Friday, December 13, 2013

Exiern's Recent Twist

Ah, Exiern.  I haven't talked much about it, the least of which being I can't pronounce the damn name, but mostly because it's kind of an average comic whose big story element really doesn't come up much.  The story of Exiern is about Typhon-Knee, a barbarian hero who one day rescued a princess from an evil wizard, and the wizard turned him into a girl for it.  It's not a bad comic, especially as it's an adventure/comedy strip.  Last week though, came a special reveal that, well, I don't like.

The reveal was that Typhon-Knee was, in fact, gay before he was turned into Tiffany.  I think the author figured this was going to be an issue as he promptly wrote a blog post about it.  What is the issue though?  I've tried to make it clear that I have no problem with homosexual characters of any sort, male or female (I'm straight, BTW), yet this bothers me, so why?

Because it was wholly unnecessary to the character.  The author claims less a big deal than the "real" reveal that happened a few days later.  Which had jack and all to do with Typhon-Knee's sexual preference.

The original point of Tiffany was for that core joke, big strong barbarian turned into a woman and dealing with this new reality.  There have been moments when she's had to deal with how she had previously viewed women, and successfully confronted them.  She has grown as a character through these trials, and has to deal with a new element:  a growing relationship with Denver, a rather nerdy guy who happens to be a dragon (it's an odd comic).

That relationship is why this reveal is a bad move.  Tiffany is falling in love with Denver, this is clear, but NOT because of any sexual desire.  That's the problem, because making Tiffany always having been attracted to men, even before she was a she, undermines the growth the character has had over the years.  Would Typhon-Knee ever fallen in love with Denver?  Probably not, all the growth that lead to this growing relationship came from the gender change.

It also leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.  It seems almost as if the author is saying, probably unintentionally, that gay people would be happier if they changed their gender, so their relationships would be more appropriate.  Which is bull of course.  Still, I think it is unintentional, but it does bug me that this implication is almost there.  Bringing in Typhon-Knee's sexuality adds a layer of confrontation and possible misinterpretation to the comic that it didn't need.

The author says that there are many valid interpretations of the character, and I would agree, and I think he chose a poor one for the overall health of the comic and character.  Better options would include simply having Typhon-Knee be uninterested in sex, bisexual, or even just outright refusing to rape and pillage in the first place for a newly developed moral center.  Any of these would have worked to set up the larger story twist without actually hurting the story or character in any way.

I'll still be reading Exiern, I like the comic even if I don't like this very moment.  There's enough good going on to possibly overlook this, as long as it doesn't become a weight on the author's neck.  If it never comes up again, all the better, there was no reason to have it in the first place.  If it comes up repeatedly, I'll probably have to drop it, yeah I think it hurts the comic that much.

Until next time kiddies.

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