Comic 754 - Silhouette

4th Nov 2015, 3:23 PM in Special
Silhouette
Average Rating: 5 (5 votes)
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Author Notes:

Jocelyn 4th Nov 2015, 3:23 PM edit delete
Jocelyn
Completely ignore if you like. I just need to release some ideas from my head. It comes in the form of a new story concept called Silhouette. I don't want this one to be too long though, so I'm aiming for novella length. The art's not the best either, as it's a little bit of a rush job, but it will suffice for clearing my head for the time being.

***

Over the weekend, while in a state of exhaustion, I randomly started reading some new manga. It ended up being "gender bender" manga. By which I mean, stories where a character (usually a guy) who is quite pointedly NOT transgender is by some weird (oft forced) magic shenanigans, transformed either temporarily or permanently into the "opposite sex". Usually in an otherwise normal real world setting. Mostly played for laughs. Almost assuredly with plenty of fanservice.

I grew up with a lot of this kind of gender bender stuff. It was an outlet for me when I didn't know transition was a thing yet. I used to hate that the main characters were always opposed to their transformations though (because I would've loved their "curse"). And yet I was simultaneously uncomfortable about the forced nature of the change (because I knew too well how much it sucked to feel trapped in a body that felt wrong). But since it was the closest thing I had to a story that I felt even vaguely validated by at the time, I kept coming back to these through my teen years.

And then there's the fact that if I didn't waste my youth wishing for some easy solution to magically poof me into a girl, I might've actually pursued transition a lot sooner. Escapism and wish fulfillment have their value, but I didn't have a Rain growing up that could depict the reality of transition to balance it out. And I needed that a lot more than I needed magical poofing that was never actually going to happen.

Now that I'm older, wiser, and transitioning, I can't help but focus on the more problematic elements. I can still enjoy these kinds of stories as a bit of a guilty pleasure, but since I'm transitioning now, I'm essentially already living my dream. I no longer need that vicarious bliss like I once did. And it makes the parts I don't like about these stories stand out more.

***

If you follow the Rain Webcomic Facebook page, you might have read a lot of these musings already. I shared these thoughts and many readers responded with theirs. The discussions were interesting and varied (and delightfully civil). It got me dwelling on all this even more. And perhaps with the fact that NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) just started, the creative juices just flowed.

"I wonder if I can write a better, less potentially offensive gender bender that focuses on more real issues. One that removes some of the more problematic elements and offers a more unique perspective for this type of story." I don't necessarily know if I can, but challenge accepted! Silhouette was born from this notion. It will allow me to explore the fantasy of gender bending versus the reality of transition... and further delve into the wonder and harshness of both.

I don't want to get more specific than this yet. I would much rather let the story do the talking for itself. I'll give the characters' names for commenting purposes, but that's the extent of story details you're getting for right now.

From left to right:
Dana, Harper, and Giselle

And as soon as Rain - Volume 3 is done, I'm going to direct some of my free time to this (it won't get in the way of typical comic posting though). But that's why I had to draw this and express some of my thought process. This takes Silhouette out of my head, and allows me to return focus to Volume 3 distraction-free.

Not much else to say from there, so back to my real task for now. ^_^
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Comments:

shastab24 4th Nov 2015, 6:52 PM edit delete reply
shastab24
Gender-bending stories can be really frustrating. I've been having to actually read them for my blog (Trans Supers, where I featured the Magical cast--I include this type of transition, too, because otherwise the amount of characters featured on the blog would be paltry, though I considered not including them).

It's not just the unreality of the situation, but the dismissal of trans identities. There were some stories that outright stated that the magical change was authentic and real life transition was not. As well, there's rampant misgendering of characters and this is seen as a good thing, that one needs to be treated like the sex they have, rather than the gender that never changed.

I've been thinking of an idea for a deconstructive story of the magical sex change myself, of one whose sex spontaneously changes and the people around react like in those stories, while the main character, instead of becoming happy with their new sex and changing their gender identity, sinks further into depression because of it. Such a thing can get very dark, though, and I have to be in the right mindset to write it (if I ever do).

I'm interested in Silhouette for what I said above (always nifty to see someone's work when it has an intersecting idea with one's own). Yes, I'm more interested in Magical (it's more my type of genre and all that), but this project does seem to have potential.
Jocelyn 5th Nov 2015, 2:07 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@shastab24

Thanks again for including the Magical kids on your blog. ^_^

But yeah, Silhouette will probably be pretty dark too. I mean, I still want it to have a sense of humor (because that's just the way I write), but it definitely won't be the same kind of jokes gender benders usually have. Plus, there are a lot of issues I'd like to go into, and I don't doubt that could occasionally turn into something pretty heavy.

Mina 5th Nov 2015, 1:01 AM edit delete reply
What did you read, Jocelyn?

I've been reading some gender benders in the past few weeks, and while I often find them enjoyable (well, enjoyable like your average manga, nothing awesome), one thing always bothers me. In most gender benders, the hero usually ends up liking his new way of life, that's so frustrating, it really, really, REALLY doesn't work like that! >.<
Maybe the gender bender industry is actually sponsored by John Money? XD

I'll probably read Silhouette, if I'm able to follow a story entierely written in english without anything graphic. We'll see. ~
Jocelyn 5th Nov 2015, 1:57 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Mina

A few months ago, a reader recommended Osananajimi wa Onnanoko ni Naare (I have no idea what that translates to). I only just now finally got around to it. It's a silly, episodic story about a student who makes a wish to a fairy for a "cute girl childhood friend"... so the fairy turns his male best friend into a girl, quite against his will. The forced aspect is a bit uncomfortable but it was occasionally amusing, and it still had a certain charm (and I really thought the artstyle was adorable). Now I'm invested, and I'll probably keep reading when more becomes available.

When I ran out of that, the manga site threw a whole bunch of related titles at me. This started me on Boku Girl, about an exceptionally pretty boy who is often mistaken for a girl. But then Loki (you know, the Norse god of mischief) was bored and decided to actually turn him into a girl. The premise sounds a little ridiculous at first, but the writing is actually pretty good (and I love the art). It can be a pretty darn NSFW sometimes, and likes to dance precariously close to the line of being hentai, but thankfully never crosses it. But despite the occasional over-the-top fanservice that I could live without, in terms of writing it's genuinely smarter and funnier than a lot of others of this genre I've seen. (And so many love triangles! We know how much I love those! XD) Again, it's not finished, but I've really enjoyed everything that's available thus far.

After talking about these, other readers gave me like a dozen other suggestions which are all on my reading list, but I haven't started yet. ^_^
Mina 5th Nov 2015, 12:46 PM edit delete reply
Thanks! I'll look into these mangas!
A friend actually told me about Boku Girl a few days ago. The Universe really wants me to read it, I guess. XD
I wonder if Loki cans turn a Shin Megami Tensei protagonist into a female character... :3

Annoying NSFW stuff is annoying. At least mangas are mute, you don't have to hear anything. But yeah, I, too, could live without.
Did you read Bokura no Hentai? This one can be really NSFW at times (even though the "hentai" in the title stands for "transformation"...), and that's really sad, because otherwise it's fantastic. One of the main characters is a young trans girl, you should read it if you somehow manage to finish everything you were suggested. XD
Jocelyn 5th Nov 2015, 1:36 PM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@Mina

Bokura no Hentai is also on my reading list. A few people have suggested it. It'll probably be one of the next ones I look at.

But last night after posting my response, I started Clear Up after Rain (which on principle, I had to check out next). XD I'm only two chapters in, and the pacing a bit slow so far, but everything feels very promising, and might offer a less tropey, less fanservicey, possibly deeper story for the gender bender genre. I'm really looking forward to more of this one. ^_^
Mina 5th Nov 2015, 5:45 PM edit delete reply
I like the title of this one. XD
I will check out this one, too.

I hope you'll enjoy your readings! ^^
T-Dog 5th Nov 2015, 10:15 PM edit delete reply
Clear Up after Rain is a good one, but very slow releases.
T-Dog 5th Nov 2015, 10:24 PM edit delete reply
Both of those titles are funny. I really like the art work in Osananaimi wa Onnanoko ni Naare. It's funny and light hearted, nothing too serious.
QuestioningAgenderTamLin 5th Nov 2015, 2:47 AM edit delete reply
Hey! I've been a fan for a while now, and even introduced a friend to the comic he loves it too.
I would love to read a story about a girl with powers that allow her to transform to a guy. (that's how Harper{?} looks to me)
Another comic I read has a person who's recently realized that they're gender fluid with a magic lazer gun that allows them to change the appearence on themself and others at will, and their best friend who managed to get magic to turn himself into a girl along with a twin sister. That's a little convoluted... But it was thanks to that comic that I was able to comprehend Rain. In case you want to know, that comic is called El Goonish Shive. (Tedd gets better, I swear!)
QuestioningAgenderTamLin 5th Nov 2015, 3:04 AM edit delete reply
Also, you wouldn't happen to have a tumblr, so I can follow that and tag you in any fanart/crossovers I make, would you?
Jocelyn 5th Nov 2015, 5:32 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@QuestioningAgenderTamLin

My Tumblr is at http://lynnwritesstuff.tumblr.com/
I mostly just post pages, and once in a blue moon, a random picture that doesn't make it here.

And I'm familiar with El Goonish Shive. I read it eons ago, but stopped... for some reason. I know I liked it, so I don't know why I stopped. But it's been like ten years at least, so I'm a little intimidated by the backlog (not to mention, I remember so little I'd probably have to start over). XD
Zii 9th Nov 2015, 12:08 AM edit delete reply
I've been following it for a long time, I can second that recommendation. The author matures so much as a person as the series goes on. Dan seems to be near the forefront of a lot of social justice struggles, and actively attempts to improve himself and gently uplift his readers as well. I give her mad props for that!
Guy 5th Nov 2015, 3:22 AM edit delete reply
"That's enough to put Goonish in the title?"
j-eagle12212012 5th Nov 2015, 12:43 PM edit delete reply
j-eagle12212012
@Jocelyn
What's your opinion of Ranma 1/2 ?

I read the whole series and it has its charm but can also border on the uncomfortable at times (I chalk it up to the time period it ran for which was late 80's into the late 90's and the culture of japan at that time)
Lemonado Girl 5th Nov 2015, 9:10 PM edit delete reply
Lemonado Girl
See, my problems with anime on the genderbending/what have you front are that, as stated, it gets a little too fanservicey, oft with no actual justification, and how often messing with the gender concept leads into territory that, even on the off chance it's not intended, is rather transphobic. A prime example of this is found in One Piece's Ivankov. Ivankov is in charge of "New Kama Land," the inhabitants of which are mostly shown to be (biologically) male transvestites. I'd have nothing against this, except for the fact that they're portrayed to still be rather perverted in the way you would expect of any other guy pervert in anime, except rather than it being a select few who are like this, it's all of the at least hundreds. Ivankov themselves actually has the power to simply inject someone, and poof, sex change. One example of this, the victim is portrayed as accepting of it, but the legitimacy is questionable (as Ivankov's size and...abilities...make them quite imposing and Ivankov went at them for being uncooperative to start with), especially considering how another victim fled in embarrassment. Not only are the forced transformations really insensitive, the general populace of New Kama treats them as some kind of impressive spectacle, which only further paints them as mere sexual deviants, which is a poor reflection on the trans community as a whole.
Zii 9th Nov 2015, 12:17 AM edit delete reply
I'm not as familiar with One Piece, but I have come across a bit about that before. :/

I'm surprised that Kashimashi hasn't been brought up much on this page. There's a show with a "magical gender bender" at the core, though the main character seems like a pretty good recipient for it as the story goes on. While the main story of the work is good, there's all these ancillary things that really bother me, especially the father, who is a super skeevy pervert who takes a very uncomfortable interest in Hazumu's change. There's also this weird slapstick thing with the teacher that just doesn't amuse me, and most anything involving the male friend treads into that uncomfotable "trans fetish" territory.

Which is a HUGE shame because the core story is amazing and touching. I think Kashimashi would have been a much stronger story if it focused only on Hazumu, Tomari, Yasuna, and Ayuki.

(/otaku rant)
T-Dog 5th Nov 2015, 10:30 PM edit delete reply
Would Silhouette be a graphic novella, or just an illustrated piece of written work? Do you have plans to post it up or publish it?
Jocelyn 6th Nov 2015, 1:03 AM edit delete reply
Jocelyn
@T-Dog

What I'm thinking of is writing it as prose kinda like the Magical prologues I did a while back, except rather than a short story, it'd be a bit longer. Like around 100 pages or so. I won't stress out if it gets to be like 200 pages (by which time, I think it's officially a novel), but I'm purposely aiming small so it doesn't become the next big book trilogy. XD I'd like to make Silhouette a little more concise and to the point if I can.

Because I like drawing too though, I'm thinking I'd like to illustrate key scenes to accompany the writing. But the story would be told through the writing itself.

I would like to publish it, but I'll probably at least post the first few chapters (as a bit of a demo, so to speak) to help draw attention to it. :)


Danni L 6th Nov 2015, 10:56 PM edit delete reply
its funny you bring this up. ive been toying with this idea myself and came up with a fairly good story. id love to spitball ideas if youre interested
Queertaku 9th Nov 2015, 5:45 AM edit delete reply
Have you read or heard of a manga called Hourou Musuko, or Wandering Son? Its an actual transgender manga and its honestly one of my favourites.
Zii 12th Nov 2015, 3:20 PM edit delete reply
It really is good at capturing the feelings of growing up transgender. I'm pretty sure I cried a few times while reading it. Nothing quite as bad as the Rain haircut, I admit, but the sympathy tears were there.
Jax Rhapsody 13th Nov 2015, 8:33 AM edit delete reply
I've actually been working on publishing a story where the main character is transgendered of sorts. Its based of the movie Zerophilia, because I thought I could write it better, by better I mean the way the characters change sex in the movie. The web version is on my blog Laviathans Cave. Its part of a series of sorts based in one city, on lives of different people.

Transgender things interest me, not just because I'm attracted to them, but sometimes I feel trans, and have had dreams about it. I even have a story(in writers development hell) on a female to male. Comics like yours helps me out on those things, not being trans, trying to impliment trans issues in a believable way, even in my crazy Velocity stories.
Trismegistus Shandy 14th Aug 2017, 5:16 PM edit delete reply
I haven't read much gender-bender manga, but I have read a whole heap of prose magical TG transformation fiction on various websites such as Fictionmania, BigCloset, and TGStorytime. A lot of them have the same issues you describe seeing in gender-bender manga. In many, though, the magic or Sufficiently Advanced Technology that transforms the main character is portrayed as also changing their gender identity, either at the same time as the physical transformation or gradually for some days/weeks afterword. And typically the main character is in denial about that change of gender identity (and often orientation) for a while, but gradually realizes their identity has also changed.

There's a spectrum of people who read and write these kinds of stories, many but not all of them transgender. Some of my favorite authors (Maeryn Lamonte, for instance) write a mix of realistic stories about trans people, similar to "Rain", and magical transformation stories (often but not always with trans protagonists).

I've tried to address some of those issues and subvert those tropes in my own stories. In some of my stories, the main character is a man transformed by magic or alien technology into a biological female who then uses mundane techniques to transition back to male, or announces their intention to do so near the end of the story. In others, I play the "gender identity changes after the transformation" trope relatively straight, but the story doesn't come down on the side of the side of the characters who are pressuring the main character to act in conformity with their new biological sex. In some, I'm sure, I haven't done a particularly good job of subverting those tropes, though.
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