Questions about Tareth (and other RW characters)

3 min read

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Shazzbaa's avatar
Oh man, you guys, I've been really enjoying the feedback I've been getting on Runewriters. I can't tell you how cool it is to see you guys already being really interested in these crazy people!

I've been seeing several commenters ask a bunch of stuff about Tareth (especially on the website), which sort of makes sense! We haven't seen a whole lot of her, but we have seen enough to have put together that she's Deaf, which raises a lot of questions all by itself. And a lot of times I don't answer these questions (or I say something unhelpful like "you'll see!"), but I did want to say somewhere that... it's not that I'm ignoring them, or that these things are necessarily spoilers. Honestly you could know Tareth's entire life history and I don't think it would spoil the rest of the comic.

But I sort of look at the first bit of this story as being similar to meeting someone new. Sometimes you're in a situation where it doesn't even feel polite to ask "oh, um... are you Deaf?" -- you just hear someone talk, and you think to yourself "whoa, hang on, that sounds like a Deaf accent" and then you sort of try to work it out by watching them without looking like a creeper. You can't figure EVERYTHING out just by watching; you don't have enough information. But you put together what you do have and guess in your head, even if your guesses aren't quite certain.
At least this is what I do! I pay attention to people and try to figure out things about them... so my process of getting to know people is very slow, because I tend to wait for them to show themselves to me rather than asking outright. I also am not able to grab the narrator and ask him to explain, but that's another matter. xD

For this first chapter at least, everyone is just meeting Tareth and Severian. You don't know quite how his magic works or how long she's been deaf or, at first, whether she could talk at all. I could've said so to the first person who commented "oh man, your main character is mute?" but I think it's more interesting to get to know her than to have the narrator barge in and "set you straight." At some point I'd love to do a question-and-answer for the characters of RW, where you guys get to ask them questions directly, askblog style, but I feel like I want to let you meet them, the way I would, first.

So feel free to ask still! Sometimes I do answer stuff, or try to clear things up if I hadn't meant them to be ambiguous (like the fact that dragons aren't aberrants, whoops). And it's really cool, for me, to see the sort of things people are turning over in their minds. But sometimes I won't give you a straight answer. :3 And this is why!
© 2011 - 2021 Shazzbaa
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S-R-Schauer's avatar
I'm actually surprised to find that people...didn't get that that was your aim - to slowly introduce plot, history and characterisation, rather than "info-dumping" in the first few pages. I actually liked this approach a lot. For me, it makes the characterisation a great deal richer, the character interaction more interesting and the story overall more intriguing. I hate when an author or artist "insults" my intelligence by unloading all the characterisation in the first few pages. It takes away that joy of discovery and the incentive to keep going. And makes the characters very two-dimensional.

I found the way you handled introducing Tareth (her nickname makes me giggle, since I have a little Victorian character called Tari - also blonde XD ) very well done. Your characters react to her in an appropriate way - ie: they know something is wrong, but they're not sure what. They "discover" her disability in a natural way, just like any of us would, without outright asking "are you deaf/Deaf?". The latter is just not believable. You never go up to another person and demand to know what's wrong with them - you usually make a social gaff, like Mr. Shoutypants, and then get awkward.

So, long ramble short - I think you're unfolding the story well and you're handling the characterisation very well. Unfortunately...some people are just...very dense >.>;
Ununnilium's avatar
So, wait. ...Tareth's a *girl*?
Shazzbaa's avatar
Hahaha, I honestly can't tell if this is a joke or not. xD I've had a few people get her gender mixed up, so if not then you're definitely not the first! She is, in fact, a girl. :3 Not a very full-figured one, but she does have the hips, though it's hard to tell with that huge tunic she is always wearing.
Ununnilium's avatar
I honestly wasn't sure! I might have missed a pronoun here or there...
Sharsarannon's avatar
I am so in love with runewriters for the fact that Tareth is deaf, and it isn't a plot gimmick- she's just a character who so happens to be deaf.
As a "disabled" person myself, I hate it when a condition is made into a plot key like some kind of superpower or gimmick. I have developed a slow hate for Frank Miller's Daredevil over this kind of thing, and I think it's a great push for reality in comicking when we can have characters with disabilities and differences who are not defined by those.
Shazzbaa's avatar
Oh man, thank you so much! This comment means lots to me; it's definitely been a goal of mine to reach for that kind of reality -- I hope it continues to show!

Besides, with some of the other characters' problems in this comic *glances at Severian* Tareth's really the most "normal" person here.
rainycity1's avatar
Hi, Shazz, just came over from Runewriters. Your approach to letting your story unfold is similar to my "everything I need to know I learned from Zork" approach. (i.e., you're in a meadow. To the east of you is a white house. There is a mail box in front.)
In other words, life doesn't come with an instruction manual and the sooner you stop thinking that it should (which was my problem for the longest time!) and start looking around, thinking and exploring, the better you'll do. (Oh, and always light the lantern if you're in the dark!)
Shazzbaa's avatar

Oh man, this is such a perfect analogy; I really like it a lot!

It seems like a good philosophy for a lot of things, also.
Caraphae's avatar
Actually, I always just ask. It makes life a lot simpler. And I HATE it when people try to intuit my physical issues without asking, because they always get it wrong, often with <strikethrough>hilarious</strikethrough> dangerous results. I'd sooner be a little rude than a lot unaccommodating.

I've thought about getting buttons saying "Ask me about my bizarre disability!" to get past this weird awkwardness people have about the subject, but I suspect no one would believe it...
Shazzbaa's avatar
I think this is different! Trying to figure out something you NEED to know and just guessing is terrible, but I feel like that isn't quite what I'm talking about. A disability that you will have to accommodate is different from "Oh man, I think that guy is deaf, I wonder how he lost his hearing or if he was born that way."

My point is more when you meet someone and wonder something about them. Some people do just ask! Some people ask lots of questions and learn lots of interesting things about others right away. And some people don't. I believe both approaches are good in different ways.

It's the difference between the person who meets a gender-ambiguous classmate and waits to see what pronoun he uses for himself, and the person who straight-up goes "oh man, I hate to ask, but what pronoun do you prefer?" right away. Yeah, some people do the latter, and a lot can be said for such straightforwardness. But while I was thoughtful enough to not make assumptions, it was a week of quietly deducing before I learned that the kid was FtM and preferred to be referred to as "him." I think a lot of people are more comfortable watching and waiting and learning, and it can't hurt to take a look through their eyes as well.
Caraphae's avatar
Well, since my question about the whole thing was "Wait, is she totally nonhearing* or what, how do I say it in my writeup" that was the issue I thought of. :P I honestly never even wondered why/how! I'm so glad to know it's not a spoiler; I'm really tired of every deviation from Perfect Health Forever having giant cosmic plot significance.

I noticed from reading your comickery that you have a certain fannishness for communication issues in general- is it something you're specifically studying, or just a general interest, the way I'll go ooooh over culture/biology clash stories?

*I mean, she may be deaf, but she's unlikely to be Deaf, just like she's unlikely to be Basque, since that's an Earth Cultural Thing.
Shazzbaa's avatar
Thiiiis makes sense. By the way, can I ask about your bizarre disability on Deviantart, or is that rude? >u>

Also the note about Tareth being deaf as opposed to Deaf -- this is true, and it's cool that you know the significance! IF she were here, she'd definitely be Deaf, though, so I'm never sure which to use for her. Now I'm going to have to ponder this!

Communication difficulties is just a general interest! I think it's HILARIOUS that it's already so obvious, since it will come up in RW a great deal more in the future. xD It's not something I'm specifically studying in terms of any goal other than working on RW -- my sudden interest in sign language and Deaf culture about 6 years ago can be attributed entirely to inventing Tareth and suddenly realising how much there was to it that I never knew about, for instance.
Caraphae's avatar
Well I think my bizarre inability on Deviant Art is Not Knowing How To Make Polls, but I suspect that you're really asking about my bizarrity in general. ;P No, no, no rude questions by me!
Hmm, don't know how much info you want exactly though. So, bare bones, my disabilities AS DIAGNOSED are:

Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobile Type- a collagen defect; genetic. Probably inherited from both my parents. Think of a circus contortionist, and then think of having limbs that do that all time when attempting totally normal maneuvers (Try to stand up, fall into a full split!), and that's what I've got. It's not always especially disabling, but my case is pretty dang severe. Constant dislocations and subluxations have later made this comorbid with nerve damage and osteoarthritis. There's also a certain amount of chronic pain and inflammation that goes along with it, and a tendency to tire easily. Oh, and it would cause childbirth complications of a nasty sort if I were foolish enough to undertake pregnancy. Well. As you might imagine.

EDS is comorbid with, though not necessarily tied to:

Abnormal Migraine With Aura: I often get the headache part of migraines; I pretty much always have the exploded-sensory input aspect. I spend the majority of my time wearing sunshades and earplugs and STILL telling people to turn down the TV. Also I have weird seizures-type spells. I may actually have seizures; haven't had the right tests to know. The exciting weirdness of neurological issues is a subject I can go on and on about, so I won't elaborate unless you ask. >_< But THIS is the main reason I don't get more art done; I'm blacked out, blind, or shaking most of the time, and have a hard time focussing with all the WORLD yelling in my ears most of the rest. C'est La Vie!

That's diagnosed. Symptoms that still haven't gotten proper medical labels yet:
Some Cardiovascular Thing: Possibly tied to the EDS. Literally everyone in my dad's family dies of heart disease;often before 40. I've been having what look to outside observers like mini heart attacks (sweating, chest pains, loss of consiousness) since I was 25 or so. They probably are. Again, not had money for the right tests; I take aspirin and hope to not die. Very tiring, though. Tend to set off the migraines. Way and away the scariest thing my body does.

Possible seizures: I get the twitch and turn and blackout thing. Seizures? Or just migraine symptoms? The world may never know!

Hypoglycemia: My most recent doctor has me testing my blood sugar.I--I just don't even, at this point.

Basically the only thing about me that functions to spec is my hair. I have AWESOME hair. It's very pretty.

Any questions you have from that, feel free to ask!
Shazzbaa's avatar
Shoot, man. So intense! I know you do what you gotta, but I still salute you for keepin' on through all of that.
TheSeventhOfSeven's avatar
It makes the characters more real if we meet them like we would in real life :D (obvious statement is obvious)
JazzInked's avatar
Shazz, you're the kind of author more comickers need to be like. :3 Damn the impatient readers! (I feel like there is a DM/PC relationship here a la the Angry DM, only you're much nicer and lovelier! ^^y)
Shazzbaa's avatar
Aww, thank you! :love: Man, I do not have anything against the questions, honestly. I certainly don't want anyone to think they should stop asking!
And that is a lot of why I posted this -- I want people to feel like they can ask these questions, and if I don't answer, it's not that they're being ignored. It just means their question will probably be addressed later. :3
AlbinoMink's avatar
Well that makes a lot of sense, and it does seem like a good way to get to know them! Having everything simply explained to you in flat format is nowhere near as entertaining or enlightening as seeing it happen for yourself.
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