The Tao of Wu: How A Comic About A Transgender Woman Can Help Unite Us

See that adorable F***ing face? THAT is the face of peace and understanding.
Source: Twitter @kyliesummerwu

Very recently, one of my friends introduced me to the art and comedy of Kylie Wu – a young and proud transgender woman who creates the endlessly delightful comic series Trans Girl Next Door. After reading just a few pages, I was immediately hooked and I’ve been checking Twitter and Tumblr routinely awaiting the next installment.

Of course, being the dorky mega-brain I am, I had to set out on a quest to answer WHY I loved this silly little sequential art autobiography so much. The answer I got was surprisingly soothing.

I’m of the professional opinion that good art should leave you different from when it found you; even if that difference is just reminding you that you aren’t alone in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s shockingly easy to identify and empathize with Kylie (or at least the parts of her she shares with us… which is still substantial).

As someone who has lived part of her life as a man and is living her current life as a woman, Kylie’s fearless sharing provides insight -not only on life as a transgender person – but also on life for cisgender men and women. That insight being that we all aren’t as different as we like to think we are.

We all have bodily insecurities. We all have romantic desires. And let’s not forget the old standby: everybody poops.

Also, even on an individual level, you’ll likely find some life story of Kylie’s that speaks to you. Guys, how often have you endured the pain of sitting on your own sack? And remember the sticky, smelly mess of hormones that is puberty?

And ladies, I know through my mom that finding the right shampoo is a glorious feeling and my roommate has demonstrated the fury-inspiring challenge of painting your toenails.

Even just speaking personally, I find Kylie’s work to speak to my own life experiences. As someone who indulges in body grooming (to the chagrin of whoever’s bathroom I’m sharing), the feeling of freshly smooth skin is amazing. Also, I’m asexual and don’t use my testicles for their biological purpose. So why not keep them for the darkly comedic purpose of an emergency food supply (alternately, I’ve thought of selling them to that phallic museum in Iceland to pay off my loans).

So, what lesson am I trying to impart on you, dear Field Operatives? Well, other than trying to help out an artist in need (seriously, give this girl a dollar and/or buy her S***; good art is hard to come by and HRT don’t come cheap) I’m hoping that people will read this, read TGND, and learn to stop judging based on our genders, sexualities and the like and start judging based on the content of our character.

We may all be structurally different, but we are all human and kin on a fundamental level. And the fact that a cisgender man-child from the gray mountains of New Hampshire can feel a sense of comradery with a transgender surfer girl from the sunny coasts of California gives me hope that the world might just be relaxing its hopelessly tight butthole and becoming a pleasant place to live.

Breaking Down The Gaeneviad

Even the almighty need help sometimes.
Source: io9

Those of you who make it a point searching the internet for any fascinating nugget of anything like I do may have seen a comic making the rounds lately.

Not long ago, io9 did an article on a (somewhat NSFW) comic dubbed The Gaeneviad, written and drawn by a French artist known simply as Boulet who produces a special comic once a year in a mere 24 hours; an impressive feat to be sure.

While I’m happy for having the comic brought to my attention, I was disappointed as I felt the original article might have missed some critical points of interest. I believe there is a lot to be gleamed from this story and I want to through and share the details I noticed in this heartfelt comedy.

My first act of research involved finding the significance of the title. However, every attempt to find a translation or the meaning of ‘Gaeneviad’ redirected me to the name Genevieve – the name of our elderly protagonist.

As it turns out, the name of the little old lady has significance. Given the nature of her character as loving, gentle, and protective of others, as well as the country of origin of the writer, it’s likely that Boulet is attempting to draw a comparison between his Genevieve Menard and Genevieve; the Saint of Paris. Even her last name Menard has heroic connotations as it’s meaning in German can be read as “brave or hard strength.”

The theme of heroism is also what dictates the modernized Olympian setting. Although the ancient Greeks were far from the first to use the heroic myth narrative, they tend to be the first we, as the common person, think of. Most western fantasy epics use the model of Greek mythology. Many of us refer to comic book superheros as the modern Greek heroes.

But in a sly twist, this isn’t your standard Hero’s Journey yarn. Rather, it’s a critique of so-called “heroes”. In The Gaeneviad, Zeus sends the world into chaos to protect Genevieve from harm, even when Hades comes to collect her soul (Aside: I like how Hades is portrayed in his traditional keeper of the dead role rather then his more modern Satan-Stand-In model).

When asked by Hades at the end of the comic why he went so far out of his way to protect and serve her, Zeus responds saying, “Because heroes are assholes.” He then laments how rare true altruism is and how what we consider acts of heroism are often motivated my some self-serving goal.

If it had ended here, this would have been a very sad conclusion. But Zeus, monologue ends with him intoning that, when those moments when even the smallest act of true selflessness present themselves, they serve as a refreshing reminder of how beautiful life can be. He concludes by saying, “In our celestial pantheon made of blood, fire and steel, we could really use an old lady who helps wounded birds.”

This was a beautiful and yet hilarious piece of sequential art that I was happy to find and even happier to share. Sometimes, we don’t need heroes; we just need one decent person.