The above panel is from the webcomic El Goonish Shive and I want to talk about it for a minute.
El Goonish Shive is a….weird webcomic. I’ve been reading it since I was in high school. In all honesty, it started off pretty shitty. Bad art, not the best writing, but in the, damn, what, 7 years, I’ve been reading it, it’s really developed into a story that I like. (No, really, if you decide to read this, the first like…3 arcs are just…really hard to get through. It’s worth it overall though.)
It’s a weird story. There’s aliens, and super science transformation guns, and body swapping antics, and gender “switching” antics, and evil plots, and card game tournaments, and romance, and humor, and it’s a very hard story to explain to people. Like, one of my favorite arcs involved one of the Protags, Elliot, accidentally getting a magical female twin clone named Ellen who then goes on to date Elliot’s ex-girlfriend. You just have to roll with it.
The character with the pink hair up there is Tedd, and the brown haired girl is Grace, his (magic) girlfriend.
Tedd has been a main character since the very beginning. He used to wear his hair long and had thick glasses because he worried he had kind of a girly face. He recently cut/dyed his hair because he decided to embrace his girly face though, which was cute. He’s builds super science stuff, and it was sort of a running gag for a long time that he enjoyed playing around with his transformation gun, making himself look like a hot chick sometimes, or an alien….or a hot alien chick. This has been a recurring gag for YEARS.
And then…well….this comic happened last week, and that running gag suddenly became so, so much more.
I keep coming back to this strip and staring at Tedd’s face, how defensive he is about enjoying being a girl sometimes, the shock he feels when there’s a word for it. There’s a word for what he is, and it doesn’t mean he’s broken or bizarre. There are other people out there like him, other people will understand why he feels this way. I remember the first time someone told me about the word “bisexual” and suddenly it was like this huge part of me made sense.
Poor Tedd has been silently struggling with these feelings, still caught up in cissexist notions of gender and sex (notice the use of “opposite sex” in there.) And now he has a moment of revelation. He has a word for it now: Gender Fluid. I just want to hug him.
I’m really excited to see how this will develop as the comic goes on. I’m excited to see this comic, which is so often just silly humor and magic stuff, developing even farther to give us more and more diversity with these characters. And I’m just excited that Tedd is figuring out who he is.
Started reading it around a week ago and, yes, the first three arcs are pretty hard to get through. But they were very similar to a lot of stuff I was writing in high school, way back when (naruto anyone?). Maybe that’s why I stuck through. And I’m so glad I did.
Honestly, Tedd was kind of an irritating character at first. But as I read the comic more, I realised that Tedd irritated me because he reminded me of myself when I was still in school (without the transformation rays, obviously). I feel so much for them.
Tedd means so much to me now. I have never once seen a genderfluid character in any sort of media. I’m just upset that I can’t go back in time to join the readership of the comic back in 2005 or 2006, when I could have used it more, but I’m so so happy to have found it now.