“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
– Dan, a guy at a Comic Con 2009 who was quoting a Saturday Night Live skit that was parodying Erogon point out the similarities of the movie to Star Wars by using the to the words said by Yoda a character written by George Lucas who based his writing on the archetypical hero’s journey the book “The hero with 1000 faces” by Joseph Campbell that in this case was summarizing the dualism of eastern philosophy that was handed down by the disciples of Buda and Confucius who claimed to simply being conveying revealed truths of the universe.

So I guess a proper citation would be:

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
– The universe

So almost exactly 3 years ago I expressed some ambivalence about having nude pictures in the members area of Exiern:


At the time it was the only way to keep the comic running and keep the artist paid. For the last 3 years it really has saved the comic on a number of occasions. With the once a week update schedule I could not build an audience to support the comic through normal channels. So there had to be nudity or the comic had to close up shop.

Now I have tried my best to keep the characterization positive and also I am pretty equal opportunity with the stripping. Man or woman you will be divested of your vest at some point and probably end up the opposite gender in the process.

In general I try to follow the wonderful quote by Cheris Kramarae; “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Although granted that in Exiern some of the women are men and a few of them men are women this concept gets a little muddy but you get the point. I try to keep the women in the comic PEOPLE at all time. They are just people that we want to see naked.

Still the nudity is a cop out. It’s a way to squeeze more money out of the comic at the cost of some of the integrity of the story. I am not 100% convinced it is misogynistic, the calculation that naked=objectification is a very Taliban sort of math that I don’t agree with. But it is sloppy. It’s is basically saying my story can’t stand on its own merits.

Now I have already said that in the past Exiern could not stand on it’s own without the added nitro boost of an occasional nudie picture. But we are in a different era now. Our new artist is crazy prolific to the point where I can’t keep up with him script wise. I could move the update schedule to 3 times a week. It is possible that I could end the policy of having naked people and still be able to get enough cash out of the system to sustain the comic. It would probably cut profits by a third but a third of what we are making could sustain Exiern.

Today is the last of the scripted nudity in the comic. It ends with a whimper instead of a roar of a glimpse of some priestly members and a half covered nipple. But at this point the script is wide open and I could just steer things away from the burlesque side of things.

I am standing at the crossroad given an opportunity to reconsider the choice I made 3 years ago on this very day actually.  I could turn back.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”

But I won’t.  Exiern will stay what it has become for a number of reasons.

I could sustain Exiern on 1/3rd the income but the point is that the other 2/3rds of that income has been going to other projects.  Knit Princess and Blade Bunny paid  by the excess from Exiern’s revenues.   If I turn my back on Exiern’s business model I have to kill these projects. If you think Exiern is sexist (I don’t agree with that but if you do) then is the price of making it less “sexist” by killing the very sweet and positive comic of Knit Princess worth it?

On top of that the “sexyness” over the past 3 year has become what Exiern is about. Exiern is a sexy transgender fantasy comedy. That is what the story is about that is the style of the both the art and prose and frankly I have come to enjoy that. Exiern is freeing in a way. It’s silly and sexy and just plain fun. To change that now would be a betray of the comic and the audience.

When I first started down this path I worried about portraying women as just bodies to be lusted over. To reinforce a stereo type that is very detrimental and just plain wrong. But by treating men and women equally by messing up who is who and what’s what I got to a new place and more interesting place. A place that’s about having fun and not getting too wrapped up in the puritanical restrictions of society. Naked /= Objectification if everybody’s getting naked.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”

It is true but who every said the dark path was the wrong way to take? Well technically Yoda did but he’s just a puppet. When did you ever get good advice from a puppet outside of the difference of “Near” and “Far”.

Don’t get me wrong there are some real dangers with making a “sexy” comic;

Nudity undermines the integrity of your story. It makes it less serious. But if you are shooting for less serious then that’s not a problem.

Nudity will cause people to dismiss your comic off hand as porn and call you’re a pornographer. Once you use nudity in your work there is no turning back from that. You can spend the rest of your life writing children’s books you will still be a pornographer. It’s a compelling reason not to start down this path but not a very compelling reason to stop once you started.

(One addendum to this rule is that if you are a woman you don’t fall into this trap. After all women can’t be perverted only men. A woman making a sex comic is just liberated. If I ever make another comic like Exiern I am going make an online persona of Miss Girly Fem Vagaina a 18 year old ex-cheerleader who likes crochet, flowers, RPG’s and dating men who call themselves feminists. Miss Girly stopped cheerleading because she wanted to make a comic and date men who would support her empowerment. Not a single troll will complain about the comic no matter how perverted it is.)

Nudity can support bad writing. Forcing nudity into a scene where it doesn’t belong will make your writing bad. Good writing will decrease your sales were pointless cheese cake will give you’re a boost in revenue. But you must keep your writing good otherwise you are going to be straying into the world of objectification and eventually the comic will collapse.

All and all I would suggest avoiding nudity in a story. But if you are going to do it do it well because once you do there really is no turning back.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”

And to that quote I would like to add the all time best Firefly quote:

“Well, here I am”