Buffy Casablanca Poster poppy wreath  RS

Taking Flight: Artwork by Comlodge ( = Very Pretty Presents For Me)

Vague Disclaimer: Images containing partial female nudity ahead. Plus, feathers. Possibly NSW or NSH (especially if your boss or "significant other" is standing over your shoulder. Your kids, on the other hand, already think you're a weirdo, so no harm done.) Also, opinions, ramblings, extravagant praise and extreme wordiness ahead. You have been warned.

comlodge (Janice O.)'s richly atmospheric banners for Round 16 of Seasonal Spuffy inspired my request for a banner for brutti_ma_buoni 's fic "The One With Wings", written for last year's Seasonal Spuffy. It's the Buffy&Spike(1) chapter of her Giles/Winged!Faith in Pylea series, "Learning to Fly", "Higher Than An Eagle",  and "Together Flying High" :  the gang are on a mission in Pylea, and each Slayer's powers physically manifests itself as wings. Faith is freaked and then elated, Giles is aroused, Buffy's wigged and Spike is curious. (If you're wondering, watching AtS might be helpful but isn't necessary; I never have.)

Brutti kindly gave her permission for the project, and the result was gorgeous : fantastical, sexy and a more than a little dark - befitting Buffy&Spike* and the story that inspired it, particularly the final line.  But I also think it stands very well on it's own; where Brutti's fic was humorous with a touch of darkness, comlodge's banner is more atmospheric, and could well be the inspiration for an entirely new fic, perhaps a long-form epic adventure. Her use of stylized wings for Buffy, rather than realistic ones, heightens the sense of Winged!Slayers as mythological creatures.

[Gorgeous pics ahead - you read the DISCLAIMER, right? Last chance....]

Janice and I (we're "the other Janice" to one another) I got to talking about her banner and the story that inspired it afterwards, and I confessed to having a Winged!Buffy kink. Hence, the commission. *gulp* I may be the only person in Buffyverse fandom who does, so far as I know, and it's entirely Brutti's fault. Before I read "The One With Wings" the idea of "Winged!Buffy" or winged anyone else had never occured to me. I have never been "into" angel imagery, or images of winged humans, "Winged!Spike" or "Winged!MaleCharacters From Fandoms I'm Not Familiar With" (and it's usually males who seem to get this treatment nowadays), angelic or otherwise. It just doesn't appeal to me. Neither does male nudity.(2)

I don't even think of Sarah-Michelle Gellar as "sexy" per se; rather that she's adorable in a  "Gosh, Mom, she's sooooo cute and cuddly! Can we keep her? Can we? Please?" sort of way. (Which could be perversely sexy...and I think I need to go scrub my brain before any "Puppy!Buffy" kinks take hold. Oops.)

But somewhere in the back of my head existed an image of Winged!Buffy sitting on a bed and curling her dove-like wings protectively around herself, whilst Spike regards her with a mixture of awe, amusement, arousal, and a fine appreciation for the irony. That image doesn't exist in the story itself; it's actually a combination of 1) Giles observing Winged!Faith in "Higher Than an Eagle" : "Wrapping herself in Slayerness. How very metaphorical of her."   2) An advert Sarah appeared in for Vaseline skin care products that I first saw thanks to a link from

And then Janice took me completely by surprise by coming up with this:

I've never had anyone make a Buffyverse artwork for me as a gift before, and this just stole my breath away. Literally. I just LOVE this so much. I went to work grinning like the world's happiest little clam for the entire day. It's lovelier than I could have ever imagined, the relatively "realistic" wings and floating feathers contrast nicely with the fantastic nature of the concept. She essentially "borrowed" my fantasy straight from my head and returned it to me vastly improved and more artistic.

And the "painterly" touches - virtual brushstrokes and textured canvas effects, the dots of color that remind me of an aging mural - make this all the more special and personal. Although she knows my partner is a painter & sculptor, I don't think I ever told her that I prefer "painterly" styles  to hyperrealistic ones; that one of my great pleasures is going to a gallery or museum, or my partner's studio (formerly known as the living room) and seeing the evidence of the artist's hand in the work, the textures of paint overlaying and interacting with canvas or panel. She can't possibly have known all that and yet, improbably enough, it's all here in this image.

She gave me permission to play with my present if I wished, and I did sharpen it a little in Photobucket. I wanted to sharpen Sarah's face only, as blurred faces can be hard on my eyes, but leave the rest as-is. I couldn't find a tool to do that with, or that didn't sharpen the face but completely blur out the rest of it, including the artist's signature. But Janice approved the result, which is all that mattered; it's pretty hard to degrade the image entirely. In fact, this is the only photo I've ever tried out with every "effect" in the current Photobucket editing suite, about 30 or so, and it looked great in every variation: color, composition, light, and shadow all remained in perfect balance.

I also tried a thousand ways to Wednesday to make an icon of the entire image, again with Janice's approval, but the best result I came up with was with a cropped image of the face that, lightened, reminds me a little of Botticelli's Primavera ,  or The Birth of Venus , which was one of my favorite paintings when I was a little girl.(3)


As far as I know  this is the first image Janice has done in this fandom that is just of Buffy, by herself, so I appreciate it that much more. Most of her work is Spike- or William-centric, by himself or with Anne, Dru, Dawn, or Buffy. OT, she's someone with whom I can discuss "hot" issues re: Spike or Buffy&Spike, as two relative newcomers to the fandom, while still feeling that I'm "safe", in an atmosphere of civility and friendship, as well as passion. We have a basic shared understanding on the larger (real-life) issues that serves as a foundation for differences of opinion in the fine details. That's all the more very valuable for being so hard to find.

Artwork-wise, Janice been challenging herself to branch out a bit lately, as her skill and artistry continuallly improves. Her recent Buffy/Riley ITW banner "Not the Long Haul Guy" is so gorgeous and melancholy that my heart softened a little for Riley and I almost forgot to be pissed off with him.(4)

This is the first Winged!Buffy image I've seen in this fandom, but even if there were a hundred others I don't think anyone could quite top this, or that would be closer to my (occasionally perverted little) heart. Not that I'd discourage anyone else from trying. In fact, I'd be more than happy to share my kink with like-minded fans. I still sort of suspect I might be alone with this one, but that's ok too.

(1) "Buffy&Spike" = my personal moniker for the 'ship. 'cause I loathe smushnames except "Bangel" and that whole relationship was about romantic illusions anyway; and the standard slashmark seems insufficient to me. These two are so many things to one another that it's almost impossible to wrap my hands or my head around it all, although it's certainly fun to try: enemies, wary allies, friends, lovers, mutual abusers, equally-matched warriors; Heros, companions, partners, a Queen and her Champion; the rose in one another's hands and the thorn in each other's side; the anti-romance that's so "effulgent" that it destroys Hell, which cannot bear the presence of Love and Hope. Occasionally, all of these at once. That makes me cry, laugh, cringe, scowl, and leaves me a gooey, puddly, inarticulate mess. Quite frequently, all of these at once.

(2) Or asparagus, for that matter. Now put that in your humidor and smoke it, Dr. Freud.

(3) To whom I owe sincere and grateful belated birthday greetings because she's one of my Heros in this fandom and, whoa, am I behind on that project. And properly embarrassed.

(4) True story: When I was about eight years old my brother, who was a year younger, colored over the image of The Birth of Venus and some other nude images in my art history book with orange colored pencil because he thought they needed to be clothed. I was furious with him for months afterward - so furious I broke the "don't tattle" rule and ran straight to Mom, breathing as much righteous, livid fire as an eight-year-old can. The fact that I wasn't fussed about the nude figures, especially of the Venus, should have been a big, neon red flag that I would  grow up to become an art-loving lesbian whose life partner is an artist. Life is funny that way.

(5) "Almost" being the operative word here.

Indeed! This is the first time I've done a post one someone's fanart (although I mind end up doing others as a semi-regular "feature" aka when I feel like it); I couldn't keep this to myself.

Thanks for stopping by, sweetie! I need to start posting more, 'cause I've missed talking to y'all.
She's really a marvelous artist and I've been enjoying her work a great deal!

*nods* I've seen you commenting over there! (I rec'd your Willow/Riley stories to someone on her site, btw, probably in the "Not the Long Haul" artwork post?)

Janice really is growing by leaps and bounds IMO, just in a very short time. I always find there's something thrilling & even pleasurable about watching that happen, whether in artwork, or in an author's writings. (Granted, in this case I'm a teensy bit prejudiced.)

Thanks for coming by!

Thank you for rec'ing me!

I agree! Every bit of practice shows remarkable growth. She's got a real talent for this!

You are more than welcome!

Thankyou, my fellow Janice, for your kind words. No greater gift for an artist than to know her gift is so treasured. Enjoy your winged Buffy, you provided a great muse for the work. :D
I take my sacred duties as Muse very seriously, you know. :-)

thank you again for the gift. I haven't gotten so much pleasure out of a gift since - well, since I don't remember when, honestly. (oh I know - when a friend of mine gave me a copy of the movie Moulin Rouge about a week after I realized I wanted it, but before I had told anybody.)

And I meant what I said about how you somehow tapped into a lot of things I love - little pieces of me. That's really special. I had completely forgotten about how my brother defaced my art book and the Venus until I wrote this. The sort of little ironies I appreciate. (And of course it's funny now...)
little pieces of me

Love that. I think that has been one of the best things, for me, of our many discourses here. Finding little pieces of me. I've mostly put away my childhood, in some secret little lock-box amongst my memories. Thinking on things we have discussed has allowed that box to sneak open, a little, and let me remember things that brought me joy, that went into the making of me. It's good. :D
Glad to be of service, that's what I'm here for! I'm very happy that you're remembering the joy, because it can be too easy to let the sadness and fear dominate (they are such STRONG emotions and more than ready to eat you alive from the inside.)

These discussion with you have actually been really making me think about why I feel or think the way I do about certain things, and work harder to express myself. (Work in progress, that.) And they remind me, as does your present, of how much I enjoy the Buffyverse but also how much I love Buffy, in all her aspects, in all her complexity; and that I want to spend more time with her the deeper I dig, not less. I want to be someone who is unafraid to say why I love Buffy, or her relationships to other characters, and why she's important even if it's not fashionable. Because I'm opening my own lock-box. (Great metaphor, that.)

Also, you've been so prolific lately that I'm kind of embarrassed about how not-prolific I am, so I can use you as motivation to get going.

(5) "Almost" being the operative word here.

I might feel sorry for Riley if his misgivings weren't completely founded in his own insecurity.
I probably would have more sympathy if the writers didn't cram the "Buffy's a bitch and it's all her fault" nonsense down my throat. The idea that women are expected to be the emotional caretakers (in addition to being housekeepers, childcare workers, cooks, and keep their partners sexually satisfied) - to "do it all" in other words, is certainly very true in terms of what women are expected to do and often have to try to pull off. And when they disappoint and fail to reach impossible standards, they're supposed to feel guilty about it and often do. We've internalized the idea.

But the writers weren't going for a critique of that - they were taking Riley's side. And to top off that nasty little sundae, Buffy apologizes to him and not the other way around, while again the writers clearly communicate that he's super-duper. (they're not even trying for irony in AYW). If he came back with an apology? I'd probably forgive. I can forgive Buffy, Willow, Faith, Spike, for a whole host of sins, and even understand them on some level. This one? Sorry, but no.

Ah, I definitely agree. In the original comment, I was talking about Riley as a character from the in-universe standpoint where even then, I don't get how he reaches the conclusions he does other than him projecting his own inadequacies onto her. By Real Me, he's convinced she doesn't love him and there's nothing for him to base that on. Unlike, say, Spike who while I disagreed with his assessment, I can see why he might feel as he did so I can feel a little sorry for him. Riley? Not so much.

The writers? Absolutely. Ball dropped, epic fail reached.
Yeah I think I knew how you meant it but I tend to get a little irrational where the subject is concerned. In fact I've gotten worse not better over the last year (ask drizzlydaze or comlodge. Yikes.) And I dislike that in myself intensely.

The writers? Absolutely. Ball dropped, epic fail reached.

JUST THIS. for me the doylist & watsonian perspectives get all tangled up with Riley's arc. And I usually don't concern myself overmuch with what the writers WANT me to think. I think in this instance the cognitive dissonance was simply too great. And the fact that I had liked Riley in S4 more than general fandom seemed to made it worse?

By Real Me, he's convinced she doesn't love him and there's nothing for him to base that on.

Then again this is an adult male (or rather, a boy in an overgrown body) whose perceptions about Buffy are colored by Dawn's observations. Taking relationship advice from a (not-really) 14 year old girl? Srsly?

I still want to know what happened to the family he so lovingly described to Buffy in S4, the picture-perfect Normal Rockwell vision of Americana. As the daughter of a widowed and divorced mom, having very little contact with family on either side (and much of that was less than happy), I can absolutely see the appeal of that image to Buffy. But they are never mentioned again, he never thinks to call his parents up, etc. Is that whole image another one of his lies? That could have been part of the "subversion" - the normal, corn-fed, all-American guy turns out to be not-so-normal after all - but maybe that's part of the Riley!fail (does that term exist? It does now) on the writers' part, that they really didn't care to think it through that deeply?

whose perceptions about Buffy are colored by Dawn's observations.

Uh huh. A supposed psychology major to boot. And his suggestion to someone suffering depression? "Cheer up!" I don't know who the dumbass is there, Riley or the writers for apparently thinking it. It's the not the only Joss storyline that has that condescending sort of tone to it.

they really didn't care to think it through that deeply

I think that is largely it. I remember being a little baffled by Riley suddenly going to church in Who Are You. They had the idea of Good Old American Boy and little character beyond that. It's not so much that Buffy thought he wasn't the long-haul guy, but the writers knew he wasn't going to last, so they never filled him in very deeply. I knew he was done-for when they had him sleep with Faith and I'm really guessing they were setting up/testing Spuffy in Something Blue.