Comic Talk and General Discussion

How do you deal with sexism in your own work?
ozoneocean at 3:49AM, Dec. 26, 2015
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We've talked about sexisim in popculture in general, but what about how it concerns stuff YOU make directly?
Does your work pass the Bechdel test? Are your characters overly sexual, sterotyped into gender roles, sterotype bodyshapes etc? Or does t go too far the other way because you take too many pains to avoid those things or tippy-toe around them?
Do you think about that sort of thing when you make your stuff?
And what's the response of your READERS to your stuff regarding sexisim?
 
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My stuff is very sexist superficially. I beleive that sexxisim is way more than just apearences though, and generally the opinions of my readers seem to bare that out- people who only look at the imagery and don't actually read it dismiss it as sexist, those who read it don't have a problem, and I don't think that's just because the readers are a self selectig audience who're only after sexy images, not at all. My audience is quite a broad bunch of very inteligent and considered people who would call me out over things if they had a problem.
 
Pinky dresses provocatively, but she's no one's plaything. She's a competant, able, commanding woman who's in control of her own destiny. Other characters, both male and female, hold all sorts of roles and positions, no one is limited by gender.
-It's also a fictional socitey with a fictional military so I'm not unrealistically shoehorning people into roles they are unlikley to have, creating an awkward frankenstien overly “PC” world, like you'd do if the comic was set in historical 1920s America say instead of the fictional Crimean empire.
 
Bottomless Waitress is quite different. It's a sitcom set in what could be a real place and real situation. Could be. With women working in what seem to be explotative roles- so things are stacked against it. But again I feel it's more of a superficial thing than anything else, the characters aren't just sexy cutouts, they have thoughts and feelings, aspirations… and as I said before; this could be a real situation, real people work jobs like that, it's not just some sexist invention for titilation…
Maybe the real thing with Bottomless Waitress is that it's trying to be sexist but Banes and I just aren't good enough at that? :D
 
Forgive me if all this seems like a long self serving justifcation, I really wanted to get the ball rolling on this discussiion and using my feelings on my own stuff was the best way to start.
 
KimLuster at 7:23AM, Dec. 26, 2015
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In the Godstrain, my character tends toward the pretty side (well… sometimes…), and I sometimes feel the very act of making your main character ‘pretty’ is sort of sexist, but I find that I totally agree with Ann Rice's stance, that readers are simply more interested in attractive characters.  We like to think we're not - that we're more egalitarian, but it's almost like we can't help it.  We tend to want our characters toward the ‘hot’ side.  There are exceptions, as always, but that's what they are: exceptions!
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That said, though, I do find myself purposefully avoiding certain poses and clothing so it won't seem like I'm trying to exploit the erotic aspects.  I've really wanted to do certain poses, but thought it would seem like a ‘crotch shot’.  I sometimes wonder, in doing that, am I not being ‘true’, that maybe I should just draw what I feel, and whether it's sexy or not is just how it is
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I'll add more later - gotta run do more post-Christmas stuff!
usedbooks at 7:36AM, Dec. 26, 2015
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I'm already 100% sure my comic is not sexist – or possibly female leaning, as it has been pointed out that most of my nastier bad guys are male. One person told me it was sexist because I have one horribly misogynistic villain, and my main characters (females) get in a lot of fights and get hurt, which I'm pretty sure is the opposite of sexism. (Having girls sit out fights and get rescued is pretty damn sexist.) 
 
Anyway, since you mentioned the Bechdel test, I decided for fun, I'd do a detailed analysis of genders in conversations in my most recent story arc (100 pages, 7 chapters).
 
 
First chapter of the arc breaks down like this: 
 
~Man and woman talking about neither (house clutter)
~Man and woman taking about girl (sister)
~Man alone thinking about girl (baby)
~2 men and 2 women talking about neither (vacation)
~2 women and a man talking about women (baby and friends)
~2 unspecified talking about woman (enemy)
~Man and woman talking about man (boss)
~Man and woman talking about men and women (coworkers)
~2 women talking about neither (skiing and the economy)
~3 women talking about neither (weather)
~3 women and 2 men talking about each other (friends)
~2 men and a women talking about a man and woman (neighbors)
~2 men and 2 women talking about unspecified (neighbors)
~2 men and a women talking about several men and women
(enemies) 
  
 

Overall for these 7 chapters, I counted:

76 conversations between men and women 
6  conversations between men (2 about women, 4 not)
11 conversations between women (1 about a male villain, 10 not about men)
 
 

So, whatever that means, there it is. Pretty typical for Used Books. Most conversations are between or among people of both genders. I left out the unspecifieds (masked people and emergency dispatch). I don't put much or any thought into gender. If it's not important to the storyline, I will flip a coin for gender when developing a new character. Topic of conversation for everyone is slightly weighted toward women, since they are the core characters.
 

I don't think I know how to make characters attractive. My three main characters have distinctly different body shapes. One is plus-sized (tall, and muscular but also overweight), one short and slightly round, and one thin and curveless. None are really models. My men might be more generic-looking and near an ideal. Mostly because I'm not good at drawing men. 
 
 
So, in short, how do I deal with sexism? I don't. I don't think about it at all. Gender isn't a consideration. It's just another character attribute I like to play around with for fun and diversity. (I'm developing a genderless character at the moment, not to make a point about anything but because I think it's an interesting attribute for this individual and suits them well.) 
last edited on Dec. 26, 2015 7:51AM
Call Me Tom at 8:59AM, Dec. 26, 2015
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I think my comic comes across as uber-sexist as the only fuly named female character gets killed at the start, the first time introduce the main female character she's wereing only a t-shirt and knickers and there is no way I have passed the Bechdel test. I don't try to be sexist. In fact I try hard not to be sexist I just seem to flat out fail.
Genejoke at 7:52AM, Dec. 27, 2015
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Okay…. mixed bag for me.
Underbelly is very sex is,  but that's because the main character is a wannabe alpha male whose role models would be people like James bond Indians jones and stifler from American pie. Part of the first chapter is him reflecting on trying to get laid after the apocalypse and a little later his dealing with the temptation of a sexy and out for the count female. I emember that getting a few comments at the time. I remember writing it based on various situations and struggling not to give into temptation. But as I stated Frank is a sexist character.
Malefic was probably fair sex is,  not consciously but none of my female characters were rounded out at all. 
Things changed a bit with BASO as there is such a difference between characters. Mario is perhaps the most anti sexual character, she's not beautiful or sexy in any typical sense and she's tough and driven. Yet she's been sexual and weak at other points in the story.
Harriet however had been treated badly, has been forced into sex and to dance naked to sell herself. Yet I don't see it as sexist myself as it's part of her struggle and she did what she did for her and her kids to survive.  
Lore is pretty much not sexist as far as I can see, but the characters live in a slightly male dominated world. 
binaryfaye at 11:15AM, Dec. 27, 2015
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Since I'm a female gamer-geek-comic maker I have to deal with a lot of micro-sexist comments pretty often. And I'm sure my comic is a bit of a reflection of my annoyances with it.
I have an equal number of male and females in my core main character group. (Or I will soon, 2 of the males have backstories that are making it take some time to introduce them.) Adrian and Ariana are practically the same person, but as different genders, so that any masculine or feminine traits are basically what the reader projects onto them. I don't really actively try to make my comic PC, but I think if you make characters of either gender with real thoughts, fears, hopes and goals then you won't have a problem with sexism. Sadly it's rare to find a female character you'd like to be rather than just date and that is sad.
I dislike the notion that to be non-sexist you should make female characters who aren't sexual. This is utter crap. A female character can be very sexual and well done, as long as she comes across as a person and not a walking blow-up doll. However, if you make a very modest character who wears a mini-skirt then, yeah, that's a badly constructed character.

maskdt at 2:10PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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I don't have a large cast just yet, but I have made a point of really thinking about what gender my characters are when I start to flesh them out in my notes. I used to essentially leave it to a coin flip, but now I ask myself if this character seems like they're more male, female, trans, etc based on their background and their current personalities. Rather than assigning their genders and sexes based on stereotypes, I ask myself how their background has shaped their current personality, and how gender may have played a role in that.
As for avoiding superficial sexism, I'd like to point out that Morgana, one of my main characters, is a walking skeleton. Who very much prefers to cover up, because showing too much bone would out her to society and cause some serious problems like people panicking or trying to shoot her in the head. I…don't think you can get a whole lot farther from “big breasted cheesecake wearing only pieces of electrical tape who's always posing like she's in front of a mirror even when she's in mortal danger” than that. For my guys, so far they're pretty realistically built. I do have plans to introduce a couple of male characters who are built like body builders, but they're by no means going to be the norm even for my superhero population.
irrevenant at 3:57PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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My comic hasn't actually started yet, but I've written the script out for the first episode and planned out considerably further than that. (Though I'll probably rewrite it again. xD)

I included a fridging and had a diverse cast revolving around a white male main character.  Woo? >__>

For starters, I'm not sure there's actually a male character in there anymore. xD
KimLuster at 4:08PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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I know Sexism is real, and those of us that are aware of it should do our part to combat it, but I also honestly feel like current culture is way too overly sensitive.  Everybody feels targeted.  Everyone wants a ‘safe place’.  And I think sometimes what we call ‘sexism’ is just men being men!  (women, too, but women are rarely accused of sexism.)
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Men pushing the envelope - how far is too far…?  Over the years I've been subjected to the gazillions of flirtations (ranging from subtle to grotesque), innuendos, and outright sexist statements, but I've learned to just roll with the ones that aren't threatening (and to be flattered when it seems genuine) because (and this isn't a popular thing to say these days…) I just don't think men can help it completely.  I honestly believe that a good chunk of male behavior is just… men being men.
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On the flipside, women spend way more time and resources that we wanna admit being concerned with a man's attention.  Eavesdrop on a group of teen girls sometime, or just take a look at some of the highlights on a ‘woman’s' magazine next time you're at a checkout stand.  Stuff like ‘10 ways to keep your bedroom smoldering’, or ‘5 tips to lose those Holiday Pounds in two weeks’.  Over and over it’s stuff about looking better, or about relationships.  I think 90% of Cosmopolitan's articles (written for women) would fail the Bechdel Test.  
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So when it comes to creating stories, I guess I don't feel we should overly worry about the ‘small stuff’.  Following formulas and quotas to avoid the appearance of favoring/denigrating one group (race, sex…) over another.  Stuff like the Bechdel Test, worrying if I'm showing too much of a butt-cheek, or making sure I have a ‘representative’ of historically subjective groups (which, these days, is anyone who isn't a white male).  I want to create stories where ‘fairness’ just flows naturally, because otherwise it feels artificial and contrived to me.
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Take Ozone's Pinky.  It bothers me a little that Ozone felt he had make a point that Pinky isn't being exploited.  She's competent, commanding, no one’s plaything…  Why the need to say all this?  It's because of Pinky's Ass!  That ass is a HUGE draw for the comic, and I imagine a large part of the fun of creating it.  Are men sexist because they like reading a webcomic that prominently features an ass?  Are they sexist for drawing it?  Or are they just being men?  I say they are, and I think we've gone too far when men have to worry about whether they're sexist or not because they like the female derrier, in RL and Media! 
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Fight the big, blantant stuff, but let men be men and women be women, in RL and our stories.  
ozoneocean at 6:05PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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Kim, there's merit in what you say.
But people do get carried away by the “realistic” superhero uniform on Batgirl and how that's such a marvelous thing compared to the “sexist”costumes on other heros… and female Thor and how much they hate her or love her, all that stort of stuff, so for some of the audience it's something to think about.
 
With Pinky TA I'd like Ace Kinkaid to be a sexest bastard, that really fits with his character. I wonder if my audience would confuse his ideas for mine though? That reminds me of the Stone Temple Pilots song “Sex Type Thing” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hhu-OyHqZM where the song was written from that sort of perspective (though the words are pretty symbolic). People widley found it offensively sexist and took it as the opinion of the singer, even thiugh the intention was to thow light on those attitudes, not celebrate them.
 
last edited on Dec. 27, 2015 6:07PM
usedbooks at 7:23PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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I agree that people can overthink things one way or the other. You shouldn't obsess about gender and sexualization. Write realistic characters. For some people, sex or sensuality is very important, whether it is empowering or just their own personal interest. No problem with those characters. Just as there aren't problems with characters who are reserved, shy, or just completely disinterested in sex. Like binaryfaye said, those characters aren't going to be walking around in miniskirts and high heels.
 
 
Gender should not be the single defining trait for any character. It probably shouldn't be the most important trait either. You can go overboard the other way and try hard to make characters completely gender neutral. Women, men, transexual, gender fluid, asexual, etc. are traits that affect people, shape them and are part of them. Gender and sexuality are interesting traits to consider as part of the character, but don't stop there. Gender/sex is a demographic like age, race, religion, economic status, etc. It will be more important and defining for some characters than others. Don't get hung up on it.
 
 
Another thought is to be cautious with “token” characters. One reason people get more flak over how they write women is their under-representation. If there's one significant female character in the whole of your work, she will be seen as representative of the entire demographic. If you have four or five significant women and they are each different, they don't hold such weight or criticism (so you can have one or two hyper-sexual ones without it saying “women are sex toys”). If there's no one representing the demographic at all, I personally don't think it's sexist. But you'll find a nasty critic out there for anything if your work is popular enough.
last edited on Dec. 27, 2015 7:46PM
maskdt at 7:46PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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usedbooks wrote:
 
Another thought is to be cautious with “token” characters. One reason people get more flak over how they write women is their under-representation. If there's one significant female character in the whole of your work, she will be seen as representative of the entire demographic. If you have four or five significant women and they are each different, they don't hold such weight or criticism (so you can have one or two hyper-sexual ones without it saying “women are sex toys”). If there's no one representing the demographic at all, I personally don't think it's sexist. But you'll find a nasty critic out there for anything if your work is popular enough.
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Yeah, I've seen people declare a work sexist simply because it only had one or two female characters. While I agree that there still is a serious problem in all media when it comes to including female characters at all, having only one or two female characters isn't, itself, sexist. There could only be one or two characters period! Or maybe it's a very small cast to begin with, so everyone gets at most one or two characters like them. Or maybe that one female character is extremely important to the plot, like the Queen of a nation at war. There are also stories where women just don't really have a part to play, as well as stories where men don't have a part. If you're writing a story about a US Navy submarine crew in WWII, chances are that women aren't going to figure much, if at all, into the plot because they weren't allowed in that kind of environment at the time.
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On the other hand, having loads of women doesn't mean your work isn't sexist. You could have a hundred female characters with names who talk to each about something other than a man, but they could still all be dumb, implausibly large-breasted bimbos who do nothing but have sex with each other all day.
usedbooks at 7:59PM, Dec. 27, 2015
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Yeah, that's another big part of it, making all members of any demographic identical. It's not about numbers. If you have one female character, she should be a well-written character with more aspects and dimensions to her than boobs or a butt (although it's fine if that's part of it). If you have more than one, they should be different from each other. 
 
 
 
Or write all the men identical to each other and all the women identical to each other for an interesting speculative fiction.
last edited on Dec. 27, 2015 8:00PM
bravo1102 at 3:40AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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But there can be characters dresses sexuality who are unaware of their doing so. This was done in the anime Haganai. There is also the fashion plate and the ingenue who are also oblivious or naive. Conversely there can be the total sex pots who dress very conservatively.  On other words think of real characters and not sexist types. Though I am using fiction tropes there are always ways to twist them around and make them your own as opposed to being a slave to expected roles.

Now where's El Cid and fallopian crusader?  They say what I would about depicting sexuality and so much better.
bravo1102 at 3:56AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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Does a work still pass the Bechdel test if the two named female characters talk about something other than men while in a gratuitous state of undress ? Like a shower scene.
binaryfaye at 7:30AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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To bravo1102: While it's true that very conservatively dressed people can be sex-pots, they are the exception in this media. Part of the reason is that, let's be honest, why dress them modestly if you get more attention for you comic if you don't. But I think the other reason could be that because you have only a visual medium to get your point across to your audience. A scantily clad but modest character could be giving the wrong signals. 

bravo1102 at 8:47AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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That's the whole point of the characterization. Doing what the audience does not expect as opposed to slavishly following convention.  Creating a new paradigm perhaps? 
 
You mean having a character's behavior not match her looks? Playing with how looks are deceiving? How a conservatively dressed glasses wearing woman is actually a former porn actress and producer?
usedbooks at 9:02AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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I think what binaryfaye was saying isn't that it can't or shouldn't be done, but that it isn't done in webcomics and why it isn't done. It's much more common in comics to play up visual “sexy” because it gets your comic attention and hits. 
bravo1102 at 9:45AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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And that is sexism. Using and thereby objectifying scantily clad girls to entice readers. And one irony behind my comics. When a female is dressed she is usually dressed sensibly and there is an even radio of characters and numerous named female characters have lots of conversations about things other than men. But those characters have an absurd tendency to lose that sensible clothing.

Maybe that's why I can't get readership to save my life. I'm too damned original. 
binaryfaye at 10:14AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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I think my earlier comment wasn't stated correctly. I was trying to say that more views was more a perk. If I write an outgoing character comfortable with her sexuality and who dresses to empower that, I'm not going to be surprised if the audience finds her interesting. If I have taken the time to write a fully fleshed out character is it still sexist to notice that she gets extra attention from the audience? 

bravo1102 at 11:03AM, Dec. 28, 2015
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Well my many works having so few views and never having written a fully fleshed out character I really have nothing to say. You are of course right and as usual I am completely wrong headed and should just forget everything.  Any satirical Subtext I may have done along the way ends up being a inside joke between me and myself. 
bravo1102 at 2:04AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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I must apologize.  I get so cranky when I am not regularly updating a comic. 
Genejoke at 2:05AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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One aspect of sexism that is harder to get away from in poser comics is sexy outfits. Well unless you model your own outfits, which I do to a small degree but it is very time consuming and the results are mixed.  Trying to find premade female armoure that doesn't expose most of the upper body or have high heels is like finding a needle in a world of hay. 
bravo1102 at 3:21AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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You mean a bustier and thigh high boots aren't enough armored protection? 

In my previous and upcoming medieval works i'll be using male fitted armor. Historically there really never was gender specific armor and certainly nothing revealing or sexy. Though there was piece armor that covered only parts of the body it usually covered parts fantasy artists prefer to leave exposed. By the way there was armor that only covered the upper torso so a bare midriff is acceptable. 
last edited on Dec. 29, 2015 3:27AM
irrevenant at 3:33AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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Probably a silly question, but can't you just resize male armour?

(And if the answer is ‘no’ I spy a business opportunity for you. :D) 
Genejoke wrote:
One aspect of sexism that is harder to get away from in poser comics is sexy outfits. Well unless you model your own outfits, which I do to a small degree but it is very time consuming and the results are mixed.  Trying to find premade female armoure that doesn't expose most of the upper body or have high heels is like finding a needle in a world of hay. 
Peipei at 3:59AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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I haven't really thought of sexism that much when it pertains to my comics. I don't really go out of my way to evade it and I don't try to place a lot of emphasis on it either. Sexism has been a visited topic in my webcomic Deadfingers. The protagonist is very much a tomboy and a tough girl in general. There are a few situations in the comic where she does find herself in situations that she otherwise might not have had to deal with had she not been female, so I guess there has been some female sexism displayed in my comic, but I could easily argue that there's male sexism too, as there have been way more male character deaths (counting main cast members and background members/villains) in the comic so far. :o
 
As far as my comic protagonists go, Orn in Deadfingers pretty much defies female gender stereotypes, she says and does exactly the opposite of what one would expect a female to say and do in any given situation. Whereas Roxy in Cosmos Song can possibly be described as hyper-feminine in many aspects (physically and personality wise), as she's very nurturing and womanly for the most part.


I like Pie!
last edited on Dec. 29, 2015 4:18AM
binaryfaye at 9:24AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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bravo1102 wrote:
I must apologize.  I get so cranky when I am not regularly updating a comic. 
No problem. I was about to apologize. I must really be bad at getting my point across. Probably why I usually stay away from the forums. I was only trying to clarify my point and not trying to imply you were wrong.

KimLuster at 10:09AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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binaryfaye wrote:
bravo1102 wrote:
I must apologize.  I get so cranky when I am not regularly updating a comic. 
 No problem. I was about to apologize. I must really be bad at getting my point across. Probably why I usually stay away from the forums. I was only trying to clarify my point and not trying to imply you were wrong. 
Ha don't listen to Bravo - he's cranky all the time, not just when regularly updating comics!!  *Cackle Snort* Hahaha :D
binaryfaye at 11:06AM, Dec. 29, 2015
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KimLuster wrote:
binaryfaye wrote:
 
bravo1102 wrote:
I must apologize.  I get so cranky when I am not regularly updating a comic. 
 No problem. I was about to apologize. I must really be bad at getting my point across. Probably why I usually stay away from the forums. I was only trying to clarify my point and not trying to imply you were wrong. 
Ha don't listen to Bravo - he's cranky all the time, not just when regularly updating comics!!  *Cackle Snort* Hahaha :D 
Heh! So I should be taking his comments with industrial-sized grains of salt? 

Genejoke at 4:36PM, Dec. 29, 2015
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irrevenant wrote:
Probably a silly question, but can't you just resize male armour?

(And if the answer is ‘no’ I spy a business opportunity for you. :D) 
Genejoke wrote:
One aspect of sexism that is harder to get away from in poser comics is sexy outfits. Well unless you model your own outfits, which I do to a small degree but it is very time consuming and the results are mixed.  Trying to find premade female armoure that doesn't expose most of the upper body or have high heels is like finding a needle in a world of hay. 
  
Converting stuff from males isn't hard… depending on which figure it's made for. The daz genesis figures are pretty compatible but can lead to some odd stretching. Converting from others is possible, and not too difficult in theory, I've just never tried. 
I would like to make some more practical armours, also some more variety in armour… but I'm not convinced my clothing modelling skills are quite there yet. 

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