So the next comic I’m going to look at is Unicorn Jelly.
This is a very early webcomic - starting in 2002 - by trans woman Jennifer Diane Reitz of COGIATI infamy. This was very much before my time as an out trans woman, and I’ve mercifully been spared the Early Trans Internet. As I understood things, it was a time of extreme transmedicalism and gatekeeping each other as hard as the doctors do. Many, many trans women will shudder at mention of the COGIATI, which as I understand it is basically a really bullshit
‘are you a stereotypical 1950s housewife’ ‘are you trans’ test.
Nevertheless, there were things to like about UJ.
Back when I first tried to read Unicorn Jelly (shortly after my first Homestuck reread, lol), I had an interesting conversation about it with @apophenic-ocelles:
- AO: oh dear you’re reading unicorn jelly
- CM: is that a bad idea
- AO: not as such
- CM: i had it on the to-read list after homestuck
- AO: just…i sorta cut my teeth on it, it was connected to my very, very early transition and the immediately-before era
- CM: oh right!
- AO: and like, the author is a bit of a trainwreck – came up with the COGIATI ><
- CM: i’m aware of that!
AO: and sort of manages to be, well
like she’s BASICALLY harmless I feel
and her art comes from at least a few places that ring very familiar for me
but in interpersonal interactions with her I’ve mostly come away feeling
“yyyeeeeiiiiikes, if we live in a multiverse there are several adjacent branches where you run a cult, because your charisma was just that little bit higher”
she’s on that interesting cusp of “kind of an embarrassing artist to admit to liking some of her stuff” (not so much because of her massive hatedom but because of the real criticisms that can be levied) and “former problematic fave”, I guess. Unicorn Jelly has some really cool moments and is totally worth the read.
I mean if you read Homestuck, UJ is both far less long and contains way fewer slurs!
CM: i had heard of her (i think from tumblr user nostalgebraist) as a kind of Yudkowsky-like figure, back when i was still stuck into Homestuck and feeling pretty into weird, fascinating intensely internet stuff
like i think he linked to her description of her ideal transhuman body or something?
AO: She’s way too middle-of-the-road in everyday life and politics for that, I think, and her cross-sectional appeal isn’t high enough to accumulate een a targeted demographic section in anything like the same concentration, but they do really have some similar personality shit.
Yeah, see, that?
That was kinda fucking cool IMO
it was her ideal for her body
and there was a bit of
“this has way more life in it, way more personal touch than anything I’ve seen to come outta the transhumanoid sphere in general”
her tendency to invent fictional universes with fictional physics and make that story-relevant is really cool
- CM: yeah i saw the powers of 10 thing that was linked pretty early on for the UJ universe
AO: her writing isn’t always so great, and she’s a massive weeaboo, although UJ has as much badly-misplaced Finnish as Japanese
there’s a reason of sorts for it to be there at least.
- CM: suddenly triangles! in a lattice! which forms a tetrahedron! surrounded by other ‘universes’ with odd mathematical structures
Tryslmaistan’s cosmic structure is neat and weird.
There’s one particular lifeform in it that apparently exists one to a worldplate; evolution as such isn’t a thing there and its existence is simply a matter of physical constraints.
Worldplates form and leave this thing.
And it apparently walks this perfectly-repeating oscillating path and i think at the end of its life reproduces or something? but it can’t even move around an obstacle, it doesn’t know how, it didn’t evolve, it has no instinct
it’s just a weird mesoscale feature of the cosmos that inevitably emerges on bodies the size of worldplates
shit like that just grabs me about her work
it’s so WEIRD!
though i am definitely going to have to put some custom css on her site to stop everything being in comic sans
i can’t rememberi fi ti was always like that or she switched the font to make it accessible.
it may’ve always been though, this is JDR we’re talking about.
But yeah I will say that UJ is actually some of my favorite worldbuilding, at least on the alien side
and that I may’ve experimented with her gryrnese cooking section in the supplemental material because holy conculture recipes batman
My human-side of worldbuilding is less anime-oriented at least but I’m not sure if it’s APPRECIABLY more coherent!
I just disguise it better because my view of anthropology is not stuck in the damn 60s.
- CM: :p
So that should give you an idea what we’re in for. Rereading that convo, I’m pretty excited actually!