Previously ( [link]
) I emo'ed a little on people saying that I'm objectifying the female characters of my web comic ( [link]
) too much. After some give and take, and some moping over my lack of a love life is subconsciously bleeding into my artwork, I was able to address this issue, and hopefully tweak my characters so that they look less like what I'd call "Masturbation Aids" and more like real people. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction, and if there's other suggestions to improve on them, let me know.
It's one thing to have every character in the comic be the product of some lonely @$$hole, but it's another thing not to have any interpersonal relationships, budding romance, and a little bit of fluff into the story. What I want to do is to list the main characters here, showing how they're improved from their not-so-humble beginnings. Some of them are helped already by feedback from others, while others are still worked on in my head. You'll see the evolution of each of the characters with the character sheets I post on the site, which in turn becomes part of the database.
Before I go on, I have to say it. I'm only listing the 'real life' characters. Clarice Kitty is a Cartoon Character in the strip. She'll be wearing more clothes in the next short, sure. But she's not connected to any of the other humans and I'm just saying 'Pass' on this character.
Also, there are some more Japanese terms listed here. They're just for reference and plot devices. They won't be directly implied on the pages.
I'll start with Johnny, then Amber, and then the others in alphabetical order.
Johnny would think of the rest of his human nakama ([link]
as his second family. They took him him, nursed him back to health, and let him live with them. So of course, he'll do whatever he can to keep the team running smoothly. Sometimes, this is played for laughs. And when he sees a guy and a girl in the team that he thinks are compatible, he'll even do what it takes to bring them together. Seating next to each other. Putting on music and dimming the lights. Ordering flowers for one in the other one's name.
However, Johnny isn't doing it because he wants them to 'mate.' He just read up on how humans relate, thinks, "this is the way they do it," and tries to help them along. Part of him doesn't even know better. This will be played for an occasional laugh or two. And he might not be right on his pairings.
In fact, the fluffiest Johnny'll get is when someone picks him up and snuggles him. Like any other animal, if he trusts him or her enough, he'll let him or her pet him as if he was a household pet. He'll even flop in someone's arms and murr as they rub his chest. Think housecat rather than anything else.
Amber's relation toward Johnny is more maternal than romantic. The worst she'd get with him is letting him have a corner of her bed with one of her arms touching his ear. Again, think housecat. She's got a couple guys in the dating field (see below) but nothing serious. At least at the start.
What some would call objectification would be what I see Amber as: A real life depiction of a Modern Disney Princess. We're talking from the Eisner era on; Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Pocahontas, Esmeralda, up to Merida. Disney marketed these characters and focused on traits that girls would like to have. Their beauty and pretty dresses, yes, but also their smarts, strength, courage, determination, and even a tendency of bucking the system. And instead of waiting for their princes to come, they decided to take matters into their own hands. This is what I want to show in Amber with an additional dynamic. Instead of dreaming of a kingdom, Amber decides to make a kingdom for herself. Keep in mind that I've styled her as a female Uncle Walt. She has dreams of having her own animation studio, and eventually an amusement park in her own right. And now she has a Mouse of her own to start it all. Forget glitter. She going to use a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
It's a far cry from the fashion magazines girls of today are force-fed. You want to talk about "objectification?" How about those anorexic fashion models wearing less clothing than Lady Gaga and showing less emotion than Barbie from the Toy Story series. The figure that the mean girls in school prop up as what beauty is supposed to be? (Amber would be as disgusted at those magazines as what I had her at the beginning.)
Now then, for the rest of the Nakama:
I've given a tip on how to filter out the objectification, go to the other side and insert some androgyny to balance them out. From what I see, I have a good amount of that here already.
Alex's furry persona, Luna Skunk, is hardly objectified. She's too much of a tomboy, and she wears normal clothes. Or normal in a fursuit kind of way. She's androgynous by nature, more desiring friendship and roughhousing than anything romantic. She'll be easy to like once she gets on screen.
And Alex himself? He's always experimenting with fabrics, designs, and all that. Maybe he might invent a better costume idea and earn some money off it. He's already modified a special impact-reducing gel on headpieces and he's working on an efficient—and easy to wear—cooling system.
Darryl's cross-dressing is out. It became pure dross and easily tossed out. Instead, I just have him as a just-starting vet Amber knows from college. They've dated a couple times—and Johnny would make sure that they're together in a room—but they're more focused on their career to take things any further. He wants to be a successful vet, and hopes that everything else falls into place.
Elisa's gone a long way from where I started. Which you saw in her character sheet. Long before the story started, she was an accomplished school performer and confident enough not to go Christina Aguilera on everyone. Think of Miley Cyrus while she was Hanna Montana. She wouldn't objectify herself at all even while wearing a dress. It was the tragedy involving her first national talent show—where someone sabotaged her—that turned her self-confidence into fine powder. So much so, that she shut herself away from the world, dropping out of school and isolating herself in her bedroom for over four years. Even though she's in some recovery (with Alex and Jennifer moving into Elisa's home after her parents moved out) and is able to move around the house, the mental scars produced an incurable shyness that she could only get over through getting into Alex's costuming.
I'm afraid that it's here where Elisa gets into some objectifying, and it's a bit inescapable. Since she has to put up a full costume, including a wig and some makeup, in order to get enough courage to go outside, it's a good bet that she'll be in something that runs up people's nose. Granted, she wouldn't wear any fetish or sexy; she still has her standards. But if anyone's in a maid costume or princess gown (or going out as a Kigurumi) on the page, it'll be her. And her thinking that she feels the need to hide her true self behind these elaborate masks is a driving motive behind her character. Does she get over her problems, take off the mask, return to the world, and then the stage?
Jennifer switched majors on me, which took most of her objectification away. Now she's an animation major like Amber, and she's pretty much the kohai ( [link]
) in the relationship. While the Sempai/Kohai relationship is shown as such on-screen, it would not be referred to by that term. She also has a quirk; any startling noise or scene, and her legs give out like a fainting goat. Even an unexpected dropped glass is enough to get her on the floor. More often than not to find Johnny's nose poking at her and him wondering what's wrong.
Then, Robert. He's the business type who'll get Amber's business started. I did the least work on him because I didn't have to. He's just your down-home local guy just looking to make his own way in the world. A good ol' boy, to some. He might be hesitant and faulting when talking to the girls in the group, but he'll be the first to defend their honor when something comes down.
And finally, Susan. While she's still a ninja, I know that the Kasumi outfit wouldn't do. When doing ninja stuff, she'd either have on a shirt, vest, shorts and shoes (an example would be Archie's post-roboticization Sally Acorn [link]
) or maybe a full body black outfit. While she's smitten with Johnny and ends up being his significant other, she has another part of her persona that shows up once she remembers her past. She believes that her village is destroyed and with it all of their secrets. She might not find any other members of her clan, so she thinks that it's up to her to keep her style of Ninjitsu going. How she does that is still up in the air, though she might look into putting down a manual or try to remake the clan so that the secrets doesn't die with her. Maybe she'd want a child to pass down the secrets. And maybe she shares some of them to Johnny.