Transgendered Art

One’s person nightmare can often be someone else’s paradise. When thinking about the things that frustrate me so much, I tend to overlook you lucky I actually am! This tends to make me ease down a bit and look upon the bright side of things.

In the past few weeks, my life has become rather hectic, and I’m on 4-hour-nights-of-sleep again, and I know what that will mean: a few more weeks of these, and it’s time for collapse. Last year it meant fainting and visiting the hospital for some tests; nothing was found except extreme fatigue.

This year I have to cope with dealing with my demented father, who survived my mother’s death in August, but it has been hard to get him happy — and takes an insane amount of my time. Time that, as you know, is incredibly precious to me. Because now I also have to deal with a wife who needs a ride to university every day, now that she picked up her studies again. Since she’s in the ‘night shift’, it means she can’t get public transportation back, and I have to stay at an office nearby while I wait. More time wasted, but at least I can work a little while she’s at her classes. But it also means even less time for what I’m supposed to be doing, which is fully focusing on my PhD. Which I’m not.

This naturally leads to deep frustration, because, once more, I have completely lost control of my life. And naturally, when I’m frustrated, I get my ‘urges’ more strongly as before. In fact, for the past weeks, I haven’t thought about anything else.

I’m not a shrink but I think I understand my own behaviour perfectly. It’s almost rational: when I feel that my life is just getting hopelessly tangled, and being so much at a whim of others, then it’s when I restart thinking about ‘living a different life’ altogether. I mean, if you have followed my entries here, you know that I’m always saying how impossible it would be for me to simply throw everything away and start from scratch. But during these intense weeks, when I have little else to give me some personal pleasure but to dress a bit, then sometimes ‘starting from scratch’ seems not to be such a bad thing to do. I mean, it can’t be worse!

Then, of course, my more rational side steps in, and obviously I question myself, and think: ‘This is just because I’m feeling down. Lots of people feel down because they exaggerate their worries and think that there is no way they can feel better. But this is not the case: it’s just my mind amplifying what looks to be bad and makes it worse, and looking at transition and just seeing the bright side of it, but forgetting about the rest’. This gives me some comfort and I usually plod along more content.

Having skipped some of my dressing sessions, my alternative is usually just browsing the ‘net for transgender issues and stories, and try to keep in touch here and there on the many TG online communities where I still have accounts. But a few weeks ago something quite interesting happened: I came across a link, posted I don’t remember where, about transgender/transformation comics.

Now I can’t say I’m a comics ‘expert’ — in fact, I’m not even an ‘amateur’. I do have a couple of bookshelves with European comics. I do follow a few webcomics I happen to like. But that’s all I know. If you asked me what are the top ten best comic artists in the world, I would probably be unable to list a single one. I don’t even know which are the top ten webcomics of the last decade, although I suspect that Girl Genius and PhD might be among them.

As a teen, I had been completely surrounded by artists — friends and some family. Some of them were actually rather good, and a few continued their careers in the art scene. I wished, at some point, to do the same, and draw my own comics. I even do have some formal training in drawing (long forgotten!) but the truth is, I have zero talent. For a while, I toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, and I do have some formal training in composing and piano playing, but, again, my utter lack of talent plays against me. So I pretty much gave up on anything ‘artistique’ and just became a computer geek instead; computers are very forgiving…

I still wrote science-fiction stories for a long while. Ironically, I even got an award and got published occasionally. Don’t bother to look it up, though — all my former publishers have long since gone bankrupt and disappeared. After a while, I just turned to blogging and academic publishing, where all the writing I had done as teen and young adult was not completely wasted. And then I sort of stopped writing fiction, because, seriously, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do a career out of it, either. Again, my lack of talent haunts me across all areas.

But I still occasionally do some fiction. Some of you know that I’m an active Second Life user. Second Life is an open-ended virtual world, now going for ten years, where you can pretty much do whatever you wish. The identity of alter ego over there is still unknown to most people, even after some 9 years have elapsed, and I also occasionally blog about Second Life (not so much as before… because every time one post comes up… I get calls from my PhD supervisor telling me to stop blogging and write my thesis instead!! Social media suck!). Some 5 years ago, I did a small experiment: using a sequence of images taken from Second Life, I wrote a silly story to go with them. This was actually well received — sort of ‘fan fiction’ if you like — so, three years later, I did another one. It occurred to me that my long-standing wish of doing comics might be possible to do using screenshots from Second Life. Unfortunately, that takes a lot of time, and I gave up the idea.

What surprised me was that a lot of people — and I mean really a lot — are, indeed, doing volumes and volumes of transgendered/transformation comics (where guys turn into girls and sometimes vice-versa). Seeing that this might be just a tiny niche, I was actually amazed at the huge quantity of high-quality material that has been produced for the past decade or so, and of which I was never aware. On one hand, it’s incredible how many TG artists there are (I cannot claim that all are TG, but most are); and it’s also incredible how big an audience there must be for all those comics, since many of them are paid, and a few artists can live out of their work (and accept commissions).

A whole world opened to me. So, if you’re into comics, take a look at TG Comics for starters. Many of the great artists are also on DeviantArt, like my current favourite artist, Smooch/cluedog/Zoe Crockett.

Stories vary a lot, in terms of interest. There are a few subgenres that seem always to be popular. I came across TG fiction — not comics! — by mere chance. A friend of mine, around 1995 or so, before we had search engines, gave me a link to an archive of porn/erotic fiction, the Nifty Archives. At that time, I was still struggling with my crossdressing and somehow in denial about it, so I was rather fascinated to see that there was some TG fiction on Nifty. My favourite one was the Joe Bates Saga (author anonymous), which stopped after 58 long chapters, although some fans created several possible endings. This is a story based on an ‘almost possible’ setting: while there is a science-fiction element to it, the author tried to make the transition believable, as well as the struggles of the main character with her new body, and how s/he had to learn and adapt.

This is by far not the only popular kind of storyline; from pure fantasy (a magic spell turning you into a woman), to Marvel/DC-comic style superheroes who have the power to switch genders, to nano-bots/nanites or super-high-tech DNA-changing machines, there are plenty of devices out there in all those creative minds to get a story going. Some are meant to be parodies and are pure fun; many, of course, are merely ‘masturbatory fiction’ — the plot is meaningless, all it matters is to draw women with an infinite libido which want to have sex with everybody in their new bodies. But the ‘serious’ plots also turn into quite interesting comics, like She’s Me, where the main character wakes up unexpectedly as a woman, and the whole story is about figuring out how it happened — and trying to convince her closest friends, doctors, etc. that she’s the same person as before. So you pretty much get the whole range of possible ideas, many of which are repeated over and over again, picked up by different scriptwriters and comic artists. Some of those stories even become animations or movies!

After spending the past weeks browsing across so much art, I finally got inspired. I thought that I could commission a story written by me. Unfortunately none of my stories (except some really old ones, buried deep in stacks of ancient floppy disks) are strictly TG, or come even close, so I had to write something from scratch. And that’s what I spent the past week doing. I practically didn’t do anything else.

I’m not going to show you the result, for several reasons: it’s a script for a comic, not really something supposed to be read — but to be put into pictures. I have contacted just the right comic artist saying that I would be interested to commission some work for him, but explained that I had not much money to invest, so this would be a very, very long-term project — probably taking some ten years or so.

Of course, so far, she has not replied (yes, she’s currently going through transition, so it’s fair to call her ‘she’ now), and I can imagine that she will not reply at all, or just say she’s not interested in doing anything like that, even as a paid commission.

I have not given up yet, though. I can be ‘subtly persuasive’. I might launch a campaign somewhere, saying: “Please accept Sandra’s commission and do her comic” 🙂 Maybe if I gather enough Likes on Facebook or on YouTube, she might think it’s worth doing. On the other hand, she might feel insulted (artists are fickle!) so I’m still on the waiting stage, see what happens. I have several alternative plans, one of which is just to ask her for a few illustrations, and turn what was a script into a complete novel (should be some 150 pages when rewritten as a novel). We’ll see.

During this week, I couldn’t think of anything else but complete the story and send it to the comic artist for review. I slept little. I didn’t work. I couldn’t dress the whole week, but, ironically, I even got two new things (a coincidence, I thought both would never arrive before Christmas), that I’m wearing now — a new wig, allegedly made out of human Remy hair, although I seriously suspect it’s not (but at least the fibre is incredibly thin and looks very, very realistic); and a new corset, because the old ones are getting deformed with too much used. Now I’m using a waist training corset, which use spring-steel whalebones, and should be incredible tough and keep everything in place. While not perfect, I can certainly say it does wonders for my figure!

I’ve also been toying with a base from Kryolan. It’s a bit tricky to use, but it should be completely opaque, and absolutely sweat-proof (it’s used by professionals on TV which have to endure hot spotlights). My point here is that, during the warm months, I usually ruin my makeup because of all that sweating. Also, I’m a bit tired of having to apply a layer of red lipstick to cover the beard shadow, wait, then another layer of foundation, wait… and then start applying the rest. Kryolan shortens the process and should remain in place longer without looking too artificial or ‘cakey’, although it’s meant to be used if you’re behind a camera and not in public. As said, I’m trying it out, to see if I get used to it or not.

All that just built up my expectations for the weekend. Saturday I finally managed to finish everything on my story, sent it to the artist, and now I can relax while trying out a lot of new things.

It has been quite relieving in a sense — but also strange in another.

I’m usually good at keeping a balance between my ‘urges’ and my work. I can ‘disconnect’ them and just focus on whatever is more important; a stray thought might still bring me back to Sandra, but, in general, I will spend hours thinking just of my work or any other task at hand. This is what kept my sanity and my balance for so long. Every now and then, of course, I let my feminine side ‘loose’, both in my mind and in my body, by crossdressing — but that’s kept in check, as you know, I can do it only just twice per week or so.

The past week, by contrast, was a bit… overwhelming. I was not only thinking about the story in itself, but about transgenderism in general. All my waken moments were about that and nothing else. If I wasn’t actually writing the script, I was getting inspiration from TG art, or checking some facts up as references for the story — or constantly looking up the tracking numbers on the things I had ordered. At the office, where I wait for my wife while she’s at the university, I was always wearing at least a bra and a corset (at that late hour, there is usually nobody else around, but I go out for a smoke on the fire emergency staircases). I mended a few old clothes, and tried out two pairs of shoes which I had bought; I bought some new jewelry; one day, in fact, except for the wig and makeup, I was pretty much dressed from below the neck to my toes.

This was a strange feeling. I told myself to stop often. Sometimes, one or two of my colleagues would stay late as well, and I was actually relieved, because that was a good reason not to crossdress (even partially) at the office. But the truth is that even there it was really, really hard to think of anything else. If I got too tired, well, then I would just browse more TG art for stress relief.

Now I have to admit that I’m quite tired, and, of course, my work is a week late. But this intensity was sort of strange for me: I used to be like that as a teenager, when I was either writing another of my stories, or doing some computer programming. But it has been a long time since I did that in my adult life. And never by filling my mind with transgender thoughts at such intensity.

No wonder I’m tired, but also happy — my work was completed, and now it’s all in the hands of the comic artist. If she doesn’t answer in a week or so, I will have to go to Plan B 🙂

Wish me luck.