Letters from Somnolescent December 25, 2021

Back to Basics: 2021 in Review

by bulb

I couldn’t write a traditional year recap for this year because it just hasn’t been a traditional year for Somnolescent. I can’t lay out four seasons of what we all did together–too much has changed, my mind’s elsewhere, I’m ready to do something different and simpler, right now and next year.

Here’s what we’re doing instead: I’ve gone back through the old recaps, picked one thing per person I liked, and I’ll ramble about it some. Art highlights follow, as always, then I’ll talk about what exactly has changed and what the gameplan for Somnolescent in 2022 is. Less to write, less for you to read.

Remember this one?

Oh, and Caby drew my favorite thing in the world for the occasion. Let’s review!

dcb: AutoSite going gold

AutoSite’s been a thing longer than the reborn group’s been a thing. I think it predates me inviting Caby and dcb into the group, actually. It’s one of those ridiculously useful programs that I still try to convince folks to use if they don’t already, and back in August, after a year’s absence of updates because it was already rock solid and sturdy, AutoSite 1.0 was finalized and the project has ceased.

AutoSite RC4 on Windows 98

I’ve been the world’s biggest advocate of AutoSite because it’s simply the least involved, most convenient way to keep a big site full of pages consistent and matching. Sometimes, I like to go without it, but then I’m reminded of how many times I forget to update the page title, or the meta description–and then I’m reminded of why AutoSite exists in the first place. As said, it’s been solid for a long while, and with AutoSite Core, it’s never been easier to just run a batch file and get a piping hot site out the other end.

Plus, dcb’s going off to college soon. AutoSite has reached the point where it can sit comfortable, and it’s got many useful years ahead of it despite that.

It’s hard to escape it: my girl draws, mostly. And she’s good at it! She’s proof positive that dedicating yourself turns you superhumanly good at something if you stick with it long enough. She tallied it up one night, and there’s 49 drawings, finished, shaded, with backgrounds, from this year that she could’ve used for art highlights. 49! That’s a lot of practice.

Caby's new Art Fight Gallery

All of that culminates in the gigantic sorted collection of her Art Fight drawings I helped her put together earlier this year. Her absolute limit is somewhere around 100 in a month, but she can quite comfortably get to 50, give or take a few headshots. As said before, a lot of this is still exclusive to her site, so if you’re in need of more Caby art, take another peek through it. Especially more recently, she’s picked some downright adorable lads and it’s rather sad that a lot of it, you simply couldn’t see without an account.

I know I feel bad because I started thinking of drawing seriously come May and I’m not a whole lot further with it, but honestly, I chose that and I know I’ve got lots of time to catch up. Speaking of Art Fight: would like to be able to draw all the characters I’ll have on my page (rather than her having all my lads because I didn’t have an account) for next Art Fight so people know exactly what I’m capable of and so I can just plain draw my characters. I think it’d make my Caby rather hype, and me too.

borb: Zoo trip page

I was almost about to talk about Dragonslayer, but fuck that. This is for the group, not for some community for a game only one of us plays.

I still don’t get barn animals at a zoo tbh.

In September, right before it started to cool down as a whole, borb’s family and I took a trip out to New Jersey to go see some zoo animals. It was a…wild good time, and we came back with tons of pictures each. It took me a while to get them onto a page, but it took borb another month to even sort them. Shows you how motivated we were, but they did get done! And they turned out excellent. I even got a spot of video featuring a boy who would become Otter Cammy being a total sperg and literally flipping out.

Cammy: “Under the Rain Shadow”

Ah, cheap, cheating me. This isn’t even done yet, but given that the alternative is probably talking about rhythm games some more, I’ll talk about the Gonzo story instead. Besides, pound for pound, I think I’m more proud of this than anything else I’ve done this year, certainly anything modding-related. That was easy, that just took time. This took years of struggle and nerves to get to being this comfortable doing it.

I came up with the idea for a pre-fall Gonzo having adventures sometime around the summer of this year. I liked the lad too much to basically have him hide in his van, so exploring the 4-5 years between him turning 21 and him landing back in Apricot Bay seemed like a great idea. The rest of it has partially been making it up as I go along–though of course, rather early on, I knew it had to be something conspiratorial. I think a giant alien laser battle in the desert was meant to factor into it, hence little green men controlling the weather?

"drought warning" by Caby
Funnily enough, this boy is already out of date because his colors changed! For the better though. And I really like this pic still so you bet I’m bringing it back.

No, but seriously, I think this is basically the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s the first Pennyverse story I’m not nervous about sharing with strangers, largely because Pennyverse is such a character study, and such an emotional, personal one at that. This cuts like a normal story, and a damn good one at that. Calhoun, the bastard, was meant to be a one-off, but like Colton was meant to be a one-off, he’s since totally changed the vibe and direction of the entire Pennyverse. Gonzo got recolored for it, and Seb and Colton got character motivations and shit to overcome. Not bad for a desert scavenger military dropout.

There’s only two chapters left to go with it, and I’m hoping to finish it up by the start of next year. In fact, I have a couple ideas for Pennyverse stuff, I’m mostly just trying not to commit to anything because they’ll be here when life moves along and I’m in a better, more excited place to handle them. Same with Caby. I can tell it’s not what she’s into right now, but I think she still thinks about them sometimes.

I think a lot of people, especially these days, don’t think in the long term. Pennyverse basically from the beginning was conceived as a ten-year-plus long haul project meant to combine several of the skills Caby and I are training in now. It’s why I don’t think of Pennyverse as having dry spells. Ten years is a long time, and everything we’re doing now is basically only a rough draft anyway, experimenting and then we’ll eventually sort through it all and put together sites and tapes and graphic novels, all that cool stuff.

Art highlights

Enough words from me! Words and art from them! (And me.) Click for full-size, as always!

Cammy: “Distressingly Damp” (July 26)

I intentionally didn’t add this one to the last recap, admittedly. My first time working digitally! Started as a drawing on paper and then I lined and colored it, and it was nearing the end of Art Fight, so Caby suggested it as my first ever attack! Dai checking out a weird leaky wall at Caerpinwyd’s guild. Yes, his arms are two different lengths, but I love Dai and I want to draw him and all the other Pinede lads some more. And everyone else. I promise I will get to that.

dcb: “Oven” (August 26)

I wanted to share this redraw of one of the first drawings I did, two years ago; among the first of Lince! I’m early on with art, but I’ve made some things I like real well (even to have a lil section on my personal site for it!) and am getting a better feel for shapes, expressions and stuff. I’m proud of my progress so far, and I’m not done yet >:3c

Devon: “Pink Cat” (October 29)

"Pink cat" (29th October 2021)

I’m genuinely satisfied how quickly this piece was done, which possibly was the one which put start to (slow) comeback of that I actually enjoy doing art again, it just was a while from sketch to fully painted piece featuring lad that I started to love a lot >:3c

borb: “Batlaris” (October 31)

It’s a bat. It’s a laris. It’s a laris bat. No, actually? Still think the pose here came out surprisingly good considering how concerned I was about posing wing arms.

Caby: “Guitar Hero” (November 8)

You know you’ve done something special when you find yourself getting paid to draw your own boyfriend! This was a super fun commission done for a relatively new frien of the group, Flavian! His fursona is the fennec/deer lad sat next to Cammy.

This drawing was a little bit of a challenge for me, as I’d never drawn Guitar Hero controllers before, and I haven’t had a great deal of practice drawing indoor scenes either. Not to mention it was a test of this new lining and colouring style, seeing if I could make backgrounds work with it. But I’m proud of the end results, and I think I got the controllers accurate enough~

(You did, my love >:3c)

So…where to next?

The biggest goal for next year, as far as Somnol as a group: less overhead, more group activities. Shorter recaps and smaller backups. More things being put to rest. No gigantic projects that take two months. Just last night, everyone in the group (plus Flavian, a good new friend of ours) was playing Roblox together. We’re also looking into internet radio broadcasting and the ability to listen to our music 24/7, sometimes live with us as I take requests and chat with folks. We already have the infrastructure.

I think the site/page/project fatigue in the group is because we’re still living online for the most part. I know for me, it feels kinda goofy and sad to be cozying up to absolutely nobody on the other side of my monitor on a daily basis. That’s really when you know it’s time to move on with life. But hey–at least we know when we get there, we’ll probably have lots of photos to share.

Mostly, more than anything though, I’m glad to be on good terms with everyone. I’ve been through many points in my life where I’m wanted by random internet people for better or worse, and I just have no interest in it anymore. No time for it, ideally. I want to have friends and I want to write my stories and learn to draw badgers. Next year, I’m doing my damndest to make that come true.

Somnolescent, cozy in a 70s living room for the holidays,,,
Click to open the full-sized version! Do it!

Anyway! For all of you at home! Merry Christmas, and thanks for sticking with Somnolescent, whether you’re in the group, soon to be in the group, or just orbiting. See you next year!

About bulb

Group posts, recaps, and things we all contributed to. Hopefully, our hum-to-English translation is intelligible enough.


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