How Garrus Vakarian Got Me Back Into the Abyss of Fan Porn 5

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I’ve been crushing on Garrus Vakarian way before it was cool. I and most of the female audience for the first Mass Effect were desperately flicking that dialogue wheel in our conversations with him down on the engineering deck, ever hoping for that temporary window to select the first flirtatious dialog option. And while the good folks at Bioware eventually came to their senses and made this hunk into the man of adorably awkward romance we knew he could be by Mass Effects 2 and 3, fans had spent the years between the first and second figuring out what he looked like under that armor.

Unlike my undying love for the Archangel of Omega, my attraction to porn arose in the same age range as the vast majority of the first world; perhaps a bit later than kids these days because the internet hadn’t caught on to what a Wonka’s Factory of perversion it could be when I was ten.  But once dial up died it’s modem-screeching death, a merger of interests began festering on message boards. Middle aged otaku and aspiring artists – that swore they were just drawing tits on Crash Bandicoot for “practice” – realized they could scan  and anonymously share their personal visions of popular characters without their clothes on, and a vibrant launch pad for careers and tissue-use began leaking onto the internet’s sheets. Somewhere, a man cast in shadow looked at a white board with the words “deviantart” circled in red, his head nodding menacingly.

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I do not think I would be an outlier if I admit to a working knowledge and use of pornography. But when it comes to the erotic depictions of existing pop culture characters, my interest becomes more zoological in nature. The distinction is likely due to my early attempts to find devious interpretations of early media crushes yielding only crude, barely recognizable scribbles (Carmen Sandiego would not have her respectable fan wank-base for several years at this point). But between my middle school and college years, the Rules of the Internet went into near-omnipotent effect, and from them sprung an endless trench of fascinating pop culture sexualizations.

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Not pictured, the hundreds of re-colored Sonic “Fan Characters”

The exploration of said trenches became a hobby of me and a couple friends. Often manifesting as zipped images passed about in IMs: the most obscure character we’ve yet found nude, or the most grotesque distention of the Lara Croft’s breasts that month. It was a ticket into online fandom’s Carnival of Horrors, glimpses of the frame of mind artistic perverts would eventually devolve to if they played Sinistar enough. But for the past several years, the rather time-consuming hobby fell by the wayside in favor of various adult time sinks. Occasionally a new character would so obviously be hitting enough Internet Rule buttons for me to do a cursory smut search, but nothing had held enough of an allure to merit the time. That is, until I first let Garrus on the Normandy.

This delicious pile of jaw mandibles and daddy issues represents a distinct line of pornographic depictions, that being “aliens we have no official naked references for.” And while Rule 34 has wreaked its havoc everything from The Blob (yes, that one) to that one thing from that one episode of “Futurama”, the humanoid – but still inhuman –  species (your Xenomorphs, your Andalites, what have you) occupies a rather distinct section of fan artists’ brain meats. And thanks to the Bioware writer’s talent at romantic sub-plots, Garrus had just enough of a kinky crowd behind him to merit a spelunking back into the abyss.

Mass-produced pornography, like most mass entertainment media, is a celebration of the ideal shape of body flesh and organ size. Perfect BMIs sporting perfectly coifed hairs and inflated loins slamming into one another at peak frequency. Fan produced pornography, on the other hand, tends to replace ideal proportions with liberally exaggerated ones over time, especially with characters attempting to avoid the uncanny valley with more cartoonish designs. For every reasonably sized Joanna Dark or recognizably slim Cloud, there’s approximately 1,000 beefed up Dantes and 100,000,000,000 Tifas with beach balls stapled to her chest.

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The further we move away from human realism, the more leniency artists tend to take with bodily proportions. Madison Paige of Heavy Rain looks far more freakish with breasts twice the size of her head than, say, Morrigan from Darkstalkers; indeed, many professional art designers take advantage of Boris Vallejo-esque proportions to allow for gratuitous sexual features. Feel free to ask Christian about Dragon’s Crown when you get the chance.

But, like the Uncanny Valley itself, the exaggerated proportions operate on a sort of bell curve. The more inhuman the character, the more difficult it is to endow them with exaggerated squirty-bits. How do you give a 40” chest and 20” guns to a Xenomorph, exactly? Don’t get me wrong, people have tried, O have they tried. But the same aversion that keeps most of us from enjoying characters like Metal Gear Solid’s Otacon with a two foot long solid snake rings pretty loudly when we stumble across Navi from Ocarina of Time with a clitoris.

Characters like Garrus seem to inhabit the apex of the porn bell curve, just human-looking enough to retain sex appeal, too inhuman to get beefed up and donged out beyond all physiological capability. Most erotic interpretations of Mr. Vakarian here, or t