My friend told me a story he hadn’t told anyone for years. When he used to tell it years ago people would laugh and say, ‘Who’d believe that? How can that be true? That’s daft.’ So he didn’t tell it again for ages. But for some reason, last night, he knew it would be just the kind of story I would love.
When he was a kid, he said, they didn’t use the word autism, they just said ‘shy’, or ‘isn’t very good at being around strangers or lots of people.’ But that’s what he was, and is, and he doesn’t mind telling anyone. It’s just a matter of fact with him, and sometimes it makes him sound a little and act different, but that’s okay.
Anyway, when he was a kid it was the middle of the 1980s and they were still saying ‘shy’ or ‘withdrawn’ rather than ‘autistic’. He went to London with his mother to see a special screening of a new film he really loved. He must have won a competition or something, I think. Some of the details he can’t quite remember, but he thinks it must have been London they went to, and the film…! Well, the film is one of my all-time favourites, too. It’s a dark, mysterious fantasy movie. Every single frame is crammed with puppets and goblins. There are silly songs and a goblin king who wears clingy silver tights and who kidnaps a baby and this is what kickstarts the whole adventure.
It was ‘Labyrinth’, of course, and the star was David Bowie, and he was there to meet the children who had come to see this special screening.
‘I met David Bowie once,’ was the thing that my friend said, that caught my attention.
‘You did? When was this?’ I was amazed, and surprised, too, at the casual way he brought this revelation out. Almost anyone else I know would have told the tale a million times already.
He seemed surprised I would want to know, and he told me the whole thing, all out of order, and I eked the details out of him.
He told the story as if it was he’d been on an adventure back then, and he wasn’t quite allowed to tell the story. Like there was a pact, or a magic spell surrounding it. As if something profound and peculiar would occur if he broke the confidence.
It was thirty years ago and all us kids who’d loved Labyrinth then, and who still love it now, are all middle-aged. Saddest of all, the Goblin King is dead. Does the magic still exist?
I asked him what happened on his adventure.
‘I was withdrawn, more withdrawn than the other kids. We all got a signed poster. Because I was so shy, they put me in a separate room, to one side, and so I got to meet him alone. He’d heard I was shy and it was his idea. He spent thirty minutes with me.
‘He gave me this mask. This one. Look.
‘He said: ‘This is an invisible mask, you see?
‘He took it off his own face and looked around like he was scared and uncomfortable all of a sudden. He passed me his invisible mask. ‘Put it on,’ he told me. ‘It’s magic.’
‘And so I did.
‘Then he told me, ‘I always feel afraid, just the same as you. But I wear this mask every single day. And it doesn’t take the fear away, but it makes it feel a bit better. I feel brave enough then to face the whole world and all the people. And now you will, too.
‘I sat there in his magic mask, looking through the eyes at David Bowie and it was true, I did feel better.
‘Then I watched as he made another magic mask. He spun it out of thin air, out of nothing at all. He finished it and smiled and then he put it on. And he looked so relieved and pleased. He smiled at me.
‘'Now we’ve both got invisible masks. We can both see through them perfectly well and no one would know we’re even wearing them,’ he said.
‘So, I felt incredibly comfortable. It was the first time I felt safe in my whole life.
‘It was magic. He was a wizard. He was a goblin king, grinning at me.
‘I still keep the mask, of course. This is it, now. Look.’
I kept asking my friend questions, amazed by his story. I loved it and wanted all the details. How many other kids? Did they have puppets from the film there, as well? What was David Bowie wearing? I imagined him in his lilac suit from Live Aid. Or maybe he was dressed as the Goblin King in lacy ruffles and cobwebs and glitter.
What was the last thing he said to you, when you had to say goodbye?
‘David Bowie said, ‘I’m always afraid as well. But this is how you can feel brave in the world.’ And then it was over. I’ve never forgotten it. And years later I cried when I heard he had passed.’
My friend was surprised I was delighted by this tale.
‘The normal reaction is: that’s just a stupid story. Fancy believing in an invisible mask.’
*I wrote this with the sun and mars signs in mind*
Aries: It was a cool summer night. “You’re crazy.” I said as you pulled me towards an abandoned building. “Don’t be scared, I just wanna check it out.” We wandered through the decaying concrete, graffiti on every wall possible. I was so scared but I was trying hard not to lose my cool. After all you were absolutely loving this. There was a loud creak and I jumped, grabbing your arm. “Babe calm down, look at me.” You said soothingly, rubbing my shoulders. We made out there in the middle of the building; in the middle of the night. Your kisses enthralling, and for a moment I forgot about everything else. The creak came again but louder, “Okay, fuck this.” You laughed, grabbing my hand and we ran as fast as we could out of there and into the summer air.
Taurus: It was pitch black, our kisses growing more urgent as you fumbled around trying to undo my buttons. “I can’t see anything.” you chuckled. I sparked my lighter and you looked around for a candle, finding one and lighting it with my flame; never taking your eyes off me. You undid my pants quickly with a smirk on your face and threw them dramatically across the room. Your lips finding mine again, making up for the loss of contact. “You are so fucking hot” you whispered, running your hands down my body, a trace of goosebumps forming on my skin. You pushed in slowly, moaning as you felt my heat. You buried your face in my hair I lost all focus. I just held on for dear life as the candlelight flickered erratically on the ceiling.
Gemini: Your bedroom was covered with so many posters I couldn’t see what colour it was painted. You had not one, but two lava lamps, one purple and one orange. We were laying on your floor, listening to Frank Ocean on vinyl, “Sometimes I think about faking my own death, and leaving the parts I don’t like about myself behind.” you said somberly, drawing lazy circles on my stomach with your finger. “Where would you go?” I asked. You propped your head up, your adorable face flushed purple in the light from the lamp. “Anywhere but here,” you said pulling me even closer, “only as long as I could take you with me though.” I ran my finger across your bottom lip and you bit it, we giggled quietly, then sighed. You kissed me so deeply, like an ocean tide that ebbs and flows. We made love, slow love right there on your bedroom floor. Every now and then, when things are quiet, parts of that night come back in flashes when I close my eyes.
Cancer: Snow had been coming down like crazy all day and everybody was staying inside. We had made the heroic journey to the store to get the bare necessities. Popcorn, paprika Pringles and those fruity toffees. Now we were cuddled in an abundance of duvets and pillows watching Spirited Away. “Are you cold?” you asked softly. “No I’m actually really warm.” I said adjusting the pillows behind me. Your eyes shot around the room, you bit your lip as your gaze landed on me. “What?” I asked when I noticed you staring. You grinned, “I’m kinda cold.” I couldn’t help but laugh as I lifted my blanket and pulled you into my cocoon. Your hand slipped under my shirt as you got comfortable. “Oh my god, your hand is freezing.” I shrieked. “Warm me up then.” you teased as you kissed me gently.
Leo: “You are such a goddamn hypocrite, why are you being so possessive?” I yelled at you. “Because I fucking love you!” you screamed even louder. My eyes shot wide as the words left your mouth. I felt like I was about to faint. Like everything I’d known for the past two months had been wrong. I put my hand on my forehead and slowly sat down on the sofa. “Since when?” I asked warily. You sat down next to me, leaving a little space between us, not wanting to scare me away. “Since the day I met you.” you said more gently. I shook my head in confusion. All these months I’d been crushing on you, telling myself I was a fool for thinking you could ever feel the same. “Look, I should go.” you said standing up, I grabbed your arm quickly and pulled you to me. I kissed you with my eyes open, I didn’t believe it but my eyes couldn’t lie. You picked me up and put me in your lap. “We can’t do this.” I whispered into your neck. You grabbed me even tighter, not ready to let me go. “Tell me to stop,” you breathed kissing down my collarbone, your finger toying with the band of my panties, “just tell me to stop.” Your eyes searched mine for an answer. Your finger inching further, grazing down the lace in front. I moaned into your mouth, giving you the answer you needed. The one we both needed.
Virgo: My phone buzzed next to my laptop. It was almost midnight and my chemistry notes were making less sense than ever. “Hi baby.” I half sighed as I answered. “Where are you?” you asked. “On my bed, what’s up?” I could hear your breathing through the phone, “Nothing, just thinkin’ about you. ‘Bout us.” you said cheekily. I closed my eyes as that familiar lightness hit my stomach. “Oh really, what are we doing?” I teased. You half groaned on the other line, “Thinking about your skin, running my tongue up your spine, and swirling it around your-” Now I was the one who moaned. “Can you come pick me up?” I panted. You laughed, “Thought you’d never ask.”
Libra: It was my first birthday in the new city and I was feeling more homesick than ever. You knocked on my door and told me to get dressed while you poured two shots of tequila. You took me on an adventure, stumbling through a regal museum slightly tipsy. I was laughing at this modern piece, you asked why I didn’t get it, I said the shape was a bit funky. From behind you wrapped your arms around my waist, pressing yourself up against me, “I think it’s a quite stimulating.” you whispered with a sly grin, and my entire body shivered. Then you took me to dinner, your eyes staring into mine the whole time and I could hear my heart beating in my ears. It was like moving between worlds, reality changing from hour to hour. I don’t even remember what we talked about, only what I was feeling. We couldn’t even last until desert, our minds running away from us. As soon as I opened the door to my place your lips crashed onto mine, and for the first time that night I felt like I could breathe.
Scorpio: “Do you wanna wrestle?” I asked you with a wicked grin on my face. “I’m not gonna wrestle you.” You said not taking your eyes of the TV. I jumped on you and the Xbox controller went flying. “You asked for it.” You growled as you started fighting me back. I knew I had no chance, I just wanted to get you all fired up. Before I knew it I was on my back, hands pinned down above my head and your strong thighs straddling my torso. “Who’s the winner?” you demanded. “You’re the winner daddy.” I purred, reaching up and biting your lip. Your expression shifted, your eyes going from that watery blue to devilish dark in a split second, and I knew I was in for a ride.
Sagittarius: It was 3 a.m. I knew I had school in the morning but at this point I didn’t care. Cruising around the city in your parents BMW, the bass in the sound system making our blood vibrate. Like it hadn’t been already. We didn’t say anything, we couldn’t. We couldn’t afford to lose control. Then L$D by A$AP Rocky came on. My hands were shaking in my lap, your knuckles white from squeezing the steering wheel so hard. The engine purred as you drove faster, now with a purpose, pulling into the beach parking lot. The car came to an abrupt stop and I couldn’t take this any longer. You moved your seat back as I jumped over the console. You kissed me like you were drowning and I was air. All that tension finally snapping like firecrackers as the music pumped through our bodies. Your strong arms lifted me up and pushed my dress up my thighs, the windows fogging up. I could feel your biceps trembling under the palm of my hand, and thought how could something that felt so right be so wrong?
Capricorn: The whole day had had a weird, electrifying feel to it. Now I knew why. We were standing out there on the balcony, face to face in the middle of the crowd. “Kiss me.” you said nonchalantly. “You kiss me.” I incited. You took a long drag of the joint, gently pressing your lips to mine as you blew the smoke into my mouth. I just stared back at you, blowing the smoke out again calmly, your fingers still caressing the back of my neck. You almost smiled but stopped it midway by biting your lip. I grabbed your shirt and pulled you to me. I kissed you like it was the last time. You pulled back slightly to catch your breath, “Wanna get out of here?”
Aquarius: The night I first met you. I didn’t wanna go out but my friends convinced me. The bar was so packed but somehow I got to the front of the stage. There you were, and that cherry red guitar, in your own world. I remember I couldn’t take my eyes of your fingers when you played. I didn’t even notice you were looking at me until the song was over. You laughed and playfully tugged on your shirt. I didn’t get why but then I noticed we were both wearing the same Led Zeppelin shirt. When the show was over you found me so quickly I knew you had been watching me. “I feel like this was meant to be.” you said leaning up against the bar. I took you in, your knuckles had little cuts on them and your black jeans were splattered with green paint. “I’m not really in the mood to make friends tonight.” I said, taking a sip of my beer. You ran your hand teasingly through that dirty blonde DiCaprio hair, “How ‘bout we just stay strangers then?” I knew I’d already lost this fight. The next thing I remember is literally falling into your foyer, your lips on my neck as I moaned in your ear. You held me so tight, pulling my shirt up ever so slightly just to put your skin on mine. I pushed you down, taking my shirt all they way off while I straddled your hips, and you looked at me like I had just discovered fire. When it was all over you grabbed my face with both your hands, “What’s your name?” you breathed. I smirked as I put my clothes back on, “I thought we were gonna stay strangers.” I was halfway home when I realized that the shirt I was wearing wasn’t mine, it was yours.
Pisces: The record had finished all the way through. That needle scratch sound from the record player filled the silence in the room. I was in your arms, tangled in bedsheets and your sticky bodyparts. You grazing my back lightly with your fingers. “I need to pee.” I said trying untangle myself limb by limb. Your arms tightened around me, “No, you can’t go.” you pouted. I giggled and wiggled around in your embrace. “I have to pee, I’ll be quick.” You pressed your forehead against mine. “Promise?” you said softly. I pecked your lips three times. “I promise.”
I had this girlfriend once where things were getting pretty serious. We wanted to move in together, so we went looking for an apartment. The second one our real estate agent took us to was perfect, we both loved it, so we made the decision to move in. Our neighbour was a really nice guy named Joseph. His wife had left him a few years prior, leaving him alone to take care of his eight-year old son. I always felt kinda bad for the guy. He had this weird accent that was really hard to place.
‘Learning Russian has given me a whole new life’
Mary Hobson: It took me about two years [to read War and Peace]. I read it like a poem, a sentence at a time.
English writer and translator Mary Hobson decided to learn Russian at the age of 56, graduating in her sixties and completing a PhD aged 74. Now fluent in Russian, Hobson has translated “Eugene Onegin” and other poems by Pushkin, “Woe from Wit” by Griboyedov, and has won the Griboyedov Prize and Pushkin Medal for her work. RBTH visited Hobson at home in London to ask about her inspiring experience.
RBTH: Learning Russian is difficult at any age, and you were 56. How did the idea first come to your mind?
Mary Hobson: I was having a foot operation, and I had to stay in bed for two weeks in hospital. My daughter Emma brought me a big fat translation of War and Peace. “Mum, you’ll never get a better chance to read it”, she said.
I’d never read Russian literature before. I got absolutely hooked on it, I just got so absorbed! I read like a starving man eats. The paperback didn’t have maps of the battle of Borodino, I was making maps trying to understand what was happening. This was the best novel ever written. Tolstoy creates the whole world, and while you read it, you believe in it.
I woke up in the hospital three days after I finished reading and suddenly realized: “I haven’t read it at all. I’ve read a translation. I would have to learn Russian.”
RBTH: Did you read War and Peace in the original language eventually?
M.H.: Yes, it was the first thing I read in Russian. I bought a fat Russian dictionary and off I went. It took me about two years. I read it like a poem, a sentence at a time. I learned such a lot, I still remember where I first found some words. “Between,” for instance. About a third of the way down the page.
RBTH: Do you remember your first steps in learning Russian?
M.H.: I had a plan to study the Russian language in evening classes, but my Russian friend said: “Don’t do that, I’ll teach you.” We sat in the garden and she helped me to remember the Cyrillic script. I was 56 at this time, and I found it very tiring reading in Cyrillic. I couldn’t do it in the evening because I simply wouldn’t be able to sleep. And Russian grammar is fascinating.
RBTH: You became an undergraduate for the first time in your sixties. How did you feel about studying with young students?
M.H.: I need to explain first why I didn’t have any career before my fifties. My husband had a very serious illness, a cerebral abscess, and he became so disabled. I was just looking after him. And we had four children. After 28 years I could not do it any longer, I had break downs, depressions. I finally realized I would have to leave. Otherwise I would just go down with him. There was a life out there I hadn’t lived. It was time to go out and to live it.
I left him. I’ve been on my own for three years in a limbo of quilt and depression. Then I picked up a phone and rang the number my friend had long since given me, that of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University. “Do you accept mature students?” I asked. “Of sixty-two?” They did.
When the first day of term arrived, I was absolutely terrified. I went twice around Russel square before daring to go in. The only thing that persuaded me to do it was that I got offered the place and if I didn’t do it, the children would be so ashamed of me. My group mates looked a little bit surprised at first but then we were very quickly writing the same essays, reading the same stuff, having to do the same translations.
RBTH: You spent 10 months in Moscow as part of your course. How did you feel in Russia?
M.H.: I hardly dared open my mouth, because I thought I got it wrong. It lasted about a week like this, hardly daring to speak. Then I thought – I’m here only for 10 months. I shall die if I don’t communicate. I just have to risk it. Then I started bumbling stuff. I said things I didn’t at all mean. I just said anything. The most dangerous thing was to make jokes. People looked at me as I was mad.
I hate to say it, but in 1991 the Russian ruble absolutely collapsed and for the first and last time in my life I was a wealthy woman. I bought over 200 books in Russian, 10 “Complete Collected Works” of my favorite 19th-century authors. Then it was a problem how to get them home. Seventy-five of them were brought to London by a visiting group of schoolchildren. They took three books each.
RBTH: You’re celebrating your 90th birthday in July. What’s the secret of your longevity?
M.H.: If I had not gone to university, if I had given up and stopped learning Russian, I don’t think I’d have lived this long. It keeps your mind active, it keeps you physically active. It affects everything. Learning Russian has given me a whole new life. A whole circle of friends, a whole new way of living. For me it was the most enormous opening out to a new life.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was “There’s nothing wrong with you”.
It was a Monday morning and I was relaxing with friends in a hotel pool after playing Lollapalooza. A lady bobbed opposite me sipping a ginormous glass of rose, and we started chatting. She was a stylist and told me that, when her clients tried outfits on and looked at themselves in the mirror, she would tell them “There’s nothing wrong with you”. I asked her why and she said, “because we all think there’s something wrong with us ”. It was such an odd, simple notion, but I felt like a little flower had opened up inside of me. It hadn’t occurred to me that it could be a universal feeling. There was always something so wrong with ME, I hadn’t considered that other people might feel the same. The comment stuck with me like glue for the next year.
I lived most of my life feeling like there was something deeply wrong with me. Everything I did was somehow geared towards fixing the parts of myself I thought were bad or ‘broken’. There was also an odd safety in being broken. I could quietly blame it for anything that went wrong in my life: “It’s not my fault: I’m f**ed up and I am very sorry!”. For a while, I had counselling, and though it was extremely helpful, I started to feel uneasy at the idea of chatting about my problems, potentially for years, if I chose to. Like, really… When would I be fixed?
For me, life = Experiences + reactions to those experiences. The only power I have is choosing how I react to them. So, though I might have uncomfortable emotional reactions, I can choose to a) accept these emotions, instead of resisting them, and b) not interpret my thoughts as the Solid Gold Truth. Whatever your problems may be, (diagnosed or not), they don’t equate to you being broken. In my own life, it’s been unhelpful to think of mental health problems in this way, particularly when you’re struggling. You are who you are at this moment in time, and you’re doing your best. Brains are plastic. People can, and do, change.
If you follow my music, it probably won’t come as a big surprise to know that I’ve dealt with mental health issues for a long time. There have been 3 things that have helped me decrease periods of depression though. For anyone in the same position, I hope this helps.
This changed my mind + my life. I started doing meditation in 2013 after Electra Heart had ended. I was burnt out and desperate for change. I took no classes, read no books - just looked at a 5 minute explanation on the internet. I didn’t even do it every day. Just 20 minutes in the morning or evening. In the beginning, I felt a little dubious about the idea of “wasting 20 whole minutes” on meditation each day. But here’s the thing: Meditation is like a vacuum for your mind. It sucks up all the dust and rubbish thoughts. I can easily waste 20 minutes looking at something on the internet that I’ll never think about again, so I can invest 20 minutes in something that changes the quality of my life. This blog described Meditation as “one of the best responses to modern information overload”. I truly believe it can be an antidote to our digital lives.
I know, I know. When you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is go outside INTO THE REAL WORLD! But if you’re bottom-of-the-barrel depressed, you have nothing to lose. For years I loved to declare that I “didn’t have a body that could run” (in order to escape ever having to actually run). But when I start meditation, the negative thoughts about myself decreased and I started to want good things for myself. The motive of exercising was not to lose weight, so it had a different energy to it.
3. Identifying With Thoughts
The reality is, I still deal with depression, but my reaction to it is different. I am more aware of its mechanisms so I don’t take my thoughts as seriously. I try not to identify with a thought and interpret it as truth just because it came into my mind. Why? Because the way I think and respond to events is largely based on my past experiences, so how can I know that my thoughts are my own and not coloured by my past? This is why I don’t always trust my thoughts, particularly when they are of the negative variety. A book I hugely recommend on this is called “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time for people who struggle with similar issues. Our culture has taught us to see happiness as some kind of end goal, but for me, the best thing about it is that it doesn’t stick around forever. Human beings need to experience some level of suffering in order to evolve emotionally and consciously. And though depression often feels like you’re stuck, or stagnating, it can also be a healthy way of your mind telling you that something isn’t quite right, and that it’s in the process of changing. We tend to view sadness as something unnatural, or negative, but perhaps viewing it as a necessary process might help us accept the low periods, and move through them more easily.
Before writing my last album, I honestly thought that I had just been born unhappy and that depression was a permanent part of me. I don’t believe that anymore. When I was writing ‘FROOT’ I felt like I was kissing goodbye to a big chapter of my life. That portion of my youth was heart-splitting and lonely at times, but it was also dazzling and beautiful. And that’s how life is for a lot of us. If only I’d known all those years that it was just part of being human.
I still, to this day, don’t understand how Simon could be so oblivious about his feelings for Baz. Are you actually telling me that it took Baz going against all of Smokey Bear’s rules on forest fires to make Simon realize he wanted to kiss the dolt when he has been thinking things like this throughout the whole goddamn book
‘I’m just lying in my bed, thinking about Baz.’
‘I know I should be happy about Baz being gone–but it seems so… wrong’
’If he weren’t a vampire, Baz’d be bloody perfect.’
‘Smarter than I am. Better looking.’
*literally there’s hardly a paragraph that goes by where Baz’s name isn’t mentioned at least like 6 times I mean come on*
Hypothetical Handplates scenario in which Sans realizes he can teach himself Common.
(Ugh, tumblr is making them blurry for some reason so I guess full-view if you want the not-blurry version??)
Convoluted explanation incoming. Handplates is an Undertale fancomic by @zarla-s and if you like Papyrus and Sans, go read it, is good stuff. So I guess this is an AU fancomic of an AU fancomic? I dunno, the idea wouldn’t leave my brain until I did something with it. So. Zarla did a Christmas doodle where Gaster gave the boys a box of ginger cookies that had the word COOKIES on the side in big letters, and because my job gives me way too much time to think about random stuff, I realized something.
In Handplates, Gaster taught the bros to read and write Wingdings but deliberately did not teach them monster Common (ie: English) so they can’t read his nametag or anything. Thing is, Wingdings is a 1:1 substitution cipher for English. Every Wingdings symbol exactly equals an English letter; it’s not a different language, just a different set of pictures. As somebody who has taught herself a fair number of substitution ciphers, there are a few things you look for when you’re trying to translate a code and you don’t have a key in front of you. Most notably, single-letter words (in English they will usually be A or I) or double letters next to each other. Like the OO in “COOKIES”.
Sans is smart. Gaster has fed them junk food before and odds are good Sans knows how to spell “COOKIES”. The word is on the box in huge letters and Gaster just said it out loud, so it is fresh in Sans’ mind. That double-O is a huge tip-off. He would put it together that the word on the front of the box matches what’s inside. Once you figure out a few of the letters, it becomes steadily easier to decode the rest.
I feel like Gaster exposes the boys to enough Common (the nametag, food wrappers, computer monitors, the books Sans sits on) that Sans could pick it up with a proper starting point. Papyrus probably not, because he had a hard enough time with Wingdings, but Sans is eager for any opportunity to undermine Gaster and I’m sure he’d jump at the chance. In this comic he elects not to tell Papyrus, though. He doesn’t know Gaster has cameras in the cell (or even what a camera is) but he’s figured out that Gaster can spy on them somehow, and the last time Gaster caught them learning something he didn’t like, Papyrus got the ever-loving hell beat out of him. So Sans keeps quiet about it for now. And thus starts the long-standing tradition of keeping important secrets from his brother.
On the technical side, it took me a freakin’ week to sketch and outline this whole thing. Coloring and shading only took me like a day. In the meantime Zarla actually kinda addressed the cookie comic, but this was almost done by then so oh well. I’m finding my poses and proportions turn out a LOT better when I’m doodling skeletons, like what, drawing basic anatomy will make you better at anatomy, you don’t say?? A lot of this was a self-challenge to see if I could imitate Zarla’s art style, and I referenced previous Handplates comics a lot for the backgrounds and Sans’ face. Full disclosure: Gaster’s pose up there is basically copied from Zarla’s original comic because I was rushing through to get on to the actual meat of the story. He’s just here for setup. I had fun trying to figure out how to do his Lost Soul head though. Also, I hate Papyrus’ face from the front. Also also, it was tricky trying to convey “mentally translating an unknown alphabet into a known one” when pretty much everyone who sees this comic is already familiar with the “unknown” one and not the “known” one, but I think I pulled it off.
TL;DR- I imitated somebody else’s style to do an AU of an AU; I am not Zarla; Zarla is the creator of Handplates and also Gaster’s pose in the first panel; I like ciphers too much and also I gave the cookies icing because that is the only kind of ginger cookie I know.