So it’s time to settle in for another big arc. Hopefully this is going to be more character-based and less special-effects-based than prior arcs.

Also we got commentary back, a few comics ago. The time of publication isn’t written on these, but the tone suggests they were written after these comics were published. Changed my mind: I now think they’re contemporary with publication. Changed my mind I think it is after the fact.

At one point he writes:

I am often told to stop being creepy and weird.

which. Doesn’t surprise me, I guess, given the comic’s uncomfortable attitudes around sex and boundaries so far, but then again simply ‘being transfeminine’ is considered inherently creepy and weird so that’s also a thing.

The Trials of Susan

In Moperville North, Susan is considering transferring schools over the skirts thing if the Principal won’t budge. Solidarity, Susan. She hasn’t yet told Ellen.

In Moperville South, Justin fills in Ellen and Grace about what rumours are being spoken about them. Apparently they’re convinced Ellen is a lesbian in some kind of dynamic where she is tricking Grace into platonicallyl giving her affection, per the plot of some movie. Nanase finds this idea very interesting. (It is, of course, a straightforward variation on the predatory lesbian trope. In the commentary, Dan Shive describes the fictional move as being inspired by a subplot in The Brady Bunch Movie.)

The bright primary colour anime hair is definitely weird to see again. I’d gotten used to the greyscale characters and assumed they had natural hair colours automatically, but of course, Nanase has bright red hair, Tedd has purple hair, and Tedd’s dad has bright blue hair.

Nanase’s magic-grinding has all been in sneaky ways so she’s gained more sneaky spells, despite her intention. But she seems to think they’re good sneaky spells. We don’t find out what. A sinister red-highlighted silhouette appears behind Nanase as she reads her spellbook. It looks a lot like her, actually.

Tedd continues to be worried about looking ‘girly’. This can definitely be a trans thing - many of us internalise this idea of being ‘failed men’ before we find a way to articulate our womanhood on our own terms.

Anyway we cut to the feminist club meeting. Half the club quits because of Susan’s unpopularity.

Dan Shive says of one of the leaving club members:

The non-Sarah blonde in this comic is dressed in a style reminiscent of Britney Spears way back when the most disturbing things about her were her status as jailbait and popularizing the baring of midriffs, the midriff baring being very much a double-edged sword on more levels than I could possibly hope or want to address here. Whether she has merely gotten away with this by luck or has been granted special permission, as did Sarah with her beret, is unclear, but let’s hope it’s the former. If it is the latter, we can at least take comfort in the fact that I decided to have her wear a black shirt underneath her white one.

This outfit choice was done to further emphasize that this girl was out of place in a feminist’s club. Granted, being a feminist does not automatically mean one will not expose their belly button (as Susan used to for whatever reason), nor does the role instantly demand a great deal of modesty, but the point with THIS specific girl is that she has no issues flaunting her stuff and will gladly portray herself as a sex object. Granted, nothing that she says or does in this comic explicitly establishes that, but I’m counting on all of you to unfairly judge her based on this one brief encounter.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

There’s so much that’s gross about this. ‘Jailbait’, for one. But also this whole gross bullshit concept of a woman ‘portraying herself as a sex object’ as a way to illustrate what a bad feminist she is. At best you could say the feminist club’s membership follows a kind of “feminism” that’s about judging individual women, and were nasty and judgmental to her, but again, this appears to be what Dan Shive thought feminism is, and he’s inviting us to judge her for his decisions about how to sexualise her.

Anyway, Dan Shive has the ~bad promiscuous women~ dismiss the feminist club as ‘gay’, positions ‘cheerleading’ as oppositional to feminism, and implies one of the ex-members as possibly being in an abusive relationship (’if my boyfriend lets me’). Good fucking going A+ feminism wait no this is terrible

This precipitates a crisis: they are below the seven-member threshold for recognition as a club. Susan, who seems to very much believe in working within the system, can’t see a way out of this, but Catalina reassures her. Sarah says she knows two ‘people’ who could join. Does she mean Elliot and Tedd…

Later, Susan thanks Catalina for her help… and Catalina asks her out. Nice. Dan Shive says this is the moment Catalina was introduced.

Susan starts saying she’s not attracted to women. Catalina bursts into tears and runs off. Oh no :(

We cut to a cute scene with Grace and Tedd when Tedd comes home from school, and Tedd talking to Sarah about how badly Susan’s doing over IM.

OK, that’s the first sub-arc, we’ll continue on the next sub-arc tomorrow since I’m too tired now.