Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Call for Help

When I started my Villain Retrospectives last summer, I had a huge list of bad guys I wanted to go over. I counted out seventeen villains, ranging from Megatron - the one I was most familiar with - to ones like Venger and Mon*Star who I knew little to nothing about. Unfortunately, now I'm all out of villains!  I've spoken out about all the cartoon bad guys I know, so I'm asking for help finding other villains I might have missed.

What I need from you amazing readers is the names of other 80s cartoons that have been left off my lists.  Please check out the Villain Retrospects that I've linked above and tell me who else you'd like to see on here.  There are a some rules though - I went over a few of them on my Honorable Mentions post, but I'll go over them again here:

1. No adaptations - I'm talking most Disney cartoons, any movie-based shows, and any anime dubs. I'm looking for original cartoons, so this knocks out Real Ghostbusters, Duck Tales, and Voltron.

2. It needs a discernible villain - There are a few cartoons I had to take off my list because there wasn't a dedicated bad guy. Thundarr the Barbarian had a rotating cast of bad guys, and only one came back for a second appearance.

I've got a few in mind I'm planning to check out, like Visionaries, Dino Riders, and Bionic Six, but I need a lot more.  Once I go over all of them, I've got something big planned for all of the villains put together that I think is going to be pretty cool. 

So let me know what cartoon baddies you'd like to see get some recognition here.  I'm depending on you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Venger

Today, I end the first half of the Villain Retrospective series with another show I can't really look back on as I never watched it. Maybe this should be the beginning of another series where I look at villains from shows I'm not at all familiar with. There are plenty of them, like Visionaries, Bionic Six, and Galaxy Rangers.

Dungeons & Dragons, though, I knew about as a kid just like Silverhawks. While I did know more about Silverhawks, I knew D&D strictly from its villain - Venger. I had no idea what cartoon he came from, but I knew that no nose, one-horned sorcerer was a real bad guy.

From the Cartoon Scrapbook
Since I had no memories of Venger besides that wicked look of his, I had to brush up on the cartoon. I went through the first few episodes and I gotta say I'm impressed. Venger is leagues above his peers!  It's not very often that a cartoon's main bad guy is as successful or imposing as Venger is. This isn't a cartoon where the villain loses and has to run away at the end of every episode, his tail tucked between his legs. This is a show where the protagonists are lucky to get away.

Dungeons & Dragons tells the story of six kids who get trapped in a mystical land after a roller coaster ride goes bad. Real bad. They're given empowered weapons and classes by the Dungeon Master, which are sought after by Venger. Venger's already the most powerful wizard in the world and there's only one force that can stop him, the dragon Tiamat. As far as I've seen, the kids only escape Venger in the end by pitting him against Tiamat or another stronger force, like an army of ghosts or a rival wizard, which Venger is able to dispatch.

From Dungeon's Master
Besides sheer power, Venger relies on trickery more often than his peers. He disguises himself as others like Merlin, or employs illusions to his accomplices. His plans don't rely on ridiculous schemes. He doesn't run around with a group of lackeys that plot against them at every opportunity. He's what the other bad guys should aspire to be!  How successful could Megatron or Skeletor be if they were as committed or competent as Venger was?  Everyone could learn from this guy.

Let's rate him!  Coolness: 8. I mentioned in my Nemesis retrospective that Peter Cullen's villainous voice was a huge departure from his more familiar Optimus Prime. Here again, he delivers an intimidating part as Venger, and comes across as even better since he doesn't need to sound as robotic. He's incredibly powerful and looks like a bad-ass demon to boot with his horn, fangs and even wings. 
Effectiveness: 7. Honestly, he's one of the most successful villains I've come across in here. He's been able to steal the kids' weapons before (though they were drained of their powers before then), and he's only defeated through interference by other forces. If the kids were on their own, they'd have lost in the first episode.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Big Boss

C.O.P.S. was your typical cops and crooks cartoon with mostly ordinary and a few extraordinary characters. For the more creative characters you had to look at the bad guys like Dr. Badvibes - the brain-exposed mad scientist - and my favorite, Buttons McBoomBoom.  What a freaking awesome name! Not to mention he had twin tommy guns built into his chest. 
From the C.O.P.S. wiki

The majority of the boring characters feel into the good guys though. There's Mace, LongArm, Mainframe - names that have shown up in a ton of other franchises - mainly because they're boring as hell.  But there's one name more boring than all the others. It's about as uncreative as you can come up with - Big Boss.

It's like the writers didn't even try. C.O.P.S. had the added strain of coming up with real names for all their characters, and I guess when they exhausted all their creativity coming up with "Brandon Babel" they gave up and tossed Big Boss in there with it. Unfortunately, since they were all out of originality, they gave Big Boss here a generic fat-guy-mob-boss look and to fit in the cartoon better, they glued on a metal hand motif. He's basically Marvel's Kingpin + Dr. Claw, without the charm of either.

I really feel bad for Big Boss. Old School Evil has gone through a ton of awesome bad guys - Megatron, Mumm-ra, Skeletor, even Cy-Kill - and Big Boss is just completely outclassed. He's incredibly bland, given a totally clich├ęd crime boss voice and to top it off, he's got a pet that has the same metal hands he does. He has no powers besides "faster than a fat guy should be" speed and a hand that can break through a desk. He's doesn't even get involved in most of the capers his cronies does, instead sitting at a desk (eating most of the time) and telling people what to do. In fact, most of the episodes don't even end with him getting in trouble, though it comes across as not really worth the effort to catch him. Even Dr. Claw fares better than him for having at least an imposing voice. And a better looking pet.

I think out of all the villains I've gone though with the villain retrospectives, Big Boss is undoubtedly the most pathetic.
On a rating on 1-10 for coolness, Big Boss comes in as a 0. That's how terrible this bad guy comes across. When almost every one of your cronies is more interesting and better looking, you've got a problem, Big Boss.
As far as effectiveness, I'm not sure how exactly he even came upon his name. He may be big, but a Boss, he ain't. Big Boss is a big 0.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Crossovers Part II - He-Man/Thundercats

With IDW just finishing up it's massive Revolutions crossover, which brought M.A.S.K., ROM, and the Micronauts into the fold along with the Transformers and GI Joe, that combining different cartoon together into one story is pretty cool. While reviews of the comics themselves aren't completely favorable (at least among the long-time Transformers comic readers I see online), there's no denying how cool the concept can be when done correctly. 

It seems there's another comic company taking the idea and running with it as DC has combined their respective adaptations in a He-Man/Thundercats limited series! 
Image via Nerdist
Pitting Lion-o and He-Man against the combined forces of Mumm-ra and Skeletor is a pretty awesome idea and rife with potential. I haven't been following the story as well as I should (a new baby makes comic collecting less than feasible), but it appears in issue 3, dropping December 21st, Skeletor has stolen Mumm-ra's power and gained He-Man's power sword and the only ones able to stop him now are the Thundercats. Nerdist has posted a preview of the issue, showing the team taking on He-Man's foe, and though it looks like they're fairing well, I'm assuming the next pages shows just how strong Skeletor really is.

Now if only they were able to throw Bravestarr into the mix!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Doc Terror

"Power Extreme!"

Image via
Centurions was a great idea. A modular action figure with almost unlimited customization.  Kids could take the over-sized toy and plug pieces of their different suits into ports that covered the figure's body. The cartoon used this play pattern to create three heroes, each with expertise in land, sea, or air combat and specialized weapons that matched the terrain (or lack thereof). They fought against an arm of land and air robots created by the villainous Doc Terror and his minion Hacker.

Doc Terror defies the expectations that watching the Centurions creates. From the look of him and his henchmen, you'd think he'd be a power-hungry monster, a brain-dead lackey, and a Baroness-type spy girlfriend. But you'd be so wrong because none of them match that at all.  First, you've got his look:
He looks like a cybernetic Moe Howard from the Three Stooges.  He's got a coarse voice angry voice. But he's supposedly genius robotics engineer. He's got a dopey looking sidekick named Hacker, who doesn't have the dopey sidekick mentality (think Cliff Dagger from M.A.S.K.). He's got his daughter Amber working with him who he cares for deeply. Okay so, some of the things are not as apparent: I still remember Hacker being kinda stupid, and I'm not sure how much Amber is even involved in later episodes. 

Image via Power Extreme Wiki
I'm getting off-topic. Doc Terror here is half-robot, half-human. The left side of his body is a cybernetic unit called Syntax. I can't find any pictures of his whole body that isn't of the toy, but he looks ungainly and awkward. He has the same ports on his body that the Centurions has, allowing him to combine with some of his drones. I can't remember if he ever did that in the cartoon, though. 

In truth, I remember this cartoon more for the good guys while the villains were these ugly guys that I didn't even want to play with. I had a Jake Rockwell toy, my brother had Ace McCloud, but I never knew anyone that had one of the villains or even any of his drones. I think the creators went a little overboard with how ugly the bad guys were and that made them less desirable to kids. Still, he had a cool name, I'll give him that.

Image via
Let's get on with the ratings! 
Coolness: 1. That 1 point is for the name. The rest of his look is utterly disappointing. His colors are bland, his face is half covered cybernetics that have almost no tech detail. I'm not sure what that silver thing is next to his head. And he's got just five teeth. How odd. 
Effectiveness: 1. I'm going strictly off memory here, but I don't recall him ever being successful in any of his plans.  Most of his plans had to do with wiping out humankind so he can replace them with robots, which in and of itself is kinda dumb since he isn't fully-robotic. Since his plans mainly deal with killing off the human race, wouldn't his human half still die the same way? 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Nemesis

When I was going through all the cartoons I'd watched as a kid, I was surprised one of them wasn't a full cartoon at all. I remembered Robotix being a full series, but almost every sighting of it online says it was just a movie. So what gives?
From the Metal Misfit
The Robotix was a series of short 6-minute episodes based around a building set. You had the good guys, the Protectons, that fought the bad guys, the Terrakors. All of them were robots of varying shapes and sizes that were brought to life when their planet was threatened and the leaders of their two races had their brains uploaded into their machines.

When a space exploration ship crashes and strands the human crew on the planet with the warring Robotix factions, the good ones join up with Argus and his Protectons, while the mean, selfish, and stereotypically evil humans make a deal with Nemesis, the leader of the Terrakors. What an amazingly creative name!

Sounds like a cross between Transformers and Go-Bots to me. But instead of changing into earth vehicles, the Robotix were able to change their bodies into all sorts of weird shapes and forms, especially when being piloted by a human. Argus changes into battering ram at some point, and multiple smaller limbs fold out of their bodies to perform different tasks. That's the good guys though - besides a snake-themed Terrakor that turned into a hovercraft, none of them do anything at all.

Which leads us to Nemesis. That red crane-claw?  That's the only thing he changes, turning it into a spinning blade or shooting it out as a grabbling hook. Why doesn't he turn into a tank, or another vehicle of some sort?  The other Terrakors either fly or drive away, but he's left running like a sucker.  No wonder he gets betrayed by his second-in-command.  Still, he has a cool look and a surprising voice actor - it's the Transformers's own Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen!  He does a great job doing a villainous roll, and I'd love to hear him take it on again. And yes, let's make a Nemesis Prime joke.

In fact, there's a lot of stuff taken from Hasbro's other properties. The voice cast, the sound effects, the music, the setting, even the MacGuffin (the master computer called Compucore). The whole series feels like it's been recycled from the Transformers and GI Joe cartoons. The Robotix has actually been assimilated into Transformers comics lore.  I really wish it had a chance to differentiate itself more from Hasbro's other cartoon fare.

Let's look at some ratings:
Coolness - 5. Peter Cullen providing a villainous voice goes a long way to make this guy sound less generic. He's got a decent look, but I really wish his shape-shifting powers extended beyond just his left hand.
Effectiveness - 2. It's not uncommon for a bad guy to get betrayed by his first lieutenant, but Nemesis takes the cake for being knocked out of commission for a good portion of the show. And since this is only a hour a half movie, there's not much of a chance for him to make it up. So he doesn't.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Post-NaNo Wrap-up

Now that November's almost officially over and NaNo along with it, I just wanted to go over what I was able to accomplish and what I learned from four years of doing it.

1. My first drafts top out at about 50k. I've won NaNo three years in a row and I always stumble to the finish line. My story peters out at about 45,000 words and I frantically add a sentence here or there to cross the 50,000 threshold. I think every time I've done it, my word count ends up being less than a hundred words over the winning amount. I think no matter what I do, I focus more on the desired word count and rush through the story to reach it instead of letting the story develop organically.

2. It doesn't matter if I plot or pants it. The first two years I went into NaNo with a basic idea in mind but no real plan. I knew a few things I wanted to happen, a few characters I wanted in it, and maybe a scene or two. Both times, I was able to stretch it out to the desired length. This year I went with an outline, one a lot more fleshed out than my disastrous first NaNo attempt in 2012, and I still barely ended up with a win. It's telling me that putting a lot of prep time into a story or not doesn't matter as much as taking my time to write it. After editing my first win, I was able to extend it out to 75k words, which is a length I'm happy with.

3. I'm an ass hole when I do NaNo. I wrote a lot of the story at work in my free time, but I would spend some nights at home writing if I had a busy day. With the wife dealing with the baby most of the time, I'd stay up late to write, but I'd get an attitude with her if she wanted to do something for herself. While NaNo is important to me, it's not important enough that I should shovel my duties in to her so I can accomplish it. It wouldn't be so bad if NaNo was in February or even January, but November's too busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

4. I don't write as much when I do NaNo. Don't get me wrong, NaNo is a great way to words on the page, but since it focuses almost totally on writing one month of the year, it's difficult to keep writing the rest of the year, at least for me. I hold off on writing as November gets close, hoping not to burn myself out before it's over. And during NaNo, I can't focus on anything besides the writing, like modeling or art stuff. Granted, the rest of the year is supposed to go towards editing that novel, with January being full od support and tips, but still consolidating all of that into one month instead of promoting it year-round, makes it hard to continue once the month is over.

5. I don't get a lot out of NaNo. I'll be honest, besides that bar graph, I get no real motivation to work on my story from NaNo. They post a lot of pep-talks, even though I noticed fewer this year than the previous ones, but I never read them. They encourage word sprints and write-ins, which I never participate in. I have a few writing buddies there, but since all of them are in my critique group, we update each other on our progress outside of NaNo's email service.

This is leading me to think this might be my last NaNo. As long as I give myself a deadline to write a first draft, I can push it out any time of the year. And there are much easier months to do it in. Times when family events are disrupted or put on hold. I can be more flexible with when I have to work and when I can take a break. And I can adjust the length I want to shoot for - or just ignore the length entirely and write the story the way I want.

"How does this all apply to Old School Evil?" I'm sure you're all asking. Don't deny it. The first Old School Evil is totally complete and has taken me two years to finish it. That's a whole year longer than I originally planned, since I had no idea how grueling editing could be and how many rounds of beta-readers I needed to go through. But it's done, and hopefully I can hasten the process a bit.

I've got the first draft of Old School Evil done from last year's NaNo. I'm hoping to have it done by May 1st, 2018, giving myself 1.5 years. However, instead of building on a decent first draft like the first book, I'm not really happy with book 2 and I'll need to rewrite most of it from the ground up. I've got a much better idea of what I want it to end up like, but it'll take significantly more work to get it there.

This year, I wrote a spin-off book that is set in the Old School Universe but won't crossover much with the main Old School Evil story. I'm not in a hurry to get it finished, but I don't think it will take as long to polish since I do like the story. I'm going to hold off on it though so I can do the third book in the Old School Evil series. If I split my time writing it and editing the second book, Maybe I can have both done sooner than later, but I'm trying not to put too much of a deadline on anything besides finishing Old School Evil 2. And without focusing all my attention on November, I'm hoping I can be more productive than before.

Monday, November 28, 2016

November's Dying

As we come to the end of November and National Novel Writing Month, I want to take some time to talk about what happens afterward, what the next step usually is and plans further out. I will be making a post on the 30th detailing what I was able to accomplish this month and where I will be going from there.

Next Monday, as we move into December, we'll be getting to our last four Villain Retrospectives and once the new year hits, we'll be starting something I think will be a lot of fun.  For now though, I'm going to recharge after a stressful Thanksgiving and the even more stressful Christmas season.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's over!

Clocking in at 50,062 words, my NaNo entry, Keystone: A Novel is complete! Man, I'm typing everything wrong here, my fingers must be sick of working. Now to relax until December starts because that's when the real work begins.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress Report - Week 3

On the final stretch now! Broke into the final 5,000 words last night with a 3,000 word rush. I'm in the midst of the climax now and the protagonist is a paragraph or two from being defeated. I think it'll only be another 1,000 words before the end of the scene and the rest will be a (I'm guess) pretty lame resolution. When I was making up the outline for the novel, I don't think I ever touched on what happens after the heroes win. I'll pull something out of my ass, and if my first book is any indication, I'll rewrite the whole ending anyway.

Back at it!

Monday, November 14, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress Report - Week 2

I had a stumble over the weekend but I'm hoping to come back strong today. I was able to break through the 30,000 word threshold yesterday in a late night rush to get the daily 1667 and only got 105 words over it.

I have nothing left in my outline to do besides the climax, so I'm trying to fill in a lot of extra details and events. I'm adding a few characters into the story that originally were only going to be mentioned as being inactive - background information and stuff. I think they're a good fit for the story and will provide for an exciting battle.

I added in another character whose power only works when he's got a full bladder. I really don't like the power at all, so I'm sure it's going to change later on, but it seemed like a decent fight or flight power mechanic. I'm working on making it a reasonable power though.

Back at it if I'm going to try to cross 5K again!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

NaNo Update - Milestones

I'm not going to do a whole update to my NaNo novel, but I'm proud to say I hit two milestones yesterday.

First, I passed 25,000 words yesterday. I was going to hit it eventually, of course, but this is the fastest I have gotten this far. I hit it ten whole days quicker than I did in 2014. Over half way done and still two thirds of the month to go.

Second, I wrote over 5,000 words. I've never written that many words in one day and it felt great to cross that threshold.

I generally track my writing progress in Excel, but I missed most of the days last year.  It wasn't a terribly productive year, though, so I don't think there were any major milestones I made over the previous year.
I also track my writing progress in Habitica, an awesome gamified to-do list, and yesterday I was able check off all of my writing habits, earning myself a huge amount of XP.

That's enough of an update, back at it!

Monday, November 7, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress Report - Week 1

I really should work on this graph some more.

First week of NaNo is almost complete and here's where I am so far. The black bar represents the total words I've written each day, while the reed is the total words in the story so far. I started out really strong on the first, which has been pretty common for me the last few years I've done this. Besides the fifth, I've been able to stay above the 1667 daily word count. That's the amount you'd have to write daily to get to 50k on the 30th. I only wrote 1400 that day, but the rest have been at least a few hundred over so right now I'm about 5,000 words over the estimated amount needed by the 6th.

Still need to write today, but I think I'm good for a few thousand. As far as the outline goes, I think I'm staying pretty close to what I had planned and I'm not rushing through it either. I've still got a couple other big fights to write and the climax is quite a ways off. I've got a few characters to come up with, but I think I can figure out what I need to fit the story just right.

Monday, October 31, 2016


For writers, November is a special month.  It's National Novel Writer's Month (, a contest where participants rush to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  It is a hell of a rush, dumping words on a page day in and day out, when you finally finish your novel in the last few hours of November, barely eking out your necessary word count.  Sure, it probably sucks because the only word you care about is the one you're writing at the moment and you're not giving a single thought to what you wrote even a few seconds ago, but that's what editing is for.  NaNo isn't for creating a good product, it's a test to see how well you can build the habit of writing.  It's about pushing your skills to their limit.

The first time I tried NaNo was 2012.  I had just finished my very first novel, a fantasy story that I had started in 2002 and had languished on zip drives and paper drafts for a 10 years.  I'd add a few things on to it in the meantime, but I decided in 2012 I'd finish it.  It sucked, but I was determined to write the planned sequel for NaNo, hoping it would boost my motivation to continue the series.  I started NaNo with a pathetic outline - really it was barely more than an idea.  "This thing happened, then this one, and finally this one."  It was really no surprise that I failed - I burned through all my ideas too quickly and petered out about halfway through the designated length.  After that I just put both books away and let the next NaNo pass by without an idea.  After one spectacular failure, I decided I'd probably never try NaNo again.

I started 2014 with two little ideas - a homeless werewolf and a supervillain retirement home.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with either of them.  I mean, what I wrote up there just now was all I had even thought of.  That summer, I had an epiphany - merge the two ideas into one story.  After that, all sorts of ideas flooded in.  In a moment of inspiration, I decided I'd try NaNo again.  I resisted the urge to outline a story, instead focusing on the world building.  I wanted this story to grow as I wrote it.  I honestly had no idea where it was going to go.

I went in with two characters - my homeless werewolf, named Manny and Major Max Malice the Menacing, my supervillain stuck in a retirement home.  I'm not sure how I arrived at the decision to write both characters in first person, but I couldn't resist being in both of their heads at once.  They lead me through an exhilarating story that clocked in just over 50,000 words on November 29th.  I finished a day early!

I spent the next year editing the story.  Overall, I didn't change much besides the ending.  I added a lot of backstory and a few new characters in, but I felt the story worked well enough that I didn't have to rewrite it. 

November 2015, I decided to follow my winning formula.  I wrote a sequel to my first book and went in again without an outline and just a few scenes in my head that I wanted to get down on the screen.  Once again, my book just barely crossed the finish line just before the deadline, but I wasn't as happy with it as I was the first book.  While it's far from terrible (in my opinion at least), it wasn't what I expected.  I'm going to rewrite it once this NaNo is over.

Tomorrow I'm going a different route from my first two wins - I'm going with an outline again.  I'm adapted a screenplay idea into a novel and making it a spin-off from my two recent novels.  I've been building the outline this month, trying to get it as detailed as I can so I don't rush from one underdeveloped plot point to the next.  I've got a handful of characters, each with their own backstory.  I've got the world-building locked down.  Tomorrow I start a new experiment and find out who I really am - a pantser or a plotter - and if you can only be one or the other.

This month, the villain restrospects go on hold.  I still have a few to go through after November, but I'm focusing my Monday posts on tracking my novel progress.  I probably won't have time to do any drawn out posts and I doubt I'll do more than one post a week, unless I'm feeling extremely motivated, which honestly, hardly ever happens!  Nevertheless, I'm planning to fill Old School Evil with a bunch of numbers this November, going for that sometimes elusive but always rewarding 50,000!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Biting the bullet

I originally wanted to wait until closer to the end of the week, but the anxiety was killing me.  I sent off the first of my query packages to five of my top agent picks.  The heart was racing, the pits were slick with sweat, but it's done.  Of course I've got a few hundred more to send out before I feel I should give up on finding an agent, but I'm taking November off for another writing project.

Getting the submissions out there before the end of October, even if it was only a handful of them, was all about limiting the time I've spent writing on Old School Evil.  I started the book on November 1, 2014 and shat out a 50k word novel during November's NaNoWriMo, a writing contest where all you win is the satisfaction of pushing out a crappy first draft of something that might one day be good.  It's taken me 2 years and about 7 drafts to finally get the book exactly where I want it to be: DONE.  And sending off queries with (portions of) the completed novel has been such a relief.  Will there be more drafts in the future?  Only if someone tells me this one sucks, so yeah probably.  But for now, Old School Evil is a complete novel by my own lax standards.

Of course now I have to start the second draft of my second book and hopefully finish it in less time than this one took.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Saw Boss

Saw Boss and the Monster Minds.  Now those are some cool names.  But would you ever expect them to be plant-based vehicles?

Monster?  Maybe.  Mind? I doubt it.
Instead we get a story about sentient plants that can turn into angry-looking vehicles.  Their leader, Saw Boss, is able to become one of these vehicles, but mainly uses clones of himself that he controls telepathically.  So usually, he sits on a throne, pointing at stuff.  Maybe he's where they got the Monster Mind name - his head is huge!  Still, there's no sign of an actual saw, so his name, and all of the others make no damned sense. 

Anyway, enough with the names - Saw Boss had a pretty impressive power to control all plantlife connected to his system of vines and instantly transport his base.  Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of instances of Saw Boss doing anything himself.  He's another example of a villain that just leads his minions from his chair without engaging the heroes at all - he's like Dr. Claw, except Saw Boss has actual power he doesn't hardly ever employ.  In the first episode, the most he does is swear to follow Jayce across the universe after teleporting his base a few seconds too late.  For having this huge vine system that spreads across galaxies, it's amazing that he can't follow Jayce into space.

It brings up a strange point that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors follows a different formula that many of the other cartoons have.  Many of the other shows had the villains trying to pull off some scheme or destruction and the heroes only get involved to stop them.  IF the villains weren't active, neither would the heroes be.  But this cartoon specifically has the villains going after the heroes - bringing the fight directly to them.  There are no ridiculous plots perpetrated by the villains, they just have one singular mission - catch Jayce - even if they fail every episode.

Let's go to ratings:  Coolness - 1.  I mean look at the guy up there.  He looks like an idiot.  His vehicle design is an improvement, though not by a huge amount.  At least his name makes more sense.  I still can't tell how a vine can hold the saw blade though - if he moves the blade even the slightest degree, wouldn't it cut through the vines?  Oh well.  I also find Saw Boss's voice to be very underwhelming.  It's loud with an echo-y filter over it, but there's no character there.  It could be just about anyone, but it doesn't scream "villain" to me.

Effectiveness - 2.  Saw Boss does have some plans, but they all center around killing Jayce to get his root.  So they're really limited to how much he can try to do.  In any case, they're easily escapable traps most of the time and just followed up with a boring chase.  Yawn.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Villains Retrospect - Honorable Mentions

For one reason or another, there are a lot of villains that just didn't make the cut in the 80s.  Maybe they missed the decade by a few years - even if their cartoon was a perfect fit for it, like Pirates of Dark Water. 

Honestly, this cartoon was better than most of the stuff in the 80s for it's world-building and continuity.  It was one of the only cartoons I remember having an overarching story instead of the same conflict every episode.  The cast of characters were awesome, including Bloth, that big evil-looking pirate dude up there.  If only the cartoon came out earlier...

Speaking of cartoons that came out too early, a few years later one of the greatest cartoons ever came out.  Disney's Gargoyles is by far one of the best examples of a cartoon taking itself seriously. 

In every regard - the animation, the art style, the cast, the story - this show's quality was the highest around.  The story spanned centuries, dipping through time to weave together characters and events in different ways, taking cues from multiple sources, like Greek mythology and Shakespeare's works.  Greg Weisman created a cast of characters that covered wide ranges of emotions and beliefs.  In doing so, he created possibly the best villain in any kids show: David Xanatos.
This is a man who could plan for any eventuality and not have it come across as some kind of plot-induced omniscience.  He turned every situation around to benefit himself and got away with it.  This wasn't a case of the good guys beating the bad guy every episode - it was the good guys just barely keeping up.  No matter what went on in Gargoyles, David has his hand in it.  There were other villains the Gargoyles faced, but Xanatos was easily the primary foe.

This brings up a point I wanted to make about what cartoons and their villains were and were not considered for retrospectives here.  You've no doubt noticed Gargoyles above is the first mention of a Disney cartoon, even though the Duck Tales and Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers were on the air before the end of the decade.  I didn't feel that they belonged here since they were adaptations of other material that started long before the 80s.  Scrooge McDuck and the chipmunks started out in sorts and comics before ever getting to Saturday morning cartoons.  I don't want to do anything here that's adapted from another work.

For this same reason I'm not including a lot of anime dubs.  Voltron and Sailor Moon and the like were popular cartoons, but they were adaptations of a Japanese cartoon and not made expressly for American kids like me.  Transformers and GI Joe and all the rest might have been animated over there and Transformers might have been adapted from two of their toylines, but the characters and stories were created here. 

One last cartoon I wanted to bring up with this is The Real Ghostbusters.  Now I freaking loved this cartoon, still do even, but by my own rules above, I couldn't include them here.  Granted they did make up a ton of original stuff for the cartoon, and it became a lot bigger than the movies ever were, but it's still an adaptation, which makes me sad.  Another reason it doesn't make the cut here is because it didn't have a recurring villain.  I know a few of them made more than a single appearance, like Samhain or the Staypuft Marshmallow Man, but it's hardly what you'd call a lead bad guy.  Another cartoon I loved watching around the same time, Thundarr the Barbarian, had the same problem.  When every episode has a different bad guy, you can't just pick one as a representative of the villains the heroes faced.

I'm coming close to the end of my list of villains for the retrospectives, but I've got enough to fill in for the rest of the year.  I've got an idea what to do after that, which I think will be really fun, but until then, keep coming back to look at those villains we loved to hate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Genghis Rex

If there's one thing that captured the interest of any kids in the 80s it was dinosaurs.  Every kid loved them and they made appearances in practically every cartoon - most notably as the Dinobots in The Transformers. But so few cartoons capitalized on it like Dinosaucers

In this cartoon, a race of aliens called the Dinosaucers from the planet Reptilon comes to earth on a friendly mission to look for resources, but are followed by the evil Tyrannos.  Typical cartoon nonsense words if I've ever seen them.  But the cartoon was pretty cool - the characters were the most interesting being humanoid looking dinosaurs with lots of colors.  The best part was when the good guys "dinovolve" - becoming full-fledged dinosaurs!  I loved watching this cartoon and it's a wonder to me that it didn't last that long - though I'm sure it had at least a little to do with the fact that it had no toyline release, although that's a sort of "the chicken or the egg" thing.  Over time, it was practically forgotten among the deluge of more successful cartoons, something I think is a big shame.

Genghis Rex was the leader of the Tyrannos.  I wish I could say I remember more about him, but as this cartoon faded from everyone else's memory, it's done the same in mine.  He yelled a lot and seemed to get great delight from being called silly names like "Bossasaur."  He was a smart leader, even understanding at times, but was quick to rage as well.  I don't remember him having any particular powers (since he and his minions were unable to dinovolve), but still, being a 20-foot tall half-dinosaur is still pretty damned powerful. 

Each of the characters in the cartoon had their own flying ship and the Tyrranos' base was a giant red T Rex robot (reminds me a lot of Trypticon but more spiky).

I'm ready to rule - Coolness - 8.  Genghis Rex looks pretty awesome.  He's a big red T Rex looking guy, what's not to like?  His voice is a deep rumble that fits his character very well. 
Effectiveness - I watched a few episodes while I was writing this and I think his plans ran the gamut from decent to laughable.  Of course none of them work at all, but I think he's pretty even with the rest of the villains, so I'm giving him a 4.

Monday, October 3, 2016

No Villain Retrospect today

I'm starting a new job today at the hospital I'm working at, so there won't be a villain retrospective.  I'm finding myself in the scary position of running out of bad guys to even write about.  I've got a few still on my list to touch on, but soon, I'll be out of villains since I'm staying away from comic book or movie-based cartoons and I'm not interested in Disney's offerings.  I do have a plan for a follow-up series but I need to start figuring out how it's going to work soon.

Next week, I'll be returning with a villain I'm having trouble even finding stuff about online - Saw Boss from Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Shredder

Barely making it into the 80s is another of my favorite villains, the bane of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder. 

Originally Oroku Saki, the Shredder leads the robotic Foot Clan against the heroic reptiles, stealing super-weapons and kidnapping April O'Niel. Shredder is the prime example of villain entropy - the very beginning of the series, Shredder was a competent villain with realistic goals, but quickly devolved into plans that made no sense with zero chance of accomplishment and being defeated by the least amount of effort by the Turtles.  By the later seasons, I seriously felt bad for Shredder.

One of the reasons why I felt his fall was the worst was because he had a partner.  You can't talk about Shredder without mentioning his cohort Krang.  Unlike a number of other villains who have an established second-in-command (like Starscream to Megatron), Krang was Shredder's equal.  He took no orders from Shredder and tried a number of his own schemes against the Turtles.  I honestly think Krang was the more successful of the two - the majority of the equipment, including the Technodrome, belonged to Krang.  Krang has his sights a lot higher than Shredder too.  You know what, I'm changing my favorite to Krang instead of Shredder.  Shredder was a dope.  But he was the main villain, so I'm stuck talking about him.  Maybe I'll get to Krang later.

Another one of the most recognizable voices in cartoons, Shredder was voiced by James Avery, who almost anyone knew as Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I can't even think of another cartoon character, villain or not, voiced by him.  After looking at his filmography, all I could recognize was War Machine in the Iron Man and Spider-man cartoons.  I honestly wonder how TMNT picked him up for this role, but it was a great bit of casting.

So let's rate this guy.  Coolness - 9. A great voice and a distinctive costume makes this guy stand out among the rest.  Shredder was a cool looking dude who was easy as hell to dress up as if you had a roll of tin foil at home.  There's literally no downside to his costume - he just looks freaking cool.  Effectiveness - 2.  I wish I could rate him on his earlier episodes, I really do.  But looking at him over the whole series, he's one of the least effective villains because he not only had to contend with the Turtles, Krang also foiled his fair share of Shredder's schemes.  Poor guy, everyone's
against him.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Update - A couple of visuals

If you're reading this blog post, you've no doubt (well hopefully) noticed some of the background images.  I wanted the background to represent the various blueprints the villains would have to come up with for their devices and machines.  The easiest way for me to do that was to take a model I was working on at the time, convert it to a wireframe and use that for the design specs.  Unfortunately, I rushed through the creation and I'm stuck with this blurry mess.  But I have plans to change that!

Before I get to them, though I wanted to share what the blueprint behind this post is for.  In Old School Evil, there's a show called the Ultra City Ultra Twins, about two teenagers given super-powered police badges after their police chief father dies in the line of duty.  The badges give the twins certain powers based on different police roles.  All of the twins's powers are non-lethal, non gun-based, but all of the villains are gun-based.  Each of the villains has a pistol or other weapon that have a powered up mode that kind of takes them over in different ways.

The blueprint is Force Bolter, the weapon belonging to the creatively-named villain, Big Gun.  Here's a clearer render of a newer version of the model.
Okay, not that clear, I need to adjust the lighting. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out how to improve my renders.  The gun is created in Blender, a free and, in my opinion, incredibly easy to learn 3D modeling program.  I just figured out a few days ago how to create the cables, I think they turned out really well.  Just need to figure out how to render a better wireframe image.

Any fan of the cartoons I'm basing Old School Evil on will know where the Force Bolter design is inspired from.  I'm not even shying away from it: main character Manny (who loved the same cartoons as I do) mentions how incredibly close it looks to the Transformers's Shockwave in gun mode.

Now that the gun is modeled to the version I want it, I'm not just going to throw it on the background and leave it at that.  I want more designs on there: tanks, robots, weapons, devices.  All sorts of other things.  I want the page covered with crossed-off designs, each one written off as the villains are defeated and the machines are destroyed.  I've got six designs planned out, including the powered-up Force Bolter mode.  I have five of them modeled now with one more sketched that I just need to start modeling.  Here's one more I'm still working on:  Lead Tentacle, a robotic octopus from Zane and the Wild Zoobots.  No explanation necessary.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hasbro v. Mattel

There's no way to talk about the various cartoons from the 80s (and up to current times) without bringing up the toy manufacturers behind them.  Back then there were five primary companies producing toys that had accompanying shows - Hasbro (Transformers, GI Joe), Mattel (He-man, She-ra), Kenner (M.A.S.K.), Tonka (GoBots), and LJN (Thundercats, Silverhawks).  I may be ignoring or neglecting some others, but the majority of the cartoons I watched had figures and playsets produced by these five companies.  As time went on and lines fizzled out so did the companies that made them.  Kenner and Tonka were bought out by Hasbro and LJN... maybe they went back to making shitty games.  That leaves us with just two major toy companies - Hasbro and Mattel.  The full list of toylines that falls under either company is staggering, but outside of cartoon-driven lines were such great names as Barbie, Star Wars, Hot Wheels, and Marvel.

While researching the history of the cartoons, I found a number of books based on the competition between the various toy companies.  I haven't read any of them yet, so I'm not sure how much they delve into the cartoons themselves.  The most popular one I have found (and it's on my read list) is Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between G.I. Joe, Barbie, and the Companies that Make Them.  I swear I'll get around to reading it someday, even though I ran across some news today that might make me hurry to read it. 

Amazon is currently working on a mini-series based on the book.  With some top-notch talent attached to the movie, including a screen-writer whose father played a part in getting the original book written, it's sure to be an interesting watch.  Here's hoping it will show some of the cartoon writing and how they created some of the most iconic villains around.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Hordak

One cannot talk about He-man's nemesis Skeletor without also bringing up his mentor and continual She-ra foil, Hordak. 
Ruler over most of Etheria, Hordak could be looked at as the more successful of the Filmation villains.  Under his brother Horde Prime, he leads a massive army of Horde Troopers to defeat She-ra and finally have the entire planet under his grasp.  At least, I think that's what he was going for.  Unlike Skeletor who always had the mission of taking over Castle Grayskull, I don't think I ever saw what Hordak's goal was.  I don't know if he even had one, considering most of the planet was under his control already. 

Unlike Skeletor whose powers were primarily magic-based, Hordak used more technological or scientific abilities.  Of course, they could have also been magic, but they didn't look like it much.  Hordak could change his arms to look like cannons or laser blasters or turn his whole body into rockets or tanks.  In fact, whenever he did shapeshift his whole body, he looked pretty damn stupid.  I mean look at that.  And that still isn't the worst thing he changed into.

Can anyone tell me why he needed the wheels on the cannon?
Hordak had a much more jovial attitude than Skeletor.  He seemed to enjoy his work more.  He laughed a lot more.  I'm probably making this all up.  There wasn't much to Hordak.  I mean, if you were to watch an episode of He-man and an episode of She-ra, which villain would you remember more?  The guy with a skull for a head or the guy that looked kinda like a bat, uh... thing?  He's a terrible looking villain!  And I think in cartoons where technology shows up sparingly but magic is all over the place, his mechanical stuff just doesn't fit as well.  Not to mention that as a toy, how were you going to play his shape-shifting power?  Sure you had Trap-Jaw with the replaceable arms and you could do the same with Hordak, but when he turned into a tank?  Were you going to put a goofy paper-plate mask on an Attack Trak?  No, you just miss out on half of his abilities!

Defeated by Hay-Fe-Vor!
Let's go to ratings.  Coolness - 1. I don't think I have much more to say than this: out of all the villains I looked at so far in Old School Evil, Hordak is the goofiest, and least terrifying one of all.  And that's comparing him to the likes of Dr. Claw (awesome voice) and Mon*Star.  Okay, maybe he's tied with Mon*Star for sheer ridiculousness.  Effectiveness - Being a Filmation villain, he's doomed to being completely ineffective, with stupid plans that are beaten with minimal effort by the heroes.  But Hordak rules Etheria.  He's already taken over a planet!  Does that count for something?  Probably not.  He's a 2.

And don't even get me started on Imp.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Voice of a Generation

Whether anyone our age knew it or not, they grew up with Frank Welker

Whether you watched Go-Bots (Scooter), Scooby Doo (Fred Jones), Superfriends (Darkseid), the Real Ghostbusters (Ray Stanz), Inspector Gadget (Dr. Claw), or Transformers (practically half the Decepticons), you heard Frank Welker's voice. Practically every cartoon produced - not just in a certain era, I'm talking every cartoon - had this man's name in their credits somewhere.

The most amazing thing is that most of these shows, you couldn't tell they were all his voices.  Sure Soundwave and Dr. Claw sounded similar, but were they anywhere close to his voice for Fred Jones?  His vocal range was so huge you could barely even tell they were the same person.  His talent extended not making non-human sounds - if you heard an animal in any animated show, you can be guaranteed he provided that noise.  Due to that alone, he had roles in more productions than any other voice actor and is referred to as a "voice god" in Hollywood.  Frank Welker has been in so many movies, he was the highest credited actor in Hollywood, coming out above big name actors like Tom Hanks and Samuel L. Jackson.

But let's get back to his bread and butter - the cartoons!  My first real experience with him, at least where I knew his name, was Megatron.  That deep gravelly voice fit the Decepticon leader so well and I was floored when I found out he also supplied Soundwave's highly-synthesized monotone delivery (same for Peter Cullen delivering Optimus Prime and Ironhide's voices).  Imagine my surprise when I read that Frank Welker had provided almost a dozen more voices in just that one cartoon. 

While the Beast Wars cartoons and the Unicron Trilogy had different voice actors, Frank Welker began supplying the voice again in the Prime series and Devastation video game, his voice having grown a little deeper and more gravelly with age, though it still fit the roles perfectly.  He's even returned to his role of Galvatron in the most recent Transformers movie.  In the meantime, all of Megatron and Soundwave's appearances in Adult Swim's Robot Chicken came from the original source as well (same goes for his Dr. Claw). 

Another life-long role for him is Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo.  Throughout every incarnation of the cartoon (practically equaling the various Transformers series that have come and gone), Frank Welker provided Fred's voice in all but one.  That's at least 15 different cartoons over the course of more than 40 years!  Not to mention after the passing of Don Messick, he took over the role of Scooby Doo as well.

To go over Mr. Welker's whole career or filmography would be a daunting task, but as far as Transformers goes, this guy is a legend.  As great as David Kaye or Corey Burton have been in their respective series, Frank Welker still stands above them.  And let's not get started on how much better he would have been in the role than Hugo Weaving in the first three movies. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Cy-Kill

Who doesn't love Cy-Kill?  Megatron's counterpart in Tonka's Challenge of the GoBots, this guy lead the Renegades from Gobotron against Leader-1's Guardians.  Honestly that's all you need to know about Gobots - everything has a terrible name.  Everything but this guy here.  Cy-Kill, what a kick-ass name! 

Shouldn't Cop-Tur be the same size as Leader-1?
I think that's all he has going for him though.  I'm trying not to make too many comparisons with Megatron, but there's one I can't help.  In Transformers, you have a truck vs a gun.  Sure that is a crazy comparison, but at least Megatron mass-shifts to be Optimus's size.  But Cy-kill's a motorcycle that fights a freaking jet.  And when he changes shape (GoBots don't transform!), he's still way shorter than Leader-1.  It's hardly a fair fight!  At least he's bigger than Scooter.

Gotta go!  Gotta go!  Gotta go right now!
Speaking of Scooter - I had no idea Cy-Kill did the same thing with showing his face in vehicle mode!  Could you imagine driving around being chased by a motorcycle with an angry face and a five o'clock shadow?  Actually, I'm not even sure that's an angry face he's making.  He looks like he's full of that panic you get when you're not sure you'll make it to the bathroom in time.  Not to mention he's already in the right position to blow ass.

Okay, I'll admit it's been a long time since I watched this cartoon and I'm not familiar t all with how the story went.  I know their origin as cyborgs with organic brains, but as far as what happened in the episodes.... no clue.  And YouTube is somehow completely devoid of official or even unofficial episodes. 
So I don't think I can even rate him on effectiveness since I can't tell it at all.  However, I'll do some coolness and I can't give him anything higher than a 2.  The only thing great that he's got is his name.  As cool as the Megatron name is, he still doesn't have Kill in his name!  I don't think there's a single Transformer with a name as cool as that.  So sorry, Cy-Kill, but besides your name, you leave a lot to be desired. 

Edit: I have since bought a few Go-Bots DVDs and Cy-Kill doesn't do much to elevate my original scorings.  His plans aren't much better and mostly involve him running away - even leaving behind his lackey Crasher once.  Worse than Megatron even, he depends on a human for his plans, taking the idea of Dr. Archville and running with it.  So Effectiveness - 2.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Dr Claw

Inspector Gadget was a different kind of show than the usual ones I watched.  Out of all the cartoons I watched, this was the only one I did for the humor.  There wasn't a whole lot of action, none of the villains had any names besides the good doctor, and the hero was a bumbling idiot.  A follow-up of sorts to Get Smart starring another accident-prone protagonist, Inspector Gadget was even voiced by the series' Don Adams.  It was full of slapstick humor with everyone being nearly incompetent, save for our villain and Gadget's niece Penny, and her dog, Brain.

Really the only picture I need here.
I say Dr. Claw was one of the only smart characters in the show, but that was the only thing going for him.  As leader of the villainous group, M.A.D., all he did was tell his nameless goons what to do and yell at them when they couldn't.  Normally his evil deeds were based on some kind of theft - money, treasures, gold bars, etc. - so I'm not sure what kind of end goal he had.  M.A.D. certainly wasn't an apt name for a group that was basically bank-robbers.  At the end of the episode, Dr. Claw would generally escape in a transforming vehicle similar to Gadget's, except his could fly.  Why would he escape?  I dunno, I can't remember Gadget ever really getting close to catching him, even with Penny's help.

The picture above is all you ever see of our villain. He sits in a high-backed wooden chair as a desk with one computer monitor and his ever-present pet, M.A.D.Cat (everywhere I've looked online had the M.A.D. part looking like this and just cat afterwards.  I thought it would just be one word).  He never stands up, never turns around, never does anything but wave his hand around or slam his fist on his desk, which usually scared his cat from a nap.  So even though you only see that gloved hand, he's still one of the coolest villain you'll see - or do I mean hear?  Frank Welker gives Dr. Claw his deepest rumbling voice, the same one he provides for Soundwave, and it is awesome. Dr. Claw's voice is one of the very best things in cartoons.  "Next time, Gadget!  Next time!"  I can here those dulcet tones already.

Let's get to some rankings! 
Coolness - Based on Frank Welker's voice alone, I'd give Dr. Claw a 10.  He just sounded so downright evil!  I mean there's not much more to him besides a spiked bracelet, so maybe a 3?
Effectiveness - Here's where I'm torn.  He's got good plans but he does absolutely nothing to get them done. His plans always fail, but he since he doesn't get involved, it's hard to blame it on him, either though.  I guess I'd have to give him a 4?  Sure. 4.

And no, I'm not going to post a picture of that stupid action figure.  Dr. Claw never showed off his face - NEVER!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nearing the tipping point

In July, I posted an update to Old School Evil's progress.  Since then I've made a few strides in preparing for the agent search and prepared my submission package.  Today was supposed to be the day I sent my query letters off, but the extra requirements most agents request has taken me more time to complete than I expected.  I wanted to talk a bit about those extras here, while I avoid actually working on them.

The first thing an agent will request is a query letter.  Sometimes it's the only thing  The query is a three paragraph (or so) introduction to your book and you as a writer to an agent.  It's got the basics of your storyline and your bio.  And the most important part of it, or so I've heard, is the hook.  That first sentence has to really grab the agent's attention or you're dead in the water.  I've had a query letter draft written for a few months and had it looked at by an agent on Reddit who helps us aspiring authors get them in the best shape.  After a little reworking with some help from my critique partner, I think I've got one polished. 

Next, an agent will usually ask for a 1-2 page synopsis.  Here's where my biggest delay has come in.  Synopses are hard as hell to write.  To condense a book from seventy-four thousand words so it can fit on two pages is a Herculean task!  And if it weren't hard enough to pair it down that much, you've still got to make sure you focus on your conflict, and your character arcs, and so many other facets of your story.  I have a first draft done that's mainly just an outline of the book, but next on my plate is to rework it to include the things I mentioned. 

Lastly, and this one varies a lot, an agent will request a sample of the writing.  Sometimes, it's the first 5 pages, sometimes it's the first three chapters.  Just depends on who you're submitting to.  Here's the important part - the majority of agents today are requesting all of this stuff to be pasted into an e-mail.  No attachments, just one long e-mail with everything slapped in it.  Once you've got that pasted in, get it all formatted to look correct (this apparently is too hard for some people to follow) and hit send.  And that's going to be an incredibly hard button to click with so much anxiety resting on that one button. 

One thing to remember is to personalize the message to the agent.  If you've read something they represented, let them know.  If your book is similar to something they've represented, let them know that too.  If you've never read anything they've represented, don't feel the need to tell them that. 

Overall, this process is the hardest I've hit since starting Old School Evil.  Writing it was a snap, editing it was a little difficult at times, but getting it ready to send out into the world, to be pummeled with rejections, is frustrating, nail-biting, pants-shitting hard.  I've considered more times than I'd care to admit just self-publishing it so I can avoid it altogether.  But I shall persevere and will submit it when the synopsis is ready.

There's one other reason I'm delaying everything, though.  A writing group is holding a query letter contest next month.  I've had to rewrite my query to fit their requirements and also write a blurb, which I never even considered doing.  Next weekend they're also holding a seminar on the querying process that I'd like to attend.  I don't have to wait until the contest starts to submit to my agents, but it's taken time away from the synopsis since it only recently was moved to October from this coming meeting.  As soon as I'm able to process the info from this coming meeting (hopefully the synopsis will be done by then), I'll be sending out my query letters. 

Then the rejections begin.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hasbro, why do you hate me?

I had a decent collection of Transformers as a kid and one of my favorites was Weirdwolf.  This was one cool guy - a Headmaster, which meant his head turned into another smaller robot and he had a cockpit for it to sit in while he's in wolf mode.  One of the coolest features though were the slide-open rocket launchers on his shoulders (non-working of course).  He was easily one of my favorites, even over Skullcruncher, a similar Transformer that turned into a crocodile with the little robot hiding in his mouth.

Anyway, Hasbro has recently resurrected the -Master line with Titans Return and with it, Wolfwire, a brand new Weirdwolf but with better articulation (and a lot smaller).  I'm stoked!  I can't wait to get this guy!  Even if it has a stupid name due to trademark reasons, I can get this great update to one of my favorite figures as a kid. 
Except I can't.  Because Hasbro's distribution has been so scattershot with the enter Titans Return line.  Most of the stores in my town are completely sold out on almost every Titans Return figures.  Even worse, those same stores don't even have the figures listed on their online storefront.  These figures just don't seem to exist anywhere in my little hamlet.  Unfortunately, the only place I can find them are online-only toy retailers that add a few extra bucks onto their MSRP and have extraordinary shipping rates.  I may want this figure soon, but paying almost twice their asking price to get them is a little more than what I'm willing to do.  Come on, Hasbro, get these toys shipped out!  I really don't want to have to go the next state over to find these!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Mon*Star

I'm trying something new today.  I don't ever remember watching Silverhawks.  I know the show was about guys wearing metal suits and flying through space, but I always dismissed the show as a Thundercats rip-off (I didn't know the production company Rankin-Bass made both shows).  I don't know the heroes, their powers, or their villains, lead by Mon*Star, whoever that was. 

So today, instead of a real retrospective, I'll be doing some research into who Mon*Star was and what he can do.  I'm watching a few episodes of the show - the first story arc, since we all know villains are much more menacing and competent when a show starts, and then two episodes from later in the series, when villains generally lose their bite and the writing team struggle to come up with cohesive storylines.  I'll also be reading up on their abilities and history on whatever wikia I can find.  So let's start with Episode 01 - The Origin Story.  What a creative name...

First a slight intro to the cartoon.  The Silverhawks are a military-like group of space police with really lame powers and flat personalities.  They fight against Mon*star - a space mobster - and his equally goofy cronies.  His powers include a star-shaped beam from his eye, shapeshifting into an even uglier version of himself, and riding in a space squid.  I couldn't make up anything this stupid if I tried.  Let's tackle him one thing at a time.

1. His original form looks like it was stolen from a character in Thundercats with the giant red mane.  It's a little extreme, but I can live with that, but then you see that ugly face with the star eye-patch.  He's got the same grating voice as Mumm-ra.

Admittedly kinda cool.
2.  He gets his powers from the Moon Star.  What the hell is a Moon Star?  It looks like a moon, but somehow it's a star too?  It's like calling Earth the Planet Star.  For some reason he always needs a transformation chamber to change, but in the first episode, he does it in a jail cell, so what's the point of the chamber?  The light just needs to hit him and he changes, so he moves his entire base through space to aim the Moon Star's light in at him.

3. Mon*star's other form, which doesn't have a name as far as I could tell, looks even worse than his original form.  I mean, my god, that thing is ugly.  Spikes all over your face don't make you look scarier, it makes you look like a cactus.  He's got rockets on his elbows, but in the three episodes I've seen, he's been sent tumbling through space for at least a few minutes before he remembered them in two of those episodes.  In the third one, he just forgot he had them.

Right before it got shot down by a bird.
4. He rides around on a squid.  For a show about hawks, you'd think he'd have a vulture or something.  But no, a squid is okay.  It flies around space just fine in the first episode, but then Mon*Star gives it some rocket stuff anyway.

5.  He also shoots his star beam out of his eye, but all I've seen it do it hit the squid and make the armor appear on it.  In the second episode, the beam chased Quicksilver around for a while, but then it disappeared without hitting him.  I have yet to see it successfully do something against the heroes.

6. He got defeated so easily in every episode I saw.  Well, he wasn't defeated in the first episode, but he sure looked defeated.  In the second episode, he ran away after Quicksilver used a smoke cloud (you'd think that would be his squid's power to help retreat).  The other episode, he got hit by an asteroid and went tumbling away through space again.  I don't even think he did anything in that episode besides plan a race.

I can safely say that this is the saddest villain I've seen so far. In an attempt to make him look imposing, they made him just disappointingly goofy. 
In both coolness and effectiveness, Mon*Star gets a 0.  I feel for you, Mon*Star.  You could have been cool, but without any definable powers, a mish-mash of dopey henchmen, and a generic space mobster role, you'll never be more than a second-rate Hordak.  Third-rate Hordak.  That's better.