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Saturday, May 28, 2016 

Kaptara's artist/writer relied on cheapjack targets

I found these two articles from several months ago about Canadian cartoonist Chip Zdarsky's sci-fi tale called Kaptara. Beginning with Entertainment Weekly's interview, he may not admit directly that he thought Gamer Gaters made great subjects, in his view, but he still makes clear he was going for the cheap:
EW: Kaptara was a real original story. Looking back at the first arc — which was really your first big foray into writing a comic rather than drawing it — how does it feel to see reactions from readers now that they’re familiar with the characters and stories you’re telling?

CHIP ZDARSKY: I don’t know if I sold it well in the beginning — like, comparing it to a gay Saga was a mistake. I did it as a joke to be like, “you know that thing that everyone absolutely loves that is cherished by millions? Yeah, we’re essentially that!” That’s not the best way to start. And then issue one, we wanted to do the bait and switch: it starts off sci-fi, but by the time you end up on the planet, it ends up as weird fantasy, really, and then kind of goes off the rails from there. And by issue two and three with the Glomps, those are the reactions I love the most. Because everyone thought we were talking about men’s rights or Gamer Gaters, but in actuality, we were just trying to figure out what the worst qualities were in human beings and we just put them into these trolls and put them into this forest. And everyone knows s—ty people so they instantly thought we were making fun of this group or that group. And in reality, we were just saying hey, these old trolls are s—ty. Tada!
He may be trying to deny any likelihood that was where he drew from, but man, he sure knew how to go for something laughably easy. Recalling that he visited Israel back in March/April, what a shame he wouldn't try, say, to write a metaphor for combatting Islamofascism (such ideologies are indeed the worst qualities in human beings), and only had the guts to concentrate on easy targets.

NY Vulture also interviewed him about what looks like a piece of sleazebaggery, and a similar conversation came up:
The characters I most recognized as an analog to something I’m familiar with are the Glomps, fat troll-like figures who resemble a YouTube comments section. As someone who spends a lot of time online, I know that archetype. What made you want to introduce that sort of character?
We knew we wanted to have Smurf-style characters, and for them to be reprehensible. The idea of Kaptara — the planet itself — is that there’s no overt racism or homophobia or sexism or anything like that. They took care of that. Now, they’re in a post “-ism” society. But nature abhors a vacuum, so I like the idea of all the bad traits just being relegated to one weird species that basically self-exiles into the forest. I didn’t take one group or anything, but once you add all of those characteristics to a weird little troll in the forest, it all of a sudden becomes very representative of very specific groups. They’re so much fun to write. I want to keep bringing them back because there’s something so fun about seeing the shit kicked out of hatred-filled creatures.
But if the "glomps" are really based on Gamer Gate advocates and not more challenging targets, then I just don't see what good this already left-leaning tale does. Besides, if he really cared about sexism, then you'd think he would come up with an ideal metaphor for how the current campaign to allow transgenders to use bathrooms for the opposite sex is running the danger of encouraging sexist behavior. Alas, he's only aiming for cheapie stuff. And funny he implies that the rotten apples in Kaptara draw from the Smurfs, because Pierre Culliford's overrated comic strips set in medieval Europe used socialist ideology on which to build the cast. If Zdarsky's a leftist, you'd think he'd actually like that!

He also brought up his work on Archie's co-star Jughead:
How do you decide what parts of the sexual spectrum to focus on?
Most of that’s left up to Matt [Fraction, the writer]. It’s mostly what’s interesting to us, what helps the story. We introduced Alex in the last issue, who’s asexual, and that just seemed like an intriguing idea in a world where the powers revolve around sex. To have a character be asexual, what triggers the power? How do you represent an asexual character in that context or in any context? I’m working on the other comic that has an asexual character, which is Jughead, so now I’m the asexual guy.

I feel like the entire Archie universe is asexual.
No! They’re all horned up! They’re all raring to go, except for Jughead. He’s the one that’s on the outside, looking at them and being like, “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
Maybe he should ask himself or the current editors that question. If he/they can only think of jamming themselves into a corner with how Jughead is portrayed, then they're not being very creative at all. Zdarsky sounds like just another dreary modern day scribe who's getting far too much attention from the press for all the wrong reasons, and all because he focuses on the kind of easy-peasy ideas that they prefer.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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