A couple days ago, Tsundere Studio released one of my personal most anticipated visual novels of the last little while: My Sweet Zombie! I’ve been looking forward to it not only because I enjoyed the demo and the developers’ previous work on I Want To Pursue The Mean Side Character!, but also because it features a character I had a hand in creating! Early in the development of My Sweet Zombie!, Tsundere Studio co-founder Tsun-Angelique posted on twitter asking if anyone was interested in having their character make a cameo in the game, and I suggested my own internet persona, Jane Titor. Tsun liked the idea, and throughout the rest of the creative process of the game, she kept me updated to make sure I approved of the way she was handling the character. It was a lot of fun to see a different version of Jane come to life through someone else’s interpretation, and just look how cute she is!
So now that Tsun’s Jane has made her stunning debut in the full release of My Sweet Zombie!, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Jane Titor through the years, and reveal some more of my own ideas about the character as well as highlight some of the fantastic art I’ve commissioned of her in the past. Hop in your time machines, because we’re starting all the way back in 2016!
When I first started reviewing visual novels—on tumblr at the time, before a later move to WordPress—I decided to name my blog “Part-Time Storier” in a reference to the character Suzuha in Steins;Gate, whom the great mad scientist Hououin Kyouma nicknames “Part-Time Warrior.” I thought it was a cute and catchy title that fitted my blog well, since I was writing about stories I liked in my spare time without a set schedule. My first avatar was an image of Suzuha with clip art sunglasses photoshopped onto her face, because if I remember correctly, it was just kind of a running joke among some friends I had at the time to put silly sunglasses on images of characters we liked. I’m not sure where the original file of that photoshop ended up, but it looked something like this:
Half a year or so after that, I released my first short visual novel project for a game jam. I thought about calling myself “Part-Time Storier Studios” or something like that, but that sounded a bit too grandiose for such a small operation, so instead I went with a related pen name for myself: Jane Titor. If you’re not familiar with Steins;Gate, the simplest explanation for the connection is that John Titor was the pseudonym of an alleged time traveler who made some famous internet posts in 2000 and 2001, and he turns up as a character in Steins;Gate as well. But I’m actually planning on reflecting a bit more on the details of why that name appealed to me in another post coming up, so stay tuned for more Jane lore! Anyway, around the time of my second release under the Jane Titor name a year later, I decided I should upgrade my personal branding to something a little more polished and original. But I had grown pretty attached to the Suzuha-with-sunglasses image, so I commissioned a good friend of mine to put his own spin on that idea, and the face of Jane Titor was finally revealed!
While I do use the name Jane Titor for myself, and have become pretty accustomed to and comfortable with people calling me Jane on the internet, I also think of her as a character with a bit of lore and backstory that I’d love to delve into in some kind of creative project one day. Her defining feature in my mind is that like her namesake, she’s a time traveler—or at least, she claims to be. I think that if she ever features in a story of mine, I’d like it to be amusingly ambiguous whether her story of being trapped in the past because of a broken time machine is true, or just something she made up to mess with people. Tsun-Angelique incorporated that idea into My Sweet Zombie! by having her version of Jane constantly fail to use various technology—it’s because she’s from the future and not familiar with all this old primitive stuff, of course, not because she’s just an airhead!
I think it was when I moved this blog to WordPress that I commissioned my second art piece of Jane, from DCS. I wanted to have a nice picture of her writing in a notebook to spice up my new “about” page. And when I put together a website with links to all my writing projects a while later, I went back to DCS for some more art in the same style. Go to janetitor.com to see how cute it all is! I’ve also commissioned various seasonal variants of my avatar over the years, for when I feel like switching things up on twitter. Check out pride month, winter, Halloween, and summer Jane, by Drazillion, nami, inkymaw, and doodlefrog respectively!
More recently, I decided to put a bit more thought into Jane’s character design beyond just her face, so I also commissioned the little reference image below that gives her a full outfit! And then I immediately turned around and asked inkymaw to draw her in a totally different outfit for my post about James Bond movies, and he totally nailed it—take a look at the post and bask in the beauty that is James Titor, while maybe enjoying my ramblings about a ridiculous film franchise I accidentally fell in love with at the same time.
I’ve always been interested in adaptive and transformative media, so it’s a really cool experience to see a character that I initially borrowed from a story I liked get re-interpreted and re-imagined in turn by another creator in My Sweet Zombie! Maybe I can convince even more visual novel developers to give her cameos in the future, until the world is full of Jane Titors! Head over to this itch.io link to read about one version of Jane’s adventures, and keep your eye on my future projects too—you might just see her pop up again in the future.