Sunday, September 17, 2006

Seeking Avalon; Title Explanation

This whole recent mess with James Meeley and the surrounding back talk about feminism had me thinking about my journal title and the fact that I'm probably the only person who knows what I'm talking about when I say 'Seeking Avalon'.

I moved from comics to mythology and the first myths I hit were Arthurian Legend. I hit them hard. I hit them repeatedly. I went to sleep with them under my pillow. It was an instant-hard-all consuming first love.

As I got older, however, I saw that the more developed the plots got in the various re-tellings, the more sidelined or evil interpreted the female characters became. Maybe my introduction to the myths were through my mother's college lit books. It's possible. I had a very young mother and I was a voracious reader. But I can still remember this sinking feeling in my gut; this thing mixed with confusion and the beginnings of anger that suddenly the Ladies of the Lake (and other Ladies of Power) weren't as important in the new stories I was finding. That in fact it was all about Arthur to such a degree that female protagonists were mixed, blended, reformed, vilified and all manner of things. Morgause and Morgan Le Fay are the best examples of two characters who were blended together into one; one substituted for the other; and then that new creation was made into the one who bore the evil son.

When I dipped into comics occasionally, trying desperately to catch up with what had happened, I started seeing some of the same things; Jean Grey was Dark Phoenix; Mary Jane was the clueless, ever loving, but slightly air headed model girlfriend; Captain Marvel was a guy instead of a woman in Avengers; And I didn't recognize Storm.

I'm not saying that there should be a comic retelling of the chars, ala M.Z. Bradley's 'Mists of Avalon'. Though as an AU that would certainly be interesting, as would a gender switch of major characters in most of the comics I love to read. I just want to get back to Avalon where it was ok for those female characters to be dynamic and powerful, beautiful and wonderful all over again, without having to be killed off immediately or otherwise tweaked.

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