One Year After "Real Life Comic's" Big Revel


It's been one year since Greg Dean - the author and writer of "Real Life Comics" - outed himself (and his comic avatar) as a transgendered woman.  It was a shocking storyline to be sure.  It's obviously not something most would have seen coming and LGBT protagonists still aren't the most common thing to fall upon in webcomics.  I wrote two articles about the (what Dean called) 'Epiphany' story.  Though I didn't exactly feel qualified to discuss it (seeing that the story was so personal), I did give the best assessment of it as I could from my perspective and it seemed to be appreciated by most who read it.  When I finished my last article I ended with this paragraph:

Come Monday morning Mae is waking up in bed.  However she's not in Mae's body; she's still in Greg's.  For all intents and purposes, 'Greg' still exists in physical form, and Mae needs to now confront her friends, family, and decide whether or not she's going to change her outward appearance to reflect the person she feels she is inside.  If she does, it will be a slow process.  Her friends and family will have to come to terms with Greg turning into Mae both mentally AND physically!  If handled in the same way though, I feel it will be a journey well worth taking!  If there is an irony, it's that at one point Mae tells Greg she wants to go onto Reddit to share her experiences, something Greg doesn't want to do because Reddit hasn't exactly been kind to his comic.  Mae tells Greg that he need not worry about that, seeing as how the comic hasn't been relevant for nine years.  Ironically, thanks to this storyline, Mae probably made it very relevant again.  Here's hoping it continues to be!

It has now been more than a year since this story was published.  Greg has officially transitioned to Mae.  Her family and friends accept her for who she is.  The most recent comics have her getting surgery and taking joy in the burning of...well, something I can't mention because this is a family blog.  And how does "Real Life Comics" work now?  How does the humor play?  Is it still a revolution?  Well, let me tell you what "Real Life Comics" is doing these days:

The same thing it was doing twenty years ago.

That's it.  

The comic did not turn into a mouthpiece for Mae's political opinions.  References to the transitioning process were there, but they were rare and told in that very Jerry Seinfeld way that Dean had always told her jokes.  For the most part new readers would have no idea that Mae was once Greg (unless they go through the archives obviously).  The comics didn't get edgier, didn't change focus to be about anything other than the creators family life, and Mae - for all intents and purposes - really isn't any different from Greg (obviously that's because they are the same person but, you know...this needs to be pointed out to stupid people on the internet)!  Despite what a huge deal the 'Epiphany' storyline was for the series, the comic itself is the same comic it was before.

That, in my mind, makes "Real Life Comics" all the more radical.

It obviously had to address Mae's transitioning, but outside of that storyline it was business as usual.  Mae Dean isn't a feminist radical who gets on a soapbox and vents frustrations at the world; she is a loving spouse and parent, Trekkie, and Disney nerd at heart.  She is absolutely normal and just like people you may know in real life.  In other words, she is the ideal protagonist for a series like this.  Despite the major revelation thrown at longtime readers, those fans are returning to the site to find the same comic they have always read and loved!  In this return to the status quo the point is clear: Mae Dean is just as normal and likable as Greg Dean, and there's nothing political about this.  Mae made a choice to live the way she wanted to, but outside of her appearance she is the same person you've always known and loved.  

Well, unless you never liked "Real Life Comics" to begin with.  If you didn't like the good natured humor before you likely still won't today.  And that's fine too!

Your Comic Book Guy - Kevin

Post a Comment