OK, I decided: next up on this blog is a readthrough of Computer Love by @burgeroise! It has a tumblr at @computerlovecomic.
I’ve read some of this comic before, but not recently enough to remember what happens in it. I recall a trans girl protag and a near-future setting. The author describes it as:
Computer Love is a scifi/slice of life comic about love, sexuality, robots and hamburgers.
But yeah, it’s a comic by a trans woman about trans women. I’m probably going to love it.
Also this comic is sometimes NSFW. If I link a NSFW strip, I will warn you.
Chapter 1: Smiling at Strangers
This comic has mouseover text so don’t miss that!
We’re starting in 2088, in the UK. (Norfolk is on the east side of England, and I’m in the southwest.) But we won’t be here for long: the protagonist is leaving for Antarctica. I guess that’s habitable then.
Art style starts out very sketchy but with bright compelling colours and the super-thick lines work very well with it? It will be interesting to see it evolve- this definitely has a ‘first webcomic’ feel.
Expositions: there’s an Antarctic government, the city’s been around for ‘barely half a decade’ so it was founded only in 2083, and to incentivise migration, they’re providing free food and cheap flight. (I wonder how they’re feeding a rapidly growing population?) Also air travel appears to now be accomplished by airships that look like boats.
Our protag is in a Sticky Capitalism Situation but she’s(?) also pretty gay so that’s a good start!
She’s not very good at striking up conversations (same!) but fortunately there is another attractive person ready to come talk to her!
Protag (pink hair) is Lucy. New person (blonde hair, fringe) is Fenette.
The author is definitely pretty new to drawing comics. It took me a moment to figure out how to read the dialogue in this comic, and it could really do with more drawings to fill out the emotional parts of this (unless this conversation is supposed to come across as flat, almost bored).
Luckily Fenette is very nice and has more money than Lucy! She spells out some of her reasons for being so nice. Pretty dang reasonable socially awkward girl-ing.
Anyway things escalate very quickly but then oops she’s straight. *record scratch or something*
Well, I’d say odds are she isn’t actually straight, but she thinks she is at the moment. Pretty cute start.
Cut to another protagonist, who comes to meet his(?) new roommate(s?) only to find them fucking. Awks.
We learn their names: short brown hair is John, who is a nurse, and pink hair and femme is Fi. Fi is trans. Whoever was fucking Fi does not live here.
The dialogue is kind of clunky and the pacing is really rapid - but then I am coming into this from El Goonish Shive so anything will seem fast by comparison!
Exposition: The ‘Ivarsson Company’ founded this city. We don’t know why. Seems like an odd place to build a city.
Fenette has an absolutely enormous house - she must be rich as. We learn why: she’s part of the Ivarsson family, here in her ‘father’s stead’. And Lucy’s moving in with her. Nice.
Chapter 2: Burger Queen
Suni (Sunita), a friend of Fi, arrives. She’s got significantly darker skin than most of the characters so far which is good. Also we learn that the free food is done on a tokens system, and there is a limit on what you are allowed to obtain with it - it’s bland but nutritious basically?
For some reason we see Fi naked. I think the author really wanted to establish that she is trans or something? It’s a little awkwardly done and from what I recall she moves away from that kind of very blatant move later. On the other hand her looking in the mirror does serve to neatly illustrate dysphoria but idk.
But yeah Fi is having the sad trans swimming feels. That is… upsettingly familiar, there’s a reason I don’t swim except when I can wear a full wetsuit anymore.
A mouseover text says the pool water is breathable. Liquid breathing is a pretty interesting subject actually! I’m not sure it could work on a swimming pool scale like this. But it’s the Future so who knows!
Fenette and Lucy are playing some kind of really realistic shooting people with rifles game? As in they are literally holding rifle props and moving through a ruined city in person. Holograms or something? I think it’s a WWII game and they’re wearing Red Army hats, so maybe it’s the battle of Stalingrad or something.
Exposition: there’s been another world war, even worse than WWII. And VR games can be quite painful.
(To be honest, the idea of playing a VR game set in Stalingrad seems inherently way too grisly for me. Or any game, really.)
They deduce it’s a ‘training tool’ rather than a game.
Back at the pool, we learn Fi is ‘wired’, i.e. some kind of cyborg with an in-built internet connection. She’s also a student.
After EGS it’s definitely weird how casual CS is with sex scenes. Like it’s not a porn comic but it doesn’t play those weird censorship games?
John deduces that Suni was lying about why she needed food. In the comments someone suggests that it’s because she doesn’t want to be on the food coupon program to avoid attention of the authorities, which is in turn because she dodged the draft for the war. This seems like quite a big inference, but the author says it’s basically right.
Speaking of cyborgs, Fenette is basically 95% cyborg and has pretty believable feelings about it and Lucy is really sweet about it. This is cool.
John’s skin tone is getting darker over time, a subtle retcon I guess! Also interesting relationship with Suni.
We learn John fought in the war and was discharged due to a friendly fire injury.
Fenette and Lucy end up naked cuddling and like I guess the ‘I’m straight’ thing was a cover for ‘I’m a cyborg and have complicated feelings about my body and intimacy/sex’ …which the author confirms in the comments.
<3 <3 I would say ‘I want to give Fenette a hug’ but I don’t get the impression she’d want that.
ok she’s not just a cyborg but a reanimated dead person who died 37 years ago (so, before the war?). Lucy, reasonably, has no problem with this. This is really sweet oh my gosh <3
This comic evidently made quite an impact in its first 50 pages, because other webcomic authors are contributing strips! Only a couple though. Also Star Trip is going on the to-read list. (Paranatural didn’t exactly grab me.)
Chapter 3: Flashing Lights
The author has begun using Manga Studio 5, resulting in much thinner and more precise lineart.
Rats are apparently very scary now, to the point that failure to report sightings is considered a criminal offence! Also lol ‘fiddler on the roof 2: revengeance’…
Flying cars are very much a thing. Also by coincidence the cast seem to be on the same party boat.
Fenette with the social anxiety :( but luckily Fi is there.
Suni is like… maybe as much as an hour after meeting you, let’s fuck, same as with Fi. Lucy’s into it.
through talking to Fi, Fenette starts to loose her anxiety over Lucy abandoning her.
Also interesting VR stuff? With peoples’ avatars and how that’s valuable to Fi, practicalities of VR sand, and more.
Back to Fenette and Fi. New character, called Hazel, another ‘wired’ person. More talk about VR. There’s a lot of stuff available, and apparently war training simulations are mandatory for kids in schools, which is a pretty terrifying concept.
Ooh Fi’s been on hormones (and we see her naked again). One thing I notice about this setting is that while there’s all sorts of VR stuff, body modification is quite limited.
The ‘rats’ are an artificial creation and can take off someone’s hand.
Ooh Hazel is also trans! :D and Fenette may or may not be.
this is basically just a really cute slice of life about gay trans women in the future with frequent naked cuddling and a very refreshing attitude towards sex etc., and I love it
lol ‘even in 2088 nothing has replaced the hitachi magic wand’
lucy’s kind of shitty ignoring-fenette is addressed and it basically ends up OK but I’m glad it was acknowledged?
The word is being increasingly overrun by the ‘rats’. This may be why they built a city in Antarctica, to get away from all that. And there are ‘apex rats’ which are basically kaiju.
Oh gosh this is… meaningful? idk how to articulate words
Exposition: Most of humanty died in ‘the war’. Literally billions of people. Russia fell to the rats, and the only survivors are the flying battleships of the Russian navy, who declared themselves a new nation. (What do they eat? Rats?)
For a story about a world being overrun by horrifying genetically engineered bioweapons in which most of the world’s population is dead, this is a remarkably sweet and gentle comic.
ok now it’s time for yiff ahaha
are trans women just like, more likely to be furries? anyway it’s really cute and sweet and gay and my little gay heart is feeling feelings
so in answer to the question of ‘what do they eat’: it’s people!
soylent green the majority of food is made out of people!
that’s not energetically sustainable though so there must be another input. i’m pretty sure human meat can only make up a small part of everyones’ diets.
the comic comes to directly address why it is being so sweet and gentle in the face of all the awfulness. i guess this is its thesis if anything is?
oh yeah and it’s also starting to do a little infinite-canvas stuff too!
more guest comics
is a thing
A little backstory/development on Suni. She has a sister, who she misses a lot…
Some discussion of the attitudes to romance etc. in the comic as like, a generational thing. Also giant robots are deployed as an anti-rat measure, huh.
(Maybe that’s why humanity is losing so badly…)
That discussion continues in, again, a really sweet way… and ends in an announcement of an indefinite hiatus back in February while the author works on her new comic.
I’m glad to have caught up with this again. It’s a lovely, gentle, melancholy comic, that uses its apocalyptic themes well.