Welcome to my Creative Domain!

I've been writing like crazy since I was a kid, but when I was 13 I became pretty dedicated and started drawing graphic novels. Throughout middle school and high school, I completed 4 lengthy comic books with complicated storylines, elaborate characters, and a whole lot of heart. These were Nikkei, The Terror of Night (originally a sequel to Nikkei, then known as "So Much for That!" or "Redefining Evil"),Rebels, and Cadence, which was formerly known as ...Whispered the River. Moving into the end of high school and my college years, I shifted from graphic novels to written novels. I rewrote one of my graphic novels (Redefining Evil) and also completed four novels varying in length from 30,000 words to 100,000+ words. These were Farewell, Fairytale, Catcher, Sun-Walking, Unface, To Trust a Dragon, and Per Aspera ad Astra. Finally, during the onset of COVID-19, I channeled my anxiety into my first new graphic novel project since Cadence. I call it Code: Compromised and it stars Micah and Andrew of my recurring characters.

This site documents my projects. Each page is headed by an image I did while I was working on each project (or else working on something for the project later on, as some of my earlier images are very small and I don't have larger originals anymore), and includes some story summaries and images I drew for them. They're listed in chronological order beginning with "Nikkei" and ending with "Code: Compromised."

The last page, "Recurring Characters," is about some of the characters from my projects that show up in most or all of my stories.

About the Layout

[7-21-20] This. Took. So. Long. I truly did about five complete drafts of this header image before finding myself successful with it. The color scheme, though, was decided long ago on the original draft. I narrowed down the cast more and more as I continued to struggle with it and then, weirdly, ended up channeling "gay boy aesthetic" vibes for the final composition. I feel it's appropriate to the lyrics ("If the World was Ending" by JP Sacks and Julia Michaels) that I included two couples in the image. And yes! Andrew and Micah are now, delightfully and to my teenage self's horror, cannonically a couple! So cutes. Anyway, I kept pushing back from and then circling back around to a theme that would somehow include reference to the madness that has been 2020. Often my objections were "but my art is my escape!" But the tone of my life is so fundamentally different than it used to be that it just felt impossible not to somehow include some existential dread in this image. This way feels full of solidarity, as I do, but also fear.

I got to really spend time with my XP-Pen Pro Tablet on this piece too whereas most of the rest of the year, and including the composition of Code: Compromised, I've mostly been spending time doing art on my iPad. The iPad really is a game changer for my busy life as a mom/tech/grad student now, but nothing quite gets me into the creative digital art zone like hunkering down and spending hours at my art desk.

I hope you enjoy these sunset coronavirus vibes of this layout and enjoy browsing the rest of My Mental Breakdown!

The Rest of the Site

Go read about all the other stories represented here on the rest of the site. I got sick of featuring everyone because everyone else fits into the any number of the three stories that include Micah, Andrew, and Erik. Speaking of them, there is a page dedicated to them and their interwoven stories here. My Mental Breakdown is a branch off maryvanalstine.com, which includes several other websites like this. Take a look at my main site and be sure to check out my art blog.