Pre-orders for the @releasefanzine are closing on Friday, so here’s the full reveal of my piece in it!
Cardcaptor Sakura was the first manga I ever read and it’s always been a huge inspiration for me. I’ve often repeated her invincible spell of “I’m sure I’ll be all right” to get me through tough times. I wanted to capture the spirit of Sakura’s persevering hope and optimism in one of my favorite scenes (and costumes) where she captures Light and Dark. It’s an important scene to me, and one that foreshadows the final conflict against Eriol that always captivated me.
Both are powerful scenes that show that even when the world is falling around you, you will find a way to keep moving forward with a determined smile and the self-confidence you didn’t know you had.
If you’re interested in pre-ordering the Release Fanzine that contains this piece as well as many others by other incredibly talented artists, you can do so here.
So at the beginning, Merlin was facing off with the current Dark One of the time. He says, “You destroyed her, the only woman I ever loved.” And he looked sufficiently heartbroken about it as expected.
But wait. He gets determined, saying, “I will destroy you” and raises the dagger to kill the Dark One. He looks angry almost, maybe even disgusted with what the Dark One has taken from him.
THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN HE FREEZES AND MAKES THIS FACE.
It is a complete shift from his determination. It’s almost like realization.
And the only thing happening is the Dark One staring back silently at him, and we don’t see the Dark One’s face at this moment of whatever he is realizing.
So immediately after making this face and pausing in his quest to destroy the Dark One right in front of him, Merlin says something that I’m fairly certain was “My god!” or something along those lines that further shows he is realizing something like maybe he is realizing his actions aren’t right. Then he collapses and drops the dagger!
If he is holding the dagger, we know he has complete control, so the Dark One did nothing to make him drop it. However, when he does, the Dark One immediately grabs it and holds it up to his neck as though to kill him.
Merlin’s life is literally in TOTAL DANGER against the darkest magic ever. He isn’t fighting despite being an even more powerful sorcerer. He doesn’t even look scared. He instead looks COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DEVASTATED and says, “I miss her.” He is in what could very well be his final moments and he is choosing to lament his lost love instead of trying to survive.
Then, of course, the Dark One uses that heartbreak to collect this tear.
Why does this matter, you ask? Because what if the original Dark One IS THE LOVE THAT MERLIN LOST? What if his love was taken by the darkness, and SHE BECAME THE FIRST DARK ONE? She became this darkness as a result of something he did– maybe even her trying to save him– and in that moment he realized that he had completely lost her to the darkness. He had his realization in that moment that he couldn’t destroy her because he made her that way and still loves her, so he can’t see her as this totally even entity, even though she’s gone. He is crying a tear of his greatest heartbreak and giving up on fighting because he lost her to the darkness, he is telling her he misses her, and he knows there’s nothing that will bring her back.
Now Emma is the Dark One (also turning people into trees, just saying). Now Emma needed a tear of heartbreak and her first thought was Regina. Regina, who she became the Dark One to save. Regina, who has powerful magic like Merlin, who was trusted with her dagger like Merlin, and who would probably end up on her dying breath still unable to destroy Emma because she still sees Emma and not just the darkness.
When I first met Mr. Gates and he asked me my name
I feared the man I was about to create. I feared that someone born of such dark things would consume me were I not careful. And I was determined only to wear him for a while and then dispose of him when his purpose was complete. And I thought of that story. Am I ready to let him go?
If I had to pick one moment to show why I love Neal Cassidy, this would be a very strong contender. The last time we saw Rumplestilskin with his son, we had little Baelfire so determined that he could find a way to fix things. He had so much faith that his papa could come back to him– that he'd want to get rid of his dark magic for him, that he’d be enough to pull him out of it. So we see Neal, and he’s older with hundreds of years of anger and resentment and hurt on him, but we get a little glimpse of that 14 year old. He’s pretty sure there’s no way his father could fix this, but there’s a tiny part of him that’s saying okay, fine, try me. Because what if there's something? What if he was right all of those years ago, and it was possible for his papa to change for him? Maybe, just maybe it could be okay.
And then Rumple’s solution is, of course, magic. Just like it was before. And his face just DROPS. He knew it was going there, he shouldn’t have been surprised, and he’s not, really– but this teeny little part of him is disappointed. He lets himself drop his head and be disappointed for just barely a moment– because he knew better than to get his hopes up for real this time.
That’s so much of why I love this character: he’s so very much rooted in that 14 year old boy who believed in his father, that so very much colors what he does and all of his choices, but he’s grown up. He’s lived through a lot of disappointment and heartache, and he’s understandable fucked up by it– this is Baelfire jaded. But he’s got that shred of hope, that optimism– but it’s tempered with 200 years of character development and it’s just infinitely sad and interesting to me.
Everyone is spending a lot of time making theories etc, about the Skywalker family, saying that maybe, Kylo Ren & Rey are siblings, the Solo´s twins? But..if they are a new vesion of Dark Vader and Padme Amidala.
I ship Reylo, their scenes were impressives together.
He likes her strenght, her determination, her beauty that´s for sure. i just hope we could have another epic impossible love coming, would be amazing see the tormented Kylo trying to stay in the dark side, while the love pull him until the light again….would be almost the opposite side of Anakin falling in the dark side, though Padme…i wait by Reylo.
Killian may truly love Emma no matter what but he also will not stand idly by and watch the woman he loves fall deep into the darkness she helped him to overcome not long ago. The passion between them is palpable and it would have been easy to simply succumb to her temptations. But true love is never easy. It must be fought for. And as he tells a Belle who sweetly commiserates over their failed attempts at true love’s kiss, he spent over a century trying to destroy the Dark One, he can spent at least that long trying to save the woman he loves. One of things I loved most about all of these scenes was the authenticity and rawness of the feelings expressed, especially on Killian’s part. In any love story it is natural to enjoy the happy, romantic moments. But what gives the story its depth and brevity are the moments of sorrow and intensity. Killian’s emotions range from hope and love, to heartbreak and shock, and anger and determination. That is what real love entails. It is not an everlasting state of perfect bliss. True love is passion and joy, kisses and fights, smiles and tears. You may struggle along the way but no matter what it is always worth it. This recognition of what love truly is and can overcome is what I believe Emma’s battle will be with. The Darkness she has embraced always fights against that pull towards the light and love in all its forms that this light embodies. When we see the true Emma shine through as she watches her loved ones from afar, feeling the same isolation and loneliness she felt at the beginning of the series, the price of power becomes crystal clear.
Watched Star Wars Rebels recently and fell in love with the characters. I had to contribute something to this fandom before I went crazy. My favorite moments are when Ezra experiences surges in his Jedi powers. This is the scene from the episode “Gathering Forces” where Ezra accidentally uses the Dark Side to summon an enormous beast to attack the Inquisitor and protect Kanan.
This piece is possibly part of a larger series in which I’ll try to capture the darkest, most determined moments of some beloved characters. For now, enjoy!
Painted in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Star Wars Rebels is property of Disney, Lucas Films, and all those other guys.
What books do you recommend to an aspiring artist?
it totally depends on what you’re looking for or what field you take interest in but i tend to think anyone in creative pursuit can benefit from the diaries of paul klee. it’s sharply written- his prose makes even his daily minutia and transcriptions of technique an endearing read. but what’s notable and powerful is how incredibly doubtful, self critical, and loathing he was of his work and ability. and paul klee is a total legend, like an undisputed master of his craft and hugely influential within his respective scene / time. but his diaries are littered with quips like “i am still incapable of painting, in spite of my sharp observation of tonal values and in spite of my clever way of determining the proper gradations of light and dark.”
the diaries provide great insight into a creative process that’s universal in a manor i wasn’t fully cognizant of prior to reading- it got me to accept hindering self doubt as an intrinsic part of that process. which, in turn, made my huge preponderance of doubt and instinctual self criticism hold a lot less credence
yeah that’s definately an important book to me, i think it’s worthwhile
A lot of people think Joe has returned to “old Joe.”
Above we see the final scene of the second season of Halt and Catch Fire. For a moment you see the “old” Joe, Joe’s dark will to power, but then Joe’s features gentle–become heartbreaking for a split second–before settling into a quiet determination.
There’s something in Joe that wasn’t there before. This is brilliant and subtle acting by Lee Pace; in a few seconds he’s moved Joe through the “old" to the new Joe.
Compare the Joe we saw in Season One Episode One.
Can you spot the difference?
So so what is this new thing in Joe that wasn’t there before? Let’s get out our magnifying glass and take a closer look.
There’s a lot of symbolism going on at Stokes Capital. If you don’t remember Stokes Capital is where both Cameron and Joe went to get money for their ventures.
Both Joe and Cameron stand before these two paintings which present a choice. A wild red spiral to the left; a more sedate spiral + torus(symbol of infinity) in blue to the right.
A choice between Hell and Heaven perhaps? Incidentally Joe seems a lot more aware in this moment than Cameron.
This winding staircase? It’s visual reference to Jacob’s ladder, the ladder between the Earth and Heaven. (I don’t think the use of the name Jacob for the CEO of Westgroup was an accident.)
Finally Stokes Capital logo is an abstraction off of the Celtic Shield knot. This symbol represents a number of things. The four corners of the Earth. The four elements. It also represents the four creator gods in Mesopotamian mythology(of which Joe and Gordon represent Enlil and Enki respectively but that’s a story for another time.)
All this symbolism? Suggests Stokes Capital is the crossroads or the the gate between Heaven and Hell.
And this? This is Mr. Douchey McDoucherson. His role in the series is to be a dick to everyone who wants to get money from him. But that’s because he’s the Guardian of the gate between Heaven and Earth and his job is force anyone who wants on the stairway to Heaven(self knowledge) to face their fears and self doubt. (McDoucherson is joined by two representatives of the Mesopotamian council of the Gods. Enlil has certainly been very bad to Ninlil. Or maybe Ninlil has rushed to judgement. Who knows?)
As Mr. Douchey McDoucherson says: “I like to get to know the people I do business with.”
Sara echoed the Guardian’s role earlier.
In order to escape Limbo, the first step is to recognize it’s not Heaven. Joe was in Limbo until Cameron in her more positive manifestation as Kali the Goddess rather than Kali the demon shattered the illusion and made him realize he was still on the edge of Hell.
If Limbo is not knowing where you are, then maybe hell is not knowing who you are, allowing your unacknowledged shadow side to control you–either running from it, or running to it.
Heaven is knowing who you are, knowing all your names, including the name of your shadow.
To get past the Guardian of the Gate, you have to face your shadow self and acknowledge, integrate it, name it.
For Donna, the Guardian at the Gate showed her the fear that she would have to abandon her children to get through the Gate.
For Cameron, a woman who took on a man’s name, the Guardian made it seem like she would have to BE a man to get through the Gate.
And when Joe came to the Guardian, the Guardian presented him with his greatest fear. Being seen a psychopath. Or being one.
(McDoucherson: I’ve never seen a real life psychopath before! har har har!)
This is a fear that seems very particular to men, the fear of being seen as a monster; as some dreaded thing lurking on the outside of human warmth.
After the Guardian has thrown his shadow self in his face, a mortally wounded Joe starts to make himself ready for death. This is another element of the mono myth; facing death in the second act. In Joe’s case, he’s going to suicide.
He’s already been practicing!
And now he’s going to settle his affairs by making sure his effects are in order.
Joe is giving Gordon the PROM chip from the computer they reverse engineered together years ago. Joe kept it as a memento of his and Gordon’s partnership and the time they had together. He says it “always kept him going.”
Giving it away is a clear sign Joe has no intention of going on.
Fortunately for Joe, Gordon realizes something is wrong and comes to his rescue.
After telling Joe that he’s a good man, although Joe makes it very hard to see that–and adding that somehow Sara made it possible for Gordon to see Joe’s goodness–Gordon gives him the antidote to the Sonaris virus Gordon himself created and Joe allegedly unleashed on Westgroup: The Tabula rasa.
The blank slate that lifts a soul out of Purgatory.
Before leaving Gordon tells Joe to try and make it right with Sara.
Here we see Joe looking between his wedding ring and the Tabula rasa program. Notice the visual similarity between the ring on Joe’s finger and the centre ring of the floppy disk. There’s no real need to open the floppy, unless you specifically want to see that centre ring.
When Sara put the golden ring on Joe’s finger, it became a symbol of someone seeing Joe as human and not a monster.
After Joe gives Gordon the PROM(cute pun on the classic courting ritual, taking someone to the prom), Gordon also gives Joe a ring. And also another symbol of someone seeing him as human.
In this moment the Tabla Rasa given to Joe by Gordon is tied with the golden band* given to Joe by Sara. They are symbolically linked and both are now represented by the ring on Joe’s finger.
Sara repeated over and over again to Joe that he needed to move to California and create his own business. The ring and Sara’s final bit of wisdom are all he has left of her.
So when Gordon says “make it right with Sara.” Joe really has only one option.
Joe goes back to the VC(notice he’s still wearing the ring in this scene?) and instead of trying to sell him on a mapping program, he uses his newly fearsome reputation to scare the crap out of Mr. McDoucherson and sell him security instead.
Scary people make good bouncers!
Because Joe has realized that he doesn’t live and die by other’s opinions of him, he can finally pass the Guardian of the Gate’s challenge–If Mr. McDoucherson wants a psychopath, then give Mr. McDoucherson what he wants!
It doesn’t change who Joe is to play the part that people expect.
In the first season Joe acts like a man being dragged around by his dark side and suffering guilt and regret in the process. In the second season Joe is trying to suppress his dark side, which makes him, well, totally ineffective.
To become Sara’s equal, Joe had to realize that he does not need her to believe in him. She cannot do for him what he needs to do for himself: face his dark side, integrate it and make it work for him instead of against. In that sense she had to abandon him to force him forward.
So the “something else” you see in Joe now? It’s self-knowledge; people’s opinions don’t change who he is. Not even Sara’s.
Watch how he touches where his ring once was? The ring that symbolized his bond with both Sara and Gordon?
Joe will build his company and he’ll continue to love both Gordon and Sara even if they don’t love him back. It’s not about being loved but loving. And because he loves, he’s no monster. QED.
“Old” Joe has a name. His name is Joe.
Or possibly Charles.
 Just like the Guardian targeted Donna and Cameron with fears particular to women.
[ 2] I describe the association between Sara and yellow/gold here .
 Interestingly the original idea Joe tries to pitch–badly–was a souped up version of Gordon’s original idea for Sonaris: mapping the internet. Or IPs rather.
 If this scene merely had Joe opening his palm outward to reveal his lack of a ring, I might agree with people who think he’s turned full bastard. But it doesn’t. He’s still touching the place where the ring was. Sara and Gordon are in his heart but he doesn’t need to show to himself or the outside world that he’s loved anymore(or answer inevitable questions about his “wife”.)
 Sorry Sara haters! Even if she’s never coming back, she was still right. He needed to make his own company. And now she has a permanent place in Joe’s heart as the person who made Gordon see him as human.
Amber Rose would lie drowsing in the sun, an arm thrown across her face. He studied her body almost covertly, the symmetry of her nipples, the dark, enigmatic juncture of her thighs. Parting the kinked black hair with his fingers he leaned and kissed her there, she stirred drowsily against his face. Faint taste of salt, of distant seas. Some other taste, something elemental, primal, shorn of custom. His tongue delineated the complexities of her sex, he raised his face to study the enigma he found there.
The latest chapter of Fairy Tail Zero came out today, so of course now it is time for me to discuss it a little. The main thing I’m focusing on is this reoccurring effect put on Mavis’ eyes
Notice that it isn’t present here, when she’s still “happy” as a child
But then after witnessing the destruction of the last stable environment she’d ever known, her eyes change to this
And then later in chapter two after meeting Yuri, they have the weird dark look to them
Now we see this in a scene where she is determined to win in order to protect her home, so I’d usually just pass it off as that alone, but then we see this image later after her game with Yuri is over.
In this scene she should be determined yes, but her entire demeanor doesn’t fit with how her eyes have been depicted like this in the previous scenes, and to be honest they’re a bit startling when paired with that facial expression. This makes me think that, while Yuri has seen Zeira and therefore she isn’t a figment of Mavis’ imagination, maybe Mavis isn’t completely sane anymore. I mean, the way she acted in her childhood circumstances is just crazy by itself, but that could be intensified several times over after her home being destroyed. So in conclusion, maybe the cute little Mavis isn’t completely there mentally, despite her supposed genius intelligence.
Other theories I have are Zeira actually being dead and Zeref taking on her form, then corrupting Mavis secretly and gradually, but I’m gonna hold off on that.