Issue 94 Creators’ Notes

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    • #10349

      This is a thread for the creators’ notes for Issue 94!

      Usually, we like to use the SSBB wiki to give authors and artists a chance to leave commentary, notes, links, and other useful information about their stories. However, since the wiki is down, this thread is intended as a temporary holding place for those things. Once the wiki is revived, any material left here will be transferred over there.

    • #10359
      Togi Kayako

      Author’s Notes for “No Soap Radio”

      20,000 words of twenty minutes into the future fun, starring:
      – Elia, an enby with a lifetime subscribtion to Feral Trash Panda Monthly
      – Dorran, a woman who loves designing tech almost as much as she loves lists
      – Cyrill, a hot guy in marketing who is quite possibly seducing your spouse as you read this

      When Elia “acquires” one of Dorran’s prototypes, an unusual radio, their only goal is to pawn it off for a few credits. Instead, they wind up as an unexpected product tester and getting increasingly involved with the radio’s creator.

      A six or seven year old idea, originally intended for an S2B2 issue of yesteryear, now resurrected and turned into something else entirely. Weirdly enough, only the minor character Sienna survived intact from the original. Elia and Dorran got new names (and genders!), and Cyrill didn’t even exist in version one! The radio is much the same, but the plot was different enough that I may yet repurpose it in the future. Recycle, reduce*, reuse? (*Odds that I will reduce the amount of queer smut I write: low.)

      This is intended to be the same general setting as “Going Twice” from Be Gay Do Crimes, but other than a few small nods, there’s no real overlap. I have several other story ideas in the same universe, and one very self-indulgent text game project that actually links them all together. Whether any of these will eventually be public, I have no idea.

      Special thanks to my husband for his usual beta and cheerleading efforts, Aiden for giving this a once-over with regards to tech plausibility, and Runny for illustrating! He took not just the story but a hilarious mix of images with my MSPaint scribbles on top and rambling text notes and somehow made coherent artwork from this. From my side of things, it’s nothing short of magic.

    • #10389
      juou no zan

      Author’s Notes for “The Killing Type”

      Sometimes when you’re playing a video game, a single line throws you so completely out of things that you have to stop and imagine what would actually happen if the game took that one line as seriously as you think it warranted. And then, if you’re me, you write a novella about it.

      Once again, in trying to figure out why the hell someone would say and do such fucking weird things (especially in any context divorced from the material that inspired it lol), my conclusion was: autism and trauma. Which meant I got overinvested in my weird little guys immediately, because Same Hat! I mean only one member of my family has ever been murdered and I myself have never killed anyone, but you know. Similar hat.

      I finished this story in August and it was enough over 25k that I didn’t think I would be able to carve it down for a regular issue, so I decided, since it was unlikely I would be able to write and finish another story during a semester I knew ahead of time would be tough (ahahaha. tough. i wish this semester was only tough) I would just sit on it and actually be able to have enough time away from it to have somewhat fresher eyes for a December round of edits.

      It wasn’t until very recently I realized I wrote a serious-verging-on-paranoid story about someone experiencing a crush and not knowing how to deal with it and going “get out of my school” to the object of their affections. In my defense, I am also autistic and somewhat oblivious.

      There is No Way fantasy worlds with magical healing do not get to have extra levels of BDSM and I’m mad about it now. Like, damn, wish it was even half as safe for me to get stabbed recreationally as it is for these dudes, what the fuck, that sounds great.

      I had a discussion with my wife about “white magic” and “black magic”, and the definitions thereof, and we basically inevitably decided that, like all categorizations, it is simply a false idea people are projecting onto a phenomenon that does not have clear lines. Like, an anti-microbial spell is obviously a healing spell, but it’s also literally killing things, and most definitions of “white” and “black” magic (in things that bother to define them) really don’t seem like they have room for something that’s obviously good for a human(oid) user but literally destructive to tiny life forms. Categories are fake and big video game magic system is lying to you!

      I don’t know if this is something allistic people experience in the same way, but there have been a couple times in my life where I met another autistic/neurodivergent person and immediately clicked with them in what always felt like a very surreal way. Going through life not relating to other people and then once every few years meeting a single person who I understood and who understood me…fucked up tbh. I mean, I never leapt to “I bet this feeling is murder” but I was overwhelmed enough to burst into very confusing tears when people were nice to me unexpectedly, so why not assume murder? Probably safer than weeping about it. I don’t know if I can overstate how strange it is to finally experience feeling understood and safe when it has very much not been your experience in socializing.

      It is probably fair to categorize Lennart and Bastiaan both as on the asexual spectrum, but at least for Bastiaan it has more to do with how vulnerable intimacy makes you. Which, yes, does make it a little ironic that he’s like, “This is the most dangerous man I’ve met in several years. Now I’m gonna fuck him”. I could psychoanalyze this guy all day, but I’ll just say perhaps the reality of vulnerability is less frightening than the idea of it.

      Okay I lied; I will also say identifying feelings is hard! Especially when you do not express them the way other people expect you to! (Alexithymia is a common feature of autism; how much this is because we have no models for what autistic versions of emotional expression is and how much of it is compartmentalizing things out of our conscious awareness is up for debate. What do you mean the feelings don’t go away if you ignore them for long enough???)

      Anyway, sometimes a traumatized autistic mercenary experiences a moment of recognition and is like “I don’t know what this feeling is” and decides it’s probably murder, and I think that’s beautiful.

      Did I get overambitious for these illustrations bc I Love My Boys and then realized it’s finals week and I’m Completely Exhausted? Yes I did. Maybe someday I will finish the version of them sparring that actually has a background, but a bitch got Very Into Dutch Castles instead.

    • #10393

      Author’s notes for “Frigid”

      FIRSTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY look at that beautiful art!!!!! :’’’’) Thank you very, very much to Tamago who kindly agreed to illustrate for me and did just a phenomenal job. I love it all so much. I hope the story around the artwork lives up to it!

      No real backstory to this one! Or possibly twenty-four years of backstory, depending on which way you look at it. If I had an objective, it was to stretch my character-writing muscles and strive for a smidge of complexity, with Sophy at the very least — I feel sort of nervous saying that, because I don’t really know how well I succeeded! For you to decide, dear reader. (You may notice that there is still one stock himbo running about in there… What can I say? I can’t relax unless I know there’s at least one present.)

      I think parlour games in general were more of a Victorian than a Regency thing, but people were definitely playing Russian Scandal and Snapdragon by 1810. And, honestly, I didn’t think two girls would fit in a wardrobe if they were wearing Victorian-style gowns haHA. I must shout out the book Round Games For All Parties by David Bogue from 1854, which was an invaluable resource for getting the writing style of a Ye Olde Game Guide. It also lists a whole load of deranged games for Victorian perverts, so if you ever need to make characters in a period piece do something saucy and weird in public without repercussions — up to and including calling each other master, being human furniture, crossdressing, and stripping…Oh, Victorians! — then check it out on Google Books (with the caveat that it is from 1854 so, y’know. Watch out.)

      On the other hand, if you were thinking that Bear seems a little too perfectly tailored for queer porn purposes, well… that’s because it doesn’t exist. Never happened. I made it up. There’s an unfinished M.R. James story called “The Game of Bear”, but he never got to the bit where he described how it’s played, beyond jumping out at people and screaming: there’s been some speculation over the last 100 years so I just followed that/went rogue. I think the frankenversion I came up with sounds like it might be quite fun? Idk, give it a go at your next assembly and let me know the verdict.

      Think I am officially done with the Regency for a WHILE — I am ready to write about people who have at the very least heard of MTV, oh my god. Thanks again to Tamago, and to my beta, and to everybody who gives my silly wintry story a read. I hope you enjoy! And a broader thanks to everybody in the SSBB cosmos for all your support this year. Been a weird one, but my work here is something I’m quite proud of and I wouldn’t have done any of it without the deadline to aim for, comments to cheer me up, and the discord to help me out. Here’s to ya! <3

    • #10395

      Author’s notes for “soulmates are stupid i love you on purpose”

      Behold, the story that dares to ask the question: What if your soulmate was shitty?

      The title of the story is taken from a Tumblr text post by user slytherverse, which (imposed over a certain screencap) I had at the bottom of the file the entire time I was working on this story. By the time I was done, it had stuck.

      Melanofly’s art absolutely makes the piece. I can’t say enough wonderful things about how beautiful (and steamy! yowza!) it wound up being. Such an absolute delight to see one’s characters come to life so marvelously.

    • #10396
      The Burning King

      Artist’s notes for “Bite”

      I initially set out to do two things: make a comic for December issue and tell a story that didn’t need a lot of backstory. I had a completely different story planned with butch for butch exes getting back together but somehow I could never make it happen. Then I drew a lewd thing and now you all have to read a gremlin man getting railed into next week by his hot boyfriend.

      I took a lot of cues from CTK’s work and the webtoon XXX Buddy for my art and paneling. I’m glad to have seen so much improvement since the last real comic I’ve submitted to SSBB, A Hot Chicago Weekend. There’s no confidence booster greater than drawing so many panels of the same characters and actively working hard to keep them distinct and interesting looking.

      Julian and Dylan have in fact been not-dating for years. And Dylan is a gremlin whisperer. He knows if he leans too hard into being affectionate, he’ll scare Julian away. They’ll be fine. And yes, those are stretch marks on Dylan. Dylan’s had a lot of body issues so the lights are mostly for him.

      I had a giant life thing come up which prevented me from putting together a super polished product. I definitely will come back to this and fully polish it. I hope you enjoy! Thank you.

    • #10397
      Iron Eater

      Author’s notes for The Heart’s Own Cementation:

      Content Warning: This submission involves assorted material that may not be appropriate for all readers, including mention of graphic violence, blood, intense fictional-religious themes, ritual self-mutilation, assorted depictions of mental illness, hints at past abuse (physical, emotional, and otherwise), and the use of carrion as a foodstuff. This story features no human characters.

      This is the tenth story in an ongoing series. Reading previous entries is not mandatory to understanding or enjoying this one, though there may be elements briefly mentioned or hinted at that are only given greater context by referring to what’s been written before. Yes, they’re all generally quite long. If you don’t have that kind of time, go ahead and jump right in, and maybe consider going back to see what came before if you like what you read here, won’t you?

      It’s December, which means just as it has been since 2012 it is time for orcs. It very nearly wasn’t, however; while I’d planned out a lot of thematic work ahead of time, started writing pretty much right after Halloween, and budgeted time in my writing schedule for taking time off for an event, I hadn’t expected for my husband and I to fall terribly ill as a result of somebody else showing up to said event with something contagious. It wasn’t the Dread Corona (thankfully!), but it did knock us both out for a good week, which left me going into the final week of November with a woefully unfinished story and a rising sense of panic.

      Then I woke up, chose violence, and wrote about 40,000 words over the course of said week. I do not advise doing this if at all avoidable.

      Great thanks goes out to my dedicated beta reader, Sparklebeard, who was given a full-sized novella and asked to help beat it into the shape of a manuscript a reasonable human being might want to enjoy. He’s watched this series evolve greatly over the years and has vastly improved the quality of my writing with his advice every time he cracks open a fresh document and begins to annotate, providing not only quality proofreading but magnificent editorial content. Two whole chapters of this beast came into being at his behest, as did a few extra scenes to flesh out sections he felt made sense for the characters and story but needed more direct evidence in the text itself. One of these days I’ll give you more than a weekend and a prayer to read over these bricks!

      The entire reason Valin Mad-Eyes can’t stand Riaag is because I couldn’t make things that easy for him. Also, her entire character concept revolves around trying to find a common ground between her divine nature and her very severe psychosis, so showing more how it influences her daily life and her ability to interact with others in a healthy way was important. We haven’t seen the last of her.

      Keen-eyed readers might notice specific terminology being used for family members this time around. Namely, the Rhoanish track family and bloodlines through a little more complex method than most RL cultures of today: you have a sire (who, you know, sires the child) and a dam (who carries the child), who determine much of your blood relatives and ancestors and things, and then you have any variety of caretakers who may or may not be your sire or dam. “My children’s dam” is not necessarily their mother, aunt, or even a family member at all, much less somebody female! It’s a hard life in the valley and family groups change up regularly based on happenstance. The concept of a nuclear family is essentially alien to the Rhoanish. For those wondering why Sarouth doesn’t talk much about parents but has made mention in past stories of a cousin and a shared grandmother, here’s why!

      I’m very pleased with the illustrations this go-around, even if they left me with all of about a day and a half to get my title cards done! Once again the title text is an original hand-drawn typeface based on a different interpretation of prog rock lettering; there simply was not the time for an elaborate Roger Dean affair this year. As is common for my S2B2 pieces, the art was completely done in Clip Studio Paint EX, using binary monochrome layers and pencil brushes for inking, because I am on some level some sort of pervert. Drawing Riaag smiling continues to bring me great joy. Fun fact: Sarouth’s harp is loosely based on a Scythian design! It’s come up enough times in the stories that I figured it deserved being shown properly. This is also a chance to see how he wears that hood of his; the lessened depth perception is just something god-speakers have to deal with, and why they try to get members of their entourage to stand on that side just in case anything tries to blindside them.

      Do I have plans for 2022’s entry? It’ll be the tenth anniversary of these things, so it’s safe to say yes, I do. See you next time.

    • #10399

      Illustrations for Shukyou’s story “soulmates are stupid i love you on purpose”

      It’s my first time illustrating for an author on SSBB! I felt like I was in gym class and finally chosen to be on the A-team, haha!! Thank you to Shukyou for letting me illustrate the story. As always, Shukyou’s storytelling draws you in quickly and the characters feel very real/relatable. I cried when I read it, but I won’t spoil it—please go read the story!

      I tried to emulate cinema/film by using a lot of faux depth of field (DoF) and widescreen ratio (16:9). I can absolutely imagine the story playing out as an acted drama.

      In the first image, I wanted to convey the polite distance between the characters as they sat in the cold. Bailey talks about cities and being somewhat unnoticeable within them, so it made sense that the figures were smaller in the overall composition—that way you could also see the contrast in body language between them.

      The second image has the opposite vibe from the first. It’s a closer shot, where things are generally warmer and intimate. I wondered if it was dark or light in his room, but settled on “it’s dark because he is soft goth but there’s probably a single light above” somewhere.

      I struggled with the third image because of its…simplicity? Did I just want to draw the hands holding? Or show their expressions? I tried to do both. I landed on cooler lighting because the emotions for the scene are mixed. I looked up morgue hallways but found a bunch of horror video game screenshots instead. At the last minute, I learned about the term “dutch angle” from folks critiquing the (now cancelled) C0wboy Beb0p live action. I looked up what it meant (tilted camera angle) and realized it was perfect for the last image in the story.


      Standalone image “The Last Time”

      Since the illos for Shukyou’s story were more detailed/full colour, I went in a different direction for the standalone image. This is also my first time drawing F/F for SSBB :).

      I was playing around with brushes (Procreate) and found some that had a brush painting look, and thus, spawned this image. There is some sort of forbidden relationship going on…?

    • #10398
      Oh Kashi

      Author’s notes for “C7”

      I’ve been wanting to write for S2B2 for a while, and had a few false starts before I finally hit on something solid. When I was first thinking about this story, I knew I wanted to write about two things: music and disability, and then 75k words of gay music emotions happened. First things first: a huge thanks to my beta Togi Kayako, who helped me put a lot more polish on this story than I thought I could, and a mega thanks to Riso for the frankly incredible and lively illustrations, which I CANNOT stop staring at. And a big thank you to Max, Celene, and Dorian for being my alpha readers, without whose cheerleading I might not have finished this <3

      Music is as central to the story as the romance, and it’s titled after the GO!GO!7188 song of the same name, which provided the original inspiration for the general mood of the story and the central conflict. It’s a very musical story, so naturally I have a carefully curated whole-ass playlist, which I highly recommend listening to while reading (or, if that’s not your bag, after reading) — there are a lot of sick jams on there, especially if you’re tickled by 90s/00s nostalgia of both the anime and pop/rock variety, and it really highlights the overall mood of the story.

      “C7” is about what happens when chronic illness permanently disrupts your life, what happens when you realize you and your ex are different people and you aren’t as over it as you convinced yourself you were, what happens when you start a high school band in your 30s just keep yourselves together — it’s about how sometimes, even the hard things are worth the work. It’s also about how powerful music can be, especially when you most need it, and how parts of your childhood never really leave you.

      Among other things, I really wanted to write about my experience with chronic illness and with music, and it was initially going to be from Caio’s POV — but it’s a romance story first, and Felix makes for a much more interesting and entertaining POV character. I’ve always wanted to write about disability and never could figure out a way to frame it that I found satisfying, but this one sort of presented itself unceremoniously: what Caio went through prior to the events of “C7” has been happening to me in realtime over the last several months, and I wanted (needed) to write about it happening to someone with a happy ending.

      Seems like a weirdly personal story to write for an erotica zine, maybe? Except that it also felt like the perfect story to write for S2B2, because I also wanted to write a story about two people who struggled to stay together without hurting each other, and how messy and uncomfortable and full of explosive joy that struggle can be. And there is, of course, the extremely emotionally charged porn, because I wanted to write about the myriad, innumerable, and sometimes unexpected ways we find each other sexy.

      This story is fully fictional, of course, but it’s made up of parts borrowed from my own life and childhood and draws on real life events. I, too, was a queer kid in the 00s whose social circle was largely based around watching anime in our basements (and because I knew exactly which demographic I was writing for, I indulged myself in a truly silly number of references). If you grew up in southern New England, particularly around this time, you’ll probably catch all the little nods and references. And if you’re at all familiar with the Rhode Island accent, please imagine all four of these boys sounding exactly like they ought. (Jake’s is the thickest, of course.)

      If you’ve read all this commentary and haven’t gotten to the story yet, I highly recommend it — and if you already have, thank you for reading a story I’m pretty proud of. It’s the first piece of writing I’ve managed to finish in over a decade, and considering it was written on a whole lot of drugs and during some of the most intense fibro flareups I’ve experienced in a while, I think it came out shockingly coherent. I’ll be pretty delighted if you enjoy this story, and I’d be thrilled if it resonates with you. I was going to end this with something cute and pithy, but my brain is empty so instead I’ll just insist again that you listen to this extremely rad playlist that I probably spent as much time curating as I did writing.

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