Tuesday, August 26, 2014

News: Open Letter to Aaron Diaz

Three days ago, Mary Cagle of the webcomic Kiwi Blitz recently posted a comic she entitled "The Progression," in which she satired the disingenuous male feminism of artists who create highly sexualized "empowered" female characters.  While the comic doesn't refer to any specific artist, many people believed that Blitz's comic was triggered by cyborg-themed amputee pinup sketches artist Aaron Diaz posted to his Tumblr blog about a week ago, which he deleted shortly after Cagle's comic was posted.  (If that last link goes dead, just scroll down.)

Aaron Diaz, author of the popular Dresden Codak web comic and outspoken critic of sexist character designs, took this quite personally, responding both on Tumblr and Twitter.  Diaz has a strong reputation for being a genuinely good guy who comes out on the right side of most issues; however, Diaz's uncharacteristically terse response has garnered a great deal of negative attention.  Over the past few days, multiple women in the webcomics community have weighed in, culminating in Magnolia Pearl writing an open letter to Aaron Diaz yesterday: "You’re allowed to make art with male gaze. But please call a spade a spade."

Of course, this isn't the first time some one else has called Diaz out on his heavy-handed use of the "male gaze."  Solomon's Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad blog (Part 2) addressed the issue back in 2008.

Personally, I hope Diaz continues his comic, and I hope people continue reading his comic.  For all of its excessive use of the male gaze, Dresden Codak does feature some genuinely awesome female characters, along with plagiarizing bears, nerds who play philosophical tabletop RPGs, and a lot of other fun silliness.

Source: Dresden Codak Blog by Aaron Diaz
"Inspired by some amputee photo shoots, I decided to try my hand at some cyborg-themed pinup sketches with Kim, a sort of celebration of the female form and taking agency over one’s body.

The marvelous thing about people with prostheses is that they get to show their story on the outside, and are afforded an opportunity to take command over their own body in a unique way. Kim is an amputee who is often in a state of discomfort or worse due to her condition (sometimes being wheelchair bound), but at the same time she builds upon what she’s replaced, moving beyond simply replacing limbs and enhancing her mind and body. This would have likely never happened had she not been “disabled” in the first place; the trauma she experienced was horrible, but it opened a door to a new story in her life. She couldn’t control what she was given, but she can control what she does with it.

I like to think that the visibility and evolution of Kim’s prostheses is a way to show how her past scars don’t define or limit her, but instead only offer new opportunities for growth. She’s 60% prosthetic at this point, but she’s no less human, only more."

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