I’ve completed the redrawn page for Chapter 2 of Zatswan: Multiversal Guardian. I think it turned out very well!

You may notice that this update consists of only one page, and that’s because I believe that’s all that was truly necessary for Chapter 2. While there are other elements within that chapter that I could improve, I don’t feel a compelling need to do so. I have to consider the time and energy required and whether it’s worthwhile, and in this case, it just isn’t. There are times when good enough is good enough. Therefore, I’m already underway in addressing some issues in Chapter 3. Interestingly, I believe Chapter 3 deserves more attention than Chapter 2, although not nearly to the same extent as Chapter 1.

I was going through a challenging period in my life while working on much of Chapter 3, and I can see how it affected the quality of my work. It was done sloppily in certain places, with less confident linework, rougher coloring, and some problematic anatomy, so I’d like to fix that.

I am really proud of the above page! It’s much cleaner, more solid, and more detailed than the old version.

In other news, my girlfriend and I have created another YouTube video. I found the first one with her to be quite captivating, so we decided to follow a similar format. It’s cool to have her along because we can gain insights into how someone who is completely uninvolved in the direct market comics industry perceives certain characters, fans, and business practices in that field.

This time we go into deep discussion about the DC Comics superhero Cyborg. Check it out!

What brought about this discussion was the advocating by some of Cyborg’s fans for the removal of his faceplate because they believed he would make a better wish-fulfillment character without it, especially for Black fans. I fully understand the desire for a wish-fulfillment character who is an original creation, rather than a derivative of another character (such as Green Lantern John Stewart is to Green Lantern Hal Jordan, for example). After all, I am the creator of the original character Zatswan, who I identify as mixed race (white/black primarily).

However, my girlfriend and I don’t believe that a character who wasn’t designed for that purpose should be changed to better fit it. Rather, new characters should be created to meet those needs.

I find it interesting and a bit sad how some fans go to great lengths to navigate the peculiar and largely uncompromising quirks of the U.S. direct market comics industry, even when it’s unnecessary. For instance, trying to start an initiative to transform Cyborg to fulfill a role he was never intended for, instead of sensibly creating a new character to serve that purpose. One point my girlfriend and I both agree on is that if fans are dissatisfied and seek something they believe DC isn’t providing adequately, they should explore alternative options to find what they desire.

Art by Phil Cho.

I compare many direct market comic fans who frequently complain to individuals stuck in toxic relationships. Most of us have likely encountered someone who, despite constant complaints about their unhappy situation, chooses to remain in it despite advice to the contrary. What I’ve discovered is that when emotions come into play, people can engage in all manner of self-destructive behavior, often disregarding reason.

This situation isn’t much different. Here, we have fans who think they “love” Cyborg, yet their needs consistently go unaddressed. The core need here actually has nothing to do with Cyborg, as he has never fulfilled that need. In reality, it’s for an original Black character (not a derivative of a White one) who can provide the same sense of wish fulfillment as the most popular white characters, such as Superman and Batman. Cyborg has never been able to do so because of his origin, marked by his mutilation. He is further hampered by his creation as a team player rather than a hero who was intended to have a world crafted around him. Moreover, the lack of creators’ enthusiasm or the necessary popularity (i.e. demand) hinders the development of such a world.

Instead of seeking to have this need fulfilled elsewhere (much like seeking a healthier relationship), some individuals opt to remain in their current situation and endlessly voice their grievances to a company (their partner) that has shown no inclination to change and hasn’t expressed a strong desire to cater to their needs. Thus, the fans are left unhappy. While there isn’t any wrongdoing afoot, I believe the fans have a level of culpability for choosing to remain in that situation, and I personally have difficulty relating to it. Oh, I can certainly relate to being frustrated with DC Comics, but when I finally realized DC was not interested in producing products that would meet my needs, I decided to stop buying DC products.

I felt that my time, money, and emotional energy were much better served to solve my own problems. After all, if I had these problems, others likely did as well, so I set out to create a comic character that I would actually really be into.

I’d like to make a couple of points because I’m aware that people sometimes tend to attribute statements and intentions to me that I never expressed or intended.

First, I don’t mean to throw these fans under the bus. If anything, I’m like that person who is telling someone they may want to rethink their relationship because they will never be happy in it. Believe it or not, this is coming from a place of care, concern, and experience. That said, I don’t really expect them to take it well or act upon it, because … emotions and all. Regardless, I believe it is worthwhile food for thought that may have an effect on them when the time is right for them.

Secondly, I want to clarify that I’m not expressing resentment towards Black readers who may prefer to support Cyborg over Zatswan. There is quite a bit to unpack with this one. It should be noted that I didn’t create Zatswan with the explicit aim of catering to a Black audience. While my intention is to make him relatable to everyone, as mentioned above, demographically he was primarily designed to resonate with mixed-race and interracial interests. I believe this is distinct from the category of “Black,” though they can and do intersect. For instance, Zatswan differs notably from characters like Black Panther, Black Lightning, and many others found in the Milestone Media catalog. Yet, he is still a brown-skinned superhero who is of partial African descent.

All that said, I don’t necessarily anticipate Zatswan would be what some of these people are looking for. However, I believe they should seek out what they are looking for because it’s available, and there are numerous creators who would appreciate their support.

That’s better than being one of those people who has a problem but refuses to do anything about it other than complain and wish.

Follow @neilallen530

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