REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #51 - March 2008 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Mon Apr 7 17:05:21 PDT 2008

On Apr 7, 12:15 pm, Saxon Brenton <saxonbren... at> wrote:

>      As I discovered last month (on a conscious level, at least) while
> doing these 'What is this' summaries, there are actually very few series
> on rec.arts.comics.creative at the moment that are doing what could
> stereotypically be considered straight superheroic stories.  (There are
> a couple of ways that this could be done, but that would involve a mini
> essay in itself.)

I for one certainly wouldn't mind reading that mini essay. :-)

>      By contrast _Godling_, Rick Hindle's various stories in the Pinnacle
> City setting, and Frumpy's _Mr Invisible_ and _Enforcers_ are all more
> or less straight superheroics.

Personally, I'd throw JOLT CITY into the mix, simply because I divide
the genre into "superheroes" (or straight superheroics) and
"superheroes-plus".  Some examples of superheroes-plus:

ASH (superheroes + scientifiction)
Superfreaks (superheroes + police procedural)
LNH (superheroes + silliness)
Post-Modern Grim & Gritty Deconstruction (superheroes minus the super
and minus the heroes)

By contrast, Jolt City, Godling, Pinnacle City, and Frumpy's stories
are just superhero stories without a special angle or lens to view it
through.  But since the superhero genre is nearly limitless in its
possibilities, it's never "just" a superhero story-- the genre itself
is enough, I think.

Not that I'm dissing superheroes-plus in any way, shape, or form-- I
like new angles, new ways to approach things.  The "plus" side of the
equation doesn't make up for or improve on any imagined deficiencies
in the original; it just adds something new to something that's
already solid.  It's like frosting on the cake, or whip cream on the

> Kinky Romance #3
> 'Cut Out My Heart'  part 2 of 2
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series
> by Tom Russell
>      What is this?:  This is the other somewhat skewed romance title
> put out by Eightfold.  This one usually features unusual and often
> erotically exotic sexual motivations and relationships.
>      That said, there were times when this story came close to making
> me feel like it should be named 'Creepy Romance'.  It's the second and
> concluding part of the crossover from _Doomed Romance_ from last month,

I think those two things might be related.  I've talked before about
the differences between the two series: DOOMED is largely tragic in
structure and about male failure, while KINKY is more "up", being
about female sexual discovery or fulfillment.  Since they're fairly
diametrically opposed, I knew that this particular KINKY wouldn't
stick to the formula as much as the first two.

I think the creepiness displayed here is "on loan" from the DOOMED.
Though his/her physical gender may have changed, Tuck/Gem still has
more in common with the male narrators of DOOMED-- and the cocktail of
pity and revulsion one may or may not feel for those narrators-- than
with the more attractive female narrators of the previous two KINKYs.

>I have mixed feelings about it.  Gem, formerly Tuck, separated
> from his wife Cordelia after Gem's sex change into a woman.  He's now
> left feeling loneliness, depression, and self-hatred.  By chance she
> meets Cordelia again.  And again.  And eventually they strike up a
> friendship, with Cordelia not realising for a long time the correlation
> between Gem and Tuck.
>      Investigating my feelings on the matter, I think I was disturbed
> by the one-sidedness of the relationship until the revelations at the
> very end when Cordelia realised who Gem was.  As in, Gem was obviously
> uncomfortable and nervous about revealing her full identity because of
> the risk of Cordelia rejecting her, but nevertheless Gem had a
> significant advantage over Cordelia in the knowledge department that
> in her pain-filled emotional state Gem could have used for vindictive
> purposes.  My initial reaction was that Gem had, without consciously
> choosing it, fallen into a role very close to 'stalker'.  Admittedly
> that's not quite the best description, but it's close enough.

Well, there's definitely some of that there, and Gem's-- I guess you
could call it obsessiveness?-- reflects the kind of single-minded
focus on feminine desire displayed by Rachel in the first KINKY and,
to some degree, Elise in the second.

Admittedly, the focus here is less on overt sexual kinkiness-- the
story's not about how Gem gets her rocks off but rather one of sexual
and romantic disappointment.  The final story was not the one I had
originally planned, but I feel it is also a stronger story in its
current incarnation.

Once I had decided to do a crossover between the two titles, I first
tried to figure out how to do it.  As I point out above, the two
series are quite different thematically, tonally, and even
stylistically/structurally.  DOOMED is very tightly (though
episodically) structured, while KINKY is more free-form.

My very first reaction was to introduce a couple in DOOMED and break
them up, told from the man's point of view; then I'd follow the female
in KINKY as she found happiness.  But that didn't feel right-- it
seemed too pessimistic.  Any happiness she found would be in such
stark contrast to his unhappiness, it would only confirm his
"loserness".  So that was out.

Once I settled on the transgender angle-- on having the same narrator
in both titles without violating my gender rule-- I decided it would
be a story of loss and renewal.  Tuck would lose the girl, and then,
years later, Gem would win her back.  Love rekindled, second chances--
all good stuff.

Plus, it would allow me to experiment with that great staple of
melodrama-- the scene in which one lover, long thought dead or
departed or whatever, is at long last recognized by another.

But as I was writing it, that too felt false.  It seemed to lay too
much blame at Cordie's feet-- i.e., if she had been supportive in the
first place, et cetera-- and that would have been unfair.

So I ended up writing the story up until the recognition and cutting
it off there.  It's strange; in the second story, I didn't accomplish
any of what I wanted to do-- love gets a second chance and the big
recognition scene-- but I think what I ended up with was, in the end,
a much stronger story.

Andrew Burton said in the thread for KR # 3,

> What I found creepy was the overall hopelessness of Tuck/Gem's life and
> how one decision, which even in hindsight seemed like the more right
> choice, can shatter two lives and one relationship.  Cordelia and Tuck
> as a whole seemed to be happier than Cordelia or Tuck/Gem separately.
> At the same time, the Cordelia+Tuck being can't survive if its parts
> are, well, falling apart.  Which is creepy because I'd never considered
> that it's possibly to have a good marriage at the same time you have
> terrible spouses.

And that tells me that, at least in this case, I extended the Tragic
Hero persona to both Tuck _and_ Cordelia, or rather, to the
relationships itself.  So all in all, I'm very pleased with this

>      Standing back and looking at the overall theme of this series, I
> nod my head in satisfaction that Tom has been able to illicit such a
> response.  'Kinky' in this context does not equate to a blanket
> description of sex merely because of prudish cultural taboos;  it
> relates to how different people have different tastes in their wants
> and desires.  It's about alternative points of view in one of the
> arguably most sensitive and controversial areas of human society.  It
> makes sense that in a series that explores 'kinky', that sooner or
> later the writer will find a plot that makes the reader feel icky.
> And because of the highly idiosyncratic way that both kinky and icky
> work for this point of view, you never know  when or from what
> direction it will be arriving from.

True; and many things that one reader might find kinky (in a
titillating way)-- such as Amish Bondage Lesbians-- another might find
creepy or sad.

I'm not sure what the next issue of KINKY holds-- but after something
downbeat like this one, and something more cerebral like the Elise
story, I might just end up going back to a (relatively) upbeat and
unabashedly trashy story like the first one.


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