Going Into Spooky Month

Next month is October–which means Halloween–which means the month of all things spooky! (Let’s be honest, though, spooky is a year-round mood in our household.) With October comes a few things for me, like projects and ideas.

First of all, October has sort of become the month of a drawing-a-day in the online community. For the first time ever, I will be participating in this ritual. I have created my own prompt list (see below), and I will be drawing a combination of original-based art as well as fan art. There may be a few days when I just write a little story instead of drawing. I am not sure yet.

So there will be some artsy uploads soon enough. Honestly most of the art is probably going to be either Grelle, Vexen, or Nox. Maybe some other characters as well. Who knows. Maybe I’ll try a background or still-life.


Other things that art coming up soon: I am going to be revamping my YouTube account again. This time, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t do what’s popular, but rather, what I like. I like to sew! I like goth clothing! I like a bit of menswear fashion!

Part of wanting to make a YouTube channel that is based on, basically, sewing plus-size men’s goth clothing is to help me create a wardrobe that I will personally be happy with while simultaneously creating content for other bigger goth guys like me–and maybe even for those who just like this kind of fashion, or are trans too and need some representation in this field of the internet.

Thinking on reinventing myself, and becoming the Devyn I really want to be, I messed around with a photo-editor last night. Nothing fancy, but I took a selfie.

…I look like an angry baby.

Along with a new wardrobe, I will be coloring my hair for the first time in literally years. I found a very nice, animal-friendly/vegan hair dye company that honestly looks better than Manic Panic. I didn’t think that was possible. They’re called Lunar Tide. Some of the colors are just fantastic! I can’t wait to dye my hair in a week or two. Covey is going to help, and whatever is left over of the two dye pots I buy, she is going to use in her hair.

The colors I am going with this time around are called Cerulean Sea and Juniper Green. I want to take the green and kinda blend it into the bluish color, to make it look like a sort of ombre. I have no idea if that will work, but…I’m willing to try. Of course, to get the best possible color, I will be bleaching my hair as well.

Other colors that I considered are Plum Purple, Lychee Pink, and Blood Moon. If I don’t end up liking the Cerulean and Juniper, I might let it fade out after a few months and redo it in the Blood Moon with a fade into the Lychee, or the Plum into the Lychee.

I might be getting ahead of myself, but after the madness of October/Spooky Month comes NaNoWriMo–which I am going to participate in this year, with a brand new account! (You can add me as a writing buddy if you’d like!)


I’ve Been Drawing

I just finished this piece! It’s one of my original characters, Nox Honeytongue! This is them in their tiefling form, from the Dungeons and Dragons campaign me and my friends played a few months ago (it’s on pause for now).

Nox is a character that I really needed to make when I was exploring my gender! They helped me loads in learning about myself–and I love them for it.


Manga Review: “Black Rose Alice, vol. 6” by Setona Mizushiro

Black Rose Alice, Tome 6 (Black Rose Alice, #6)Black Rose Alice, Tome 6 by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What started as an intriguing look into the nature of love versus the desire and biological need to mate to sustain the species became a look into the nature of the individual, the ideals of love itself, and what it means to be attracted to another person’s soul. Mangaka Setona Mizushiro wove a gorgeous story of life and death, love and rebirth using the most interesting take on vampires I have ever read.

Was “Black Rose Alice” a perfect series? No. Not by a long shot. There were a lot of problematic moments in the manga, including some suggested rape scenes and a toxic relationships, along with physical and mental abuse. I feel that the mangaka used these instances as devices to look into the soul of humanity–both the good and the bad–but for some people with traumatic pasts, parts of this series might want to be avoided (I, for one, glanced over a lot of the more questionable material, considering my own past).

The artwork, as a whole, was gorgeous. It might take some time to feel good about Mizushiro’s style, as she does tend to draw a few features of the human face and body overly exaggerated, especially in the first volume or so (many of the male characters fell into the ‘horse face’ and ‘yaoi hands’ category). However, once the story gets going and the characters become more familiar, the style grows on you.

This ending is satisfactory. I had thought the series was going to go in a completely different direction–which would have been a surprise for the genre, honestly–but it ended very nice and tidy in the end. There is a lot of emphasis on taking one’s time when falling in love, with life and death, with the idea of whether one should just rush into something or wait it out. I feel like someone with a degree in psychology would have a field day with this manga, and that is not something I can say about many series. Honestly, coming from Mizushiro, though, I shouldn’t have expected anything less.

For those that enjoyed “Black Rose Alice,” might I suggest reading Setona Mizushiro’s slightly longer series, “After School Nightmare?” For the last eight or so years, it has been my favorite manga series, and I just barely managed to track down the last volume I needed for my collection.

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Manga Review: “Black Rose Alice, vol. 5” by Setona Mizushiro

Black Rose Alice, Tome 5 (Black Rose Alice, #5)Black Rose Alice, Tome 5 by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fifth volume of “Black Rose Alice” takes a turn, perhaps for the worst. The story is still good, the art is still amazing–but the emotions between the main characters is unsettling. Things are starting to unravel and come apart for Alice, Dimitri, the twins, and Alice’s ex-boyfriend.

I honestly don’t know what else I can say about this volume without ruining the story, so I will instead talk about the artwork. Setona Mizushiro’s art just gets better and better with every volume, and it makes me a little sad knowing that the next entry is the last one for “Black Rose Alice.” I wish the American releases of the manga had the colored inserts at the beginning of the volumes. Instead, we get black-and-white versions of Mizushiro’s art. This is upsetting, to be sure, and I feel that if the manga had been published present day instead of in 2011, it would have the full colored pages. Ah, well.

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Manga Review: “Black Rose Alice, vol. 4” by Setona Mizushiro

Black Rose Alice, Tome 4 (Black Rose Alice #4)Black Rose Alice, Tome 4 by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If your entire existence centered around finding a mate and continuing your bloodline, would you feel like less of a person if you passed away without doing so?

In the fourth installment of Setona Mizushiro’s “Black Rose Alice,” these thoughts come to the forefront. As the story continues, Alice finds herself wondering if the vampires she lives with are capable of love at all–or if they merely exist to breed. When Leo’s love affair comes to the mansion a week after the events of the previous volume, some things are tested. Loyalty, trust, and the ideals of love are all brought into question.

This series is wonderful in asking what love really is, and if part of it could be sacrificing one’s self in the name of the species, in the name of a memory.

Mangaka’s beautiful artwork only gets more stunning as the series progresses.

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Manga Review: “Black Rose Alice, vol. 3” by Setona Mizushiro

黒薔薇アリス 3 [Kurobara Alice] (Black Rose Alice, #3)黒薔薇アリス 3 [Kurobara Alice] by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third installment of the “Black Rose Alice” series is a rather difficult one for me to get through. This volume deals with loss, with unrequited love, and with the idea that love is just a by-product of continuing the species.

Mangaka Setona Mizushiro presents these issues in an interesting way, taking the point of view of one of Alice’s suitors, Leo, this time around. His history as a vampire is here, the explanation of his personality and mannerisms, and his reasons for his loyalty to Dimitri are all shown within this volume.

The art is lovely, as usual, and I feel that, by this chapter, Mizushiro has a better grip on the character designs that she was trying for. The insects and spiders look wonderful in this chapter as well. I look forward to the next volume.

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Manga Review: “Black Rose Alice, vol. 2” by Setona Mizushiro

黒薔薇アリス 2 [Kurobara Alice] (Black Rose Alice, #2)黒薔薇アリス 2 [Kurobara Alice] by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second volume of “Blood Rose Alice” is a great character study. Through the eyes of the freshly named Alice, we learn of each of the four vampires’ stories. There is Leo, the responsible yet overly handsy second in command; there are the twins, Reiji and Kai, who are wonderful cooks but do not apply themselves; and finally, there is Dimitri, the head of the vampire nest, who is reserved and battling his own inner demons. Bit by bit through the volume, mangaka Setona Mizushiro explores each of the men’s personalities and desires.

There is some of Alice’s thoughts and emotions at work here, as well. “Black Rose Alice” is an interesting series, pitting animalistic tendencies and instinct against the human notions of love and loss. The vampires are completely different from anything I have ever read before, and honestly, something fresh like this is seriously needed in the genre. The fact that the vampires are living corpses, infected with a plant-like will and hosts of insect familiars is simply amazing. I love how creepy it is, and how it turns humans into not only hosts to parasites, but gives them more of an animal-type feeling. After all, the main point of this story is which male can impress the female into mating with him. When you take that idea and throw human emotion and complexity into it, it becomes a very interesting study of what it means to love, and what it means to continue the species. Does breeding mean love? Does love mean breeding? Very interesting ideas here.

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Manga Review: “Black Rose Alice, vol. 1” by Setona Mizushiro

Black Rose Alice, Tome 1 (Black Rose Alice #1)Black Rose Alice, Tome 1 by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original Rating: 5/5 stars
New Rating: 5/5 stars

In the first volume of “Black Rose Alice,” the mangaka Setona Mizushiro has created an interesting perspective on vampires, love, rebirth, and mating. This is a truly fresh take on the vampire mythos. Instead of having fangs, of being burned by the sunlight, or being harmed by the vision of the cross, Mizushiro’s vampires use human males as their hosts. The vampiric portion of these men are actually insects and spiders that live inside of them, coming out of their mouths when they feed and then returning to provide nutrients to the host body. What’s more, these vampires create ‘nests,’ which sees multiple males vying over one female in order to breed with her. When they’ve mated, the male and female die, producing ‘seeds’ that will infect recently dead male bodies, only to start the entire cycle over again. From what I can understand of this first novel, however, the male and female must love each other enough to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the vampire race.

I find this fascinating. First of all–I am a bug nerd, so seeing insects and spiders used in such a manner is truly remarkable. I know some of this imagery was probably used by the mangaka to give this love story a bit of a dramatic and horrific twist, but I simply love the idea of using creepy-crawlies as organisms that are feeding the host body with blood.

In the 1900’s, Dimitri was a singer with a voice so beautiful and haunting that he had women falling at his feet. Life was good for him. His best friend, Theo, and Theo’s betrothed, Agnieszka, love him and welcome him into their lives. However, Dimitri has a secret–he is madly in love with Agnieszka, whom he considers to be an angel and pure of heart.

After an argument with Theo, Dimitri is struck by a stampeding horse. Before he falls unconscious, a single butterfly lands on him. When we awakens, he finds that things are starting to change for him. He becomes sensitive to sounds and light, and he finds that he is no longer hungry. When people begin to die around him, he starts to wonder exactly what happened to him after the butterfly landed on him.

Soon enough, his life is destroyed. The deaths happen more frequently, and he realizes that he is the killer–or, more accurately, his voice is. This is a special ability he has been given by the seed of a vampire; the butterfly that landed upon him infected his corpse with power.

There is far more to the story here, but I do not want to go too far into it for fear of spoilers. Mangaka Mizushiro’s art is wonderful, as usual, though I have started to notice a few wonky looking panels. Her art is very good, and I really enjoy a lot of her manga (“After School Nightmare” being one of my favorites), but her style does takes some getting used to. Still, the first volume of “Black Rose Alice” is a solid start to what I hope will be a very interesting take on the vampire legend.

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“Til death do us part; but we’re already past that phase”

There have been so many things going on in my life right now. Not bad things, mind. Just a lot of things.

It’s so strange. At first, I felt broken, lost. My brother and I got into a fight with our father. We both have sworn him off for the moment (time will tell if we speak to him again) because of how toxic he and my step-mother can be. I love them both, I do, but I can’t keep living in fear of them. Guilt filled me for a few weeks. Now, though? Now that I am living my life without fear of upsetting them, without the fear of shaming them–I can just be myself. I don’t have to pretend to be the perfect ‘daughter’ anymore. I can just be Devyn, a trans man who is trying his best.

Now that I don’t feel so pressured into being someone I’m not, I feel more able to do the things that I love to do without having the weight of having to be the ‘best’ at it. That’s what my father pushed on us, from a very young age. Perfection.

But now I can have fun with my hobbies. I can sit down and relax while I make a doll wig, or sew some clothing for my bjd. And I’m getting things done, too! We’ve had friends over to the apartment. I’m writing again, and reading again, and I’m also being a dungeon master for my first ever Dungeons and Dragons game that I am running. Today was the first session, and boy, it’s fun as hell!

There are still thoughts, of course. Thoughts that this isn’t right, or that isn’t right, or that I am never going to amount to anything because of whatever reason my brain wants to say to me. It’s manageable, though. I can get through it.

For my books that I am writing, I have two main ideas. I have to plan them, work out characters, etc…but I think it’s going well so far.


Short Story Review: “The Lost Sisters (The Folk of the Air, book 1.5)” by Holly Black

The Lost Sisters (The Folk of the Air, #1.5)The Lost Sisters by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The Lost Sisters” is a short story that takes place during “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black. This story is a sort of mini retelling of the novel, but told as an apology through the eyes and lips of Jude’s twin sister, Taryn.

During the story of “The Cruel Prince,” while Jude was battling her inner demons and the influences of the fairy court, her sister, Taryn, was having her own war. While the two had once been close, the twins slipped away from one another as they were both secretly courting one of the fairy boys from their classes, the fox-haired Locke.

For their own reasons, the sisters became angry with each other–one wishing to be seen as a powerful creature, and the other wishing to have some sort of immortality of her own. Both wanted to be one part of what the Fairy folk were to them–powerful and beautifully immortal. In chasing these wants, they lost sight of each other, truly, breeding anger and distrust between them.

I liked this story story. It was quick and simple, and explained a few things that happened in “The Cruel Prince,” but from a different perspective than I had originally expected. Taryn was seen as the good sister, the kind sister, the one that did not have a bad bone in her body, while Jude was the wrathful sister, the one with a sword in her hand and fire in her eyes. Being able to see Taryn as her own person, with her own faults and desires, was nice.

I also really liked that Taryn’s voice was not the same as Jude’s. Both of the twins had different ways of recounting the same moment of time. They saw things different, felt things differently. I have to give it to the author, Holly Black. The idea that you can take one story and split it into two pieces, keeping different voices while still keeping the initial feeling of the scene overall–it was just very nice to read. Some authors tend to fall into the same voice for every character and novel they write (I understand that is them creating their style, but this is a little different), so I was just really pleased to see that Holly Black could give the sisters two completely different personalities while still managing to keep them connected and realistic.

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