If you’ll pardon my departure from strictly gaming topics, I wanted to highlight a Really Cool Thing ™ I got recently.
With the release of V5 and actively playing V20 again, I’ve been getting hyped about Vampire: the Masquerade lately. And it probably helps that Vampire launched in the 1990s (although I was a little young when it first came out), and with a certain milestone birthday coming up I’ve been more than a bit nostalgic for those things associated with youthful times gone by.
And for me one of the strongest emotional connection points for Vampire: the Masquerade is those iconic images by Tim Bradstreet. Combine that with a recent interior decoration kick, and (having already bought all of his books) I’ve been looking around for ways to hang some of his art on the wall. One of those internet searches took me to RedBubble. And, while I did end up buying a t-shirt of what is to me the most iconic Vampire: the Masquerade image (this one), the search for ‘vampire’ turned up a lot of other things, including this homage to a certain magical couple on Buffy the Vampire Slayer by artist Monika Gross:
Now, Buffy has that 1990s pedigree (I was in high school when it started and working on a graduate degree when it ended), so it already had that hook going for it, but this piece really hit me. My single favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Tabula Rasa (and may I pause to note how impressive it is for a show to generate something that good in its sixth season). There are some ‘alternate reality’ hijinx, and there’s a Buffy/Spike development, but the heart of the episode is the breakdown of the relationship between Willow and Tara (and, really, the breakdown of Willow in general). Leading up to the show, Willow has been getting addicted to using magic. At the beginning of Tabula Rasa, Willow promises not to use magic for a week, in order to demonstrate to Tara that she doesn’t have a problem. Of course, Willow does use magic, and in particular uses it to (among other things) erase Tara’s memory of their problems (when you think about it, it’s pretty terrible – perhaps we all forgave Willow a little too easily for what is essentially an extreme form of emotional abuse and gaslighting). And, naturally, things don’t work out for Willow, as Tara finds out what happened and leaves her. And the show ends with Willow sobbing as Michelle Branch puts on an incredibly emotionally resonant version of “Goodbye to You.”
So, it’s this gut-wrenching story about Willow and Tara that I love, and I saw Monika Gross’s art, and it really spoke to me because – while the art is about the two of them when they’re happy – it’s also a really powerful, emotional piece. The work just exudes this intensity and passion between Willow and Tara. It makes you really feel it. For me, that’s an unusual quality. If I was an art critic, perhaps I could talk about technique or comparisons to other works, but I’m just a gamer and all-around geek. So all I can say is “wow.”
This was on RedBubble, so of course there were a slew of products to buy with the image on it (shirts, cell phone cases, wall art, pillows, bags, stationary). As I mentioned above, I’ve been decorating (and buying a Vampire: the Masquerade t-shirt obviously doesn’t get that accomplished), so I got wall art. I just got a normal poster (now framed and hanging next to the complete Buffy series on my movie rack), because that had the biggest size available (without spending $177 for a metal print), but now I’m wondering how it would have looked on canvas. Regardless, I’m exceptionally happy with the purchase, and the entire point of this post – other than waxing poetic about my favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – is to point you in the direction of Ms. Gross’s RedBubble store so you can check out this piece and her other offerings (thematically it’s mostly in the LGBTQ+ romance category).