duly noted

February 15th, 2008 | Oddments

tintin on mcsweeney's
I just skimmed the comments on episode 520, starting from the end. It was curious reading in reverse like that. I couldn’t imagine where the gym teacher discussion had sprung from, but spooling back it all fell into place.

Okay, you’re all right. The characters in 520 wouldn’t be dressed in t-shirts if the house were really at 65 degrees. No one ever goes to the dentist. I cover more negative than positive aspects of long term relationships. And the fat characters–Jezanna and Harriet–have mysteriously disappeared from the scene. I’ve been aware of that last item on the list, and have been troubled by it. I’ll see what I can do about remedying all these problems, okay?

Once decades ago our blog friend June Thomas noted that I had drawn a drink in which the ice cubes sat at the bottom of the glass instead of floating to the top.

That’s when I knew this was a tough crowd.

On an unrelated note, Kendall Gerdes sent me a link to this piece on the McSweeney’s site that the Tintin fans among us will enjoy. It’s even more clever than it looks at first glance–it lists and updates each book in the entire Tintin series.

29 Responses to “duly noted”

  1. Deena in OR says:

    I got my brother a subscription to McSweeney’s for Christmas this year…I look forward to borrowing from him 🙂

  2. Aunt Soozie says:

    have been on hiatus and reading 182 comments seemed, uhm, daunting…but, Alison, you made it sound so intriguing, I might venture back there to check it out… so many topics…

  3. Tom Geller says:

    I very much miss Harriet. I had SUCH a crush on her in college (late ’80s).

  4. Cate says:

    Alison, I canNOT imagine subjecting my work to the kind of scrutiny yours is under — the whole meta-life of the characters in the conversation is almost a separate world, and I think sometimes the way the discussion unspools means the overall brilliance and the way that this stuff LIVES gets lost. But the very fact that it spawns such attention is testament to how vivid it is. What a paradox ;-).

  5. June says:

    Alison, you did an awesome lighting-round tour of the comments, but you forgot to mention one thing: We all love you and your work like mad.

    PS I sometimes dream about Harriet. The woman is a goddess.

  6. clara says:

    I’m someone who has found the relationship stuff that you’ve written lately to be rather depressing. Could it be that you were negative about relationships because you were single? Do we have some sexier strips to look forward to now that you are dating someone?

  7. Andrew B says:

    Alison — not that even such a practiced nitpicker as I could care, but just because I feel a need to maintain our collective reputation… You mean you were skimming the comments on 520.

    See what happens when you start screwing around with the numbering?

  8. Thank you, Andrew B. I fixed it.

  9. The Cat Pimp says:

    If there’s anyone who can handle an anal retentive crowd like this (“Does anal retentive have a hyphen?), its our dear A.B.

    I miss some of the old characters, too. I miss Carlos. I think with Clarice out of the house and Toni giving her paramour apparent the heave-ho, we need Carlos. In a feather boa. Please?

  10. Xena Fan says:

    What AB needs is a couple of interns who can draw secondary strips containing the missing characters (Jezanna, Harriet, etc.) while AB works on the main strip with the main characters!

  11. Lea says:

    Oh Alison, your work is great. That’s why people miss characters, you just made them to good ;-).
    Just go on like you want to go on, even if you would stop DTWOF I could understand, and luckily you took your time and made other things like Fun Home, which is a mistresspiece.
    Blue Skies
    Lea

  12. Xena Fan says:

    Since Ginger has left the group home, will the DTWOF banner (top of home page) be updated to show Clarice and JR?

  13. DeLandDeLakes says:

    OMG, what a hilarious list. I think it’s amazing how universally appealing Tintin is- I was actually introduced to the (English translations) of the comic by a friend from India who is a long time fan.

    Oh, and hey Alison! I learned from eavesdropping on a guy on my bus that you are coming to the University of Minnesota this March! I for one am SO excited for it!

  14. Quatre says:

    Tough crowd noth’n. I’m just thrilled this comic is here to read and enjoy. Even with all the progress we’ve made, there is sadly still little out there in the media realm with us, about us, for us. And with a humorous flair. Thanks Alison!!!

  15. Kate L says:

    Ice cubes at the bottom of a glass? Perhaps you were subconciously inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, which featured Ice IX, a denser polymorph of water ice that melts at 114 degrees F, and spontaneously converts ordinary ice to Ice IX upon contact. We’ve just covered mineral polymorphs in my intro. geology class, so don’t mind me…

  16. Anonymous says:

    zOMG, that Tintin list a scream! I love it. McSweeney’s has a lot of that dry, sly humor. I love it too.

  17. a lurker says:

    I think in this case AB has creative license to portray relationships in whatever way she feels necessary at the moment-I mean, some things are just up to the artist, no? anyway, there was lots of nice long term relationship stuff when toni and clarice were getting along better-sometimes things just happen. (In real life, too!)I think it’s also probably hard to make any long term story line representative of an entire community at every given point. things have to change, otherwise there would be no plot!

  18. tintin fan says:

    ah, Tintin! thanks for the link- great to see some of his more recent exploits considered!

  19. Boricua says:

    I’m interested in Allison’s comment that she’s troubled by the disappearance of fat characters from the strip.

    The particular two characters in question – Jezanna and Harriet – are great, and I’ll venture the guess that their real-life counterparts are more likely to exist in the lives of your average, American, work-a-day dyke – than are middle-aged people who have lived in the same co-op for 20 some years.

    And – I’ll further venture to say that queers of color tend to go to great lengths to maintain relationships with other queers of color – because we are so few. It is kind of funny that Clarice, Toni, Ginger would be out of touch w/ Jezanna – but all still connected to the main white characters. But…whatever, really.

    DTWOF is a long story to read, look over,think about, enjoy.

    Who among us has no fat friends/family/colleagues in our lives? The absence of them in the strip does make DTWOF a little less reflective of reality but – this is far from being the only or most glaring departure from the typical in this strip…so I can’t imagine that this is what is troubling the artist about their absence so…I’m wondering…why be bothered at all? Missing these specific characters? Or – maybe – concern that there is an implied judgment against fat people because they are not being represented in the strip?

  20. Andrew B says:

    I agree with Boricua that Jezanna and Harriet are great characters. It would be fun to have them back in the strip for that reason (as well as the other reasons she and others give).

    I have wondered if the preponderance of thin people in the strip has to do with Alison’s method. As we know, she does a lot of her own modeling, using a digital camera. It’s not surprising that the characters tend to have her body type.

    During the time that I’ve been following dtwof — the last dozen years or so — there have basically been two body types, fat and skinny. There have been a few minor characters who have had conventionally sexy female bodies, e.g. Jennifer Krukowski and, long ago, some of Lois’s squeezes. But there haven’t been muscular people, heavy people who carried their weight in their hips rather than their bellies, short squat people, tall people, people with big legs or big shoulders, and so on.

    An occasional exception is Carlos, but in a lot of frames in which he appears I find myself wondering what he actually does in all that time he’s supposed to be at the gym. Alison also does a good job of using bodies to suggest changes in the person, e.g. Jennifer has cellulite and Paul has grown a pot belly since retiring. But the underlying body types don’t vary much.

    I have to think this isn’t something that interests Alison, which is fine. Lots of other things do interest her. But it’s something I’ve noticed and since the topic of body types came up, I thought I’d mention it.

  21. Ellen O. says:

    I see an array of body types in Dykes. Stuart is on the heavier side. As was Sparrow, though she’s become gaunt. Also in the middle group: Sparrow’s parents and Jezzana’s dad. Fiona, Mo’s near fling, was solid. Madeleine, Sydney’s recurring fling, is short. So is Miriam the midwife.

  22. riotllama says:

    I’ve got 4 more months before I graduate. wait for me to be a licensed dental hygienist and then have all your characters come to me!! (It was a secret. becoming a dental hygienist just isn’t as sexy as being a librarian. but im not quitting the library job. no way.)

  23. kittycatpurr says:

    I thought I had been noticing Tintin allusions lately. When Clarice jumped in the pile of leaves on top of Gloria and Stella, the result looked like a canonical mash-up between the Thompson twins and Captain Haddock. I was surprised Clarice didn’t billions of blue blistering barnacles.

  24. kittycatpurr says:

    Also, watch it with that seven-crystal meth, Alison. No crash-tinkle-zing for you.

  25. Paolina says:

    Alison, isn’t that better the sounds that “les sept boules de cristalle” make to your ear? Tintin c’est francais, don’t be
    too american in that, crash-tinkle-zing doesn’t crash as a boule de cristalle does…

  26. Alisa says:

    Alison,

    First, let me say that I can’t even tell you how much your work has meant to me over the years. I started reading dtwof eleven years ago in college and I’m so thrilled to have your blog as a resource to keep up to date. Plus, Fun Home BLEW ME AWAY. Just lovely, tough, wonderful work.

    Thank you also for this post. Of course, dtwof is not a community-produced project, so it’s very gracious of you to be reading our little comments and feedback and taking some of them seriously.

    That said, I want to offer an observation in the context of humility and gratitude. The dtwof community represents an almost self-consciously multiracial group of women, and yet, there has been virtually no racial tension between individuals and within the community. I find that really weird. I mean, there’s a little bit with Cynthia, the one conservative lesbian, but that can get easily written off as her wrongheaded politics. No racial tension between our main progressive/radical characters, though. There is class tension, gender/gender identity tension, political tension, but it’s as if racism doesn’t exist because dyke communities have got this whole race thing figured it out. All the women of color are professionals – bookstore owner, attorney, accountant, non-profit manager, professor. There’s nothing wrong with that, maybe something great about that, but it adds to this odd feeling I get that, in the dtwof world, access to economic opportunities outside *and* within the community aren’t raced, white radical dykes are never racist (and are, therefore, never held accountable for their racism), and there are no disagreements about race.

    One thing I’ve learned to first accept, and then rejoice about the way you write dtwof is that you make tough decisions about the stories that accurately reflect what’s happening in the “real world.” I was so sad (and, okay, kind of miffed at you!) when Madwimmin’s Bookstore closed. But you were right to close it b/c the community has changed b/c that’s the real impact of capitalism. When Stuart was introduced, and then, oh my god, moved in with Sparrow, I was like, WOW!. But yes, that was a totally appropriate and accurate reflection of how complicated our community is. So, dtwof is not a world of some kind of idealized, simplistic community and you don’t let us slip into thinking so.

    So, no major race-based conflict? I read #522 and, though of course, it really is great, I can’t help but notice that you chose to illustrate the conflict about choosing between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton through a Black woman and her Black trans daughter. This seems like an odd choice when this conflict which has been cast by many white feminists (Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and others) as a choice between gender- and race-based loyalty. Illustrating the conflict between two Black women seems to be an easy choice to avoid the racial tension specifically between white women and Black women, including radical dykes, that has been sometimes triggered through the debate about which candidate to support. (I’m not saying that there aren’t Black women who support Hillary Clinton, but I am saying that those big name feminists that are laying down the law around how to think about the potentially “first woman president” and demanding gender loyalty are doing so in a way that many Black women and other women of color find very, VERY problematic. There is a real race tension here among feminists. It’s not a monolithic or simplistic tension, but it is real.)

    I’m not necessarily asking for a big dramatic smackdown between characters about the election. But, I am asking for a little more of the healthy dose of realism that you give to the strip to be directed also towards issues of race and racism within the community.

    So, that’s it. Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to be as careful as I could be about making the point. Hopefully it’s clear. And again, thank you so much for sharing your smarts, your hard work, and your creativity. Your art truly has an impact on people, I know it does on me.

    – Alisa

  27. Lea says:

    Alisa, wonderful post, thanks for this. Lea

  28. Scotia says:

    There WERE one or two freakishly warm days this winter; maybe the scene happened on one of those. I was just listening to Susan Stamberg on NPR, and there are people who work for movies whose WHOLE JOBS are to do continuity and verisimilitude checking like this.

    Thinking about the strip historically, I realize that there are really six anchor characters (Mo, Lois, Clarice, Toni, Ginger, Sparrow), the ones who Ginger interviews in a story-length strip in one of the collections (oh how I’m starved for one of those!). I think keeping track of these is already a tall order, though it is great to check in with some other old friends.

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