Once more we make our way to an end of a year, and I take an opportunity to reflect on my monthly How To Be articles. Or really, I show you all the covers again because I’m really proud of them, in part because they’re funny and in part because I worked hard on little details and you will appreciate them.
In January, I looked at the sprawling leviathan of media culture known as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and how to create a character who had the vibe of a Jojo character, rather than trying to replicate single, specific characters in that space. What I think, the most, about this kind of article is that I’m not trying to replicate a character as much as I’m trying to replicate, like, the vibe of the advertising and promotional material.
In February, I looked at another Ranma 1/2 character and I am already thinking about the next time I visit that universe. It was Akane Tendo, the second most important character in a story full of big dumb idiots who fight things rather than talk to them. She’s a really cool character – I know, I know, it’s amazing to hear that, right? – but her whole vibe is just being the most normal thing in a world of weirdoes.
In March I looked at Zelgadis, a character made for a D&D game in a different generation and edition and cultural background. I had to look at how you could take a character like Zelgadis and reconstruct him in a different (also old) game system.
Uh, this was just a joke, like last year’s Sonic The Hedgehog cover.
Then in April, when I outed myself as a person who’s been playing Final Fantasy XIV, I did a special article to focus on a character that Kate loves a lot. Since Kate loves Minfilia, I thought I’d do a special article focusing on Minfilia, as a character, and that got to be a fun exercise in creating a character build to reflect a negative space. There’s nothing about Minfilia that exists, really – there’s almost no positive ‘Minfilia does this’ or ‘Minfilia does that’ but you can tell there’s some stuff Minfilia doesn’t do, and can’t do – so you have to create a character build that doesn’t violate that experience. Interesting article!
Then there was May, where I continued my quest to find a How To Be Article about a melee fire character who could actually use the fire support in the game. Weird. But this is another fight game character and opened the conversation around ways to do something that mixed fire and not magic melee combat. It was about Kyo Kusanagi!
Each June I ask Fox what she’d like to see, because I pick characters she likes in the month with her birthday. I also got to see some truly beautiful fanart of Sheik here, and that made it a perfect opportunity to do a piece on that character.
Huh, this was a fun chain of characters with heavily queer themes or from queer-media darling shows. I don’t think there was any reason to pick up Scorpia, but she was a fun, interesting character to build.
Oh man, remember how absolutely ridiculous things were around August? When Bridget Guiltygear was on everyone’s mind and there were all these high resolution pictures of her for the first time in years and also I was doing a theme of tricks and she did this whole thing with a like, yoyo and stuff.
That was a time.
But okay, at this point the How To Be articles are all building around kind of a consistent core of a single, specific idea space. And like, 4th ed D&D is already pretty much an anime game, what with the way that people with swords can actually do things and the way healers can shout your arms back on, it’s great, I love it. Using it to represent anime characters and fight game characters is kind of just what the engine can do.
I had to branch out, I wanted to pick something that would leave people going ‘huh?’ or at least maybe trick Kilo into clicking the link. And that’s why I did one on Lalo Salamanca.
Much like the Jojo article, I made a Meguca article because I wanted something for looking at a larger variety of things in a more shallow way. There are a bunch of characters in this space who we see more in terms of their trauma than their problem solving, so this was more about ‘how do I make a character who can wear this vibe?’
Then finally, I did a piece examining pets, and ways to have a lot or a few of them. This one stuck with me as something I kind of thing I’d want to do going forward – like maybe a character could benefit from picking up a Cool Monster Pet.
Oh hey, what’s that? Of course I made a spreadsheet to examine this kind of thing! I was curious if there was a bias in the types of characters I was drawing inspiration from, and it seems that since its inception, roughly half the articles have been women, and the rest haven’t been. This is useless data that means nothing but I like charts.