Hopelessness, Hope, and Heroism

You guys probably noticed I'm running a giveaway with xoMia by now, thanks to the twitter posts and the rather large notice about it in my sidebar. So far, we've raised half the money Autumn needs get certified to help people struggling with thoughts of suicide! That's AMAZING. Everyone who donates or spreads the word about IMAlive is a hero, because you are taking action to save a life. Not every hero is a caped crusader. As Philip Zimbardo says, the keys to raising a society of people who do good is to emphasize every person's role as "a hero in waiting" that sees opportunities to act heroically in everyday situations, and then acts on them. So thank you to everyone who has work to support IMAlive.

Depression is often described as "the inability to form a picture of one's own future." That's another way of saying long-term, significant hopelessness. Things that empower people, remind people or help them realize that they guide their own destiny, and things that lessen the sting of continuing on despite the constant storm upon them, are really important in aiding recovery and coping. One of the reasons why Mia and I picked our comics for this giveaway is because seeing heroines like Ms Marvel and Fionna be awesome in comics, while fun fiction, also reminds us that we're also cool, interesting, flawed, but growing people who have the power to make choices that shape our future. I love these comics because seeing female heroines overcome their shortcomings, insecurities, and fear to do bad-ass things. They remind me that I can be a bad-ass. I can break the rules that keep me down and overcome stereotypes and labels. They show me through beautiful art and exciting stories how wonderful the world is, no matter how flawed, and how I can have a hand at making it better.

I'm giving away my complete Fionna and Cake, and I picked it for a lot of reasons. Firstly, because I love Adventure Time and I love Fionna and Cake, and I was sure my readers would, too. Secondly, Fionna and Cake are awesome ladies who show that you can be weird and make mistakes and still be a totally awesome hero! Thirdly, the Fionna and Cake series means a lot to me because it really speaks to the way dreams can come true.

Fionna and Cake, the genderswapped versions of Finn and Jake on Adventure Time, are actually not the products of the original Adventure Time creators. Fionna and Cake were developed by a fan named Natasha Allegri. Fionna and Cake became super popular in the Adventure Time fandom, along with their other genderswapped counterparts, Prince Gumball, Marshall Lee, Lord Monochromicorn, etc. and eventually the showrunners reached out to Natasha to make Fionna and the gang a real thing on the actual show Adventure Time. So far there have been two Fionna and Cake episodes, tons of official merchandise, and of course, comic books.

Natasha used the connections and skills she picked up working on Adventure Time to create her own original cartoon on the studio's youtube channel for their webcartoons, Cartoon Hangover, and released her two-part cartoon, Bee and Puppycat. It was a one-off, and then went on to Kickstarter to raise funds to produce more episodes. That Kickstarter is the #1 most successful Kickstarter for any youtube project, and is the 4th most successful in the Entertainment category-- only behind 3 Hollywood-backed productions. We're now going to get 9 more Bee and Puppycat episodes, and a Bee and Puppycat comic is now out!

Natasha's story really gives me hope that I can accomplish my dreams, too. She wasn't a well-known artist, or an art school wunderkind that the art world was raving about. She was just another art school grad with passion and hope. There is a lot of good in this world,  and even if you are feeling depressed or even suicidal, there are tons of reasons to believe that tomorrow can be better. We all have futures that we can have a hand in shaping if we have courage and work hard. Natasha is proof of that. She writes girls who are flawed and sometimes embarrassing, but unflappable in their courage to keep being themselves, and when the time comes, they rise to the challenges ahead of them. There is a market for that, because a lot of us are that girl, or are comforted by that girl, or want to be that girl.

Autumn, my friend whom we are hoping to fund with this giveaway, is also working to show others that the hopelessness they feel is temporary, and that the reality is that they can live a wonderful, full life despite whatever they feel right now, in this moment. Your lows don't have to be your defining moments-- instead, they can be turning points. We're working to get Autumn's suicide prevention / crisis intervention training and certification completely funded, so she can start saving lives and showing people that they deserve to live a fulfilling life. Basically, Autumn herself is becoming a superheroine like Fionna and Ms Marvel. You can be a hero, too, by spreading the word about IMAlive, the web chat-based suicide helpline, telling people how they can fund volunteers, and funding volunteers like Autumn yourself!

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