Usagi Sailor Moon - Pen Handwriting SHADOW PLAY



Sal and Travis fanart


"the truth is, i can't stop thinking about you. i'm crazy about you. i think you're amazing!"
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these two originate from the video game 'sally face'!

sal fisher (the one with blue hair in the image) is the main character of the game. he usually wears a facial prosthetic, and, after the incident that disfigured his face, he moved to nockfell. he's adventurous and interested in ghosts and the supernatural. he comes across as generally friendly and polite and is compassionate, although he's also quick-witted and sarcastic when being bothered. while he's a boy, he likes to do traditionally feminine things with his appearance (like wear dresses and put his hair in pigtails), and canonically doesn't particularly care how you gender him. according to the creator, sal is "possibly" bisexual.

travis phelps (the one with blonde hair in the image) is a character who goes to the same school as sal in nockfell. he is the son of kenneth phelps, who is a preacher and the owner of nockfell's local church, phelps ministry. he, like his father, is deeply religious, and tries to encourage others to come to his family's church. despite his god-fearing nature, however, he's actually very aggressive, and has no friends at school because of this. he's seen berating other students and starting fights. while the origin of his black eye is never addressed canonically, one common interpretation is that it's from one of said fights. he's a mixed native american.

travis is sal's tormenter in school, and yes, i know, i know, bad trope. but i don't find this instance of "bully x victim" discomforting mainly due to sal not being affected by it. he seems absolutely unphased by travis' verbal taunting, only making sarcastic quips and teasing in response. the reason why travis seems to pick on sal in particular is actually not due to his usage of a facial prosthetic, but due to him being gender non-conforming. him picking on sal with insults that are queerphobic and homophobic in nature seems to allude to this. however, once sal's little sarcastic comments ends up being about travis' father, travis snaps, punches him, and then runs off.

later that in-game day, you can choose to meet up with travis in the bathroom, where he's locked in a stall and, while he's not directly seen crying, it's heavily implied through dialogue. you can see and choose to read a crumpled-up note by the garbage can in the bathroom, which reads:

"i know we don't really know each other and you probably have your opinions of me. i thought maybe if i told you how i feel, things could be different. the truth is, i can't stop thinking about you. i'm crazy about you. i think you're amazing! but i know these feelings are wrong. it's not the way a boy should feel. shame swallows me whole. my father would kill me but i can't live in his shadow forever i just..."

of course, the implications of this letter include that travis is gay, but closeted and ashamed of it due to his religious community and extremely religious father, and that he has feelings for sal, which, again, i know, 'homophobe is secretly closeted gay' is a trope that some people detest, but it's one that i like, which i'll get more into in the 'personal thoughts' section.

if you choose to talk to travis in the bathroom, he confesses that he doesn't really hate sal, or his friends. he also vaguely hints to a hard home life with his father. after the conversation, he gives sal an envelope which contains a page from jim's journal. the envelope was addressed to sal, and it can be assumed that this was originally what the letter was going to be in, more or less confirming that the letter was intended for sal.

i'm not going to discuss the later game because i like to pretend it doesn't happen, but what is relevant is that it is implied that sal and travis later become friends, and that travis chooses to sacrifice himself to kill one of the big bads of the game. according to the creator of the game, travis never came out, and sal never stopped trying to help him.


sal canonically doesn't care about how people gender him, so i interpret that as him using any pronouns with a preference for he/him. i headcanon sal as an intersex bisexual.

obviously, travis is canonically gay, and i don't think he would even let himself think about gender stuff. but, in the alternate universe where he did, i think he'd be the gay male equivelant of lesbians who say their gender is just 'lesbian'. because in christian circles (and i am speaking from experience), what is considered a boy or a girl is so intrinsicly tied to heterosexuality and heteronormativity, i think that, if he ever managed to get out of that space and heal, he'd feel disconnected from being just a 'man'. but, again, all of that would be in the alternate universe where he let himself think about gender.

i also have a whole headcanon au where nothing bad or culty happens ever and it's just a slice of life game set in nockfell's high school with some vague supernatural elements, but nobody dies and it's more character-focused and -driven. that's a whole other thing, but, obviously, travis manages to get away from his dad and accept himself in this au, because it's happy and self-indulgent and fuck you.

also, i think sal and travis are both autistic because i say so. travis went through 'autistic behavioral therapy' (otherwise known as 'we are going to traumatize you into not showing your symptoms' therapy) at a young age, so he masks a lot.


as promised, i'm going to discuss my thoughts on the 'homophobe is secretly closeted gay' trope, because i see hate for that trope all the time. but personally, i love it. in part because that absolutely is an experience that a lot of people go through. i'm someone who grew up in the south, in a small, very christian town, and a lot of queer kids from down here have to pretend to be homophobes just to be safe. we're indoctrinated into hating ourselves from a young age.

i feel like this trope can be done right and reflects the experiences of queer people who grew up in less-accepting places, when done right. the way it can be done right is to, 1), establish that the character is in an enviornment where it would be dangerous to come out / homophobia is the norm, and, 2), make the character in question on the younger side; with teenage characters, i think, getting the most mileage out of this trope. boxes which, of course, travis checks both of, with his establishment as the son of a pastor who doesn't treat him well, and him being seventeen at the time that we see him bullying sal.

as you can probably tell by that anecdote, i relate to travis a lot. sal, as well, is one of my favorite characters of all time, and one of my favorite examples of disabled protagonists; especially when facial deformaties and facial prosthetics are so rare in media. i really love their contrasting appearances, and how they sort of flip the idea of what each of their archetypes are 'supposed' to be; with travis being an angry and aggressive devout christian, and sal being a polite and compassionate 'alternatively'-styled character. their contrasting beliefs are also a point of interest; with sal being interested in ghosts and the supernatural, and travis believing in a christian god strongly. i think they're really interesting parallels for many reasons. they're also interesting to me as queer characters from a game that takes place in the late 90s-early 2000s (which was still an EXTREMELY queerphobic time, and way before gay marriage was legal. wild how fast we went from that to rainbow capitalism, huh?).

these characters have taught me a lot about myself in relation to my religious upbringing as a queer person, and they, in part, have helped me begin to face my religious trauma. and while i'm not a prosthetic-user or someone with facial deformaties myself, i've also learned a lot about them, thanks to sal. they mean a lot to me and they're one of my biggest comfort ships ever!


something or other about bodily autonomy - a fanfic by yours truly about the inherent queerness of fucking with your hair as a symbol of autonomy. also has a companion fic by my boyfriend.

hope - follows sal and travis as they become friends, all while sal suspects that travis is the one who is slipping love notes into his locker.

may flowers grow in the saddest parts of you - an excellently-written character study

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