"Who or what exactly is Pepper?"

Pepper (they/them) is a rather shy and reclusive buggy-foxy creature that has an adoration for naturalism, plush fox toys, weird public-access television shows, pet-monster type media (such as Pokemon and Digimon) and a particular fascination for virtual pet toys. So much so, in fact, that Pepper has a special "sixth sense" that allows them to detect when a virtual pet nearby has been abandoned or broken, so they can rush to the scene and rescue it!

Though they live in a seemingly distant realm, Pepper often has to venture out of it for variable reasons, where they encounter many things that are strange and confusing (often to the point of frustration) but also those with an endearing beauty and mystery to them, too.

Pepper is my primarily my sona and serves as a visual projection of me being a hybrid arthropod/silver-morph red fox therian or otherkin. In a way, Pepper is also both a response to the many years worth of internalised ableism I faced as an autistic being, and alienation that I still struggle with often at the hands of most humans. Likewise, Pepper is also a celebration of my dearest special interests and hyperfixations, as well as the unparalleled feelings of euphoria that come with being so deeply immersed in them.

Okay, but what is Pepper supposed to be?

Pepper is a silver-morph (melanistic) red fox (Vulpes vulpes), with various arthropods (primarily ectoparasitic insects and arachnids) living on and inside their body, with the same consciousness between spread equally amongst both the bugs and the fox- the latter being the "mothership", if you will. It is worth noting that Pepper can both shapeshift into different forms, albeit not always able to completely conceal certain parts of their bugfox body, as well as distort and extend the length of their body to seemingly infinitely. Their "true" bugfox form will quite often change depending on their mood.

Where did Pepper come from?

They hatched from a bugfox egg!

Though the above is true too, Pepper was originally an entity distinct from myself. The first piece I ever produced of them, the one that would eventually become my sona, was produced in early January of 2021 (pictured above). At the time of drawing the piece, I was still very much a closeted otherkin who heavily masked the fact due to factors such as a profound sense of angst stemming from extreme alienated loneliness and (as mentioned before) much internalised ableism. I remember sketching and inking it all in one sitting and kept drawing them, finding they were a cathartic outlet for many of the feelings of alienation, anger and fear that I often felt (and at times still do)-something I still find making art of Pepper helps with to this day.

That said, when I ended up taking part in Hourly Comic Day in 2021 (as a fun little exercise), I ended up drawing Pepper as myself use the cliche, the rest is history.

Above is a panel from that set of hourly comics I drew for that day; if you're wondering what I/Pepper was referring to, at the time I had been watching a YouTube video of someone opening a whole sealed box of Shrek 2 trading cards from 2004 (with said person getting increasingly irate about it)!

Regardless, I think whilst other factors have helped me along in unmasking and allowing myself to be what I know I am, creating and drawing Pepper has helped a lot with figuring out my identity. Not just as an otherkin or bugfox trapped in a humanoid-shaped shell, but also even with my gender identity and realising I'm an agender (but like Pepper, at times perhaps kind of gyandromorphic) being.

Some miscellaneous facts about Pepper!!

  • Pepper has quite a sweet tooth, and enjoys foraging from raspberry bushes especially! They also enjoy eating treesap or beetle jelly pots.
  • On each of their outer hindlegs, Pepper has a marking resembling a Tamagotchi fused with the cephalothorax of a tick. Not even Pepper knows why they are there but they're very fond of having them!
  • Pepper's body is sometimes haunted by the ghosts of ectoparasitic bugs that got lost on the way to the boundless moist flesh and blood sphere in the Ixodida Afterlife. Though Pepper doesn't really know how to help them, they're sometimes happy to chat with them.
  • Much like their real-world counterpart, Pepper loves collecting plushes of foxes! They never go to sleep without at least one to snuggle up with.
  • Their favourite Pokemon include Eevee (their all-time favourite!), Zorua, Heracross, Ariados, Ninjask, Vulpix, Shedinja, Fennekin and Volcarona.
  • Likewise, their favourite Digimon include Tentomon (again, their all-time favourite!), Kyubimon, Numemon, Renamon, Garurumon, Diaboromon, Kabuterimon, Kuwagamon, HerculesKabuterimon and Okuwamon.
  • Though they often shapeshift to avoid attracting attention to themself and their shyness, Pepper will remain in their true bugfox form around the few other beings they are the most fond of.
  • Pepper has very peculiar eyes, not at all like those typical of red foxes (or any mammal for that matter), as they are much more akin to superposition compound eyes of insects such as certain moths. Their "pupils" are actually psuedopupils, perhaps most similar to those of a praying mantis!
  • Pepper likes to paint with whatever they can find in terms of pigments, though because they are a bugfox and do not have hands like humans, they will paint using their front paws and Scutigeromorph-like appendages concealed within their thick coat!
  • Pepper is neither a dog or a vixen, but is rather a peculiar androgynous bugfox being. However, through their propensity to shapeshift and undergo temporary physical forms, Pepper sometimes can present more like a dog at some times and more like a vixen at others; for the most part, however, Pepper is an agender, androgynous bugfox.