The picture to the left is not Ben Hsu. It is of Ben’s cat, Masquerade. An acute observer will be able to spot numerous differences between the two of them. For example, Masquerade (or Masque) is quite small, weighing only 8.5 pounds, while Ben is actually quite large, weighing in at over 200 pounds. Additionally, Masque is covered in what is best described as a long, soft, fur coat. Ben meanwhile, has most of their hair concentrated on the top of their head (though it is grown out to the point of touching the small of their back). Masque prefers to pad around on all fours; in fact, as far as Ben knows, Masque has only ever walked on all four of her limbs. On the other hand, Ben prefers a bipedal motion to get around (unless they’ve slept very poorly (which is often), or they’ve just tried to play a game of League of Legends (which is almost never)). Also, Masque is a cat and Ben is a human.
Masque spent the first part of her life in the home of famed science fiction author Rachel Swirsky. Despite being the runt of the litter, Masque was, by all accounts, quite happy. She lived a carefree life playing with her brothers and sister, nursing from her mother, and generally being an adorable kitten.
Ben spent much of their early life planning on being a psychologist, or at least some type of high minded intellectual. Instead, they washed out of Cornell University after 2 years due to stress, existential dread, generic ennui, and a prolonged case of teenage angst; which turned out to be untreated chronic depression.
Since then, Ben has spent time as a barista for a local coffee shop, a clerk at a movie theater, a lab tech at UIC, an Intern at psychological testing center, a volunteer at Stanford Medical Center, a volunteer at a local opera company, the box office manager at the same local opera company, a production assistant (re: unpaid intern) for the Darwin Awards movie, assistant production manager for Bollywood movie they don’t really care to remember the name of, a full time student, a part time student, and a “nutritional specialist” for GNC (which required no degree or training in nutrition of any kind).
During this time period Ben decided to work on their decade long dream of becoming a professional writer. Together with talented illustrator Elaine Tipping, they produced two webcomics and self-published a total of four compiled volumes of comics. After being fired from their most recent job at GNC, Ben decided to hit the convention circuit full time in order to sell their books. Coincidentally, this was also the time Masquerade was born.
Life for Masque grew considerably harder after she was spayed. She became moody and irritable and the happy fun times with her siblings grew into unwanted fights and rivalries. Worried about Masque’s new behavior, and knowing Ben was thinking about adopting a cat, Rachel offered Masque to them, hoping the cat would do better in a single cat household. Ben, having wanted a cat most of their lives, readily agreed. Shortly after the adoption Ben quit going to conventions. Theoretically, this was to take care of the new cat (their first pet), but was actually because change in convention culture had made conventions exponentially more stressful, and making money off of them exponentially harder.
Currently, both Ben and Masque live with Ben’s girlfriend and two other cats that are just as cute, but lacking in pictures. Masque spends most of her time sleeping on either the couch or the bed and enjoys frequent petting and purring sessions. Occasionally, she has to tell the other two cats to fuck off, but they have learned to respect her space. Ben has gotten semi-steady work as a contractor for Ododon Games, and most recently decided to put more effort into their unprofessional work (defined as writing they don’t get paid for). This website is the culmination of those efforts, a place where their work is displayed for all to see. Both Ben and Masque (but mostly Ben) sincerely hope you enjoy the works you find on this website.