December 27th, 2011

bang bang

on theme(s)

In our social media and theme suggestion poll (which you should answer if you haven't!), we left a blank open for theme suggestions, and it's got us thinking about issue themes in general. Obviously, the themes for next year have already been chosen, but there's always 2013 on the horizon!

Themes are suggestions, not hard and fast requirements, and we won't reject a submission just because it doesn't match the others. We keep them around because they're good creative springboards -- 'write a story' is a pretty vague instruction that can be daunting, but 'write a story about monsters' gets the creative impulse flowing in a specific direction -- and because if you've ever walked through a museum, you know how great curated exhibits with a single unifying characteristic can be. However, contributors should never let something as simple as an issue's theme stop them from creating whatever the hell they want. Likewise, loose thematic interpretations are also great; sometimes doing it wrong is doing it right. If you want to see a specific topic/trope/theme/fetish/kink in SSB*B, the absolute best way to guarantee its inclusion is to do it yourself.

When we choose themes, we keep several factors in mind. First and foremost, a theme has to be something open to broad enough interpretation that it can inspire a wide variety of stories; we don't want an issue that has the same story twice, much less a dozen times over. It's better if it's less of a specific story element and more of a general piece of inspiration; for instance, the theme 'Doctors' would suggest a much narrower range of contributions than would 'Playing Doctor' (speaking of 2013). Also, because the themes are basically fetishes, we'd prefer to stay away from broad human categories that lend themselves to stereotyping (e.g., race, ethnicity, religion, disability) and instead encourage writers to be attentive to issues of diversity without mandating their doing so.

Finally, the theme has to be something we haven't done before! To that end, and for your archival reading pleasure, may I call your attention to our back issues, where some of the themes you've suggested may already be waiting for you! Here's a list of the more topic-themed issues we've had thus far, in case they're relevant to your interests (with brief notes where the theme isn't necessarily obvious from the title):

Tales of Magic and Mystery
Animal Kingdom (pets, were-furries)
Position of Power
An Officer and a Gentleman (uniforms, military)
Asiaphilia
May-December
Dress Me Up, Dress Me Down (clothes, costumes, crossdressing)
100 Tales of Horror
Pop! Goes My Heart (music)
Faster Higher Stronger (sports)
A Web Of Intrigue (politics, spies)
He Blinded Me With Science (hit me with technology)
Ninjas Versus Pirates
The Food of Love (complete with recipes)
Historical Romance
Schoolboys
Fairy Tales and Folklore
Steampunk
To Infinity and Beyond (science fiction)
Wild Wild West (with surprisingly few cowboys)
Hot For Teacher (with surprisingly little teacher/student)
Myths and Monsters

And this isn't even getting into the business of all the stories in the theme-free issues that would have been just as appropriate in one of these themed issues, or stories in one of the themed issues that would have been just as comfortable running in another. Variety is the spice of SSB*B, after all. Thanks for all the suggestions thus far, and please, keep them coming!
bang bang

2012 calendar of themes, publication schedule, and due dates

FEBRUARY 20: HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD
Text Due Date: Tuesday, February 14; Art Due Date: Saturday, February 18
Tinseltown! Actors and directors, stars and fans, hopefuls and has-beens! I'd like to thank the Academy....

MARCH 19: LEATHER AND LACE (F/F SPECIAL)
Text Due Date: Tuesday, March 13; Art Due Date: Saturday, March 17
Opposites attracting, or just compliment in contrast? Either way, it's ladies' night.

APRIL 23: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Text Due Date: Tuesday, April 17; Art Due Date: Saturday, April 21
Whether you're a champion of justice or rooting for the bad guy, here at SSBB, we always get our man.

JUNE 25: WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH
Text Due Date: Tuesday, June 19; Art Due Date: Saturday, June 23
Is your manliness flagging? Is there not enough hair on your chest? Perk up with manliest of all manly epics: those contained in men's adventure magazines!

AUGUST 27: AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL
Text Due Date: Tuesday, August 21; Art Due Date: Saturday, August 19
This month, on a Very Special Issue of SSBB: student clubs, sports teams, band practice, civic responsibilities, community service, and whatever else happens after that last bell rings.

SEPTEMBER 24: ARTIST SPECIAL #2
Text Due Date: Tuesday, September 4; Art Due Date: Tuesday, September 18
Time for our themeless second artist special! Comics and illustrations alike welcome! And you might want to get started now....

OCTOBER 29: SWORD AND SORCERY
Text Due Date: Tuesday, October 23; Art Due Date: Saturday, October 27
Calling all fantasy worlds from the high to the low! Saddle up your dragon and come join the festivities!

DECEMBER 17: THEME-FREE BIG BANG
Text Due Date: Tuesday, December 11; Art Due Date: Saturday, December 15
It was such a success this year, we're doing it again -- the sky's the limit on story length!

As always, remember that themes are not mandatory; think of them more as inspiration than strict guidelines. Questions/comments/concerns? Voice them here!