Buffy Casablanca Poster poppy wreath  RS

I WON AN AWARD AT SLAYERSTILLNESS! (And, I have things to say about Buffy and Faith - buckle up)

Thank you to the moderators at slayerstillness for giving me my very first award for an icon in Challenge #18 "Faith Lehane" ! Kudos to all the winners in this round : iconsoleander, spikesredqueen and delta_dawn_rose - but all the submissions were creative and wonderful, so please go check them out if you haven't had the chance already.

And to make it even sweeter, comlodge made the gorgeous banners:

Mods Choice: "I love the idea of this one – very creatively done. And I love how the lighting draws your focus right to her face."

The irony is that that had nothing to do with me; the shot was already beautiful. My favorite icons of those I've made, like this one, are generally the simplest. All I had to do was carefully bump up brightness, contrast and saturation; pick the right font, and add the frame. There's the irony of course in that it's the one submission I sent in which we're actually looking at Faith in Buffy's body, so the face we see is Sarah's, not Eliza's - but it's still the character of Faith, in what may be the turning point of her entire arc.  (And is one of the most superb performances I've ever seen on television - can we take a moment to celebrate Sarah's intensity in that episode?)

Here are all five of my entries; the numbers beside them are the numbers assigned in the challenge voting (not in numerical order).

26) 13)  19)

25)     8)
[Thinky-thoughts, icons and links, oh my!]
As per usual for me lately, I began this batch making icons that were fun, risque. or innocuous, (#8, 25) and then moved into darker territory. If I were to do it again I'd leave off 8 & 25, although 25 amuses me.

I think #26 was the best of the five I submitted, especially in terms of lighting and composition.  Photobucket's "Covered by Your Grace" font has a somewhat "handwritten" look to it and often works well when the overall mood is one of intimacy, introspection, melancholy, sadness, etc. For the same reasons I like the "torn paper frame" of 26 & 13; it emphasizes for me a sense of things "bleeding in (or bleeding out)" of each other, of something incomplete,unstable, fissuring or merging; of things damaged but not entirely broken, and the strange beauty of imperfection.

Which is what the episodes "This Years Girl" and "Who are You" are about.

I've been fascinated by the parallels between Buffy, Faith and Buffy, Spike ever since I first saw bradcpu's classic fan video on the subject, "Creep" (See the bottom of this post for more links.)

Ten years ago the_royal_anna called Buffy and Spike in S6 "the most mesmerizing illustration" of the concept of "identity hiijack", but This Years Girl / Who are You essentially "foreshadow" nearly the entirety of S6 in two episodes. It's the definitive moment when Faith "hands off" her role as Buffy's primary dark mirror to Spike, so that she can move to AtS and continue her arc away from BtVS. There's the twin images of Faith and Buffy digging themselves out of their own graves, the sense of "victimization" each must overcome; mental instability and the damage that being "a killer" does to the soul; the direction of Buffy and Spike's relationship and the dark, tormented sexuality, so different from the light-hearted satirical version of Something Blue; the lie behind the dichotomies of "good/bad, dark/light" enforced by those in power (as represented by the WC).

Even the key role Tara plays in both as the outsider, as "the heart"  and "the one who sees" (literally and figuratively as a "seer" and as one who bears witness) is highlighted in both WAY and DT and deserves a separate essay of it's own.

It's also an episode that calls both backwards and forwards: to Faith's words "If you kill me, you become me - and you're not ready for that" in S3's "Enemies", and forward to Spike's "I know you felt me...when I was inside you."  When Faith steals Buffy's body she literally "gets inside" Buffy in ways even Spike can't begin to imagine. (No one else comes close except when Willow goes inside Buffy's head in The Weight of the World".)

I tried using a portion of the line from Enemies; "You become me" works beautifully when talking about Who are You; but I don't think it really comes across the way I'd intended it to visually.

1) 2) 3)  4 ) 5)  6) 7)

The sentence from Seeing Red actually works much better and is more powerful; but I used it with trepidation. I worried that using it would be too traumatic for some folks - looking up the actual dialogue on the Buffyworld transcript was hard enough for me as it was, but I got the wording wrong on my first effort, #14 below (I've watched that episode once and one time only, thank you very much.) Cutting the sentence in half, rather than using the entire line in a single icon, seemed to help "abstract" it slightly, remove it just enough from it's original context that it was easier for me to work with it here.

9) 10) 11) 12)   14)

The relationships are steeped in violence, misunderstanding, dysfunction and self-hatred - and yet, unbelievably, they manage to rise above it all and come to a state of grace with each other in Season 7. Buffy handing the Scythe to Faith in Chosen isn't as romantic, dramatic or as celebrated as her spiritual handfasting with Spike; but in the context of their history it represent a sea change in their relationship: a level of genuine forgiveness, trust and faith (pun intended) exists between them that never has before. Getting to that point was a long, hard-fought road:

15) 16)  17)

The other line of Spike's dialogue I borrowed is from "The Gift": "I made a promise to a lady."  He's talking to Doc on top of Glory's tower about his promise to Buffy to protect Dawn "until the end of the world"; I often associate that line with Buffy's own promise to Joyce in Listening to Fear. But here I applied it to another "promise", albeit unspoken: Faith's wordless response to Buffy's "Don't - be afraid to lead them" in Empty Places. I was inspired by blackfrancine's 2010 comment on the nature Buffy and Faith's expressions of love:

I think Buffy's way of nurturing (ie of loving) is to protect. To play mama bear to the helpless cubs of Sunnydale. So of course the Slayer's primary love language is to perform acts of service. Her whole life (and death) is about service. And it makes sense that it becomes her main way of understanding and expressing love (or maybe service always IS her love language--even before she is called. I could see this being a feature that binds Slayers--that they understand love through service. Because I'd argue that this is how Faith expresses love as well). So, through her slaying duties, Buffy (and maybe all slayers) expresses her love for their fellow man. [emphasis mine]

In S3, Faith is bound to the Mayor, her surrogate father-figure, by her assignments for him. When Buffy reluctantly advises Faith to lead the Potentials, it's entirely clear to me from Faith's demeanor that she listens and accepts her (symbolic) "grandsire's" words with all due seriousness. Handing off leadership to Faith is mostly an act of necessity and seems like a small thing, but in the context of their relationship it's absolutely seismic. Faith doesn't say a word but her intention is clear in her demeanor, her silence, in the fact that she is truly listening - something the two of them stopped doing with one another years ago. She made a "promise to a lady" and it's one she'll keep to the best of her ability.

I wanted to send #16 above because it was the only icon I'd made that had a close-up of Eliza's face, but I felt that it didn't "tell the story" in this context as well as image of Faith and Buffy together on the porch (15, 19).

This award is a particular honor for me because the quality of the icons submitted to past slayerstillness challenges, technically and aesthetically, is consistently very high and represents some of the best examples of icons as works of art currently in this fandom. The editing suite I have in Photobucket is very simple and limited so I can't do the gorgeous effects and layering I see there. I wasn't as pleased as I was with the batch I made for the last otherworldlyric icon challenge. I focused on Buffy and Faith rather than Faith exclusively. Plus I made these so last minute I didn't have time to ask wickedbish for his advice as a beta. I honestly didn't think I had a shot at winning anything - and you'd be surprised how that takes the edge of anticipation off!

You know the cliche that if you want something you're supposed to visualize having or achieving it first in order to "manifest it in your life"? Well sometimes there is something to be said for thinking the opposite, or trying to practice "non-attachment" one way or the other, then being completely surprised and delighted when it does happen to come your way.
(Maybe I need to look into Buddism as a practice? *ponders*)

Here's the remaining icons from that set that I didn't submit, in no particular order of anything whatsoever. As always, snag 'em if you love 'em but please give proper credit to the artist. 'tis the polite thing to do.

18) 20) 21) 22)

23) 24)27) 28)
And here are some links to some of my favorite Buffy and Faith, or Fuffy, fanfics and fanvids for your enjoyment - just the tip of the proverbial iceberg:
"Creep" by bradcpu (downloadable zipped Xvid and WMV formats) is THE classic Buffy, Faith, Spike meta-video.
"Your Power is Rooted in Darkness" by Afterthebattle (YouTube) focuses on the Buffy & Faith parallels with Spike as a supporting player.
"We Must Be Killers" by jess9191 (YouTube) The first great fanvid of the year? It's already on my list for next January's Buffyverse Top 5.
"Who Are You, Really?: Episodic" by xxIrisHalox  (YouTube) My favorite fanvid take on "Who Are You?" pairs brilliantly with my favorite WAY fanfic:

"Who Am I? (The Warm Champagne Remix)" (DW) by snowpuppies. (Buffy, Faith, Spike; Faith/Spike, implied Buffy/Faith) Superb, as always. Put this on your list for the next round of fanfic awards, please.
"Zen and the Art of Stake Maintenance" and "Of History" (AO3) by m_phoenix. Delicately haunting Season 7 AU and post-series Fuffy angst, respectively, both Buffy-POV. "Zen" fits canon astonishingly well; "Of History" is a masterclass in how to write in 2nd-person POV, as well as how to tackle adult sexuality and consent issues sensitively. (Thanks to oni_9's rec on the most recent edition of the su_herald.)

Finally, after all that angst, some fun and adventure are in order: try "The Girls In Question" fic series on AO3 by the wife-wife team of TigerDragon. The post-series installments "Reentry", "Investigations" and "Women, Fire, And Other Dangerous Things" read like a genuine "Season 8" - funny, exciting, a little angsty  - if it had been written as female-centric Fuffy, with Dawn, Willow, fascinating OC multi-ethnic Slayers, and female villains who are a VERY dark mirror of Buffy and Faith, for the ride.
Excellent icons, thought-provoking thinkiness, and rec'ing Snowy will never go out of style. Brava!

rec'ing Snowy will never go out of style.

Oh indeed!

I'm just hoping this coming year in award nominations to see her newer stuff get nominated - Innocence and Fractured are justly famous but "Who Am I?" "Amazon"...and so many more wonderful stories deserve to be read and celebrated. IMO

Oh, do you know when the next Absence of Light awards will be? (there will be one, won't there?)

Absence of Light is kind of a maybe and that's mostly my fault. I'm trying to get my schedule sorted out so that I can handle another round.

BTW, kudos on your very well-deserved award! (I cannot believe I forgot to say that in the first place. Kick me please.)

1) Need any help with AoL? (this weekend I'm off to NYC and next weekend probably moving back into the old apartment, but after that I should have free time to spare.)

2) I didn't notice a lack of kudos hon, but thank you anyway! Your support is understood and always, always appreciated.

3) Oh woman I don't want to kick you! Hug you, tickle you with a feather, give you a backrub, even nip you maybe...well, I can think of a LOT of things to do more fun than kick you. Unless that's your thing.

Not that I'm suggesting anything.

Unless you want me to suggest something? :)
Okay, let's talk AoL in a couple of weeks. That would be absolutely splenderific! Thanks!

The pleasure's mine hon! I had such fun the last time around! I think being a part of AoL last year really did a lot to make me feel that I was genuinely a part of fandom, not just lurking around the edges of it.

I'll message you to update on our move.

BTW - I also have found some scans I did of some of my antique photos, including some that did not survive the fire. Would a post (or two or three) showing them off be of interest to you? I imagine it would since you love silent films, and these are all circa 1890 - 1910. (The icon I'm using is from one of my very favorites.)
I would love to see them! *hugs you* I know what it's like to lose meaningful things, so I just want to tell you again how very sorry I am about the fire.


The things (& people) that mattered most survived. And I'm probably better and happier today in many ways than I was a year ago!

The apartment is almost ready to move back into - they've really redone it beautifully! Repainted, new light fixtures, new windows in my sweeties room, resanding the floors, moldings - they even took up two layers of that awful linoleum in the kitchen that would never come clean to get to the wood floor beneath it.
Oh hey you!!! I've been pimping your name like a shameless hussy all over the place since January, have your ears been burning? *lol*

I don't think I can write your DW name as a direct link into my posts the same way I can LJ accounts can I? Whereas you can do the opposite with DW. *pouts*

Lovely icons. Big stories in such a little space. I love that you've got the print size spot on. Easy to read the message and still allows the images centre stage.

Thanks for the vid recs. Excellent. :D
Big stories in such a little space.

Oh THANK YOU! That is exactly what I was going for, so your observation really makes me very happy.

I forgot to thank you for encouraging me to write about the icons, though - next time I'll give due credit.

I love that you've got the print size spot on. Easy to read the message and still allows the images centre stage.

Again, this makes me so happy because that is one of my goals - I'll even resize them to 75 square, because that's how this template shrinks them. If it's still legible at that size, I'm satisfied. It really is one of the hardest things to get right for me.

You haven't seen the REAL rejects (the ones that get deleted.) *lol*

And I'm very glad you enjoyed the vid recs - I think I'm actually more particular and fussy about fanvids than fanfics, if you can believe it. I love rec'ing them because the concept of fanvid as meta (but also as an entertaining video at the same time) was entirely new to me until this fandom; and I don't think they get talked about as much or celebrated the way fics do. And vids helped me "process" my thoughts about the show before I started seriously reading meta essays or fanfics. Very visceral and immediate.

I knew that icon ("Promise to a lady") was yours. :D Pretty icons, especially the one who won. It's really intense.

Very interesting thoughts about Faith and Buffy and many, many things to read/watch. I was always creeped out by Who Are You when I was younger (Now it's one of my all time favourites episodes. The acting is stellar and it's an incredible episode, full of beautiful/funny/disturbing scenes) But at the beginning I couldn't watch Faith taking Buffy's body - I hated her for that. To me it's not only a form or rape and violation of the body, but it's also about stealing the identity of someone else, which it's a concept that disturbs me a lot. The identity is not only the body, but also the psyche and a bunch of other things and somebody stealing it ... is really creepy, isn't?
With Faith and Buffy there's always this envy/emulation thing going on, that the Spuffy relationship doesn't have, because as much as Spike emulates Buffy, he still wants to be himself - or his persona - and being very different from her. (Which is kinda cute because he wants to play the badass Big Bad who knows stuff about the slayers and he ends up learning a lot from Buffy. Oh baby boy! *pats*)

Also I didn't remember the phrase from SR. (I didn't remember that was Spike's line during the rape scene) and IT FITS SO MUCH with Faith and Buffy. The subtext feels like a text to me.

Those are interesting icons. I remember the first time I watched Buffy I couldn't get into Buffy/Faith, and I couldn't figure out why, because it seemed like just the kind of relationship I should like. I always liked Faith, but I couldn't get into the relationship. It was actually watching vids (heresluck's especially) that helped me to come around.
Do you have a link to heresluck's vids or should I just go to their journal and root around? Any particular recs?

I remember the first time I watched Buffy I couldn't get into Buffy/Faith,

I wasn't as "in love" with Buffy at that point as I am now, and I remember thinking that Faith was dynamic enough a personality to nearly take over the whole show when she was onscreen; but at the same time I missed the subtext completely. I think after so many decades of wanting to see subtext or seeing it only to have it used as a joke or tease, I was actually resisting it entirely when watching Buffy and Faith. (now it's like, well, duh, how did I miss that?)

I think it was the same for me - watching bradcpu's creep and afterthebattle's your power is rooted in darkness brought me around, as well as some really good fanfics. (But I've also seen crappy ones. I cannot stand fics that try to turn the bodyswap of Who are You into something sexy, like Buffy would be curious what it would be like to make love to her own body. Ugh, no, sorry - missing the point. Snowy gets it right, but that's just a given.)

heresluck's vids are here. She has two Faith vids, "Come On" and "Superstar" which introduced me to Tegan and Sara music as well as the wonders of Buffy/Faith. She also has a Spike vid, "Glorious #1", that is excellent. Her other vids are good, too, but those three are my favorites.

but at the same time I missed the subtext completely.

Yeah, it's hard for me to imagine missing the subtext in Buffy/Faith (although they have the implication of a sisterly relationship, too...they contain multiplicities, I guess). When I was younger I used hate the idea of subtext because I liked platonic relationships so much (I also hated it that in almost every story I read, anytime a guy and girl became friends they ended up a couple). Also, not being gay, I wasn't suffering from a shortage of images of people of my sexuality. It took me a long time to figure out that you can value platonic friendships *and* like subtext. I had definitely figured that out by the time I met Buffy and Faith, so there was nothing keeping me from seeing the possibility of them as a couple.
It was actually watching vids (heresluck's especially) that helped me to come around.

I finally got around to watching Superstar and Come On (I liked Superstar better but they are both excellent.) Thank you very much for the rec!
I just added it to my bookmarks - and I LOVED her commentaries about it. I always enjoy reading about the process and she wrote with such clarity.
Yay!!! How nice to have your work is acknowledged! They're great icons. I love seeing what you come up with, and I know there is always some thought behind the image choice. Congrats!
Your icons look very nifty, sweetie!

I also enjoyed your thinky thoughts. Insightful and thought-provoking. :)