MISC: Super Stomach Girl #4 - You Knew the Job was Dangerous When You Took It

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun May 7 23:05:17 PDT 2006

Spoilers below.

The first thing I want to say to Jerry Shaw is, welcome.  It's been a
long time since we've had some new blood here on RACC, and it's
refreshing indeed.  I hope you stick around for a while-- it's one of
the best places on the net.

I'm curious as to how you found us: are you a long-time lurker?  Did a
friend bring it to your attention?  Was it Wonderful Wil Alambre's
Amazing RACC at Wil's Ego page?  The LNH Wikipedia article?  Do tell.

The second thing I want to say, having read through Super Stomach Girl
# 1-4 is this:

This is the weirdest, kinkiest, and just plain most off-beat story I've
seen on RACC in a long, long time.  In fact, touching on that
much-maligned second adjective, it's probably the most, period.  And
that's not a bad thing.

The funny thing about fetishes, boys and girls, is that what works for
one person doesn't work for another, and often that's enough to turn
one off not only sexually but also to turn one off from a story

The film CRASH (Cronenberg's, not the shrill Oscar-winner for the best
picture) depicts people who are turned on by fatal and near-fatal
automobile crashes and injuries resulting therefrom.  Well, I can tell
you straight up here, that's not my thing.  In fact, I don't think
that's anybody's thing, which was part of the point: the film was about
the power of fetish as an abstract and obsessive force.  If he had
zeroed in on a fetish that people could realistically have, then a
portion of the audience who didn't have that fetish would be excluded.
This way, everyone is excluded and everyone is distant.  It's an
admirable aim, but it didn't work for me, and that might have as much
to do with the type of fetish on display.

Now, I'm not saying that SUPER STOMACH GIRL would be better suited to
one of the sex stories newsgroups.  It's not a porno story.  But, come
on, let's face it: it's about a fetish.

Obstentiably, it's about Roz (Super Stomach Girl) who, when empowered,
has an invulnerable stomach and can deliver super punches (but only to
the belly).  But Roz only becomes empowered after sustaining massive
and painful damage to her stomach (upon which is helpfully emblazoned a
target).  And it just so happens that her voyeuristic friend Kara loves
to see women with flat, hard tummies; and the one thing that especially
makes her mouth water is to *punch* those tummies, hard.  The thing she
fantasizes, longs for, and obsesses about, the thing that brings her
incredible panty-dampening knee-clanging joy is to punch Roz's stomach
over and over again, as hard as she can.  And this is basically what
the story is about.  A fetish for seeing women punched and pummelled
and otherwise punished right above the naval.

Now, I'm not saying that this is Jerry Shaw's particular fetish.  I
make no assumptions about the author and I want to be clear about that:
I'm not knocking anyone, or singling anyone out as weird.  I am merely
extolling the virtues of this delightfully off-beat piece of work.

It's not Jerry Shaw's fetish-- it's Kara's.  And while the fetish is
weird enough to make the story interesting, Shaw doesn't single Kara
out as being weird herself.  And there's a couple different ways that
he does this.

First, during the stomach-beatings that result in Roz's death and
resurrection, and the discovery of her powers in the first place, Roz
describes her stomach beatings in excrutiating, obsessive detail: the
kind of language with which Kara might describe it.  By doing this,
Shaw sets the tone of this strange little world he's created.  Since
Roz describes her own belly and its torment, it gives Kara a fellow
fetishist, if only by accident.

Now, the first three issues are in first person, told from Roz's point
of view.  In the third issue, with a couple of parenthetical
statements, Shaw gradually shifts the POV to third person, and
basically to Kara's point of view, indirectly.  This helps to prevent
Kara from being singled out in the viewer's mind.

While it's true that Roz is happy to find someone willing to punch her
in the stomach, if the story continued from her point of view, it's
more likely that she would comment on how strange Kara's fetish is.
That would make Kara the loony.  The weirdo.  It would write her off
and she would cease to be an interesting character.

In fact, this shift to third-person/Kara's indirect POV is an excellent
choice for another reason: Kara is a much more interesting character,
and, even if she's not the title character, it really becomes her
story.  And that's as it should be: after all, it is her fetish on
display. :-)

I don't share Kara's fetish.  It's a little extreme for my tastes.  But
I understand Kara, I understand her fascination, and I accept her for
who she is.  Basically, Jerry Shaw and SUPER STOMACH GIRL (at least so
far) has managed to do what David Cronenberg and CRASH failed to do.
At least, as far as this reader is concerned.

As I read a story, especially when I'm enjoying it and getting immersed
into its world, the nit-pick/story doctor in me gradually fades away,
and things that would stand out like sore thumbs before are hardly
noticed if at all.  Since Jerry did an excellent job of engaging me as
a reader once Kara had entered the picture, my only substantial
stylistic complaints are with the pre-Kara issues.

In the first issue, early on, there's a metaphor that doesn't really
work for me: "like a TV channel going off the air from a direct nuclear
strike."  And the reason why is that it failed to engage my own
every-day experience.  I've had the television click off abruptly
(power outages) and I've had sudden static and technical difficulties,
but I've never experienced a channel going off the air from a direct
nuclear strike.  I can't quite get a handle on it.

Also, the beatings Roz sustains in the beginning, while it certainly
help set up the stomach-punching centric world the story takes place
in, were a bit gory for my tastes.  And, I know, it was supposed to be.
 You can't fault a thing for being what it is, but you can say that you
didn't care for it.

I think the impact was lessened somewhat by the fact that it was a
flashback (and, indeed, flashbacks *always* lessen impact and
immediacy); we knew that Roz had already come back to life, so the gore
isn't _quite_ as troublesome.  Had we not known that she would
survive-- had it, for example, happened in chronological order and in
third perosn-- I probably wouldn't have read any further and I wouldn't
have met the wonderful and enchanting Kara.

One other thing, which is certainly going to sound weird coming from
the guy who writes HAIKU GORILLA-- slow down!  Posting four issues in a
single night is going to turn a lot of people off.  If you're going to
be posting fairly frequently, I would strongly suggest either, (a), a
weekly or bi-weekly schedule, or, (b), post it in the same thread, as I
do with HAIKU GORILLA and as Arthur's doing with the UNFINISHED
SENTENCE-VERSE.  Otherwise, posting several a day, you'll be knocking a
_lot_ of different titles off the Wil's Ego page, rendering a
disservice to your fellow RACC authors.

And, once again, I cordially welcome you to our ranks. :-)


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