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Buffyverse Top 5 is OPEN today through January 19th for recs of any fan-created Buffyverse works either started or continued during the past year. (Check out the posting guidelines here.)
As I'm still kicking myself for missing the October Classic round, I'm determined to participate in this round with some meta and vid lists, especially as most rec lists consist entirely of fanfics. I'd also love to do an artwork rec list, or at least hoping other folks will be similarly inspired to do so as fanart. Meta , videos and artwork need love too! That said, I'll probably rec some of my favorite female-centric stories as well, because this has been a rich year IMO.

ETA: petzipellepingo just posted a top five meta recs list!  BLESS.

Searching for vids and meta from 2013,  I noticed that fannish activity is scattered or diffuse: fiction on LJ as well as ff.net and AO3: gifsets/animations and artwork on tumbler: meta (nonfiction) of all types including rewatches, analysis, love letters to the Buffyverse & et cetera scattered on Blogger, Wordpress, and various websites scattered hither and yon. This fandom isn't "dying" by any means, IMNSHO - it's alive and well and living on the internet.

And now for something completely different: my first (visual) love letters to the women of the Buffyverse for 2014. For the longest time I couldn't figure out how to make text that was actually legible in iconson the Photobucket editing suite. I played around a bit and finally came up with a few things today I'm halfway pleased with, although I'm still not satisfied with the sharpness of some of these. Feel free to take any you like but give proper credit as always. ADVICE, FEEDBACK & CONCRIT IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED.
1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

6) 7) 8) 9) 10)

The first two of these I think of as "mini-metas" in icon form:
#1 from Band Candy: I'm intrigued by how much of the Summer sisters' personalities come from their parents, especially Joyce - including a proclivity for kinky sex and bondage games. Just sayin'. The Summers women like sex; it's unfortunate that Joss and the writers' hang-ups prevent a truly empowering sex-positive message for women. *le sigh*

#2 came about when I realized a few months ago that the destruction of the Buffybot in "Bargaining Pt 2" called back to Spike's promise to Dru in "School Hard"; but I couldn't bring myself to use the image of the actual moment the 'bot was pulled apart by the demon gang. I also realized that there are some intriguing parallels between Dru and Buffy as "madwomen", "seers", symbolic mother figures, and as Angel and Willow's "masterpieces" that I think deserves further exploration.

And of course #10 because there aren't enough Tara icons and I love that image, that moment from Bargaining. Like Buffy, Tara is a woman who overcomes the fear and shame of believing she's a "demon", finds astonishing layers of strength, is a protector at heart and "filled with love".
These are all amazing, but I especially love the last one. I've seen every episode so many times that I can't currently bear the thought of re-watching the entire series from start to finish AGAIN, but I still grieve for Tara.

Oh my goodness, wait, do you have any more to say about Buffy being Willow's "masterpiece"? Because that . . . makes an awful lot of sense, really.
but I still grieve for Tara.

Oh me too; and I've never grieved for any other fictional character, certainly not a tv character. there's just no way to make that "right" except by celebrating her as much as possible.

do you have any more to say about Buffy being Willow's "masterpiece"?

I'm glad you (as a Willow fan) asked, because I was terrified that I would offend the Willow fans on my flist with that comment without a sense of context; but I think you're probably on to what I'm implying.

I read a meta about Willow's arc by elusis_walks (?) sometime back, and the author said that part of the problematic nature of Tara's death for them was the fact that Tara ended her life as "Willow's objet d'art", molded by Willow; and I strongly disagree with that. Tara returned to Willow in Tabula Rasa of her own free will; it was her CHOICE, just as wooing Will in S4 was her choice.

IMO Willow's "masterpiece" in S6 was resurrecting Buffy; and it actually occured to me after thinking of the Drusilla/Buffy connections (two women connected to Angel and Spike, "madwomen" and "seers"); and the fact that both Angel and Willow have a problem with other people's free will, for very different reasons. (I"m NOT saying Willow is evil btw.)

Dru is Angel's masterpiece, his work of art (Lie to Me); he drives her mad and then turns her into a demon just before she's to enter the convent (holy sanctuary). He becomes her sire and does it for evil intent - to possess her, for his own pleasure - without regard for her free will. He does it with evil intent but ironically it may have had a positive result in the long run: "liberating" Dru from the strictures of Victorian society, and to her own sexual desires, an unlife of adventure she'd never have experienced otherwise.

Buffy's "last words" to Willow in The Gift is encouragement to use her powers against Glory but also to restore tara's mind. Willow's already entered Buffy's mind, she restores Tara to life, metaphorically; literally restoring Buffy to life is the next logical step; Tara was the "dry run" so to speak, or the initial sketch if you will. Buffy is torn from what she perceives as Heaven (holy sanctuary) against her will. Willow does so with good intent - to rescue Buffy, to make things better, but ironically her actions have short and long-term negative consequences in Buffy's depression and in giving the First an opening in S7.

Willow isn't prepared to play the role of Buffy's symbolic "sire" or "mother", and this actually makes a lot of sense to me considering her upbringing, which seems to have consisted of benign neglect on the part of her parents. Will just doesn't have to training or role models; she doesn't even have a single warm loving parent she connects to the way Buffy and Tara had with their mothers. Sheila Rosenberg fails to "see" Willow as she is (admittedly Willow probably hides a lot from her) and can't deal with the reality of the witchcraft; Willow in turn fails to "see" Buffy's anguish (which Buffy admittedly tries to hide) and can't deal with the reality of the situation.

I actually put some of the blame on Giles for this as well in failing to mentor Willow or steer her towards mentors when he knows personally the dangers of dabbling; in being willing to use her powers when it was convenient and then chastize her at other times; then abandoning all her as well as Buffy and Dawn. "You were the one I trusted to respect the powers of nature" is right up there on the list of self-serving rationalizations with "Your mother taught you everything you need to know about life." WTH, Giles?
P.S. I just noticed that this Buffyverse Top 5 thing (sounds like fun!) is open until January 19th. Which is Buffy's birthday.
Which is Buffy's birthday.

Is that the "official date?" Thanks, I'd been wondering when it was. is that on her headstone? I can't recall. (I think it shifted around from the early seasons.) Nifty - I'll have to plan a really special post for that!
I really like the "Evil is in everyone" one :)

I don't have any proper concrit, but I do have couple of tips: If you want the text to remain sharp in the final image, save the icon in PNG-format - that's what most icon makers use, since it doesn't compress the image. And if you want to use a 'real' image editing software instead of Photobucket, Paint.net and GIMP are both free and very good (GIMP is the better one of the two, but Paint.net is easier to use).
I really like the "Evil is in everyone" one :)

Thanks! That image just jumped out at me today - I love simple images that have very strong contrasts and shadows, and that allow me to do close-ups on faces; and the First's expression is so different to Buffy's. I think I got the quote from The First!Joyce right from BoTN but I didn't double-check for accuracy.

My partner tried Gimp on our (her) previous desktop but couldn't get the hang of it (admittedly, she didn't try very long. and she was already used to Photoshop anyway.)

I haven't tried Paint.net but we are trying out Pixelmater free for 30 days; it seems to be a simpler form of Photoshop, and she'll probably buy it for $30. (I think she'd like me to use it so I won't touch her Photoshop programs, which are "off limits" - not that I ever have.) I'm going to try to recreate one of these icons with that and see what I can come up with. (I have a lot to learn!)
These icons look great, sweetie!

I am so pleased that our fandom is alive and well. :)
Sweetie from you that's a SUPER compliment especially; the text in your icons is always legible, fit the mood of the icon and god some gorgeous images. (Your Fred icons are amazing.)

I am so pleased that our fandom is alive and well. :)

Have you seen the latest edition of the su_herald?
Tons of tics, artwork, discussions and articles by people I have never read before. (And yes, a lot rehashes old ground, but everything about this show is new to every one of us just discovering it.) The fact that a show that ended ten years ago (and with a female protagonist to boot) still generates this much conversation and interest? The rumors of this fandom's death are greatly exaggerated. :)
- (Anonymous)
</i>I missed that #1 was Joyce and I didn't realize #2 was the bot.</i>

I don't rewatch the early seasons but I was looking for images of Joyce/Giles and Joyce's feathered coat in that ep, and saw the image of her holding out the handcuffs in front of Buffy which I had COMPLETELY forgotten about. And it was so freaking meta re: S6 it blew my mind. (I was really hoping the show would put Giles/Joyce together as a pairing, to be honest. That could have been awesome - OMG the angst x 100.

And I can see what you mean about #2 because I worried when I made it that I was cropping the image too close to the face - I tend to focus on faces in my icons, #8 & 9 are more typical for me - and not showing enough of the wires coming out from her shoulders.

#9 btw is the FirstEvil wearing Buffy's face and looking up at Spike in Showtime as he's elevated to the - ceiling or whatever so his blood will drip onto the seal if I'm remembering correctly. I paired it with The First Evil as Joyce's words to Buffy in Bring on the Night but honestly didn't double-check to make sure the quote was correct. I think Caleb says something similar though, and it represents how the First operates.

Edited at 2014-01-02 04:37 pm (UTC)
Those icons are beautiful.

And yes, I've always had the impression Buffy liked sex; it's weird to me when I see fanons that make her ignorant or prudish.
Thank you for the compliment re: my icons, I'm glad you like! And I apologize for delay in answering, your comments about Buffy's sexuality inspired some thinky-thoughts. (Have you read Gabrielleabelle's meta Buffy's Bad Sex Life btw? that focuses on the way the show "punishes" Buffy for her sexuality and convey a rather sex-negative message for women which is different to what we're saying here.)

fanons that make her ignorant or prudish

WTTH: she encourages Willow to "seize the day"; Becoming flashback to Hemery High "Tyler would have to crawl on his hands and knees.."; the short skirts and revealing clothes in S1-2; dancing at the Bronze (esp WSWB, School Hard, Bad Girls); kissing Angel; Surprise; Helpless (sparing as a substitute for sex) and Bangel pretty much all of S3; Parker (in whatever ep that was); The I in Team (I'm one of those in the minority who think that the Briley sex in that ep was pretty damn hot)...need I go on? (this would probably make a fun meta post.)

I suspect might be the belief of some Spuffy (re: Spike) fans who interpret Buffy's secretiveness about her relationship with Spike as a sign that she's a prude? I don't know where you stand on this but as far as I can tell it's not the actual activities that she's ashamed off (and is no else's business anyway).

In-story: I think it's Faith who makes the judgement about Buffy being "prudish" but let's consider the point of reference here. *lol* She says it verbally at least to Spike in Dirty Girls and he says something like "you have been gone a long time" but that presumes that Faith was right at first but Buffy has "changed" since then; which isn't true either. And I think it's significant that both Faith and Spike feel or felt at various times that she didn't respond to them the way THEY wanted her to, but that's not the same as being a prude.

The other extreme I see is the numerous Spuffy fics that portray their relationship in S6 after Smashed as being ALL ABOUT THE SEX and nothing else, and its always empty, unpleasant, violent and Buffy is always staring off into space, always distant and vacant; basically, she's a sex addict. And I don't see that either, even on Buffy's side; the "we missed the bed - again" scene, or the two of them playing cards in OAFA (until Spike shoots his mouth off at Richard), indicate otherwise, as does the bit in Sleeper when the bouncer calls Spike a "Billy Idol wanna-be" and Buffy says, "Actually Billy Idol stole his look..." That implies that the two of them had conversations we never got to see. Well of course they did. (Besides, if THE SEX was the only thing Buffy was after in S6, she could have gone to any stranger for that, the way Parker does; she's not after notches on her belt.)
I know you're mostly "about" the guys of the 'verse and your artwork is incredible, so this is quite the compliment on both levels!

Your default icon actually represents some of the qualities I try for in my own icons; I love strong contrasts that make the images look more like a painting or illustration than a photo. (I had a lot of fun doing that sort of thing when I did Moulin Rouge icons years ago but that's a very "surreal" film visually, so it made things easy for me.)
Beautiful icons! Pity I can only have 15 of them. Love the "It runs in the family" one XD
Love the "It runs in the family" one

Thank you! I've been dying to do that one for ages. Summers Women FTW!
Faves are (in numerical order) 1; 5; 7 & 10
Really like the ideas of 3 & 4 (also 6 maybe) (because I could see those with other characters.
Not so hot on 2;8 & 9

Despite being in the second group my overall winner would be The Tequila Slayer; though I would have Maryann Thorpe from Cybill, instead of Buffy (but I've already told you that :-) )

Must admit I'd have used the moment from The Body when Willow and Tara share that line, but I love the image here; could see myself using it for some of my Tara posts.

You're using your Tilda icon! *applause*

And thank you for the feedback - concrit is always welcome.

1, 5, 7 & 10 (plus 3) are my favorites too - they're the strongest visually. (I think I mentioned why I have a fondness for #3 already. But I think you should make a Maryann icon if you're so inclined and go ahead, steal the line!)

Please feel free to snag #10! It's one of my favorites. I've considered using it myself but I already have so many Tara icons, and I've left off other characters (most notably Anya.)

I used the line from the Body for an image from Bargaining very deliberately - I LOVE Tara in Season 6 full-stop; and I like using lines from one episode/season with a later one! I thought that demonstrated in one image Tara's amazing growth - she demonstrates "Strength" in every way by season 6 with words and actions. I also love how Tara's "axing" parallels Joyce in School Hard!

I think 8 works better conceptually than in execution - I should have moved the text up and made the color pop for legibility. I was trying to use a line from a Tori Amos song I had playing in my head. Also #2 - I like the idea, but at least one person couldn't tell it was the Buffybot; I should have gone wider on that image. (not that I would use it myself - the Buffybot's death is one of the saddest moments in the series for me.

And 9 would has a strong composition - I should have left the text off altogether maybe?

Someone upthread said that they had couldn't see the handcuffs in #1 very well, so I made another version that I'm using right now as an icon - which works better for you or is it 6 of 1, half-dozen of the other? (The first one is the newer one):

Edited at 2014-02-04 03:49 pm (UTC)