Comic for Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010


Posted January 19, 2010 at 1:00 am
[size=2]I don't think my drawings are 100% on model, but I did well enough that I think I need to make this clear: all characters in this comic were drawn from scratch by me. No tracing or copy/pasting occurred, though I did look at references. I tried to draw them on-model only because their actual appearances are relevant to the subject being commented on, and a "in my style" rendition would not have worked as examples. Given that they're on model, however, an additional disclaimer was added to the copyright information, and I'd like to again point out that Lola is owned by Warner Bros while Marge and Lois are owned by Twentieth Century-Fox. Speaking of which: Looney Tunes at Kids WB, Simpsons at Hulu, Family Guy at Hulu.[/size]

Justin is not making that up in panel three, but the drawing is misleading as Matt Groening had thought about having Marge turn out to be a Life In Hell rabbit back when The Simpsons was on The Tracey Ullman Show. In his own words (season 4, Last Exit To Springfield commentary): "...she was a rabbit, that was the original, secret plan. But then, it turned into a series, the series caught on, and it seemed like a really bad idea." Incidentally, the "hired goons" line from that episode may or may not have had a meaningful impact on me.

This is something I've occasionally ranted about, but haven't seen pointed out elsewhere. My intent is not to mock furries, The Simpsons or Family Guy, or people who find some of the characters within attractive. The point is the likely unintentional hypocrisy of some people who mock others who have admitted to thinking one or more anthropomorphic characters are sexy.

I don't have a problem with people making some jokes about sexy anthropomorphic characters. On the surface, there's every reason to question it, and plenty of jokes to be made. By what logic should a person find a drawing of an animal with a human body attractive? One, it's a drawing, and two, it's technically an animal. That does not compute!

But here's the thing: We're talking about a matter of attraction. Humans are not designed to be logical about this sort of thing. In fact, we're designed to be fairly lazy in regard to what we find attractive. Logically, men should find women with proportions conducive to child bearing more attractive than women with exaggerated measurements not conducive to child bearing, but studies have suggested otherwise. We care less about the logical conclusion than the hourglass visual, hence why characters like Jessica Rabbit (who is not actually a rabbit) get so much attention.

(The specific study I'm referring to was included in a [i]Discovery Channel special called "The Science Of Sex", which I've unfortunately found difficult to track down again).[/i]

When it comes to drawings, I believe it is the suggestion of an attractive figure that allows for attractive characters. There are of course other factors, but I speak from a visual standpoint at its most basic. A simplified character might not be sexy in and of themselves, but they suggest something that is.

As for anthropomorphic characters, the "oh, gross, they're animals" reaction is, I feel, unfair. For one thing, look at the bodies of these characters. Yes, they might have tails, weird feet, faces, whatever, but the torsos and most of the arms and legs are human in design. The bizarre feet and face may be odd, but as with the example in the comic, it's not like there aren't many "human" characters who aren't just as weird. Marge Simpson has been featured in Playboy Magazine, and just look at her head. That is NOT a human head. The eyes are huge, the overbite makes me think of a gopher, etc.

I'm not saying everyone secretly thinks cartoon characters can be sexy or if someone likes Marge they must like Lola. I am saying, though, that it's not fair or necessary to knock people for thinking anthropomorphic characters can be sexy, especially if one thinks "human" cartoon characters can be sexy.

I do understand why this is such a touchy issue, however. For one thing, there is the uncanny valley of sexiness. Something that is almost sexy but isn't for some reason is often viewed as repulsive by those who feel that way to the point where it can drive them to fear and erratic behavior.

I believe this is, in part, a result of the fact that many things we find sexy are only pleasing to the eye because our hormones tell us "yes, that is awesome". Without the hormones backing us up, those same things can easily become repulsive. Combine that with a fear of finding such a thing attractive, and the emotional logic behind some of the hostility people have towards certain things becomes frighteningly clear.

I'm aware this is starting to sound a little overly dramatic given the subject matter of the comic, but there are people out there who can be extremely hostile towards anyone they perceive as being "furries". and the hostility I speak of relates to other things, such as homophobia.

That said, I did not choose Justin for this comic because he's gay. I chose him because of his personality and his job at a comic book shop, AKA the real world equivalent of an internet forum. Gay does not automatically equal furry, furry does not automatically equal gay, and one does not necessarily support the other. Believe me, I know. I have a gay friend who is, to put it mildly, less than friendly towards furries.

Speaking of the uncanny valley of sexiness, for me, an anthropomorphic character isn't repulsive so long as their heads are cartoonish and/or human enough. Lola, for example, is fine. Her head isn't attractive, but I don't find it gross, either. She's just a cute cartoon character.

Keep her body exactly the same and plop a photo-realistic head on there, however, and that's around the time I'd want to call an exorcist. I wouldn't, cause I'm all tolerant n' junk, but I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't find that disturbing. There's a reason the majority of animal forms in EGS barely morph the heads of the characters.

Man, this is a long rant... Ultimately, I just want to promote tolerance and fairness. It's fine if one finds the anthropomorphs disturbing and/or gross, but please, there is no need to be a jerk or hostile about it. They are, after all, just cartoons.