Books 1 & 2
While I read “Strong Female Protagonist” books 1 and 2, I was relentlessly overcome with thoughts of my friend Zach. Zach is the person who’s been driving a lot of my reading habits recently. I was trying to engage with (and impress?) them by reading a bunch of the political philosopher Hannah Arendt (On Violence, The Last Interview, Three Escapes).
The author of Strong Female Protagonist, Brendan Lee O’Malley, has an undergraduate degree in philosophy. Its being used to it’s full potential in this graphic novel. He creates a world where superheroes have run out of supervillains. The heroes must now consider how to save a world who’s problems can’t be solved by tactical applications of extreme violence.
There is a school of thought which maintains every panel of a graphic novel should have one phrase of text. Strong Female Protagonist, same as my favourite webcomic Subnormality, eschews this convention in favour of Walls of Text carrying out philosophical dialectics. Although I’m delighted to see topics, such as the relation between Power and Freedom, discussed in such a format, I kept wanting to go deeper. I wish I could press Zach to contrast Strong Female Protagonist’s conception of personal autonomy with their own Arendtian Precedence Utilitarianism while refining my own Changian Choice Philosophy. But I know this is something that will never happen.
Zach recently died in a mountain biking accident. Since Zach was known as a “gateway librarian”, their friends were invited to the family home to take a book with them. I chose Strong Female Protagonist and finished book 2 while waiting in the parking lot of their friend-driven memorial service.
Similar to Zach’s life, Strong Female Protagonist does not have a satisfying ending. Brendan now works at College Humour, where they run Dimension 20, a Dungeons and Dragons video series which was a driving force to Zach becoming my Dungeon Master. Unlike Zach’s life, Strong Female Protagonist may be revisited and finished, once Brendan makes the time to finish their world. But if Zach isn’t here to debate it with me, I’m not sure how much I care right now.