The Sting of a Bad Review!


I just released a new short story.  I enjoyed writing it, and I felt like my readers would enjoy it as well.  It’s in what is for me a new genre; female muscle growth, and the second story I have written on commission.  While the FMG genre isn’t my “home,” so to speak, it is definitely in the same neighborhood, and I am able to explore many of the themes that fascinate me.

This story, which ended up being called Brittany, is also different in that it had a throwback feel.  It was fun and a little zany, and that also appealed to me.  I like to get out of my comfort zone.  So, I posted it and sat back, eager to see if I got a review, and what that review might say.

Well, I did get a review.  One star, and the reader hated it.

It’s happened before.  The first work I ever posted on Amazon got a bad review to start.  It was called Cramps, and I thought it was a very innovative and excellent piece of TG fiction, but the first review was not kind.

I have learned to detach from the reviews.   I try not to get too excited about the good ones or too down about the bad ones.  In fact, I have the most trouble dealing with NO reviews.  At least if someone hated something enough to write a review, they had a response to the work!

I still love my little story, and I have a warm fuzzy feeling when I remember writing it, creating the cover, posting it.  I hope some people will enjoy it as much as I do, but I also realize that everyone out there own their own response, and it has nothing to do with me!











Mantra (Spoilers)

When Mike Barr set out to do a sex-change superhero comic, he went for it BIG TIME.  Not only did the warrior Lukasz find himself reincarnated as a gorgeous, buxom woman, but also a single mother.  Early issues featured our former tough guy struggling with all manner of female issues in his secret identity, where he finds he now has a name right out of a corny romance novel, Eden Blake.

Eden’s first days as a woman are filled with some stock scenes you would expect in any story in the gender swap genre: putting on a bra for the first time, learning to do make-up, dealing with getting hit on by guys, but there was also that very interesting and rarely seen twist that he was a single mother trying to figure out how to balance his motherly duties with work and, of course, his secret identity.

His superhero life was also complicated by his new gender, as he not only found himself forced to learn and rely on magic instead of brawn, but also to wear the kind of ridiculous costume typical of old school female superheros.

Meanwhile, his age-old enemy, Boneyard, decides he wants to force the now very female and fertile Lukasz to marry him:


Early on, I found the series interesting because it explored more than most comics had the character’s gender conflicts.  Lukasz resents his new life as a woman, and he eagerly seeks ways to escape womanhood.  He finds it annoying and disturbing that he has to deal with men pursuing him, wanting to marry him, but at the same time he seeks to use his new sexuality, dressing for work in a skirt, heels and a tight blouse, or putting on a sexy dress and flirting with a man to get information.  Lukasz finds himself accepting an essentially misogynistic, feminine role in his pursuit of his lost manhood, using his curves to get what he wants.

In addition to the storylines, the artists who penciled the series often put Lukasz into very feminine poses, which was also fun to see:

Ultimately, the gender-swapped Mantra came to an end when Marvel bought out Malibu Comics and decided a gender fluid superhero was too edgy and hip for their universe.  I have always felt it would have been better as a graphic novel or limited series anyway, because the conflict can only go on so long in my opinion before it just becomes a stagnant character.   The true series did end very well, though, with Lukasz not only accepting that he was now a woman and a mother, but taking pride in his new sex, so the story did have a conclusion after all, and one that was, at the time, different from most of the material I had ever seen in which being turned into a female was always a terrible shaming experience.

Check out the Mantraverse Website

Or pick up some issues at Mile High Comics.

Grab Bag (Spoilers)

Having trouble focusing today, so I decided to stop fighting it and just write it all down without putting it into essay form, and to start with I am thinking about a moment from Hedwig, the recent Broadway revival, in which the actor Lena Hall emerges for the first time en femme.

Lena played Yitzhak, the brow-beaten lover of Hedgwig who is repressed throughout the show, forced into a servile role dressed and acting male, but toward the very end of the show Hedgwig gives Yitzhak permission to put on female clothes, and when Hall emerged she was a radiant vision of feminine joy.  I can’t possibly convey to you the eruption of responsive joy that brought forth in the audience and in myself, and it remains one of the great moments of live theater I have experienced.  I once saw Hall in Hell’s Kitchen, and she was with some fans who wanted a picture.  She was looking around for someone to take the picture, and I almost offered, but I was so overcome with emotion remembering the scene from the show I worried I would embarrass myself and instead turned and hurried down the street.

A counter to that moment occurs in Kinky Boots–  I am referring to the musical here– where Simon first appears dressed in male clothes.  He seems shy, self-conscious,  diminished, and he shares with Charlie that he has always felt more confident and assertive in women’s clothes.

Clothes, and what they mean and do to us.  I suppose that emerges as a theme.  In many of the TG books out there, especially in what I think of as the old school categories, clothes were used as a means of punishment, particularly in the genre where some disobedient boy is forced to dress as a girl.

We live in an era now where the lines are more blurry than ever, at least in the Western World.  Jeans and t-shirts are worn by both sexes.  More than once women have told me they only really feel like “women” when they are dressed for the part, made up and all that.  Recently I saw a post from Sarah Silverman where discussed feeling that she was suffering from the female equivalent of being emasculated, and wondering if there is even a word for that.

Consistently, the most violent cultures have the most rigid notions of gender.  The leaders always seem to have minds that believe things should always be in absolutes, male female, right and wrong, and they ruthlessly seek to punish and destroy anyone who doesn’t fit into their simple categories, which of course is everyone.  No one really fits entirely into these categories, so the best such a culture can ever achieve is to force people to act the part in public,  which leads to all sorts of rage and frustration, people blowing each other up.

Have people evolved to the point where they are now able to embrace the reality of fluid identities?  Or will the barbarians eventually win out, as they have done in the past, wiping out this era from existence and possibly even history?