Sunday, September 15, 2013

Many Guys Doing Manly Things

You may have picked up that I'm slightly geeky and tend to get most of my entertainment from the interwebs. If not, allow me to state the obvious and point out that when I'm not running, I'm probably doing something slightly geeky, possibly involving the interwebs. I also like video games and  sci-fi and comics and usually prefer action movies to chick flicks. 

We've been around decades, tone-deaf entertainment producers. Seriously, stop reacting like this when we keep calling you on your "Women don't buy this stuff. So we're good treating female characters like bikini-wearing pork chops, right?" malarkey. Especially when you keep acting like our money's not just as green as a teenage boy's. And more plentiful, too. Kind of side-eying you here, DC Comics and large portions of the video game industry...

I rather like web comics. There are some brilliantly drawn, engaging, and erudite comics out there. They extend beyond the well-known xkcd.

Sometimes I'm a little behind the curve in discovering something great, but one of the wonders of modern technology is the web archive. Which just means you can binge like crazy when you finally hop on board the bandwagon.

Then react like this when you reach the end and have to wait for more.
Image from the hilarious Instant No Button. For all your "Nooooooo!" needs.

I just recently discovered the web comic Manly Guys Doing Manly Things. The shortest way to describe it is "Imagine a sort of halfway house for all the super-macho "Stubbly McWhiteguy"s that tend to populate about 90% of popular entertainment and as they try to (re)integrate into society." It's the sort of concept that could, in the hands of the wrong person, be a very two-dimensional, one-note joke that ceases to be funny five strips in. In the hands of Kelly Turnbull, it's anything but. While a lot of the humor comes from poking a healthy dose of gentle, loving fun at the manly tropes that crop up so often in video games and movies, you're not required to be a major gamer geek to get the humor. The tropes are common enough that if you have ever consumed any popular culture whatsoever, you'll get it. If not, scroll down and she's sure to have provided some context. Google it if you have to. I swear it will be worth it. 

Additionally, the original characters are brilliantly drawn, and I'm not talking solely about the art. They have actual personalities and character arcs, romantic subplots and the occasional road trip where they sing Cyndi Lauper songs. There's a lot of very clever and subtle commentary on gender roles and solid female characters who are there for more than the wearing of the skimpy bikinis. It walks the fine line of making fun of the macho stereotypes while it celebrates them. It is, in short, awesome that way, because it doesn't shame macho men for being macho. It's fine and dandy to be macho. Macho does not automatically mean "misogynistic loudmouthed jerk". Some of us ladies just want in on the fun, too.

Basically, it's like a big, fat love letter to manly men who have to shave twice a day, have broken noses and yet are still secure enough in their manhood to bake muffins with their toddlers. Perhaps I can put it no better than the About page.

"Sometime this is a comic about macho action heroes. Sometimes this is a slice of life comic about a time traveling Navy SEAL single dad from the nonspecific spacefuture. Really, it just depends on how things were going that day."

Get over there now. Seriously, it is so worth it.

The Commander said so.

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