexually objectifying and sexist.

I do not have a problem with artists writing and drawing objectified female characters. I do have a problem with characters I consider sexist, but ultimately it’s something I can ignore. There’s a place for everything, and an artist has the right to create whatever they want to create, for whatever ends they choose. What I have a problem with is that your comic is not presented as a science fiction comic with a dash of sexy thrills, but rather as a feminist narrative in support of powerful independent women. You’ve made it clear on many occasions that you don’t consider your work to be objectifying or sexist. I have a problem with cheesecake-style art being presented as something feminist, empowering, enlightened- something made “for women”, when it’s clearly made for men.

You’re allowed to make art with male gaze. But please call a spade a spade.

I think you are a nice person who does good things. I think you’re a good artist and a good writer. But I consider writing and drawing women to be one of your weaknesses, and it’s hard to imagine that you don’t know that. If you do, I haven’t heard you say so.

I know Mary’s comic stung. I’m not going to deny there was meanness there, although I saw it more as humorously exaggerated satire than a personal attack.  I understand that it sucks to see your work roasted in such a way. But the criticism it made of your work resonated with a lot of people. They can’t all be idiots, crazy people, or “SJWs”, or people with a personal grudge against you. To paraphrase a saying, “If lots of people are telling you it’s raining, get an umbrella.” Aaron, many people have this problem with your work. The problem exists. And since you seem to be very much invested in feminism and positive, non-sexualized portrayals of women in media, you need to take a long hard look at your own output. You need to get an umbrella.

I don’t think I’ve seen a single page of Dresden Codak that doesn’t feature a woman posed in a male-gazey way, with loving focus on her ass or cleavage, or wearing a sexual costume, or in some situation that puts her in a compromising position (like the most recent page in which Kimiko’s clothing is burned off of her body, which has happened at least twice in the series’ run.) I have a very hard time believing that these details are accidental. Not to mention the pinups you posted a few days ago. Instead of saying something like, “Here’s some sexy drawings of Kimiko I did” you said they were about “agency” and “celebration of the female form”. It’s hard not to see language like that as dishonest and sort of insulting.

The following images are a few examples of what I’m referring to. I tried to only find examples from the current arc in the comic, or from merchandise you currently sell. I understand that there is a larger context to these images, but the fact that you continually write situations in which these presentations of women would be contextually appropriate is part of the problem. For the sake of fairness, there is ONE female character in Dresden Codak who is not presented sexually, but to me, that doesn’t do much to make up for the rest of it, especially since she is the only female character with a speaking role in the history of the comic who is not presented this way.

Aaron, you can do whatever you want with your own comic. However, if you really do care about female characters in media, or care to know why so many people seem to be angry with you about it, I would do one of two things. If you don’t want your comic to present its female characters in a borderline-erotic light, then stop doing that. If you don’t mind that, then by all means continue, but please just admit that you like drawing t&a and that it’s not particularly empowering, or feminist, or a celebration of personal agency. As a woman, I resent being told that men’s eye candy is actually meant to uplift me and that I should celebrate it.

I’m not trying to attack you or slander you. I’m certainly not doing this to stir up drama. I think you are a good person. And I think that you make a good comic. It’s obvious that a lot of people really love it and support it, and will continue to love and support it no matter what. There’s a lot you are doing right. But your work is not perfect, and I want to talk about it directly, honestly, and respectfully.

Thank you for listening.

-Magnolia Porter

"Male Gaze” in art of cyborg women

Personally, I think transhumanism faces challenges not only in portrayals of cyborgs as being evil or corrupted, but also in portrayals of cyborg women (as well as many others). 

I have noticed how prevalent nude or otherwise sexualized cyborg (and robot, which is closely related) women are in art (whether that be movies, shows, games, paintings, etc) made by men. I suspect the (possible) vulnerability of lacking certain (natural) body parts and the presence of artificial object body parts (prosthetics) is seen as a reason to sexualize or even objectify.

One may think nudity is just a way to show off more cyborg tech, but more often than not, modifications to the chest or pelvic regions of these women are visually minimal (maintaining the same general shape and appearance) or non-existent altogether. So, she might have some prosthetic limbs and maybe some wires running from her back or her head, but all else usually just conforms to the standard accepted sexual aesthetics. That is unlikely to be coincidence.

To be clear, it isn’t wrong to find these women attractive. And the opposite - portraying cyborg women as only undesirable and ugly - would not be good at all either. But when representations of cyborg women are dominated by male gaze, that reinforces the notion of transhumanism being a “boy’s club” where the male cyborgs are cool and the female cyborgs are objects of sexual desire (by men).

Transhumanism has an excellent opportunity to help deconstruct gender norms, gender roles, gender beauty standards - our very *bodies* - and a plethora of other related things, but we really don’t see that much, especially when it comes to cyborg women.

I hope that changes.

For more information and thoughts about this topic (and others), I should point to you this excellent post by Soycrates: http://soycrates.tumblr.com/post/102726792793/the-sexual-politics-of-transhumanism (nsfw)

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Amazing.

Hey dresdencodak, Cube’s comic wasn’t passive-aggressive behaviour; rather it was what we call ‘satire’, you vicious egomaniac. Please check your own aggressive-aggressive behaviour next time you feel the blood rising.

You’re in your 30s now Diaz, for goodness’ sake. You style yourself as an even-keeled Edwardian gentleman; it’s just a matter of staying in character, surely.

Funny thing is, only about a third of the responses to Cube’s comic that I saw actually mentioned you; everyone else thought it was about Joss Whedon or just general male nerdery. But you took it personally, and now everyone knows. Now everyone knows.

Also, nice try getting your own little stab in and then declaring, “THERE IS NO PLACE IN WEBCOMICS FOR THIS SORT OF PETTY NONSENSE;” like what counts as 'drama’ or not begins and ends with you. Aaron Diaz, and people who are nice to Aaron Diaz: the only adults in webcomics.

It’s official, Aaron Diaz is Anita’s lapdog, he sits by his mistress, and happily wags his tail at every thing she does, and barks at anyone who dares inconveniences her. The pretentiousness this guy has to get so defensive on her behalf about someone who rationally said that there were some legit arguments against hers (there are plenty, go ahead and view them)

Also I got news for you, Salad dressing Kodak camera, Twitter may be a “Private site”, but if you can access a tweet, it’s pretty public. Bonus points for being part of a tweet that belongs to someone who has many, many followers. Once you reply to a “celebrity’s” tweet, other people have the right to reply.