Monday, May 23, 2011


definitely needs more monsters.

Ah that's better.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grotesque Grrls

I'm really only blogging on weekends now (weak - I know), but when I heard that the Rapture is happening tomorrow I figured I should post a bit earlier. There are also unconfirmed reports of a zombie apocalypse, but I don't want to get my hopes up.

If there is some kind of divine or supernatural event, I doubt it will effect Perth. We seem to live in a self-contained biodome here. Or perhaps an alternate reality. Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I found an article today called The Top 7 Grotesque Girls in Gaming on the now dormant Gamer Girl website. Quite a mixture of ladies are featured on this list, including:

[A female Orc from WOW]

[Medusa from God of War]

[Gruntilda Winkybunion from Banjo Kazooie]

[Sheeva from Mortal Combat]

Nikole, who compiled the list, comments on how difficult it was:

"this was the hardest list I've ever attempted to write. All of these girls are villains in some way, with exception of the Horde. It was a ridiculous quest to find a female in a video games who wasn't attractive. And not just attractive, drop dead, unrealistically gorgeous. I hate to ruin a simple list like this, but why? Why are there no normal to ugly looking females, let alone fat ones. I mean I hate to break it to you people, fats real. People are bitching about how they are treated on XBL and in the gaming communities, but what about how women are portrayed in games. It's never bothered me before that women were often desirable in games, but every single one, that seems excessive to me. So I say bring on the fat people, I want to see some imperfect characters in games."

Although this article was written in 2008, her point still stands. It's a challenge to find female characters in video games who aren't attractive and/or slim.

In general terms the 'good girls = pretty/ bad girls = ugly' equation is hardly new, and continues to do its work in all forms of media. [There was that one movie where Christina Ricci had a pig-snout, but she looked kinda cute so I'm not counting it.]

[Wendy Coopa from the Mario games]

Back to the article: I'm intrigued by the use of 'grotesque' to describe female characters who are "fugly" or "crazy bitches." It seems to participate in the frequent union of grotesqueness and femaleness that Mary Russo comments on in The Female Grotesque. Whether this convergence is positive (in an emancipatory sense?) or negative (in a derogatory sense?) or something else entirely seems open to interpretation.

Some women actively seek the label grotesque. Eg: Countess Grotesque adopts the mantle of grotesqueness when presenting her eerie work:



Here 'Countess Grotesque' is a performative identity, chosen and assumed deliberately.

When a woman is called grotesque by others, however, things can take a downward turn. Eg: the song "Grotesque" by The Cheeto Girls:

Ouch. Not totally comfortable with this one.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Telling Tails

A few people have passed along interesting images recently, and I've noticed a pattern emerging.

First, the excellent Moya from CFC emailed me this painting by Xue Jiye.


Jiye is an incredible Chinese painter whose work wrestles with gender, violence and the body, and examines the cultural pressures that act upon and between human individuals. His artistic statement is very interesting:

"In his latest series of paintings, Xue depicts the human condition – a constant struggle for existence within human society. The figures in the paintings are all nudes, indicating that they are defenceless and vulnerable... These pieces indicate men’s futile struggle against the powerful forces of society, which is surrounding them, as the edges of the paintings are confining the figures. Even if one tries to escape from society, it will eventually constrain and constrict us all."

The nudes are intended to represent:

"the most basic form of man, he is no taller, shorter, lighter or darker than his neighbour. He is the man from the past, the present, the future. He is from the East and from the West, indicating that after breaking it down, societies are essentially all the same."

The men in Jiye's work are not all the same, however. Some of them have tails:



The inclusion of this feature demarcates certain males as unique, as not fully human, and complicates the images in different ways.


The second contribution came via Twitter, where Tama tipped me off to this clever image by deviantART member lessthanhuman.


The artist comments that:

"A tail is a characteristic that I feel clearly represents the majority of the animal kingdom. With few exceptions, nearly all other creatures have a tail in one form or another. Developmentally, all human embryos have tails which, for the vast majority of the population, are gone by birth.

I consider the back and spine to be one of the most aesthetically beautiful parts of the human body. In this piece, I tried to preserve that beauty despite the obvious addition of a tail."


Lessthanhuman uses Photoshop to alter photographs of human bodies, and is especially focused on the liminal stages between one species and another. You can check out more human/nonhuman figures here.


The final contribution came from my youngest sister, who spontaneously decided to draw a picture of me last week.

This is actually a very good likeness...

It is interesting to observe the different scenarios in which tails are placed on human forms. Whether the intentions behind the image are serious or humorous ("and this is a giant pimple exploding on your head!"), tails are simple but effective.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go terrorize a village somewhere.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Grotesk Marvel: Part 3

Finally, the third installment in the Grotesk blogging journey is here (see parts one and two). Following on from the last post, the final chapter of this particular story unfolds in X-Men #42 (1963). Quite a famous issue, this one.

I should have mentioned the names of the authors and artists previously. Crucial information! My excuse is that I got carried away with all the grotesqueness.

I love Stan. Especially his interjections about things that happened "last ish!" (Meaning: in a previous issue/series.)

The story resumes with more biffo between Grotesk and the X-Men.

Grotesk goes through a variety of hairstyles in this issue. I call this one the 'Carol Brady.'

Meanwhile, mutant patriarch Professor X is acting strangely. After sending Cyclops and Beast to wrangle with Grotesk, he forbids any of the others from helping and retreats into his study.

It makes no sense. Things get messy as poor faithful Jean Grey is left to hold off the angry hoards.

Meanwhile, Grotesk has a helpful vision.

After unleashing a mysterious gas to befuddle his attackers...

Grotesk hurries off to the nuclear plant to destroy the world.

It is interesting to note how often Grotesk makes reference to his name and its origins. He is constantly mulling over his grotesqueness when alone, and announcing it when encountering others. 'Grotesk' does double duty as name and adjective - a fact that understandably plays on the antagonist's mind.

In a face-off with the nuclear technician, Grotesk discovers a shocking truth.

Thus unmasked, Professor X sends a mental call for help and everyone boofs and paffs each other again. Then one hearty fool makes a terrible mistake:


Enraged beyond reason, Grotesk applies his limited technical skills to the nuclear device, with explosive results.

Is this the end of Grotesk? The X-Men certainly believe so. Strangely unaffected by the (nuclear?) explosion, they are quick to forget our gross friend.

Not so for Professor X, who has been the recipient of one too many biffs from Grotesk. He dedicates his final words to explaining his killer's motives. Which is odd, because this backstory has been repeated many times before.

Honestly, I'm surprised that Grotesk is not a more well-known character given his influential role in such a famous event. The Marvel comics time-line wouldn't be the same without him. Of course (spoiler) Professor X isn't actually dead. But he could have been, and that was a big deal in 1963.

As it turns out (spoiler again), Grotesk isn't dead either. He returns to battle Ms Marvel in 1977. I have those comics, obviously, so you will be seeing him again soon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wilde For You

Hello blog friends. So that intermission went a bit longer than I had planned. In my defense, I had an important deadline to aim for. No distractions allowed! (This is self-imposed, by the way - lest anyone think I suffer in the hands of a strict overlord. No so.)

Anyways, the deadline was hit and everything is good. I will get back to the Grotesk comics bonanza in a bit. Until then, I present to you some quality high/low convergence:

More on The YouTube.