It’s all about the subtext

So many of you have forwarded me the Questionable Content cartoon for today entitled, ‘I love you, Sandra Hill.’ Have a look.

Perhaps your blood pressure will rise a bit at the “just a shitty romance novel.” And again at “Girl-porn.”

But look closer – she who casts the stone of “Girl-porn?” In the next frame she’s grabbing that paperback and then reading it. And even as the girl who calls her novel “shitty hilarious girl porn” sneers at it, she’s totally into it. I’d like to know where she falls on the Dear Author Apologia Scale.

Book CoverHaj wrote, “I must know if there is, indeed, a romance novel about a time-travelling Viking who becomes a Navy SEAL.” I don’t know if he becomes a SEAL, but there is no time travel viking like a Sandra Hill time travel viking, hence Ms. Hill’s name on the cover.

As near as I can tell, this book is Viking Unchained.

So a slap on the wrist for Questionable Content for the girl porn/shitty romance double-punch. And yes, time traveling viking Navy SEALS is totally mock worthy. But as a merry fan of The Very Virile Viking, I say to Questionable Content:

Pull my Finger

Pull my finger.

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  1. 1
    Rainbow Tea says:

    To be fair, Penny (blond) seems to call it ‘shitty’ because well… let’s face it, she’s got a right to her opinion. And Penny is a big geek who loves to read, so her then-on referencing the book as ‘girl porn’ is because Faye (brunette) then establishes it as so. And it’s funnier and goes with the flow of the joke. (And Faye WOULD call it that, because she’s a bitch with issues who is sleeping with a guy she hates half the time. And that’s not my opinion, that’s almost a direct Faye-quote.)

    So, uhm (don’t stone me) maybe give QC a little leeway?

  2. 2
    shaina says:

    i am an avid QC fan, and did have a little bit of an “oh no you di’int” moment towards jeph jacques today…but like Rainbow Tea said, it completely fits with the characters. although…if i ever meet him (which is likely, since i did see him in Northampton the other day and next time i SWEAR i’ll say hi) i might poke him about it :-)

  3. 3
    Briana says:

    Also, the author says in his blog feed at the side of the page “yeah, this is real, my wife reads it and it’s HILARIOUS.” so she might hit him for it, and if she doesn’t, she probably agrees with him.

  4. 4
    Elizabeth says:

    I just read that earlier (and was preparing my own little blog post) because nothing makes me grit my teeth more than “girl-porn”) but was prepared to give him some leeway because, well, it is Sandra Hill and I’ve read one Sandra Hill that was very nearly a wall banger for me and completely turned me off the rest of her books for life. So while I disagree with “girl-porn” I do not disagree with “shitty romance novel” if the time traveling Viking series is anything like her treasure hunters series.

  5. 5
    Leah says:

    But just think about it…what better cover for a time-traveling Viking than Navy SEAL?  There are real possibilities here!

     

    spam word:  history 92—-how does this thing KNOW?!?

  6. 6
    SB Sarah says:

    Elizabeth: I had a ball reading Hill’s Very Virile Viking because, well, if you can suspend disbelief about the whole time traveling Viking thing, it’s campy, oddly tender fun. Especially because the Very Virile Viking travels through time with a posse of kids, and the kids are a hoot.

  7. 7
    Lori says:

    I like to put a positive spin on this sort of thing as much as the next romance fan, but to me the girl reading doesn’t look like she’s totally into the book.  More like she’s checking it out to prove that her friend is telling the truth about the plot.  And I honestly can’t blame her—time traveling Viking who becomes a SEAL is fairly unbelievable.  Unfortunately, in my experience reading the book isn’t likely to help.  I read the first in the series and I was just as astonished when I finished it as I was when I started.

  8. 8
    Tina C. says:

    Sarah said:

    I had a ball reading Hill’s Very Virile Viking because, well, if you can suspend disbelief about the whole time traveling Viking thing, it’s campy, oddly tender fun. Especially because the Very Virile Viking travels through time with a posse of kids, and the kids are a hoot.

    I haven’t been able to read too many of this series because I can’t suspend disbelief enough to get into them.  I did like this one, though.  The viking in question was constantly complaining about his many, many, many children and how he can’t even look at a woman without her adding to the brood, but then it comes out in the end that the vast majority of the kids aren’t even his—he’s just a known soft-touch for kids, in spite of all the bluster and grumbling, and the women around him (prior to him traveling forward through time, that is) keep dumping their unwanted children on him.  Didn’t he have 10 or 12 of them when he hit modern-day Texas (or California—can’t remember which), mysteriously able to speak to speak modern, American English?

  9. 9
    Ayla says:

    Actually, the book is Wet and Wild. He goes overboard in the 10th century and comes to in modern times where everyone thinks he’s Max, a SEAL trainee.

    I think these books are actually great, and i’m very upset that QC has decided to malign the entire genre as well as Mz. Hills books.

  10. 10
    Sana-chan says:

    Personally I thought it was freaking hilarious, girl-porn and shitty romance novel and all. I mean, to me it seemed like Penny was leaving room for the existence of good romance novels, not defaming the entire genre. And I am actually tempted to read one of these books now because of the comic, and before I wouldn’t have touched one with a ten foot pole and a Hazmat suit. Of course, I also have to admit that the girl-porn title doesn’t bother me, possibly because I’ve seen porn with better story lines and more engaging characters than some romance novels I’ve read.

  11. 11
    Suze says:

    I find most time travel stories too ridiculous for words, but I have to say that I have yet to read a Sandra Hill that didn’t leave me laughing.  Silly, goofy, completely ridiculous, and highly enjoyable.

  12. 12
    Mollyscribbles says:

    Given the open sexual commentary of the strip, I don’t think ‘Girl porn’ can be considered an actual insult, at least from these characters.  And there’s another character who makes a living by writing romances—the most cliche-ridden, snarkworthy books to ever grace a grocery store shelf—and he does it deliberately and has a fan base who recognizes this.

  13. 13
    EmmyS says:

    There are several time-traveling viking/SEAL books in this series – most of the Viking Series 2 books revolve around the SEALs.

  14. 14
    EmmyS says:

    Oh, and I happen to love them. Who cares if they’re not believable? I don’t read humorous romance because it’s so true-to-life, I read it because it’s funny and makes me happy.

  15. 15
    DS says:

    Maybe jumping on each bit of disrespect for romance novels isn’t the best way to go.  I used to live in WV and we had a politician (A. James Manchin—nephew is now governor, A James is now deceased) who used to rear back and rave any time WV was the punch line on a hillbilly joke or just disrepected. It got old. 

    Sometimes I think it’s ok to just let it go.

    spamblocker:  showed68—guess I’m one digit short.

  16. 16
    Joanne says:

    Well I’ve been reading QC for years and years and I’m glad they referenced this book because googling ‘viking navy seal romance novel’ helped me to find this place. And I’ve been reading through the archive for over an hour now!

    I love trashy romance novels. I must get it from my mum, she used to love to embarrass me and my brothers by reading excerpts out loud on long car journeys (nothing explicit mind).

  17. 17
    JaneDrew says:

    I have to say, I don’t see the strip as slamming romance as a genre, or reading romance as a pastime. I mean, the character who is reading the book is perfectly cheerful and open about the book and its fabulous entertainment value, and the other character is the one who ends up checking out the book.

    I actually think it’s great that they are recognizing that sometimes, “hilarious girl-porn” with time-traveling Vikings who become Navy SEALS is exactly the sort of literature one is in the mood for.

    JD

    ps- Now for some reason I’m picturing stealth attack submarines with dragon prows. Don’t ask me why.

  18. 18
    kalafudra says:

    If you look closely, the title of the comic is: “I Love You, Sandra Hill”. Therefore, I’m more with Jane Drew:

    I actually think it’s great that they are recognizing that sometimes, “hilarious girl-porn” with time-traveling Vikings who become Navy SEALS is exactly the sort of literature one is in the mood for.

  19. 19
    Tae says:

    I love questionable content and even order shirts from them
    I also would not malign them so much because I do believe the “shitty romance novel” is meant to be that this particular novel isn’t so hot, but many of them are and could be.

    I have not read Sandra Hill, but seriously “time traveling viking becomes Navy seal?” sounds so ludicrous that I wouldn’t want to read it.

  20. 20
    willaful says:

    I have to say, I don’t see the strip as slamming romance as a genre, or reading romance as a pastime. I mean, the character who is reading the book is perfectly cheerful and open about the book and its fabulous entertainment value, and the other character is the one who ends up checking out the book.

    Yeah, it reminds me of telling my husband about the charming awfulness of the Harlequin Presents I read. Not that they are all awful—there are some excellent ones—but a lot of them have major camp value.

  21. 21
    willaful says:

    And in fact, to follow up my own post, that is something the Smart Bitches do all the time, too.

  22. 22
    Sarah says:

    I was wondering if that comic would make its way to the Bitchery. The content made me think about the debates here about attitudes towards romance and the line between romance and pornography. I have to say that, while I do object to people who can’t draw a line between romance novels and pornography as genres, the term “girl-porn” used in this way doesn’t bother me. Because, lets be honest, one of the nice things about a good sexy romance novel is that it can turn you on, both mentally and physically. In that sense, a good romance novel is “girl-porn” because it contains characters and a storyline that get you excited. Would that same storyline turn a man on? Maybe, but in my experience (based on husband and friends) the answer has been “no”. And also, the term fits well with Faye’s defensive character in the comic and her probable reaction to discovering that quiet, bookish Penny likes sexy novels.

  23. 23
    Jessa Slade says:

    Pull my finger.

    That needed a put-down-your-beverage warning.

    Captcha went71, the mph at which the tea exited my nostrils.

  24. 24
    Jennifer says:

    I can’t judge, because I would totally do what Penelope is doing. When I was stuck in Bumfuck, Montana, bored off my ass and with nothing to do but read incredibly bad Harlequins, that’s what I did. Sometimes one reads for the lulz. I don’t know if the authors WROTE for the lulz, but sometimes I just read them for the bad plots, which I then memorized and blabbed about to others to share the horror.

  25. 25
    Gram says:

    When you know that the writer of this blog is 28 and by the name might just be male…you take it from whence it comes…:)

  26. 26
    Willa says:

    I don’t mind the term “girl-porn,” but I really LOVE the term “emotional porn.” It describes perfectly the stories that are completely over the top emotionally, with a lot of brooding looks, passionate protestations of love, overwhelming devotion and heartbreak, emotional torment, the whole enchilada. LOVE IT.

    Sometimes I’m just really in the mood for emotional porn, where it’s the emotions that are the hit and the payoff, and not the sex—such as, where the heroine running away from the hero because She’s No Good For Him and sending him into an emotional tailspin while she herself suffers horribly yet nobly is the money shot, as it were. Fantastic!

  27. 27
    RfP says:

    Ah, come on. Surely “girl-porn” falls in the same category as “crack”.  Both terms now mean “something irresistible”.  JR Ward is crack (with an H), cute animal videos are kitty porn, etc.

  28. 28
    Wryhag says:

    Didn’t Hill also do (well, not literally) an ex-Amish Navy SEAL, or ex-SEAL turned Amish Viking, or time-traveling shifting Amish walrus turned SEAL . . . or something?

    My attitude toward SEALs is simple: Give me the man-titty; throw out the books.  (Sorry, but I’d rather read about virgin widows with secret pirate babies.)

  29. 29
    Deb Kinnard says:

    The part that made it totally worthwhile for me was the “Are you really a time traveling Viking pretending to be a Navy SEAL? – Don’t ask, don’t tell” bit.  Hilarious!

    Now watch the Dept. of the Navy add this to their list of wacko screenout questions…

  30. 30
    SonomaLass says:

    I love QC!!  What a great strip.  Getting snarked there is like the web comic equivalent of getting snarked on the Daily Show—humor is the point, and nothing gets treated respectfully there.  Totally different from when a serious (supposedly) piece of journalism dismisses a genre.

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