The Wicked + Wendy.

Had a little more money than usual lately, so when I was in Dundee last weekend I went on a little shopping spree in Waterstones, and bought a whole bunch of graphic novels. Been kinda stingy with the indulgent spending recently, so it was nice to have the opportunity to splurge. There were a few books I wanted but couldn’t find, but luckily I found a few hidden gems; with the highlights being The Wicked + The Divine (which I shortsightedly only bought the first two volumes of) and Wendy – a book which is, rather amusingly, about an art student…

Wendy was actually quite interesting, as it made me realize something (quite obvious) that had been eluding me – not all art is the same. I’ve been suffering from a bit of artist envy recently and was beginning to feel like every published artist I saw was at a skill level I was never going to reach. Wendy’s art was… different. Definitely not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it didn’t have that polish and consistency that has been so prevalent in my recent reading material – it was creative, and bold, but it also seemed achievable. Really achievable.

It’s really encouraged me to think about my art development in a different way. Instead of constantly aiming for technical perfection, it’s made me want to work on loosening myself up, and being more expressive and imaginative. That isn’t to say I have any intention of not trying to improve my technique, but I definitely think reading the comic has brought about a healthy change of priorities. And hopefully this shift will also allow me to appreciate my favorite artists a little more, by lessening the jealousy that their work often instills in me.

The Wicked + The Divine was also pretty great – and reminded me a little of Morning Glories (which, somewhat amusingly, it shares a publisher with). I’ve only read it once so far, so I will likely need to read it again before I can fully determine how I feel about it, but it definitely seems like a series I’ll be keeping up with. Although I felt the same way about Morning Glories, and I haven’t bought a new volume of it since Vol. 4…

Anyhoo, I feel like The Wicked + The Divine is something I could potentially rant about for a while, but I’ll leave it here for just now and wait until I’ve had a chance to sit down and give it a more thorough read. I might wait until I get my hands on the third volume, or I might just do it on my next day off. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Wow, that’s starting to feel like a catch-phrase…

More work to do.

So… I think I’ve got all my application stuff sorted now. At least, as close to being sorted as I’m able to get it. Now I’ve just got to wait and hope that when the time comes I filled in all the forms right and there are no problems waiting to surprise me down the line.

Been incredibly stressed about my SAAS application in particular, due to the fact that it updates so slowly. However, after sending what felt like a hundred e-mails, I finally got a reply that more or less put me at ease, telling me that I’ve sent everything they think I need to, and that it’d take a while for things to process (so I’ll just have to wait).

Now my main worry is just getting my house ready for leaving, and packing everything I’ll be taking with me – and I have no idea where to start in that regard. I mean, should I take my all my books, or just some? What should I do with the ones I don’t take? Store them? Donate them? Trash them? And I’ve no idea how I’m going to deal with all my furniture yet either… *sigh*.

A part of me is tempted to just dump/donate everything I can’t/don’t want to take with me… but I feel like that’s probably a quite short-sighted way to go about things. I’ve got two months to work it out anyway, so I guess there’s no serious rush yet. I’ll just need to take my time and make sure I don’t throw out anything I’ll regret, or take a bunch of things with me that I don’t need…

And here was me thinking that once I had finished my applications I’d be able to relax…

Community.

I’ve known I was gay since I was pretty young. It’s not something I’ve ever been particularly shy about, although there have been many times when I’ve wondered if I would have been better served keeping it under my hat for a longer period than I did. Nonetheless, my sexuality has never really been an issue for me on a personal level. I was bullied sure, but there was never a period where I doubted myself, or wished I was different  – so I’m grateful for that.

However, as easy as it was for me to accept my sexuality, I’ve never really felt like I was part of a “community” because of it. In high school, the only time I was approached by other gay people was when they were interested in sex – beyond that they all made a very intentional effort to distance themselves from me, for fear of their sexuality being brought in to question (which would, of course, have made them a target for the same abuse that I publicly received). So instead of being supported by those in the same boat, I found myself ostracized by them – with a few going out of their way to join in on the bullying to help maintain their heterosexual facades.

As a result, I’ve somewhat struggled to “feel the love”. In fact, it’s only in the past few years that I’ve really become aware of the fact that there is “love” to felt. When I was first starting to explore my sexual identity, I remember signing up for a number of LGBT-oriented forums and receiving nothing but hate when I made my presence known – with complete strangers mocking me for my “ridiculous” red hair, “obvious vanity” and youth. Needless to say, I didn’t visit those forums again. I eventually signed up to another forum shortly after moving into my own house and, whilst I never really felt a sense of “belonging”, I began to see that there was more than just sex and hostility out there – which was a pleasant discovery.

It wasn’t until I watched Queer As Folk for the first time that I began to feel like I was missing out on something, however. Up until then I had been quite happy to make do with the friends I had and just accept the fact that talking about my relationships and desires wasn’t appropriate. Girls didn’t want to hear it, guys really didn’t want to hear it, and I just accepted that. However, after watching Queer As Folk I not only realized that I deserved to be able to talk freely, but that I really needed to.

Sadly, this awareness didn’t change the fact that I lived in a very… regressive area – and as such there was little community to be found there. I mean, I did eventually discover an LGBT group for the local area, but it meets in a town just over 100 miles away from the area it’s supposed to represent (making it incredibly impractical for me to visit), and whilst I signed up for the groups newsletters they always seemed far too mature to relate to. These people seemed to have the answers already, and that wasn’t what I needed – I needed to find people who were still working things out, so I could work it out with them. Because as much as I’m a part of this community in theory, I have no idea how to be a member in practice.

My recurring desire to leave my hometown has partly been fueled by these feelings, and as my departure is finally becoming a reality I’ve started to contemplate the potential this move has in regards to these matters. I’ve become aware of an LGBT group that meets weekly at the campus I’ll be attending, so with any luck I’ll finally get a chance to see what this “community” thing is all about. It could be an integral part of my personal revolution, or it could be a completely superfluous exercise in decadence. Or it could be neither. I guess only time will tell…

College.

So… I got in to college, which is pretty amazing.  By the time my interview came around I had basically convinced myself that it wasn’t going to happen… so to say I was surprised would be an understatement. I don’t think it’s completely sunk in yet though. There’s so much I still have to organize (finding a place to stay, getting my house emptied, applying for funding, etc) that a small part of me is still mentally preparing for failure. I’m certain those feelings will dissipate once everything is more-or-less sorted, but it’s going to be a long process… which means that doubt is going to be hanging around for a while.

On the plus side, whilst all of this is quite stressful, it’s a less immediate stress than the kind I was dealing with in preparation for my interview. Where the housing and funding is concerned, I can only make so much progress at a time (due to having to wait for e-mails, collect evidence, etc), so I’m able to detach from it quite easily at the end of the day, whereas when I was working on my portfolio I felt like every minute I wasn’t actively working on it was a minute wasted. Plus, the deadline here is two months, as opposed to to weeks – which also helps

As a result, I’ve got a lot more time to relax and just enjoy myself. I’ve been playing video games a lot more than usual the past few days (due to re-discovering Animal Crossing), but come next week I think I’m going to start working on a new art project. One of the most recurring problems I had during my portfolio-development period was the fact that I kept on having really cool ideas that I just couldn’t justify spending time on due to them not being relevant to the course. Now, however, I don’t have that obligation, so hopefully I’ll be able to revisit some of those ideas and see what comes from them.

I’ve been trying to start a comic for years now, but always find I get bogged down in the writing process (because I need to know what’ll happen in issue 100 before I can draw issue 1…). So one of my ideas was to experiment with short fan-comics, so I can focus more on the art & page composition and less on the plot. With any luck, I’ll maybe follow on from that with an original comic of some kind… but we’ll just have to wait and see. If I come up with anything particularly good I’ll probably try to scan it into the computer, colour it and upload it somewhere, but I’m not going to commit to the idea at this point – it’ll likely depend on how busy I am at work.

Gotta catch them all.

So, I’ve gotten back into Pokemon recently. Probably as a result of the fact that I have a 3DS now, and therefore the ability to play the most recent games. Whilst I wait for the best opportunity to purchase a newer title, I’ve started playing Pokemon Platinum – mainly to refresh my memory, but also to catch more of my favorite Pokemon, in the hopes of transferring them to my next game. Going back to it, I was actually surprised to see how little I had done.

I mean, I’ve defeated the Elite Four… but haven’t actually progressed much further than that, having been side-tracked the last time I played (trying to catch all my favorite water Pokemon once I got the Super Rod). So, right now my party is basically all water Pokemon. Because strategy and type effectiveness means nothing to me.

Well, that’s putting my Pokemon down a little. I have put some thought into my party, with only one pure water type (Azumarill, who I’ve recently discovered is now a Water/Fairy type). My other Pokemon right now are Starmie, Lombre, Lanturn, Pelipper and Quagsire… and they all have moves of at least 3 different types, so my coverage is actually pretty good.

I think a lot of the reason I drift out of playing Pokemon so often is the fact that it’s so much harder to find real-life people to battle against. I never really feel a desire to create a stronger team than is necessary to defeat the Elite Four, which means I often tend to cap a few at Level 60 and then get bored. However, I’ve learned a little bit about EV training and the complexities of breeding recently, which has given be a bit of motivation to go back and “reboot” my party.

Oblivion.

Randomly started playing Oblivion yesterday. I thought I had played it semi-recently, but it turns out I haven’t played it since I got my current Xbox 360 (which was years ago). I was kinda bummed at first, because this meant that not only did I have to start from the beginning, but I had also lost access the character I had put so many weeks (months) into on my old save. Over it now though.

It’s been surprisingly enjoyable starting from scratch, actually. There’s something quite motivating about being able to get achievements for everything – which is an experience I don’t get too often with Skyrim these days. It’s also interesting because it’s been long enough since I last played that I’ve forgotten a lot of things – meaning most of the quests feel quite fresh.

I was always a little bit critical of the Elder Scrolls series’ “realistic” (read: brown) visuals and generic fantasy setting, preferring to play JRPGs like Grandia, Final Fantasy and the Tales series. Recently, however, I’ve come to respect Western RPGs a lot more, as while their character development and visual creativity are often lacking, their immersive qualities are far superior. It also helps that I’m a bit of a Dungeons & Dragons fan – and am slowly beginning to see the increased similarities these games have to traditional tabletop role playing games, when compared to their eastern counterparts.

Contrary to what my game collection might suggest, I’m not actually a huge fan of action/hack & slash games. So, whilst I adored the Action RPG genre for creating a more streamlined role playing experience, I was a little annoyed at how the subgenre basically stuffed all the non-combat elements in the fridge. Games like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (lets remember, I’m a console gamer here) tried to emulate the Dungeons & Dragons experience as much as they could, but important (to me, at least) elements such as stealth and diplomacy, were nowhere to be found.

The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series contained some of the first games I’ve played that could allow, and encourage, a brains over brawn aspect to problem-solving; with skills such as lock-picking and smithing allowing players to approach their objectives in a greater variety of ways. And that, combined with the expansive settings and mythologies of the two series, has allowed me to look past their lack of flash and spectacle, and enjoy them for what they are.

Come to think of it, I think I play these games partially to make up for the lack of actual Dungeons & Dragons in my life. Because they can kind of feel like a single player tabletop rpg… just one with a very detailed GUI. And a controller.

Anyhoo… I’m playing like a thief-mage hybrid kinda character. Which is pretty revolutionary for me, considering I usually play a mage-thief kinda character  in games of this type. Or, y’know, whatever keeps me as far from melee combat as possible.

Hello again.

Decided to post a blog, because it’s been a while (well, that’s an understatement), and I’ve been feeling surprisingly lucid these past few weeks – and with that lucidity comes a greater capacity for introspection than I’ve been capable of for quite a while now.

I’ve been suffering from depression on-and-off for what seems like a lifetime, and whilst there have been a number of bright spots, they always seem fated to dim. Lately, however, I’ve been in a much better space, and thanks to the timing of this improvement, I was able to do something I’ve wanted to do for years now – apply for college (an Art & Design course, specifically).

Since applying, I’ve committed myself fully to art, and getting my portfolio ready, and in doing so I’ve finally found a goal. It’s made me start to think that my depression has been so persistent because I haven’t had any real goals for a while. Every time I started to feel better, I would become aware of how pointless my existence felt, and retreat back to square one – whereas now I have an actual goal, which could lead to some forward momentum in my life, and help me break out of stasis.

As I’ve been working on my portfolio, it’s reminded me how passionate I am about art – something I was almost starting to forget. It’s reached a point where even if I don’t get into the course this year, I think I’ll be able to maintain my “good vibes” simply thanks to the fact that I’ve rediscovered my primary motivator.

I’m not really sure if I’ll get in this year, to be honest. I seem to be flitting between confidence and doubt quite rapidly. I’ll make something and get a boost in confidence because I think it’s good, but then I’ll see someone else’s work and start to feel inadequate. Then, after that, I’ll see another person’s work and it’ll remind me that I don’t suck, but afterwards I’ll make a terrible piece and feel like I have no talent as a result. Not the most unique of plights, I’ll admit. Still, I’m focusing on next year as my Plan A, with this year as my Plan B – if that makes sense. That way, I won’t feel too bad if I don’t get in.

Don’t want to churn out a whole essay on this optimistic-downer subject, so I think I’ll just leave it here for tonight.

Actually feel a little tired, which, considering it isn’t 4am, is kind of strange. I have a feeling my tiredness may have made this post a little less coherent than it could’ve been, but I’ll just post it now and spell/grammar/point-check it later, to make sure it’s not terrible.

There’s a chance that this blog is an indication that more will be on the way. We’ll just have to wait and see if the mood recurs. As I write this I plan to do more, though I don’t yet know what I’ll write about. However, if I do start blogging again I predict it will be a tad different to my previous efforts.