Superficial*

Superficial is the story of a clandestine family of gods, named the Jasians,  who enjoy living among mortals. Born to a divine father and a shamelessly charismatic human mother Sakura, Nami and Maloni spend their downtime hanging out with their human friends.

Deities are compelled to mentor. The Jasians are partial to artists and scientists and practice corresponding careers. Sakura is a principle dancer, Nami is a broadcast executive and Maloni is a professor of both art practice and astronomy. While her sisters have a have a plethora of mentees, Sakura’s primary focus is her immortal human mother. Mikka’s exploits require curbing, such is the task of many children with older parents,  thus Sakura feels that her mum is mentee enough.

Superficial is a work of sequential art comprised of the BFA and MFA of it’s creator serving as a book of mirrors to help retain knowledge gained over her candidacy. That said, it is not a work of mass appeal. It is very difficult to retain $200,000 worth of post structuralism for it is not the basis of everyday conversation. Foucault and Camus’ spirit wanes in the shadow of popular culture.

The concept of a liberal arts themed comic seems far fetched, but Superficial has company: Elf Quest, The Cartoon History of the Universe and Batman: Arkham Asylum to name of few. The latter became the highest selling graphic novel of its time. Arkham Asylum’s reception was not without it;s complaints. Readers praised the art but condemned it’s story. The story wasn’t bad, it’s just that the fandom up until then was never exposed to Carl Jung and his concept of archetypes or the symbolism of Two-Face’s  tarot cards. Arkham Asylum changed Batman forever from the Caped Crusader to to bolstering Frank Miller’s Dark Knight.

When comics are respected as an art form rather than commercial fare, they find more sophisticated readers. These readers have post-secondary degrees, more life experience and welcome the challenge of views that don’t match their own. Discourse is arguing for fun, for exercise. It’s a pleasure whether opposing views meet in the middle or not. As Chekov said, “Not all all problems are meant to have solutions”. Therefore, I welcome your comments, your feedback as well as your rants. Arguments make great premises for new stories and provide temperance when I have taken my highly subjective philosophies on life too far for polite company.

 

I will warn, however, that I will not always back down. One reader took great offense at Asali being a eunuch surrounded by beautiful girls in Superficial #4. I could not find anything wrong with it. He was not the guardian of a harem, he is a friend of Sakura’s who was picked up as a surprise guest for the party Nami was throwing. Furthermore, he is an ascetic priest. A group I learned about in one of my philosophy courses during my M.F.A. candidacy.

Ascetics are a priestly order who forego sexual ambitions for religious reasons and are castrated by choice and aesthetes are artists who forego sexual ambitions for their art. Asali the beautiful ballet danceur is both. He is a blue dieu from the ballet Sheherazade and is a pretty happy deity. He is also Sakura’s best friend. A lovely non-threatening companion that women feel safe around.

As an answer to the outraged reader’s question: “How would you feel if you were denied a body part?”, I pondered which body part women would be greatly offended to lose. I interviewed several of my friends and the consensus was that care nothing about our burdensome lady parts ( good riddance, we’re free!), but would be devastated if we were to lose the hair on top of our heads!

Ranma 1/2: True confessions A girl’s hair is her life!

I admit there is a great deal of Medusan feminist rhetoric in Superficial*, which isn’t for everyone, but
it extremely therapeutic for those in search of a view outside of the Patriarchal Feminine.
Not everyone wants a  prince and chaffe at the notion that existence is very, very difficult without one! Life is struggle (in an Arhat Buddhist sense, it’s straight up suffering!), but equal pat for equal work should be rule of law. Xena should be paid just as much as Jason for solving the same problem. She deserves to stable her Argo and keep her weapons and bedding in good condition just like any other mercenary. We all take care of loved ones. There’s no need for a family wage exclusively for men in the 21st century. To read the subtext of this privilege: If a man has to buy sex from his wife or works towards an exorbitant amount of wealth solely to attract a life partner, then he needs to look into himself and improve his character. Learn from Soames and Irene: no one likes being married to rich assholes or be thought of as property. It’s just as bad as living in poverty. Misery is Misery. Seek therapy and a good mentor otherwise you’ll make a big gold digging mistake! Think of a marriage as an economic unit. It takes two incomes beat a recession. The business cycle is an average of eight years….

There are many solitaries in addition queen consorts in Superficial*. Asexuality occurs in both sexes and will feature positive representations of both. Many readers will raise eyebrows, but asexuals need more exposure  so can find community. Michael Jackson would never preferred to hang around children. Children are an escape from the hyper-sexual world of the adult who’s primary topics of conversation are sex and money. Jackson, like many asexuals had had his fill of the prattle and pursuits. If there were  more asexuals in his inner circle, found his tribe, if you will, he never would’ve marred his reputation. If only people knew of and accepted asexuals. Asexuality can kill a performing arts career since so many fans of erotic dreams of their idols and won’t support them if they can’t have them, even in fantasy. Just think of all the celebrities who were Gay and feared obscurity if they had come out in the 1950’s. Sex sells :/

Asexuality seems to be accepted of women, so long as their not married or seeking marriage, but it creates a negative stigma if impotency among men. There is no separation of the Will and sexua
l drive in the popular imagination. A CEO career wouldn’t have ascended higher than middle management if
it were known that the  perfectly clever and qualified candidate were asexual. One famous CEO says it takes balls to take the big risks. I guess he has never heard of channeled energy towards a cause which exists in both male and female.

A bar of chocolate and the promise of a  Nobel Prize provides an excellent opiate
o that pesky pituitary gland. Sir Isaac Newton buried himself in his work on the Principia
with only a maid for outside contact. Sakura is the same way in danceand Maloni in visual art and
creating worlds. All of their energy is channelled into art. Their friends accept this and new friends soon learn to respect their boundaries

 

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In Between Days

The earth is a womb and a tomb, thus Superficial is a story of creator/destroyer goddesses. However, unlike the impartial Nature of reality, in the fictional world of Superficial Nature does play favorites. Nami and Sakura will cull a herd without fear of consequence. The street thugs of  Aikido in Pink Tights will be avenged by no one. The sisters do have one caveat: their mother, who they affectionately call “Momgod” for Mikka is both powerful and powerless. Mikka influences their faint sense of morality, which really isn’t the domain of elemental deities, but they are hard pressed to disappoint her. Shame is public, guilt is personal. However, in Inbetween Days, it’s a crisis of conscience of acting against a gut instinct to rub out a hurtful person or simply letting him discover that he is his own worse enemy on his own.


Sakura never feels guilty about any of her cullings. She doesn’t have a heart. However, Nami does and her
negative karma manifests in the form of the Yuki Onna. The more extreme her offenses the more she is compelled to haunt. The severity of her causes influences the effect of her method of killing. Beautiful , sonambulant, uncontrolled and terrifying. It’s absolutely gut wrenching to wake up to in the morning! To give a mortal scenario, some people of color can’t stand to watch the six o’clock news in fear of the flood of offenses members of their ethnicity has caused, Nami, the chthonic being avoids the morning news reports in fear of what she may have done the night before!

Tygress, Tygress burning bright…

 Sakura’s exploits are performed while fully conscious, yet so far has not killed anyone or anything who hasn’t tempted fate. Having no heart (like a number of gods in the context of relativism) she knows not what is wrong, only what is forbidden. A god is not the basis of moral truth, but a reflexion of it and social mores fluctuate. With no desire to lead under the pretext that she is the God that exist within human thought, Sakura remains empirical and goes with the flow with an open cannon rather than play the dogmatist. Philosophy is an ever growing fascination for her. Hence the culling she performs among humans is tempered by the mores of the pocket of society Sakura holds dear: the artist community. Tiger, tiger burns bright and benign among the lambs she chooses not to make her dinner…

The process of maturity causes the personality to change.

Giermo is a mortal who is highly sensitive to social hierarchies despite looking the type as the square-jawed, blonde-hero. All positions of power are precarious and he is determined to secure his perch with a trophy wife or give up on life because he can’t have it all.  Goddess or not, Nami doesn’t fit the mold and it hurts that yellow hair trumps all of her accomplishments and her status as a deity with this human she is obsessed with. The Blonde Thing is a phenomenon all women endure and its takes some soul searching until we all realize that we’re giving men too much power over our self respect. Nami’s heart is blind to this truth, but her dark subconscious is not and seeks justice. Thank goodness for the power of Mother to use the explanatory gap to save Giermo’s skin, but not before allowing the Goddesses to teach him a cosmic lesson in humility to avenge conquered women everywhere! It challenging to recognize when your problems become other peoples’. Nami and Giermo grow. As we all grow when the Universe bellows a a mighty “NO” despite our charms.

“Dear old phosphorescent foolishness.”

-Orson Welles

Can a goddess forgive with an ersatz heart? How does it heal after it’s been insulted? Does she fold up within herself and leave the material world for a time to forget her pain in the quantum world? Unseen by the five senses of human perception where the classical laws of physics do not apply? Perhaps. Yet, like suicide it most likely hinders the further development of the soul and leaves her pain in a vibrant state. A specter that will follow her throughout her existence or until the negative karma is endured and spent. Possibly it manifests as part of the negative aspect of the Chthonic that drags the victims of her lower state back to the tomb. One of the definitions of a ghost is a soul that is conflicted about how it lost it’s life. Unless, it accepts its death unconditionally, it is doomed to access to a proper afterlife in its search for meaning. Unfortunately, as Chekov said: “Not all problems are  meant to have solutions.”

“A story doesn’t have to appeal to the heart, it can also appeal to the spine.”

-Modern Scholar

In the realm of Superficial, should a human fall prey to a creator destroyer goddess under the cause of sustenance or passion, they can take comfort the pain of transcendence is brief. Sakura may turn in to a cat on occasion, but she doesn’t play with her food. The attack is merely an attempt at the restart button to a favorable reincarnation. Yet, if you’re a friggin’ pill whose only going to bring dismay to your parents and be blight on society, don’t whine to Hades and Persephone, Baal or Izanami about a “random figure” who came upon your family in a field and non-chalantly snapped your trachea for the greater good. You lived badly. Start over.

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