“Fuck Tradition”: More Feminist Appeal in Rat Queens

I am so many months late. I’m so sorry.

A lot has happened recently that have to do with the things I am interested in and the specific things I am an absolute fangirl over. Let’s talk about Rat Queens some more.

Some months ago, Roc Upchurch, the artist and co-creator of the comic, was arrested for domestic violence against his ex-wife, which is awful and really put some worry into the fandom as to what was going to happen with the series. Well, Kurtis released this statement, essentially saying that both he and Upchurch have chosen to part ways for the sake of the comic.

As it was happening, I knew (I knew it, I tell you!) that something like this would occur, knowing nothing of Kurtis’ past. Not going into a rant about the greater control of the writer in such a paradigm, this outcome would be necessary in order to keep the trust of the readership. Rat Queens is a feminist comic the way women are people; it just is.

It just is.

Rat Queen‘s fandom is growing, but is still a rather obscure text, despite getting more issues and even a television series. If what Upchurch did was brushed off (as something that often happens), the sense of betrayal would be thick and the series would sink. Kurtis’ constant stance as a writer and feminist (or feminist ally, whatever your preferred nomenclature might be) was not surprising.

However, what I found a little more than peculiar was some of the backlash Kurtis and Image received for the decision. I suppose I can’t be surprised at the online reactions (the interwebz is loaded with misogynists and the like), but that my local shop (the owner, more specifically) seemed, let’s say, hesitent in their approval of how the situation turned out. I didn’t press the issue, instead merely expressing my opinion on it. It’s great that Image and Kurtis (more Kurtis, though) stood up for the principle of being against domestic violence and, more profoundly, being a man standing up as a positive feminist and feminist ally. Instead of going the route, that oh-so-many folks take, that “real men”(see the “No True Scotsman” fallacy) don’t abuse their significant others and most certainly would never, ever hit a girl. Kurtis did the appropriate thing in that he implicitly own that there are men who do abuse their partners, thus taking ownership of the problem in order to correct it.

That and Kurtis’ above statement are reason enough for many people to push Rat Queens to the top of their “must read” list and to even stalk him on tumblr.

And, why wouldn’t you? The man is adorbs and hilars (is she screwing with us?).

But, if there more incentive is necessary, the new artist is Stjepan Sejic (twittertumblrdeviantart), who has his own series among his other works called Sunstone (which I would like to dedicate some time to in the future).

Short strip from Sunstone. Definitely worth a read.

His art is lovely and he works very fast, making him ideal for the job as all this malarky happened in the middle of the second arc. His style is very distinctive, but each character’s personality shows through his work (which many of the comic industry’s regulars can’t seem to manage. Holy geez, do I have a mega rant about FanX. Later.), thus amplifying their sexiness, quirkiness, and flaws. You know, like women are people even in sequential art.

So many reasons to geek out over this cover.

Thing is, really, I will miss Roc Upchurch. His art is fantastic and was one of the reasons that drew me to the comic. But, I love the Rat Queens more and what they mean to women and women in comics.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Kael says:

    I have to admit I was expecting something worse than what I read and I must commend you on a rather level and fair view throughout, which is more than I often see from writers to whom the word Feminist is firmly attached.

    I’m going to have to wait and see (when the second volume comes out this may) if the transition between the artists flows smoothly and doesn’t detract from the overall story as well as the characters themselves.

    When I first saw the info a few moments ago about the artist hitting his wife I was curious as to what had occurred to result in that, be it that he is simply a vile person or that he was perhaps defending himself and the only side of the story we’ve heard has been the abused wife. Regardless the other part of the team took a stand because abuse happens to everyone and he waned to distance himself and Rat Queens which is understandable and I’m glad that he reacted firmly, ensuring that he would stand by his word. At the same time I can certainly understand the backlash for removing the artist since the act of abusing his wife does not impede his artistic ability but overall I’d say it is the principle at stake here rather than the artistic style.

    Overall I’ve not viewed the comic as being feminist personally but then again I have a rather poor outlook on the movement as I can certainly see areas where there may be inequality but for the most part that is due to a medium, such as comics or video games being created by men for the enjoyment of anyone but primarily themselves and as such has garnered a like minded following of men. The solution to this is for people who wish to see other topic’s being talked about to enter the arena and writer or draw or weave tales that they would find enjoyable. Changing something that others enjoy to something that you enjoy essentially deprives those who enjoyed it of that enjoyment because it is no longer the same, but if you introduce something parallel then both sides are able to enjoy what interests them as well as to enjoy what interests the other or at the very least experience it. The comic for me has been a realistic portrayal and an interesting one and I’ve enjoyed it more because of it being something new rather than simply remaking something old.
    I appear to have went on a tangent and for this I apologize.

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    1. Holly says:

      Not a tangent at all; I appreciate and enjoyed your response to my writing and my perspective.

      As far as the comic being a feminist work, I would agree with you there, as it’s not overt in its feminist tones. Rather, it’s considered such (by me, at least) feminist for not bowing to fantasy-genre conventions through equatable treatment of all characters; they’re all treated as people, with gender and sexual preference being a non-issue. For me, feminism means just that: equal treatment for all genders. I must say, but will not be waylaid, that I’m somewhat dismayed that you say you have a poor outlook on Feminism (in general), especially as it is a complex idea. This is one of the many reasons I like this series so well; it’s forgoes the cliched tropes of “women are weaker” and, thus, are either the damsels in distress or “defy all expectations” simply because she disobeys social conventions. Goodness, how dull. If fantasy is truly fantasy, why would we stay within our world’s morays? So, I would encourage a different perspective or allowance for feminism, as a whole.

      As far as how well the new artist is working, I would say it’s fantastic. It is just as you said, Roc Upchurch is a great artist, but principles are priority. I fell I touched on that subject in my original post, so I won’t go further. The new artist, Stjepan Sejic, is fantastic as an artist and a writer, so I believe regular fans will continue to be very pleased (at least).

      Thank you, again, for reading and for responding!

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      1. And thank you for replying in kind, it’s rare these days to meet people who are open to discussion without it boiling down to petty name calling and the like but I’d expected no less going from the article above.

        I’ve had the second volume on pre-order since it first appeared on Amazon.co.uk, since I’m somewhat adverse to buying individual issues if I can help it. This has only been enforced by me receiving a single issue a few month back of a infinity crate type random mix with a custom covered issue where every other or third page was an advertisement of some kind which horribly ruined the flow of the issue in question. But with Rat Queens I’ve rather enjoyed the slight difference in tone from other comics and it’s nicely light hearted as well as shifting a little darker at times. Admittedly I’ve read a rather large spectrum of characters in literature as well as comics so I tend to latch onto weird ones here and there with one of my favourites being John Constantine which certainly has a nice range of male and female characters throughout, but nothings perfect.

        When I mean I have a poor outlook on it, my reasoning is more that I’m an egalitarian for the most part, I’ve got some rather set in stone views here and there but don’t we all? But for the most part I’m for equal rights, though at least in my country I can see disparity on both sides while the main cry seems to be for rights that already exist by law. My main issue with Feminism is some of the things that are being done in the name of it. Similarly to what happens with religious fanaticism.

        I know that the vocal minority shouldn’t be taken as an example of the whole but the problem is whenever I see Feminism at work these days it concerns me when I see people in the public eye stating that regardless of how your life is and how equal you are with those around you the fact that somewhere out in the world there may be someone who isn’t equal means you’re part of that problem. And the part that concerns me is when people such as Germane Greer (who seems to swing from logical sense to delusional insanity these days) are rallying to that as if it makes sense. A prime example is the resulting backlash whenever someone in the public eye states that they are not a feminist, such as Kaley Cuoco who ended up receiving so much hate for simply being content with her lot or when we managed to get a lander on a comet and the news was about his shirt rather than the monumental achievement. Yes I’ll concede the shirt may not have been the best choice but so what? Does it really matter what the shirt depicted? Did the fact a woman made it for him even factor into the hate he received? And if it had been a woman wearing a shirt with naked men would it have been the same reaction?

        And while I do understand that the term was coined in order to highlight women’s issues first and foremost because of their disadvantages it still irks me because men and women cannot ever be 100% equal because we’re not. Yes we can be paid the same, work the same what have you but biologically there have to be allowances given to offset that. Though sometimes I think a lot of that sometimes ends up where instead of there being a simple law for both men and women to abide by then you end up with a multitude all stating the same thing which was covered by the first law perfectly but then required the waters muddied for some bureaucratic reason. One example would perhaps be that there is laws against beating each other but additional laws solely for the act of beating up a woman, when surely the law for beating another person up should carry the same weight and not require one just to protect a women when the first law should be doing that anyways?

        And again tangent *face-desk*
        Also I’m going to assume from your picture that you are a fan of the Green Lantern movie, which while not the best DC has brought to the table was no where near as horrible as everyone and their dog seems to make it out to be but never the less resulted in the DCCU being set back rather badly. The recasting of characters for the big screen who are already managing to pull off the smaller screen perfectly also baffles the mind. I appear to have greatly side tracked this discussion.

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      2. Holly says:

        I try not to fall down to name-calling (at least in writing), and I’m glad you didn’t either. It gets no where and lends to fallacious reasoning.

        I don’t agree with the kind of backlash Kaley Cuoco received, while I don’t agree with her stance and clear misunderstanding of what feminism is and its history. However, as I state in my post, it would be an example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy if I said that those feminists were not “true feminists;” they are. I need to acknowledge them so that I can make sure I don’t exhibit that same behavior towards those I disagree with.

        On that same note, it would be the height of social-delusion if we assumed that equality between the sexes existed in any country. In America, sexism and misogyny isn’t as overt, but that does not make it any less real or dangerous. However, I don’t believe there are any laws protecting women against men specifically, as that is covered under the laws meant to protect against assault and domestic violence; a woman can beat a man, it would be ridiculous of me–as a feminist–to say otherwise, as women are also people subject to the same tendencies as men. Which, more than anything, means that men and women need to be treated equally, of course, but that women have yet to be seen as equals.

        Luckily, though, as seen in Rat Queens and books like The Lies of Locke Lamora (the first in a series titled The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch), popular culture is trying to break through the (boring, weak, backwards) tropes of women being weaker or even holier.

        Speaking of, I’ve been collecting the single issues (’cause I can’t help myself) and I also have the second volume on pre-order, too (I’m so stoked!). Now, as for my Green Lantern cutout…well, that’s a rant for another day.

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