I’ve often felt that Transformation webcomics (and gender transformation comics in particular) often fail to live up to their potential. Far too often the gender transformation is used as an instrument combining humor with fanservice. Some, such as El Goonish Shive, uses the Transformations as a cheap means of titillating readers and indulging in the cartoonist’s whims. Others, such as The Wotch will inflict gender swaps on characters for giggles (though writer Anne Onymous has included a more serious storyline concerning an unwilling guy-to-girl transformation that touches upon the psychological horror I feel is inherent in the genre). But outside of a few rare exceptions (like the German comic She !s Me!), most Transformation comics squander the opportunities inherent in the genre.
On the surface, this would appear to be the case in Murry and Lewy Comics, which has the titular characters transformed into women after Murry drags his friend into a strip club to cope with his girlfriend dumping him. Naturally, as per the rules of comedic tropes, Lewy is freaked out seriously when he learns he gained a B-cup and lost a manhood, while Murry is completely unphased at the gender swap. To be honest, MaLC reminded of another older comic (that finally ended after the author grew tired of the revolving door of web artists), Abstract Gender, which likewise had a carefree character who didn’t mind being a girl (though he could switch back), and a straight man (or woman) who wanted nothing more than to become male once more.
Thus I was pleasantly surprised when this storyline came up, in which a lady who realized Murry and Lewy had been gender-swapped talked to Lewy privately to let her know that she’s not alone. There’s a number of guys who’ve apparently been gender-swapped in the past… and what’s more, not all of them can cope. Watching the saleswoman talk to Lewy and tell her that she doesn’t want to attend her funeral like she’s done for other transformees… that struck home. This touches upon the horror inherent in the genre, of waking up in a strange body, of being trapped as something you’re not.
Of course, given that MaLC is predominantly a humor comic (with plenty of fanservice by Murry, who enjoys flaunting her new assets), we don’t get to see the level of psychological horror found in She !s Me. But for all the mindless frivolity of Murry, Lewy’s story is the one that drives the comic. She retreats from life at first, losing her job (and not even calling in sick) because who’d believe her? She also freaks when the above-mentioned saleswoman initially comments on Murry being a transformee… but initially didn’t realize Lewy was. And she’s the one seeking a means to get turned back to a guy again, while Murry enjoys her newfound femininity (and doesn’t even bother trying to conceal what happened to those who know him/her).
There is also the question as to why Murry and Lewy were transformed. It seems clear this is deliberate, and that something is targeting men deliberately. But I highly doubt it is anything benevolent, seeing that other men who’d been gender-swapped have killed themselves when they can’t cope (especially as Nagas do not have the best of reputations in mythology). Unfortunately, given the comic updates weekly (and intermittently at that), it’s probably going to be a while before we learn the particulars behind these transformations. Hopefully in the meantime, cartoonists Thomas F. Revor, Jr. and Darin Brown will explore more of the psychological aspects that are so often unutilized in Transformation comics… for both Lewy and Murry.