Lovefool 06.18.12 | Robot Love

This week, Lovefool checks out Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak, a webcomic where the lack of romance is what sets it apart.



It’s been a weird weekend. I spent most of yesterday doing things that I swore I never did, like eating meat and fast food and drinking hard liquor and soda (hey, I needed a mixer if I was going to delve that far into the dark side, anyway) and showing people pictures of my cosplay past. I should’ve known that it was going to be that kind of weekend when I started it off by wanting to write a column about a new, of all things, zombie book that’s coming out. Zombies are not normally my thing, to say the least. But then the continuum reset itself when it turned out that the zombie book wasn’t quite ready for a column yet and I was like “Well, eff. What do I write about now while I’m waiting for us to get past this pesky exposition phase?” This, in itself, is not an unusual occurrence. There is a plan in place for when it happens. The plan is that I trawl the internet until something jumps out at me.
So I popped around the internet for a while until I stumbled upon webcomic artist Aaron Diaz’s incredibly thoughtful plans for an X-Men reboot, complete with alternate history and mutation theory and, be still my heart, a bit of a Jean Grey/Kitty Pryde thing going on. I was, naturally, a little intrigued. That’s some pretty serious rebooting he’s doing there and the art was great and I had some time, so I decided to go check out the rest of his work and spent an hour reading his webcomic, Dresden Codak.
I don’t recommend going to read Dresden Codak unless you’ve had your coffee because not only is it geeky, it’s science geeky. There’s philosophy and chemistry and biology and kind of a lot about evolution in there, mixed with a little time theory. It’s extra nerdy and completely delightful. What there isn’t a lot of is romance and, despite this being a column about romance in comics, I feel like this is under our jurisdiction since that very lack of romance is a big part of who the main character, Kim Ross, is. Half-cyborg after a nasty run-in with some time-colonists, she’s got a few friends but is occasionally hopeless at them and even worse at attempting to date. She’s tried to pitch some woo to appropriately handsome, geeky men in the strip but ruined it with her not entirely repressed issues of various kinds and trailed off invitations to coffee.
I’m sure we’ve covered this before but I adore characters like that – the interactions they do have with people tell us so much about them that they would never admit. Kim’s lack of romance and the fact that Diaz lets us know that it’s not exactly because she’s not interested make her a lot more sympathetic than if she were brilliant and smokin’ hot and, for a while, independently wealthy and lucky in love. Because she is all of those first three things, in addition to saving her from being what would admittedly be a very smart, slightly snarky, robot Mary Sue, the fact that Kim wants to experience romance enough to try undercuts the fact that, a lot of the time, she’d save a robot before she’d save a fellow human, even when she was mostly human. It makes her someone we can kind of relate to, despite the fact that she’s not like us and, eventually, isn’t necessarily completely human. And, even before she had to replace half her body with machinery, Kimiko Ross was an otherworldly character. When we meet her, she’s a teenage girl trying to catch radio signals on her roof with a giant homemade telescope. When I was a teenage girl, yeah, I was looking at the stars from my roof but mostly in between smoking illegal cigarettes and writing crappy poetry.
But Kim, since she’s spent most of her life with her head in a book and surrounded by the weird, has been forced to use her brain. Honestly, it almost seems like she’s brilliant because she has nothing better to do sometimes. Her friends, if you can call them that, are into bars and sports and she is decidedly not interested in those things. Kim is, however, interested in being a bit of a slightly-evil genius—at one point stealing memories via business that gives you back a short term memory but is really a front for harvesting info to build an artificial intelligence—but she’s so cheerfully unsentimental about it that you have to wonder if she’s choosing not to care or if she really just doesn’t know any better. She’s recently met an archaeologist that she’s hanging out with while she solves the mystery of her dad’s secret symbol that keeps popping up and, frankly, I hope he doesn’t sully Diaz’s slightly sociopathic Ms. Ross. She deserves to keep her head in the clouds and her hands a little dirty. | Erin Jameson

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