MONDAY AND FRIDAY BY JOE ENGLAND

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ZEBRA GIRL
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COMMENTS FROM THE AUTHOR

view Joe England's profile

16th Mar 2018, 12:28 AM

Joe England

Yes, her name is Sally.

To review, Sally here used to be the host for the parasitic, possessed appendage which belonged to one of Wally's abusive former pack mates. She found what was left of him and somehow became Southpaw, and though she is now free of its influence she remains a one-armed vampire (rather than a werewolf/vampire/ghost hybrid).

We leave her cheerful in spite of the surely horrific trials she has endured, a story left untold. It's possible that she's enjoying some measure of schadenfreude with her old buddy Mike, who apparently wasn't inclined to help her when she turned up in town controlled by a werewolf ghost.

Fun fact, I originally didn't mean to make Mike quite so short, but it seemed to be the most accurate height to pin on him after the drawing was done and I analyzed him in relation to Zandra. I mean, he's drowning in that shirt. Even his font is slightly smaller than the standard text size most people in the comic speak with.

Mike probably doesn't think those facts are much fun.

-Joe

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COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

16th Mar 2018, 1:02 AM

CaptXpendable

"What kinda damn magic turns a man into a GIRL?"

Oh Mike, you need to get out more. There are places where this happens all the time.

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view Umbral Reaver's profile

16th Mar 2018, 4:43 AM

Umbral Reaver

Jack's magic is very often about turning people into girls (although sometimes they were already girls; he just turns them into DIFFERENT girls). It makes sense that this would be his kind of accident.

That said, I hope Jack is at least considerate enough to understand that he might have subjected Mike to a lifetime (eternity?) of crippling dysphoria.

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16th Mar 2018, 6:41 AM

Brett Bellmore

I suspect he both understands, and doesn't really care. Given the whole "eating me" thing.

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16th Mar 2018, 3:27 PM

KidKidna

Well, he did use to own that [PERV] shirt.

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17th Mar 2018, 6:52 AM

Lurk

My thoughts exactly. If it's some kind of "random" karmic punishment for his actions then it seems more than a little petty ("you are sentenced to live the rest of your life as a GIRL"), and if it's supposed to be some twisted other-side-of-the-coin routine with Sandra then I think it's a narrative misstep. Zandra came to terms with being a demon, it's not really comparable to suddenly being female, especially in that Zandra's struggle is largely fantastical but Mike's would have some real-world parallels. Mostly the distressing idea that he should just learn to live with, as the reaver said, crippling dysphoria.

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view Joe England's profile

17th Mar 2018, 10:38 AM

Joe England

Thank you Lurk, I've been waiting for someone to say something along those lines. I'm well aware that gender deserves more than to be a punchline. Issues of identity can't be boiled down to the sides of a coin.

Ideally, I would hopefully break down the impression that this is a "punishment" per se. It's not as simple as a dunce cap, though that's probably the way Mike sees it. Of course, in the immediate aftermath it's understandable that he feels that way, but that's one of the first tests of character he's facing in his new condition. Things happen. Dispelling a sense of persecution requires maturity.

However, I might debate the assertion that his condition isn't comparable to Zandra's. I would say that transforming from a strapping man to a 4'1" woman would indeed be a similarly radical transition. His entire form's been overwritten, no piece of him is familiar anymore. Granted, Sandra's metamorphosis was more overtly fantastical, but both involve being forced into an enormously alien body. He certainly didn't desire the transformation any more than Sandra welcomed hers. She didn't become Zandra overnight, and I know he's not necessarily going to "learn to live with it" any more quickly or easily than she did.

Of course, this is not to say that being female is "worse" than being a man, though Mike would likely disagree. But in some ways this is even stranger to him than if he had gained horns and wings and patterned skin. In fact, I think it's safe to say he would have been more comfortable as a demon.

A theme of this comic is that change leads to strange places on long roads. It's possible that he will always carry dysphoria, and it's also possible that he'll successfully adjust. In any case, the question of whether or not he'll be "crippled" is far from certain, and I hope that I'm able to convey that his condition is intended with greater complexity than "bad karma." I'm not sure I can with the pages I have left. Which is why I'm at least thankful for the comment section.

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18th Mar 2018, 9:26 PM

Guest

I kinda read it as karmic--in the sense that Mike got the equivalent of having the universe's GM tell him it's time to roll to see what new form he gets as a result of the wizard he was trying to eat reflexively transforming him into something else in self-defense.

There are probably distinctly worse results on that table than 'height+sex flipped.' Like, say, demon.

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view Thormation's profile

16th Mar 2018, 1:07 AM

Thormation

What exactly is Jack doing to Mike there? Spot-welding? Detailing? Laser hair removal?

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16th Mar 2018, 7:40 AM

Madcat

Pretty sure heal is discharging Mike's magical "static" holding their hair up.

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16th Mar 2018, 1:25 AM

CaptXpendable

It just occurred to me that if I was in Sally's shoes, I'd ask Jack if he could create a magic prosthetic that functions and feels like a real arm. In a world of magic, if you can't regrow an arm, you can probably get it replaced with something pretty slick. Just stay away from the possessed ones.

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16th Mar 2018, 1:58 AM

Nemo Specific

Mike may be wee lass now, but damn it her hair doesn't look GREAT.

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16th Mar 2018, 2:23 AM

Lion of the sun

Perhaps, looking at the size and the hair.

Did Mike get "Trolled"?

Ill see myself out now...

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16th Mar 2018, 3:00 AM

PhaineOfCatz

Ah Zandra's wings are frustratingly beautiful. One of my current projects is a game with a shape shifting main character and every time you update it becomes obvious the characters wings need more work...

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16th Mar 2018, 3:10 AM

Spider

Joe has gotten really stunningly adept at drawing her wings in a lifelike but fantastical way! My absolute favorite panel is on http://www.zebragirl.thecomicseries.com/comics/780 where they're mid-flap. You can almost hear them, they're so fluid.

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view Joe England's profile

16th Mar 2018, 5:00 PM

Joe England

Aw, shucks. Thanks very much! I do work hard on them, and I'm happy to hear that they're admired.

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16th Mar 2018, 4:18 AM

Mr. Casual

"Jesus, Mike.

You need Jesus. I'm sending you to a convent. It's run by a pooka nun. Should be interesting."

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view Joe England's profile

17th Mar 2018, 1:26 AM

Joe England

How did you guess!?

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16th Mar 2018, 6:15 AM

Bix

I had my suspicions last page, but now it's seeming even more likely.
Sounds like that "magical pressure" Jack mentions when Mike was trying to make a snack out of him has been leaking out and affecting the women's breast sizes.
Since getting a torrential face-full of the raw stuff straight up gender swapped the guy.

Dunno whether or not that's true, but the idea that Jack's natural perversion is subconsciously affecting his passive magical drip is hilarious regardless.

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16th Mar 2018, 8:32 AM

Siansaar

Seeing Mike's gigantic honkers reminds me: What about that...spell, I guess, that made every woman's breast grow some time ago? You must have brought it up for a reason back then, so what's the story?

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16th Mar 2018, 1:55 PM

Egregesh

Basically, the House and entire area is permeated with Jack's magic, and Jack is, and has always been, a big old perv. All the problems in town have been tied to Jack's spells, this is just another piece of his magic radiation he has left behind him.

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16th Mar 2018, 3:41 PM

Rev

Please don't start using "she" to refer to someone who still identifies as male :|

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view Joe England's profile

16th Mar 2018, 4:15 PM

Joe England

A fair point, Rev.

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16th Mar 2018, 6:12 PM

Snow

As a trans man, thank you for saying this for me.

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view Joe England's profile

17th Mar 2018, 1:02 AM

Joe England

Snow, if I ever cause you, or anyone, offense or discomfort, I apologize, and I encourage you to let me know. It's important to me to gauge the feelings and reactions of the people who give their time to my work. I can't always guarantee that I'll edit or alter the work accordingly, but I do try to listen to every voice.

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23rd Mar 2018, 4:01 PM

Snow

I'm not bothered by the characters doing it. They can be asses if they want. But the writer's commentary is a place where I think we can agree to be respectful to people even if they don't deserve it?

I mean I have literally *no* sympathy for Mike, but it's something people don't even notice when they do.

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16th Mar 2018, 5:40 PM

Quin

Heyo! Long term fan of the comic here, and super happy to have see it through to the end!

One point on Mike thoguh. If he still identifies as a guy, please use male pronouns. I know that the character is fictional, but it’s a really big deal to a lot of people (myself included).

Thanks for making awesome comics. ^^

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view Joe England's profile

16th Mar 2018, 7:37 PM

Joe England

Yes, Rev mentioned that earlier. I'll remember it going forward. Thanks for your feedback, Quin, and thanks again just for reading!

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17th Mar 2018, 8:43 AM

Valentine

Showing this courtesy is fine for you as an author, but the redefinition of pronouns from an identifier of sex to an identifier of subjective identity is very recent, and it has seen limited adoption off the Internet. Crystal or Jack might say something to that extent, but Zandra has been away for years. Sally would be even more out of the loop even if she were inclined in this case. Wally, the older vampires, and the magical beings now returning to the world would probably be unaware of the development, though ones that know Mike would probably continue using masculine pronouns since English lacks an established protocol for sex changes. Since Mike is visibly obviously female at this point, strangers would use female pronouns by default unless an elaborate disguise is involved. Mike might well go along with that, since he apparently doesn’t subscribe to gender constructivism, given his description of his current state as “a girl”.

My point is that in-universe, 2018 Internet culture probably wouldn’t be very relevant to the characters. I think you’ve navigated the fraught political climate well in the past, so this is just a reminder.

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17th Mar 2018, 10:42 PM

Rev

Trans people are older than the Internet, believe it or not, and so is the desire for proper pronoun use. If Mike still feels like a man, even if his body doesn't reflect it, he'll feel more comfortable with the same pronouns. Believe me, I got visceral shudders from being called "she" looong before Tumblr.
Just because you're suddenly aware of a courtesy doesn't mean it's new.

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18th Mar 2018, 4:06 AM

Valentine

People with body or gender dysphoria have been around for a while, but a culture in which gender identity and pronoun use are regarded as a matter determined by subjective feelings has not. The philosophy of constructivism that underlies it is only a few decades old, and the only place outside academia where it has established itself as a cultural (rather than subcultural) norm is in certain areas of the Internet. What counts as a proper pronoun or a man is itself the issue, and that change has been very recent. Even today, most dictionaries define “man” as something along the lines of “an adult male human”, which is a matter of objective biological fact rather than subjective identity, and the gendered pronouns are tied to that matter of fact.

In the comic above, Mike describes his situation as magic turning a man into a girl, implying that his conception of those categories is related to the older and still more common definitions based on biology. He’s obviously uncomfortable with the situation, and Sally is obviously using gendered language to needle him about it. But Mike’s uncomfortableness doesn’t translate (apparently) into a desire for others to refer to him with masculine terms. He seems to be concerned with the underlying physical reality rather than how people talk about it, and apparently regards what he “feels like” to be less relevant than what he observationally is. Though we’ll have to see how things look when the shock wears off.

Standards of courtesy vary by time and place, and in most times and places have not and do not include using gendered language contrary to physical appearance as a matter of course. This is changing, but I don’t think that most characters in the comic would be likely to follow it.

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18th Mar 2018, 4:39 AM

Spider

Hrm. On some points I agree with you, but the idea that fantastical beings who have the power to change their appearance and block out the sun and go from man to enormous wolfbeast would have a difficult time swallowing the idea that someone would like to be referred to as 'he' even if their outward characteristics look more feminine... kind of a reach. Let Joe decide how the character feels about it and how others react.

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18th Mar 2018, 6:33 AM

Rev

Jesus. Nice to know this comic has "I know this makes people uncomfortable, BUT ACTUALLY" kind of assholes following it.

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view Joe England's profile

18th Mar 2018, 12:56 PM

Joe England

Now, there's no need for name calling. We all have a right to speak, and so far everyone's been pretty civil in presenting their take on the subject. I'm sure no one means to be cruel or unfair.

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18th Mar 2018, 11:20 PM

Rev

...Well, I'm disappointed in you.

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18th Mar 2018, 7:04 PM

Quin

Thank you so much for taking the time to change it in the post!

I also wanted to say, I think that people will 100% understand if other characters continue using incorrect pronouns (although it might make sense for Mike to correct them at some point, or at least address it). if the characters are at fault and written that way to illustrate that they don't know about the whole gender pronoun issue, that reflects only on them, and not on you the author.

Again, thanks for being awesome. I love ZG, and am excited to see anything else that you have a hand in. :3

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view Joe England's profile

18th Mar 2018, 7:37 PM

Joe England

Thanks for your advice, and thanks for reading, Quin. It's been a great pleasure to serve!

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18th Mar 2018, 11:19 AM

chaotik74

Well, Mike is apparently still a vampire..so he does have literally forever to find a cure. Just because Sandra gave up on that doesn't mean he has to. (and Jack is still an incompetant ass in my book, so his word doens't carry much weight) Barring further developments, I'm probably going to file Mike under "searching for a happy ending" and wish him luck.

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18th Mar 2018, 2:49 PM

Dae

Trans stuff is a very sensitive topic, but I feel like it is something that really should be discussed. Moreover, this comic is uniquely situated to address a different, fantastical perspective on gender identity: Fate.

In a world where destiny is a tangible feature, if Mike were fated to possess a female form, is it better or worse for him to have experienced physical manhood at some point?

If someone can be born fated to experience body dysphoria on a level of sex, why wouldnt such a thing happen in a world of magic?

Conversely, there's the fantasy staple of the Amulet of Change for this kind of thing, and is actually how you get a male valkyrie ascension in Nethack

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view Joe England's profile

18th Mar 2018, 6:51 PM

Joe England

I should mention that in the cosmology of Zebra Girl destiny is not a constant. It isn't everywhere and it isn't ordained throughout history, nor is it totally irresistible. In fact, it's fairly rare that it manifests at all.

Of course, what we call "destiny" is merely a long-term version of the constant progression of cause and effect which surrounds us at all times. Most every little thing becomes "destined" when the odds tick up or down. A ball dropped to the floor is probably destined to bounce. Far rarer are the times when natural and supernatural forces cooperate to create strings of inevitability stretching into days and years, which even then are only perceptible to individuals like Viv who have developed "prophetism."

In Mike's case, I'm going to say that his condition did not become certain until he tempted fate with his reckless actions as a vampire and low-grade misogynist. Of course, it's still possible that Jack may not have had a magicgasm just then, or that it could have had a different effect.

But speaking as the local embodiment of Fate, myself, I can't deny that Mike had this coming for some time now. And while I stand by my earlier statement that this is not a punishment per se, I won't say there isn't more than a little satisfaction in forcing him to face a difficult condition. Brat's had it way too easy. Took a LOT of things for granted.

To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that no one's contemplating his transformation into a little person. Losing nearly two feet of height is quite a psychological blow in its own right. Knowing Mike, I'd say he could adjust far more easily if his female form wasn't so close to the ground.

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19th Mar 2018, 4:59 PM

Dae

On your comment of his becoming a Little Person, its quite fascinating in that I don't think most people took much notice of it.
And on pondering that fact, ot makes me see that the lucky bastard still got to be darn pretty.

Moreover, he has the supernatural power of a vampire to really pull together quite the new identity for themself, should they get off their ass proverbial and grow.

The curse is not being a woman, but having to go through lifechanging circumstances and find a new equilibrium.

I'm in a weird spot myself- a friend of mine is experiencing all kinds of gender dysphoria and, as a person whom does not care about my own gender, I really can't imagine how he feels. But it does seem like I'm at least getting better at helping by being there.

Moreover, wherever they may go, they have the moxie to own whatever life dishes them- even if its not a gender as assigned by conventional perspective.

But isn't that what this comic is ultimately about, owning your circumstances?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm always fascinatingly so around here.

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18th Mar 2018, 7:06 PM

Quin

Being fated to experience dysphoria is on par with fate that just leave your life ruined. In fiction like what Joe writes, there's typically justification for having fate ruin a life.

Although I'll admit. Mike is a little shit.

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18th Mar 2018, 9:29 PM

Novalyyn

I think it's interesting to note he says "girl," not "woman." He has been show to have some misogynistic ideas already, though.

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27th Mar 2018, 2:16 PM

JasonAW3

The thing I suspect with Mike, is that he is now the opposite of what he was. He was tall, now she's short, he was a guy now she's a girl. What I'm curious about is whether his attitude been reversed as well? He was a bit of a controlling jerk, so how would that be reversed?

I guess we won't find out with the comic ending...

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