Interviewing Icons - Ihp
rating: +34+x

Ihp was great to work with during the making of this interview. This interview took me the longest to complete on my end thus far due to work, staff-work, and school occupying a lot of my time. Despite this, Ihp took the delays well, and I appreciate that. Ihp was the author of an SCP which helped spark a lot of interest and articles concerning one of my favorite groups of interest, the Church of the Broken God. For this reason, among many others, it was a joy to interview Ihp.~ WhiteGuardWhiteGuard

Who is IhpIhp?

The user Ihp became a member of this site on the 23rd of December, 2011, and his top 3 most popular pages on the site by rating are SCP-2217: Hammer and Anvil at +533, SCP-4100: Future Imperfect at +426, and SCP-5500: Death of the Authors at +422. As an author, Ihp has written a total of 48 SCP articles, 107 Tales, 6 GoI Formats, and 7 other pages for a grand total of 168 pages contributed. With his 107 Tales, Ihp is the most prolific tale writer on the site with RogetRoget at second with 94 tales. Additionally, over a third of Ihp's writing comes from the S & C Plastics canon where he has contributed a total of 61 pages to the popular canon. The following interview will consist of 20 questions from myself with his responses.

The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are Ihp's responses.

Interview Questions:

Hi Ihp! To start off, how did you first come across the wiki? If there happen to be any stories or a friend recommended it or whatever, feel free to include that. What were your first impressions?

I was browsing Tv Tropes, back in late, late 2011— literally right before Christmas. I came across the “Humanoid Abomination” page and saw the entry for the Foundation on it. I clicked the first entry on the SCP Foundation page proper (back then, it could all fit onto a single page), which was “Absurdly Sharp Blade”, which took me to SCP-585. I did a bit of digging, found 087, and had trouble sleeping for a week.

I was intimidated when I first came across it— I’d gotten slowly better at writing throughout the course of 2011, thanks to me joining an RP site (which I won’t name due to the fact that the creator of the site has gotten a bit unhinged) and I wanted to test it out. My very first SCP was based off of the site — and it immediately bombed. I didn’t look at the crit, just hid away from the site in shame until January of 2012.

That’s when I wrote SCP-1071, which was based on my anxiety of the upcoming SATs (I was still in high school at the time, only seventeen when I first got published!). A lot of my early SCPs were based off of shit going on in my life— 1310 was based off of me having to wait for two hours in a doctor’s office after getting shots to try and get rid of my allergies, and 1366 was based off of me reading about Ohio’s “Helltown” of Boston.

I was legitimately scared of the people here. It took me getting into 19 for a few weeks to realize you were a bunch of regular folks, not people who were looking to scrutinize every single word written by an unmedicated guy with autism for glaring flaws and rip them apart for it.

How would you best describe yourself as a writer? Strong points? Weak points?

I've been told multiple times that I'm good at writing characters, but I'd disagree: I'm good at writing character traits, but I have a hell of a time actually describing them, to the point where when someone made fanart of the majority of the crew from S & C Plastics, they had to do it from scratch because I barely described them in the tales.

Descriptions are where I falter the most, honestly. I have a map of Sloth's Pit, WI in my head but I cannot, for the life of me, describe it in actual prose. Also, I have trouble writing LGBT characters, which is… kiiiind of ironic in a bad way, considering that I'm pansexual myself. The only queer characters I've written are in a pretty much defunct tale series, unfortunately.

From years of being part of the site, which writers have been your favorites to read from? What would you say the best quality of each author happens to be?

Djoric: One of the greats. Cynical as hell in some of his works, but that bitterness only contributes to the dry humor employed in them.

UraniumEmpire: In college, I'd read an attempt someone made to write a story with 'punk' themes, and it was bad, to the point where I thought the aesthetic just didn't work in literature. Turns out it does, and UE's Trashfire is definitively punk.

faminepulse: Easily the most creative author on the wiki. Everything they do is incredibly unique, and whenever they release something new, I look forward to reading it. I'm actually envious of them— I don't know how they do it.

Fantem: If Famine is the most creative author, then Fantem is easily a runner-up. Pitch Haven is a wild series, and more than anything, I wish she'd come back and pick it back up (or at the very least, that there was more fanart of it— it's literally about reincarnating semi-anthropomorphic animals, how have furries not latched on to it?)

Hammermaiden: Another classic author. She helped out forming the Broken God mythos back during the 2014 GOI contest, and her work with the likes of 2000 and the Department of Temporal Anomalies speaks for itself.

Dr Gears: I might be just name-dropping at this point, but Gears legitimately does great work, especially his horror stuff— if he's not a published author off the wiki, I am legitimately surprised because the world doesn't know what it's missing out on.

DarkStuff: Just. Everything about his work. Man's a savant. The fact that he was only 17 when he finished writing his criminally underrated Dancing with Rachel: Ascension series is mind-boggling to me— if I had an ounce of his talent when I was that age, I'd have a novel written by now.

You have been on the site for quite some time and have seen many authors come and go. With that being said, who would your bet be placed on for the next up and coming author on the site?

That's a tough one, in part because I have trouble keeping up with the site because my job takes up so much time. HarryBlank and Grigori Karpin have both done some amazing things, probably my favorite stuff on the site in the last six months. Beyond that, I can't say much, because work has destroyed my ability to read the site.

You mentioned in your AMA that you graduated from Wright State University with a bachelor's in English. How would you say your writing has improved or changed due to what you learned in your studies? Are there any literary issues you see among articles now that you used to not notice before?

Let me be up front with you: my English diploma isn't worth the paper it's printed on. That being said, I did pick up some interesting ideas in college.

WSU was actually my second school, I transferred to it from another one. At my first college, I took a lit crit class, and learned about a work called "A Cyborg Manifesto", and while I don't remember much of it, it helped inform my writing for the Church of the Broken God to a degree.

At WSU itself, I had an amazing teacher for poetry, Dr. DeWeese. I hated poetry up until I took his class, and after that point, I've started seeing value in it. There needs to be more poetic works on the wiki, I don't care if it's songs, format screws, what. Just do it.

SCP-2217: Hammer and Anvil is your most successful article on the site by rating. Additionally, a lot of writers use this article for their own Church of the Broken God works. What are your thoughts on this article 6 years later and what are your thoughts on the CotBG works that were influenced by it? What do you think about their Sarkic adversaries more or less coming from this article?

2217 was written during a period of my time on the wiki where I considered up and quitting. My time at college had gotten me stressed enough that I just wanted to curl up in bed and not get out of it most mornings. It started out as an SCP that was a riff on the Watchmaker Analogy— an argument for creationism/intelligent design that says the world is too perfect and well-constructed, like a watch, to just come about by random chance. I struggled for months to get it to work, and was on the verge of quitting the wiki when something clicked.

Earlier that year, I had participated in the GOI Contest, where a large amount of Church of the Broken God lore was formed. The idea of the Watchmaker Analogy collided with the fact that we hadn't really managed to finish up the lore we had planned for the contest, and 2217 was born. And since then, it's… kind of snowballed? Bumaro got a fanbase (and he's portrayed as bishonen for some reason), St. Hedwig and Trunnion are considered girlfriends, and there's a lot more CotBG stuff on the wiki as a result of it.

I have… kind of mixed feelings on Sarkicism now, considering that it came out that a lot of the early Sarkic SCPs had plagiarized content in them— plagiarized content that, mind you, was in the public domain but was uncredited. I'm amazed at the fact that 2217 inspired an entirely new GOI, but that wasn't my intent. Still, Sarkicism that's gotten away from that is typically very enjoyable.

Moving on to your SCP-4000 contest entry, SCP-4100: Future Imperfect. You mentioned you came up with the draft within a few hours of the contest being announced. Is that true? What are your general thoughts on the article, and what do you think about how some people have interpreted the ending?

I've been told I write very quickly. 4100 I got a full concept of it (not necessarily a full draft, I needed to make the images) up within maybe two or three hours. When I get motivated, I can write thousands of words in the course of an hour— but it's hard to get that done at times.

The ending though… the way people interpreted it is not at all what I was going for. A few common things I see thrown around is that the Destroyer is a reference to the Mass Effect reapers (never played Mass Effect), that it's the Scarlet King (not my intent) and that the image at the end is the Foundation saying "We're coming for you next, buckos"— that could not be further from the truth. It's the Foundation leaving a warning to the Stellar Congressional Protectorate that there are more of these things out there, and they aren't safe yet.

Still, it's kind of appropriate. The SCP is about people from the future making interpretations of the past with incomplete data, so it works.

Let's briefly talk about SCP-5500: Death of the Authors. Although it is one of your most popular works by rating and has had a predominantly good reception thus far, you seem to have a particular distaste for it. What do you believe went wrong?

I made the mistake of trying to make it an interactive article, and moreover, trying to write said article entirely in the game creator I used. Twine, much to my chagrin, doesn't have spellcheck, so a good part of the bug reports I got for it were spelling errors that I would have to dig through the code to find, and then try to figure out if that broke any other nodes. There's still problems with it that I have neither the time nor patience nor will to try to fix.

I dislike 5500 because of how big of a hassle it was for me in proportion to the reception it got. +400 is good, but it was not worth weeks of anxiety and hard labor as I tried to fix mangled code from my phone at work on my half-hour lunch.

Shaggydredlocks actually offered to have me join the team that made SCP-5999 at one point. I wish I'd taken that offer instead of wasting time on 5500.

Something you are most well-known for is your vast amount of writing for the S & C Plastics canon. Although S & C Plastics was started by DjoricDjoric, you are the most prolific writer in the canon with 61 articles to date including a 001 proposal. What is S & C Plastics, and what has inspired you to contribute so much about the denizens of Sloth's Pit, Wisconsin?

S & C Plastic is about the life and times of Foundation personnel who work at Site-87, a research site which monitors the anomalous small town of Sloth's Pit, Wisconsin. When Djoric started it said that it was inspired by Gravity Falls (which remains one of my favorite TV Series ever) I jumped on. I grew up in a small midwestern town, and a lot of the stuff in S & C Plastics draws from that— there's a minor running gag where a restaurant called Berry's has the worst food in town, which is inspired by an actual restaurant in my hometown.

It was initially inspired by the fact that I realized the Foundation, at the time, didn't have a lot of named characters outside of the likes of Clef, Bright, etc. and I wanted to write just… regular people. No crazy anomalous abilities, no positions of higher power, no real connections. Just people trying to get through life in one of the weirdest universes out there.

In short, it's an attempt by me to try to write researchers doing their best to live a normal life in an abnormal town, while also satisfying my love for metafictional tomfuckery. Other big influences on it include Remedy's Alan Wake (which, considering Remedy's Control is based on the Foundation, might count as recursive inspiration, assuming they've read my stuff), Twin Peaks, and Eureka, an obscure SyFy show that also centered around a research organization overseeing a weird small town.

Black Autumn, Black Autumn II, and Black Autumn 3. Briefly describe your three tales series which make up over half of your writing for the S & C Plastics canon. I also must ask, why did you drop the Roman numerals for the title of the third series?

The Black Autumn quartet (yes there's a 4th one coming! Hopefully) was inspired by my efforts to do an annual Halloween tale. In 2017, I had an idea for a series that was originally going to be an anthology— each tale focusing on a different part of Sloth's Pit, where a different, unconnected anomalous scenario would be taking place. I settled on a narrative focused around SCP-097 and good god I hate the way it ends here. The final two tales are the weakest writing I've ever had on the site.

BAII is much better— right up there with 2217 as my magnum opuses (magnum opii?). It helped that SCP-4040 was ground within S & C Plastics already, and it helped me elaborate on a lot of lore I'd had in my head that hadn't been put to paper yet.

BA3 is… not great. At all. I had gotten my first real full-time job when I started writing it, and combined with the fact that I was on a very stressful vacation at the time (long story short, family member got severely ill on the trip) I feel like I phoned it in and it died. Had to outright rework the tale I was going to make the finale of that into one of the parts of Black Autumn IV.

AS to why I dropped the numerals… I'm not consistent, what can I say?

I.H.Pickman's Proposal was your 100th article on the site as well as being your 001 proposal. As previously mentioned, this proposal is part of the S & C Plastics canon. How long did it take for you to come up with the finished product? What would you say you are most pleased with concerning it? Feel free to talk a little about it.

I had three or four previous 001 proposals in mind over the years. The one right before this, which got shot down by someone I respected as being 'completely stupid', was that the Serpent from the Serpent's Hand and Library was trying to devour the universe bite by bite. After wallowing at the fact that the idea got shot down, I figured I should make my 100th thing something special.

I'd considered doing the phenomenon of Nexuses as a proper SCP before, and this is probably the closest I'll ever come to it, outside of SCP-5352. And thanks to the existence of S.D. Locke's Proposal, I knew that people would be okay with an 001 that was not traditional in structure. It's even got a bit of traction off the site, mostly in comparison to the Swann proposal, which has me feeling… a little paranoid, honestly? Because S. Andrew Swann (assuming it's the same S. Andrew Swann who wrote the proposal) lives maybe an hour's drive from me, so I'm in danger of him coming here and beating me up.

In your opinion, what is necessary to create a good canon in the SCP Universe?

This is oddly pertinent, considering the Canon Renaissance Contest is going on. For me, the basis of a good canon has five big components:

  • A firm world to build everything in, with characters ready to populate it
  • Strong themes throughout the work
  • A consistent tone
  • Room to grow from the original works of the canon
  • A hub to line this all up

Resurrection is a good example of this— the premise is clear, the world is populated, the tone of 'oldschool Foundation shenanigans but better written', and the theme of the past coming back in ways both good and bad are all there, and the hub is well-constructed to top it all off. Credit where it's due, as much as I dislike Resurrection, the foundation is well-constructed, so props to the original authors.

On the other side of the coin, you have pretty much every canon established during the 2013 Canon Contest. The majority of them are built less like canons and more like a tale series written round-robin style, in that not much room seemed to have been considered for growth beyond the original contest, which is why a lot of them have faltered.

For instance, take Competitive Eschatology. The premise is amazing: every apocalypse is kicking off at once, and the world is caught in the middle, with the Foundation being reduced to a bunch of independent cells to try to stop it. But it falters in that the only apocalypse we see from the start is the Christian Armageddon, with SCPs standing in for the horsemen, and not much was done with it after that. Personally, I want to see if any of those UFO cults from the 20th century had the right idea in that setting.

A Suicide Note is your highest rated tale on the site. What is it about, and why did it almost give RogetRoget a heart attack?

It's exactly what it says on the tin: Clef writes a suicide note explaining various things about him and why he's doing it (and elaborating on my headcanon about him as well). It nearly gave Roget a heart attack because when I announced it on Reddit, I think that Roget thought that it was an actual suicide note by the author Clef.

SCP-1265: The Mesozoic Preserve is a popular article of yours within the site and offsite communities. Why do you think your little dinosaur SCP is so well-liked?

I think part of it is the picture. Paleoartist Alain Bénéteau was very gracious in letting me use it in the SCP, and it's probably the best "photograph" I've seen of a feathered dinosaur (from what I know, it's actually a Bearded Vulture with its beak painted over in photoshop). A good SCP with a great photo gets read more than a good SCP without any photo.

Another part of it is that I had fun writing it— like, an unreasonable amount of it. I have ADHD (unmedicated at the moment) so I tend to hyper-focus on certain interests, and at the time, I was hyper-focused in dinosaurs, because dinosaurs have always been, and will always be, awesome. And the fun I had writing it seems to have translated into the fun people have reading it.

SCP-026: Afterschool Retention by DrEverettMannDrEverettMann is an article that you mentioned in your AMA that you have a particular fondness for. What do you like about this classic Mann article?

I like 026 in part because it reminds me of my own school experiences— there's an innate horror in being stuck in school for extended periods of time, unable to go and decompress after a hard day, a horror I know all too well in my soul-crushing retail job.

Plus, the original pictures that were on it looked uncannily like the high school I went to in some places. Unfortunately, they've been taken down as part of our CC Compliance policies, but they were evocative as hell when I first read it.

The horror of being stuck in school is a big reason the Class of '76 appeals to me as well— I've wanted to write something for it, but I don't feel qualified, outside of that weird thing I did for Aces And Eights.

Since you have been here for almost 9 years, in what ways would you say that you as well as the site have changed since you arrived?

Nine years, Jesus H. As to how I’ve changed, I’ve gotten better at writing, definitely. My early writing was influenced by the likes of Djoric and Roget, but I think I’ve carved out my own style as somewhere between “off-brand Jim Butcher” and “really wants to write Gravity Falls fanfiction for a living”. I’ve also gotten better-medicated; there’s a reason my author page lists 2014 and 2015 as being a year of “Brain fog and horrible writing”. I was a terror during those years due to some unfortunate choices in medication, culminating in a hiatus over a year-long starting in August of 2015 after I blew up at another user in a side chat, and I don’t remember a lick of it. Burned a lot of bridges that I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to fully rebuild.

As for the way the site has changed… I feel we’ve simultaneously grown more accepting and more insular. More accepting in the sense that we’re more diverse in terms of demographics (with a lot of the more prolific and popular authors on the site being LGBTQIA+) and as well as what sort of stories we’re willing to tell — nine years ago, I don’t think something like SCP-5926 or SCP-3312 could have survived on the main site. People are also willing to write actual characters for the Foundation that aren’t Clef or Gears or Kondraki or Bright etc. — I still remember when Hammermaiden posted her essay on characters, and how it made me realize that the Foundation didn’t really have any.

As for the insular part: we have higher standards of quality for writers than a lot of sites do, and that can scare people off. AO3 and are largely unmoderated in terms of quality, so someone jumping over from there is going to get major culture shock when they’re told that their OP OC Donut Steel SCP isn’t going to fly on the site. People have to genuinely improve their writing to post here. On top of that, disciplinary measures have grown more stringent, which (with how much people seem to like to troll this site) is a good thing, but it’s also got me kind of paranoid that I’m going to be banned one day— I have a disc thread on O5 for a reason.

Since you are known for writing a large number of tales, do you happen to have any suggestions on ways to help tales receive more attention or comments on current efforts to do so?

If you write tales, you have to accept that, by and large, the off-site fandom isn't going to want to read them, so they get less traction on the site itself. Suicide Note is an exception that is successful because it name-drops half a dozen characters that are popular off-site and focuses on Clef— people don't want to read about Mary-Ann Lewitt or Ruiz Duchamp when they can read about the adventures of Bright and the Flanderization Patrol. If you want to get your tales read by the off-site fandom and aren't already incredibly popular and don't want to use senior staff author avatars, you need to plug it yourself, even if it means going onto the meme subreddit and making a shitpost about it.

I'm told that the efforts towards the new tale discovery project are going well by someone on the team, so I'm excited for that, because the best works on the site (The Cool War, Et Tam Deum Petivi, Portraits Of Your Father, Pitch Haven) are tales, and it's downright criminal they're not more popular.

Do you have any projects outside of the wiki that you would like to talk about? If not, feel free to mention something outside of the wiki that you are either passionate about or something that you are excited about.

I've actually started working on something recently that's probably never going to see the light of day— a TTRPG based around working for an artifact collection agency that's basically the Foundation with the numbers filed off. I figure that if I can't make my writing work outside of the Foundation universe, I'd just write something Foundation-ish.

I'm trying to work on a novel as well, with a fairly simple premise: people who have had their souls torn from their body are the most effective soldiers in the war against the supernatural, and nobody has had their soul torn from them harder than your average graveyard-shift worker. But damn if I can't write it.

Who really is "Ihp"?

Are we talking in an ontological sense or what? I’m a guy who’s burned through more therapists from the ages of 12 to 25 than most people will in their whole life, and the best advice I’ve gotten from any of them is ‘you can stop seeing me anytime you want’. I’ve got issues up the wazoo, from paranoia to an inferiority complex to anger issues that have resulted in a friend describing me as “John Wayne Gacy-like”, and that’s before you get into my autism, depression and self-deprecation.

More than anything, I’m afraid of people seeing me as arrogant. I’ve lived with a narcissistic parent my whole life, and the absolute last thing I want to do is to grow up to be like them. I constantly second-guess myself at every turn, and I constantly worry that I’m a bad person, that everyone hates me, etc. Goes back to the paranoia (which a former friend once told me is just another form of arrogance, which I’m not sure I agree with) and a whole host of other stuff.

And over all else? I’m kind of bitter. Everyone works hard for what they write, but despite the fact that I'm the second-most prolific author on the site, you never really see my stuff outside of the site. Night Mind did a reading of The 12 Days of Site 87's Christmas, which had me riding high for a week, but that's the only time I've seen S & C Plastics (which is essentially my child) referenced off the site.

…until a few days ago. A Wikidot user (who is too young to join the site at the moment) PMed me with a folder full of fan art of characters from S & C Plastics on a Google Drive. It made me realize: "Holy shit, people actually read and like my stuff." So that feels awesome.

What are your thoughts on butterbees?

Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of me strangling ProcyonLotorProcyonLotor to death.

This concludes the interview. I hope you enjoyed it! I would like to thank Ihp for being a pleasure to work with and for being understanding about my time constraints. The next interview is underway, and my list is ever-expanding. My next two interviewees will be a blast from the past; I am sure everyone will enjoy hearing from them!

Thank you for reading!

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