Monday, January 30, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Metlar

Inhumanoids is a horror show.  I have no idea how it was marketed for kids.  With its disgusting abominations and political backstory, you'd expect to see this on the X-Files, not in a cartoon. 

The weird thing about the show is that I have no memory of watching it.  I know I did, how could I have resisted a show like that? But I don't remember anything about it besides what the Inhumanoids looked like.  I guess if you're going to remember anything, it has to be this:

I went back and took a look at the mini-series that started the whole thing and for a villain that didn't even show up until the third episode, Metlar has one hell of a reputation.  Out of all the bad guys in every cartoon I watched, this guy has to be one of the single most powerful bastards around.  Sure, he's got one hell of a weakness (magnetism freezes him in place), but he's immune to lava and laser fire, he's strong enough to rip stalactites off cavern walls and throw them, and can bring statues to life with Primal Energy.  He's even got the worst case of heartburn I've ever seen with a mouth literally filled with lava that he reaches into to throw fireballs.  But then again, he's vulnerable to sunlight and worse yet, he needs help from his lackeys to get up once knocked on his back.

Image via The Mask of Reason
At first I wondered why exactly he was the leader of the Inhumanoids, considering his two lackeys were so insanely powerful. You've got Tendril, a giant plant monster who can regrow limbs and create copies of himself from those lost limbs, and the most nightmare-inducing thing to ever grace cel-animation, the zombie-creating D'Compose!  They're already capable of wiping out their enemies, the scientific minds of Earth Corps, what did they need Metlar for?  And what kind of plans would a monster like him even come up with?  I thought as I went into it that they were all mostly-mindless monsters bent on random destruction.  But no, Metlar has a brain in that ugly mug, one that comes up with scheme to collect Primal Energy by detonating a nuke in the Earth's core.  Sure it would kill practically everyone (including Tendril and D'Compose, who he neglected to mention), but that's the price it takes to create his endless statue army.

Before we get to any ratings, I want to give second place to another villain, Blackthorn Shore.  It's almost a toss-up on which villain in Inhumanoids was really the worst.  This guy, who probably has the most intimidating name in the cartoon, not only discovered the Inhumanoids, but released them on the Earth from their eternal prisons.  He even builds a suit for himself after forcing a Senator to shut down Earth Corps and hand over their blueprints. 
He builds magnets into his suit to control Metlar and when they fail, he gladly goes along with Metlar's plan and helps him steal the missiles he needs in exchange for control of one of the remaining islands after the Earth melts down.  If not for being knocked cold by a punch from the Earth Corps leader, he might have gotten the spot of top bad guy in the whole cartoon.

But back to Metlar and let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 5.  I really want to give this guy a higher score, but in the end, he loses points just because his lackeys are way cooler than him.  Both of them have more frightening looks and D'Compose gets a way better voice actor with Chris Lotta.  Ed Gilbert, just cannot compete with that, especially with that weird warble they added.  But he still looks impressive with his weirdly clawed hands, chainmail torso, and fiery mouth, so I'll give him a middle score.
Effectiveness - 6.  Metlar knows how to get things done.  He commands his lackeys even while locked away in a magnetic forcefield, he creates an army of Civil War and Greece statues, and he completely annihilates a Soviet missile base.  He came within just a few shots of destroying the Earth and even forces someone that once tried to control him into working for him.  That's more than impressive, that's straight up admirable.  I'm hard pressed to think of any villain that can top that.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Flashback Friday - Muttants

Today we're looking at the villains of the Hurricanines cartoon - the Muttants.  Led by Max Malice, the Muttants all take their appearance from wild dogs, as opposed to the Hurricanines' more pet-friendly designs.  Why do they all look like different dog breeds even though they were mutated by the same dog mascot?  Who the hell knows.

I had a lot of fun creating the bad guys and building each of them to fit various villain clichés.  You've got the idiot (Gobber), the wild card (Howler), the loner (Fangrow), and the no nonsense leader (Sgt. Snarl). 

Image via
I really like how the logo turned out and I'm glad to say the colors are just the way I like them. It kinda reminds me of the Maximal logo from Beast Wars with the fangs, but I'm glad it has its own look.  I didn't even realize they had similar colors when I was creating the Muttant logo.  It only now dawns on me that while I based the Hurricanines name off the Thundercats, that both cartoons have almost the same villain group name. 

Without further ado, I give you the second half of the Hurricanines production bible, starting with the villains:
The Muttants
                The portion of the Hurricanines that split with Major Malice during the botched theft of the formula took the name of the Muttants.  These characters all have problems – they do not work as a team, they are too eager to fight, and they despise what has happened to them.  Malice is only able to keep them in check he is unable to make them act like the team he once led.  Though they are not happy with what they’ve become, they have no problem operating within view of the general public, and have no qualms harming them either.
Major Max Malice
Dog – None in human form, but as silver wolf in his werewolf form.
Role/Specialty – Commander
Personality – The original leader of the Hurricanines and mentor to Lt Barksmore.  He’s a tactical genius, cold and calculating.  He’s calm with his troops, even in the face of incompetence. He doesn’t lose his anger often because when he does, he becomes a werewolf that he has trouble keeping in control.  Does not routinely fight directly with the Hurricanines, but is brought in as back-up to fight and allow for the Muttants to escape.  When he’s in werewolf form, he goes by Max Malice the Menacing.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears a formal uniform, blue with red trim and a service cap.  When he’s a werewolf, he rips out of his uniform and wears a black leotard but the hat stays on. When he shifts back, he always has the uniform on afterward, never show him wearing shredded clothes.  Carries a pistol in human form, like an old german pistol.
Sgt Snarl
Dog – Wolf, primarily gray and black
Role/Specialty – Informal leader of Malice’s troops.
Personality – He’s all about fighting and wants nothing more to beat up the Hurricanines, especially his rival, Barksmore.  He’s very aggressive to his troops, always pushing them to fight harder, and calls them out on their stupidity or cowardice.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears a helmet (with holes for his ears), a black tanktop, and cargo pants tucked into his boots.  He carried a large pistol.  His camo is urban colored.
Corporal Fangrow
Dog – Dingo, light brown
Role/Specialty – Scout
Personality – The loner, doesn’t get along with the rest of the Muttants.  He always wants to work on his own.  Not the most convinced of the cause, but doesn’t want to get on Malice’s bad side.  He’s the most relaxed of the group, but also the best at his job.
Uniform/Weapon – Desert camo shirt open with sleeves rolled up and no undershirt.  Carries a sniper rifle (often uses binoculars instead though).
Dog – Jackal, brown and black
Role/Specialty – Muscle
He’s the jerk.  He starts fights with everyone and is the only one to openly question Malice.  He only sticks around because he’s been promised to return to normal.  Likes to pick on Howler and Gobber.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears a leather jacket and jeans.  Carries a shotgun.
Dog – Hyena
Role/Specialty – None
Personality – Gobber is extremely stupid.  He doesn’t know what’s going on all the time and is constantly messing up everything.  Everyone wonders what he’s doing there.  He’s the only one that usually can get Malice mad enough to change besides the Hurricanines.
Uniform/Weapon - Wears a white t-shirt with a Hawaiian shirt over it, blue and black cargo shorts and boots.  Carries a machine gun.
Private Howler
Dog – Coyote
Role/Specialty – Heavy Weapons
Personality – The jokester of the group, always playing pranks on her fellow Muttants, ones that are potentially dangerous.  She’s always flirting with Fangrow and getting angry that he does not reciprocate.  She gets along best with Gobber, who is completely afraid of her.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears a red tank top and red/black camo pants.  Carries a bazooka, but is more likely to hit someone with it than to shoot it.
                The Hurricanines base is the mobile laboratory called the Dog House.  Though the primary focus of the base is the scientific work going on inside, make no mistake that the base is a formidable facility.  The base is mobile by ways of four large treads, much like the platform for the space shuttle.  On top of the main platform are one large silo (which stores a launching missile) and two mounted tank turrets, one on the front and one on the back.  There is a cockpit on the front under the turret for the driver.  The cockpit can be removed from the playset, taking the front turret with it.  Though the playset can fold open in the center, the cartoon will not show that feature.  The scale of the base in the show does not need to match the playset, and other rooms in the headquarters can be made up without having a match on the playset.
                Though the Muttant operations are held at varied locations, the Muttants do have a primary headquarters, called the Pound.  It’s much smaller than the Dog House and looks closer to a troop transport.  There is the main room of the vehicle which opens at the top to brandish two missile launchers (with spring-loaded missiles), a cockpit for a driver (does not separate), and a launching ATV from the back.  The Pound is usually reserved for a quick escape at the end of the episode.
Episode Premises
  1. Malice has Corporal Long’s sister kidnapped in an abandoned hospital, but she turns out to be very manipulative and is able to turn Fangrow to her side.  As the Hurricanines race to find her, making their way through baby-traps the whole way, Fangrow is secretly helping her escape.
  2. As the Hurricanines enjoy swimming on a summer day without any attacks, Malice uses an Ice Ray to freeze them all except Punchet, who doesn’t know how to swim.  He needs to use his wits to help free his teammates and stop the Muttants from getting inside, all while facing his fear of swimming.
  3. The Muttants rob a museum, and though he’s reluctant, Barksmore sends Punchet and the Bulge to investigate.  Turns out the robbery was a fake and both of them are captured.  As the Muttants all attack the Dog House, Punchet and the Bulge need to get over their differences to escape.
  4. After a fight with Malice about a failed attack, Sgt Snarl decides to leave the Muttants.  He goes to the Hurricanines with plans for an attack Malice will pull and they beat him back with his help.  Germina’s glad to have them since they were friends, but Long isn’t so trusting.  When he reveals he’s still working for Malice and traps them all, it’s up to Long to free them.
  5. Using a mind-control device, Malice takes command of an entire city and sends them after the Dog House.  Germina and Barksmore split the team to hold off the hypnotized civilians while trying to find the device to destroy it.
  6. Gobber and Howler, tired of getting yelled at by Malice and Snarl, join forces with another group of mercenaries that want the Dog House.  They stole a Tornado Machine before they left and the new enemies have overloaded it, threatening the whole Earth.  The rest of the Muttants need to join forces with the Hurricanines to save the world.
  7. It’s Christmas time!  Punchett’s having trouble figuring out if he should give the necklace he found to Long of Fluffy. Unbeknownst to him, the necklace has an explosive compound that Malice hid inside it.  When it takes out security and hurts all the Hurricanines, Malice’s goodwill is tested by the Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, as he must decide wither to help the Hurricanines or not.
  8. Malice contracts a cold that makes his werewolf form uncontrollable.  The Muttants go to the Dog House and surrender, as long as they help cure his changes.  The scientists are able to create a cure for them, but when Malice attacks, he bites Barksmore, who turns into a werewolf himself.  The cure is almost lost, but Barksmore is able to control his new form enough to use it himself and Malice.
  9. After a fight with Punchet about how old he is, the Bulge decides to retire.  The Hurricanines try to convince him to stick around, but he heads home.  The Muttants summon the spirit of the sphinx that locks down the Dog House.  Only the Bulge’s wisdom is able to solve the riddle and free his friends.
  10. Sgt Snarl challenges Barksmore to a fight – if Snarl wins, the Dog House is theirs, if Barksmore wins, the Muttants will all give themselves up to their custody.  Germina, torn between her friendships with both of them, doesn’t know who to root for.  Long doesn’t trust them and finds out the Snarl getting ready to wrestle with Barksmore is a robot.
  11. The Hurricanines capture Fangrow while he’s spy on them and decides to return the trick by disguising Barksmore as Fangrow and going back to Malice.  Only Howler can tell there’s something wrong with Fangrow, but instead of turning Barksmore in, she releases him if he can promise Fangrow will go on a date with her.
  12. The Muttants find a cure for the formula that changed them into dogmen and use it to return to a normal life.  When Punchet leaves the Hurricanines to get the cure, he’s captured and finds out it was mirage.  With Punchet held hostage, the rest of the Hurricanines must get him back.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wrap-Up Wednesday: 1/25/17

I did some 3D modeling on a robot for another cartoon, Zane and the Wild Zoobots. The cartoon focuses on a zookeeper and his robotic animal companions that can reconfigure themselves into wearable weapons and armor.  I based the idea partly on the Centurions.  The robot I was working on it Titanium Horn, a rhinoceros that forms armor for the show's villain, Trapper.  One of his configurations is turning his head into a giant, rocket-powered fist.

The other big thing I did this week was apply for my first writing job.  A fitness website posted an opening for a world building position for their motivational narrative.  Part of the application was creating some characters to live in their world.  The best thing about it though is that if I'm not picked up for it, I can use the characters I created as the basis for another cartoon.  I should find out on the 30th if I made it to the second round of interviews.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Villain Retrospect - General Spidrax

You've got to appreciate how easy cartoons like Robotix, Robo Force, and the Sectaurs make it to watch them by being so short.  And it's a good thing too because I don't think I could handle more than five episodes of Sectaurs.

On a distant planet called Symbion, scientists working on some chemical formula that went wrong, causing all the inhabitants of the world to mutate.  Much of the technological advancements of the planet were lost, but the resulting races of humans had gained the ability to telekinetically connect with insects, which have reached massive sizes and are called Insectoids.  The world has been separated into two regions - the Shining Realm and the Dark Doman and the leaders of each side are racing to the Hyve, where they can find the Wisdom of the Ancients (sound familiar?). In an interesting twist, the "wisdom" are actually the technological advancements lost in the show's intro.

Sectaurs is genuinely one of the ugliest cartoons I've ever seen, whether it's intentional or not.  The Sectaurs are so incredibly gross looking, I mean look at this guy:

Those ugly cat/bug looking eyes, the antenna, that massive unibrow. And this is one of the good guys!  Even their names are ugly, like Pinsor and Mantor. Even worse though are their insect partners, each of them having weird, teeth-filled mouths and the same cat-like eyes. The Insectoids are weird amalgams of different bugs, like crosses of ants and crabs, with some looking more reptilian than anything.  It's just gross looking.  Even the settings are nasty, like the inside of this living ship.

The disgusting nature of this cartoon doesn't stop with it's visuals - it is one of the hardest cartoons to listen to, full of generic bug noises (Frank Welker must have been having an off day), and worse than that, each of the Sectaurs is constantly making this weird undulating war cry. I have never heard the word "maggot" used so much either, and by both sides no less. Even the sound effects are messy, with chomping sounds accompanying swipes with a bug's claw into the ground.  It's like the sound director had something against this show.  It is certainly strange hearing Dan Gilvesan (Bumblebee) leading a team that includes Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime).

This is General Spidrax, leader of the bad guys from the Dark Domain. He carries a whip make from the venomous antenna of some species of bug.  He's telebonded with Spiderflyer, and yes, all the Insectoid names are this generic.  Spiderflyer is a flying Tarantula, even though it only has six legs.  It shoots a poisonous web that renders anyone it touches unconscious, though I've never seen it in the cartoon.  I don't think Spiderflyer does much of anything besides help Spidrax retreat.

In the beginning of the show, Spidrax invades the Shining Realm to steal a map that leads to the Hyve. The first episode sets the show up as a chase with the Knights racing to the Hyve (luckily the creator of the map remembered what it looked like), leap-frogging past each other and gaining big leads out of nowhere.  But then the third episode has Spidrax going to s slave camp and sitting on a throne like he forgot his entire quest.  He's got some severe ADHD, I think.  With only five episodes, you'd think the creators could have added a little more depth to him, but this was the 80s we're talking about. In the end, Spidrax got better treatment than Hun-Dred, retreating to fight another day - which never came.

Let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 5. Spidrax is a decent-looking villain, matching the evil purple color-scheme of many of his peers. His helmet above invokes the insect theme without being too goofy, like the rest of the characters. And he's got a great voice provided by Arthur Burghardt who also voiced Destro from GI Joe.  Among the generic swords and guns used by the other Sectaurs, his whip stands out very well.   And his Insectoid, Spiderflyer, is pretty danged cool, especially since it doesn't have added teeth in its mouth.
Effectiveness - 1. That whip I mentioned?  It never touches a single Sectaur.  Get used to seeing that imagine to the left.  Every time he fights with it, Dargon ends up dancing around it over and over.  We're talking like a dozen or more whips and missing every time because Dargon jumps a foot to the side.  And twice, he just ends up cutting the whip off at the handle.  Spiderflyer's wasted by never employing his webs.  But worst of all, is that Spidrax never accomplishes a single thing in the cartoon once he gets the map.  He forgets what his plan is half the time, going on diversions that hardly seem worth it.  From the very beginning of the show he had a head start.  If he'd just kept moving, instead of getting distracted or trying to set traps, he could have gotten to the Hyve and won.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Flashback Friday - Hurricanines

Welcome to the first Flashback Friday post.  True, most of the content in this post has been posted earlier in the Production Bible - Hurricanines post last year, but this one is going to be a little more in-depth with the cartoon premise.  When I made up the first round of cartoons for Old School Evil (Hurricanines, Defenders of Dino City, and Ultra City Ultra Twins), just like the villains for each show, I merged different cartoons to come up with my original ideas. 

With Hurricanines, even though the main villain, Major Max Malice the Menacing, is a combination of Miles Mayhem from M.A.S.K. and Mumm-ra from Thundercats, the cartoon itself is a combination of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and GI Joe, featuring two opposing military forces that are mutated into half-human, half-dogs.  It's all spelled out in the production bible, including the origin story.

Hurricanines Production Bible
                The Hurricanines are a security force tasked with protecting a powerful mutagen from falling into evil hands.  Housed inside a mobile laboratory called the Doghouse, the team of militaristic guards protects the precious formula.  As scientists create the world-changing mutagen, the leader of the force schemes to steal the formula to take over the world.  
                Major Max Malice recruits some of the Hurricanines to his side with promises of power and money. On a special run to turn the formula over to the federal government for safe keeping, he attempts to steal the formula, but it rebuked by his protégé, Lt Barksmore.  During the fight, the transport vehicle crashes and the mutagen is let loose on the entire crew, combining with DNA from their mascot – Captain Canine– and turning them into half-human half-dog hybrids.  Malice escapes with his troops, now calling themselves the Muttants, and intent on stealing the formula at any cost.
General Series Concepts
                Hurricanines first and foremost is a military show focused on selling vehicles and playsets with action figures.  Each side, the Hurricanines and Muttants, will have a mobile headquarters and vehicles of varying sizes.  Care must be made to showcase each vehicle’s features.
                Each story will be ended with a big clash between the two sides; do not be afraid to show each of the characters using their signature weapons.  They can all use generic weapons when in a regular fight, but during any episode that focuses on a specific member of either team, they should be using their signature weapon. 
                Though writers should not be afraid to use villains not associated with the Muttants, they should be used sparingly.  Their focus, however, should never be on the formula as only the Muttants know of it; for example, they can be used as threats to the Hurricanines due to single-use family members to gain control of the Dog House.
                At the end of each episode, there will be a PSA.  The PSA is not required to pertain to the content of the episode, but should be shared by the main character in the episode.  PSAs should generally be performed by the Hurricanines, but don’t be afraid to have the Muttants do it if it fits with the theme of the PSA; Malice yelling at Gobber for not being careful with gasoline.

                The Hurricanines are a well-oiled military machine, willing to risk life and limb to keep the Hurricanine formula from falling into the wrong hands.  Members have a strong sense of teamwork and are eager to help anyone out of a jam.  Though they are not ashamed of becoming hybrids because what they did was right, they are determined to keep their existence a secret from the public, as they are a classified operation.
Lt Barksmore
Dog – Husky, white and dark gray with silver patches
Role/Specialty – Commander
Personality – Barksmore is a no-nonsense military leader.  Very strong belief in giving your all and expects the best from his men.  He is reluctant to join into battle and put his troops into danger, but knows what has to be done.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears his military uniform in full regulation with an 8-point hat.  He wears urban camo, white, gray, and black to match his fur and carries a standard M16 assault rifle.
Dog – German Shepherd
Role/Specialty – 2nd-in-Command – Secondary team leader
Personality – Very strict with her orders, usually more aggressive with the troops than Barksmore.  If someone doesn’t immediately do what he says, she’ll jump on them.  She’s also more willing to get involved in battles than Barksmore.  She’s just as concerned about the troops as Barksmore, but knows that the troops can handle themselves.  (Note: there is no relationship between her and Barskmore)
Uniform/Weapon – Wears normal jungle camo with no overshirt and aviator-style glasses.  She carries twin uzis.
The Bulge
Dog – St Bernard
Role/Specialty – Heavy Weapons
Personality – He’s the old guy, fat and lazy.  He talks a lot about the old days and other battles he’s been in, but everyone generally ignores him.  He usually puts up a big stink when it’s time to fight, but he’ll go in guns blazing if any of his other soldiers are in danger.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears desert camo,overshirt unbuttoned with an undershirt with a low collar underneath, a big tuft of fur sticks out the collar.  His pants are untucked from his boots. He carries a big Gatling gun.
Private Punchet
Dog – Boxer, dark brown
Role/Specialty – None – he’s just learning the ropes, wants to be a leader.
Personality – He’s the newest recruit and is eager to prove himself to Barskmore.  He’s got a lot of potential, but rushes into battle too fast and takes too many risks. Has a crush on both Long and Fluffy, but neither take him seriously. Many episodes end with him learning to be more careful and pick his fights.
Uniform/Weapon – Wears his uniform similarly to Barksmore.  Carries a shotgun, but prefers hand-to-hand combat (he’s a boxer after all!)
Corporal Long
Dog – Weinerdog, black on her head and back, brown underbelly
Role/Specialty – Technological genius, runs command center
Personality – When she’s working, she’s so serious, she’s practically a robot, but when she’s not on duty, she’s the team jokester.  She’s embarrassed by Panchet’s advances, but doesn’t really respond to them.  She is the only one that likes listening to the Bulge’s stories.
Uniform/Weapon – As she is not involved in combat (besides a special episode or two), she wears a dress uniform and doesn’t carry a weapon.
Dog – Poodle, mostly white with some pink highlights.
Role/Specialty – Hand-to-hand combat, trainer
Personality – She’s really rough around the egdes, likes to challenge the guys to a fight, but only Punchet usually takes her up on it.  She likes to think of herself as one of the guys. (Don’t use her on a regular basis – only shows up in special episodes)
Uniform/Weapon – Wears a black leotard with an open came jacket over it.  As no toy will be produced, she does not carry a special weapon.
Captain Canine
Dog – Pug , tan.
Role/Specialty – Mascot
Personality – He’s a dog.  He is very curious and sniffs around everything.  He usually gets scared by the bad guys but will fight them if backed in a corner or one of the Hurricanines is in trouble.  He’s comic relief for many of the episodes.
Uniform – Wears an 8-point hat.
(Though the Hurricanine base is home to scientists, none of them play a key part in the show)

This sample of the production bible includes a lot more info than the original post did, including the whole Hurricanine roster and the settings in the show.  I've got all the cliché characters here - the grumpy older veteran, the lovesick guy and his object of affection, the competent leader and more gung-ho second-in-command. Even the mascot character.  Ireally enjoyed creating this show and filling up the cast with colorful characters. I'm saving Max's villainous forces for next week so he can get a full introduction, along with the rest of his team, the Muttants.  I'll also be posting the episode premises.

Here's where I'm hoping you readers will be able to help me.  When I created the insignia for the Hurricanines (seen above) and the Muttants (seen next week), I only did line drawings with no color scheme.  I want to make them more colorful, but I'm not sure what would look best. 

I've taken a look at a lot of the logos for the existing shows for inspiration and I have a few ideas, but looking at them, what color scheme do you think would look best?  Leave a comment below and give me your suggestions!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wrap-Up Wednesday: 1/18/2017

Work this week has been focused on updating a number of my original cartoon production bibles.  I'd already created production bibles for all of my Old School Evil shows, but there are a few that I felt the need to make changes on, to refocus on specific characters and alter names so there's not a lot of repetition among them. 

First one to receive changes was Union Jackson.  Originally given the less that creative Days of Old title, this cartoon focuses on a James Bond-like spy names Jackson Porter.  When Britain is threatened by the descendants of their greatest literary villains, Jackson summons their historical opponents - King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and Tarzan - to fight them.  I was inspired to make this cartoon from that 80's show Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century.  Anyway, the original concept had Merlin acting as the conduit which brought the heroes to the present (80s) time and along with Morgana le Fay being one of the villains, I felt the Arthurian legend was taking too much of the focus of the show away from the main character Jackson.  To refocus on Jackson, Merlin has been removed from the cartoon and the villains have been changed to their descendants instead of the originals.  And the name was changed to put Jackson front and center as well.

Second was just a name change for another cartoon.  Citizen Robo, the cartoon about a giant robotic head, was original named Rocket Robo when I came up with him in my second round of cartoons.  By the time I reached the fourth round of cartoons, I created Rocket Squad, a Voltron/Untouchables-style cartoon.  To cut out the repetition in the cartoons' names, I decided it was more important in the space cartoon than in the non-space cartoon.  It also makes more sense in context of the show, as Citizen Robo was originally a remote controlled robot that was given free reign after his creator's death - thus becoming a normal citizen in his own eyes.

That's it for this week!  Hopefully, next week I'll get some actual writing done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Lady Diabolyn

When I went looking for new cartoons to watch for the Villain Retrospectives series, most of the shows I found were ones I'd at least heard of.  I remember their toylines, or I'd seen a skit about them on Robot Chicken. But there were a few that I'd never heard of before, from the early 80s that never had an action figure tie-in. Most of them were at least similar to other shows, like Galtar and the Golden Lance and Blackstar being almost the same style as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or Thundarr the Barabarian. The odd man (or should I say odd girl) out was definitely Wildfire.

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Wildfire looks like a strange crossover between Barbie and She-Ra, a cartoon made for girls that love horses and princesses, but is much more complicated than it first seems. Princess Sara is born to the queen (who immediately dies, which is the first thing you seen in the intro!) and is transported by Wildfire, a talking horse, to Earth to save her from the queen's evil step-sister, Lady Diabolyn. Sara has to split her time between Earth and the land of Dar-Shan, thwarting her aunt's schemes.

The depth of the show comes from the backstory introduced in episode 5.  Sara is lost in the portal between Dar-Shan and Earth and falls out in the past of Dar-Shan, on the day before her parents were to be wed. Lady Diabolyn, who isn't quite evil yet, has plans to stop the wedding, which some day would allow her to be queen... somehow.  It's not spelled out too well.  Her Goons (yes that's their name) dig up an urn containing the evil Specters and she summons them to ruin the wedding by kidnapping the groom.  Sara stops them with Wildfire's help and finds out that her adopted father in Earth is her real father in Dar-Shan.  It's a pretty cool twist considering even he didn't know he's from there.  It even explained why her Goons are so stupid looking, having been normal humans before opening the urn, something she warned them not to do.

Unfortunately, the depth of their backstory doesn't translate well to the rest of Diabolyn's schemes. Her ambition is to become the undisputed queen of Dar-Shan, one time just trying to snatch the crown off her step-sister's head.  There's no ultimate power behind her schemes, which makes me wonder if the Specters that granted her her magic would be happy with her just gaining the throne.  Her other schemes include stealing baby butterfly cocoons to make a dress with them and ruining another couple's wedding to gain a magic cup.  The end of which episode she cried her eyes out because "weddings always make me cry."
It's a shame that when the writers came up with the story for Wildfire that they skimped out on making a truly evil villain.  Lady Diabolyn has moments of real evil, but most of them are mired in shallow plans or the ineptitude of her Goons.  It really feels like this cartoon has parts that are holdovers from earlier Hanna-Barbera cartoon bad guys like Dirk Dastardly. I could see her being a real villain if the cartoon ever got remade, but right now, she's just a low-rent Maleficent. Don't believe me?  She turns into a dragon just like her too.
Let's get to the ratings:
Coolness - 4. I know I was just harping on her for being too much like the Sleeping Beauty villain, but that's almost all she has going for her.  She's got a similar, yet not as distinguished look and the generic evil lady voice, sounding like Evil Lyn but a little more whiny. And she can turn into a fire-breathing dragon, that's pretty awesome, even though she changed back because a horse grabbed her by the tail and threw her in a puddle.
Effectiveness - 2. She has a lot of trouble balancing out her evil schemes. Yes one of her plans was to make a dress, but she did succeed in stealing the cocoons and trapping Sara in a burning building.  On the other hand, she kidnapped all four of the Shinti, the source of Dar-Shan's powers, but couldn't figure out that only when they were together that they could do anything.  She's short-sighted and shallow and could really use a trade-in for her goons.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Flashback Friday - Introduction

Welcome to Flashback Fridays!  I'm doing something a bit different than you'd expect here.  As I said in my Looking Forward post last week, we're not taking a look at stuff that we watched as kids.  I'm looking back at those shows enough with the Villain Retrospectives.  For this one, we're looking back on the cartoons that never existed.

Here's where it might get a little confusing - we're comparing our world to the world of Old School Evil.  In both of our worlds, cartoons like The Transformers and Inspector Gadget existed as kids television shows.  The main character of the book, Manny, spent the majority of his early childhood glued to the tube watching them just like we did.  His favorite was GI Joe and he even carries around a Roadblock figure for most of the book.

Here's where the big difference is.  In our world, there are a lot of other cartoons that almost existed.  Okay, they never existed, but they're treated as such for the book.  As part of world-building, I've created thirteen new properties that I consider failed cartoon pitches.  But in the world of Old School Evil, the characters and conflicts of each of those cartoons actually existed.

I know it's confusing so let's go back to a previous post - Production Bible - Hurricanines. In this post, I briefly go over the cartoon's concept and villain, Major Max Malice the Menacing.  In our world, it's just a production bible and a few sketches.  But in Old School Evil, Manny finds out Max is his father (dun dun duuuun!).  In Old School Evil, each cartoon represents real battles between colorful heroes and scheming bad guys. 

As Flashback Friday goes on, I'll be posting information for each of the cartoons in a way that shows them as what they were meant to be - failed and lost television shows.  Each show will get a production bible and sketches for their characters and other memorabilia that might have come along with it before it was cancelled.  I've got some great ideas to showcase each of them too! Also, for the purposes of these posts, the cartoons will be divided up into a number of fictional toy companies and animation studios.

Check back next week - we're taking a better look at the Hurricanines!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wrap-Up Wednesday: Week 1

Welcome to the first of a new series: Wrap-Up Wednesdays!

Previously, I'd post progress on the book, the query process, and any supplemental writing or art sporadically. If I made some kind of headway, I'd share it, but for weeks that I didn't do anything besides the blog, I'd be searching for stuff to share and sometimes just skip sharing anything altogether.  I'm hoping with doing this on a weekly basis, it'll force me to forge ahead on everything all week long just so I have something to put here.

For this update, I wasn't able to get a lot done as we had a few medical emergencies at home.  Nothing too serious, nothing permanent either, so they're all cleared up now.  I was able to send off a second batch of queries on Friday though and by Monday morning, I had another rejection.  This agent is at the same agency as my first pick and I was rejected by both the first business day after I sent them in.  I wonder if it's policy to rush through rejections that fast?  Still waiting on two responses from my first batch of queries, which gives me eight in total still out in the open. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Umbra

I can't remember the first time I heard of the Mighty Orbots, but I can tell you it want when I was a kid.  Heck, I think it was in the last few years.  Having only lasted one 13-episode season, it was cancelled due to being too similar to the Go-Bots (which it was also taken to court for, though it was thrown out).

Image via Rusting Carcass.
One thing they had differently - well, almost all of it was different from the Go-Bots - was their villain.  It was pretty common for earlier cartoons to have a villain that only worked behind the scenes, directing their subordinates while hiding in a remote location.  Dr. Claw is the biggest example of this.

Umbra, the sentient computer, seems to be the worst of this genuinely disappointing bunch.  He leads the villainous SHADOW organization in their attempts to destroy the Orbots without displaying a single ability.
Image via Arioch's Well of Souls
From the Shadow Star, a massive base that houses his memory banks and army of shadowbots, he commands random characters (who have actual powers) to fight the Orbots. They create illusions, build weapons, telepathically enslave races, all while Umbra sits in his base, looking admittedly cool. As the series goes on it becomes wildly apparent that Umbra doesn't actually do anything besides micromanage.  He can't even control any weapons directly - even though he's a supercomputer, he needs someone else to flip switches for him.

It's only in the final episode of the series that we see Umbra do something for himself. The Orbots decide to attack Umbra directly (not very common among cartoon heroes, so that earns the show a couple points) and invade the Shadow Star.  Which proves to be a colossal mistake because the Orbots and their commander are immediately captured.  Umbra swarms them with his Shadowbots, summons the Destructitron, and captures both the heroes in containment fields.  The Orbots escape but get trapped in Umbra's memory banks, where the super-computer forces them into a "separate reality" within his mind. That would be an incredible ability - if he wasn't stopped by the Orbot commander banging on a random control panel. After escaping again, the Orbots reverse the flow of Umbra's Sun Smasher weapon and destroy the Shadow Star. Umbra swears revenge before dissipating into energy. Just like Hun-Dred at the end of the similarly short Robo Force, Umbra was destroyed in the last minute.

Let's rate this guy.  Coolness - 3.  There's not much Umbra has going for him and the stuff he does is kinda superficial. He's got a clever name (the umbra is the center and darkest part of a shadow), a decent look, and an imposing voice (the same guy provided Shedder's voice in a last seasons of TMNT).  He doesn't display much a personality, which is to be expected from a computer, but not expected of a cartoon villain.

Effectiveness - 1. Besides the last episode, Umbra shows no ability to accomplish anything.  He relies completely on other bad guys to not only follow-through with his plans, but to implement them as well.  If Umbra was producing some of the weapons in the Shadow Fortress, it's not obvious in the show, and since he can't even turn them on on his own, I doubt he made any of them.  Even in the last episode, when he's fighting the Orbots directly, he only shows snippets of competency and is defeated by the simplest of means. 

Overall, Umbra is overshadowed by his peers.

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017: Looking Forward

As big as 2016 was for Old School Evil, I have a feeling 2017 will be even bigger.
Besides the finger-crossed hope that I get picked up by an agent and get some a big publisher, there are a lot more things I've got planned.  Let's take a look at what's coming down the pipeline:
  • Since I've already started on the second draft to Old School Evil 2, I'm hoping to have it complete and ready for publication by the end of the year.  Yes, the first Old School Evil took 2 years to complete from the very first word I put down on paper, but since then, I've learned a lot about the editing process, so I think I can streamline it a bit to get the book ready.  I've also got a critique group and more feedback networks now, so I can start making progress immediately, instead of in small patches like the first book.
  • I'm expanding my posting schedule on the blog.  Originally I was doing the Villains Retrospects on Mondays (or Tuesdays if it's a holiday) and randomly posting stuff on Thursdays if I had anything to say. I'm going to add scheduled posts on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Wrap-up Wednesdays will be posting any progress I'm making in any field of Old School Evil - writing, art, publishing, etc. Flashback Fridays will be posting info about the fictional cartoons that are set in the Old School Evil universe.  I've already posted a bit about the Hurricanines but I'll be posting more in-depth stuff about the cartoons and the villains in them.
  • I've hinted before about something big after the Villain Retrospects are completed, but I'm ready to share.  I'm planning to run all the villains I've gone over into a tournament - the Bad Guy Beatdown!  Thirty-two rounds of villain-on-villain violence, trying to determine the best and baddest bad guy ever!  I'll be going over detailed analyses of each of their abilities and exploits and using that to do the most realistic fights as possible.  Plus, it'll be a great chance to share more writing!
I call it the Sereni-Bee.
  • I'm not sure how far I'll get into it this year, but I'm hoping to at least get the first prototype toy produced.  I'm planning to model out a figure with Blender (the same program I modeled Lead Tentacle and the Force Bolter) and have it printed at Shapeways.  I've printed a few things through them, a few static figures and a couple of Transformers accessories, and I've got high hopes of making an articulated figure based on one of the Flashback Friday cartoons.
  • One final thing I'm planning to do for Old School Evil this year is building a full website instead of just the blog.  Though the blog is serving it's purpose now, I'd love to legitimatize Old School Evil with its own address and a more professional look.
I'm super excited for what's coming down the pipeline.  And it's fitting to share with you all the good news in my 50th post.  It's hard to believe I've made it this far without sharing more of my story, so to celebrate, I'm sharing the first chapter to Old School Evil.  If you've made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoy!



I sat hunched over my plate of high-fiber, low-sodium, no taste food at the Hidden Brook Retirement and Assisted Living Community, imagining all the ways I could murder my fellow residents. At the table to my left, Delores Twill whined about her grandchildren to no one in particular; I conjured the schematics to my tornado generator and pictured her whipping in a whirlwind. Across the table from her, Chris Coppersmith complained about his medication to a disinterested orderly; I fantasized teleporting him into the sun with my portal device. Behind me, Princess Connie, that blind simpleton, threatened to sue the facility if she didn’t get the batteries in her hearing aids changed. My mind glimmered with the thought of crushing her in the robotic claws of my power-suit. My smile grew with each envisioned death; my heart beat harder as more of these geriatrics fell before my genius.
And just like every other day I’d been stuck in this hellhole, I remembered each and every one of those devices destroyed back in my prime. All of them reduced to wadded up blueprints on my workbench, adorned with the radioactive wolf head insignia of my design that had through constant defeat grown into a badge of shame. I sighed, pushing those tattered designs out of my head and focused again on Connie, the steel claws squeezing around her throat, until –
“Gladys again,” Silas said. “God, I hate that fucking bitch.”
I jerked out of my daydream and found myself sitting at a table with two people I couldn’t believe I called my friends. Which -- when I thought about it -- was less a vote for them and more a vote against everyone else. When did they show up and how long have they seen my murder-fueled grin?
Phil set down his spoon and wiped the milk from his patchy mustache. He looked prepared for another argument. “What’s your problem with her? She makes the best pancakes.”
“I don’t give a shit about your flapjacks.” Silas pointed at Phil’s drink. “It’s that milk right there. And Max’s OJ. Why can’t she fill the cup up all the way?”
“What does it matter?” Phil picked up his own glass and twirled it around in his hand. Indeed, after just one drink, the glass looked almost empty. “If you want more milk, you can always go get another glass.”
“That’s not the point!” Silas shouted, attracting attention from a few of the other residents sitting around us.
Phil hung his head low and covered his face with his hand.
“I shouldn’t have to ask for more milk. I should be trusted to not spill my drink. Do they think I’m a hundred years old?”
I dropped my head back and sighed. “Will you two ever shut up? Every day it’s like this. You’re giving me a migraine!” I rubbed my temples. I could feel the muscles over my ears tightening like a vise.
“What’s up with you, Max?” Silas asked. “Forget to take your shithead pills this morning?”
I groaned. I had already gone over this with the doctor. I didn’t feel like trying to explain it to these idiots as well. “They don’t work.”
“Have you tried doubling your dosage?” Phil pushed again. “It worked for me and my tension headaches.” He tapped a finger to his balding dome.
Tension headaches. Seriously? “I’ve tried getting the doc to change them, but you know they never listen.” I stretched my neck clockwise then counter-clockwise, the muscles and vertebrae cracking and grinding. It never helped, but it had become habit by now. I just imagined cutting my head off and burrs spilling out from my veins. I glared at the others. “Just shut up or find another table.”
I picked at the runny eggs on my plate, the yolk spilling out and coating my soggy bacon in bright yellow slush. You’d think they hired these cooks right out of elementary school. What I wouldn’t give for an Eggs Benedict. I watched Phil shovel his oatmeal into his mouth, pour some more imitation syrup into it, and keep shoveling. He might as well eat it with a trowel.
Silas dropped his fork onto his plate, drawing another couple of glances from everyone else around us. He wiped a hand over his shiny head. Unlike Phil, and most of the other men around here, Silas shaved his head bald instead of waiting for old age to do it for him. At least he didn’t have that ridiculous mohawk he used to wear. “I gotta get out of here,” he said with the urgency of someone about to vomit.
“Then go outside,” Phil said between gulps. A bit of slobbery oats popped out of his mouth and clung to his bottom lip.
I almost gagged.
“That’s not what I mean. We’ve been here for years now and I can’t handle it any longer. This place is an absolute hole.” He shoved his plate out from in front of him.
“You say that every other week,” I growled at him, feeling that vise on my brow tighten enough that I thought my eyes would pop out of their sockets.
He pointed a crooked finger at me. “Fuck that, Max. You feel the same way, I can see it in your eyes. You’re just as sick of this place as I am, being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take a fucking shit. We can’t keep living like this. We used to rule this world, now we’re stuck here at the mercy of a bunch of candy-stripers.”
We used to rule this world. It jammed itself into my brain and I felt the vice loosen just a bit. Enough for the wheels to start turning again.
Phil leaned forward and grimaced. “Silas, you gotta keep it down. Angela’s right over there.” He jerked his head to his left at a portly Hispanic nurse staring at us.
“Dude, I don’t care if you got a wrinkled boner for her. She can lick my asshole.”
I sneered. Silas always had a way with words that made me want to wire his jaw shut.
Phil grimaced. “If you don’t shut up, she’ll tell Doc Michaels and he’ll slip a sedative into your pudding. He did it to Kelly Tremmel for a week last time he bitched about the crew. And it’ll be even worse for you if Dr. Silvan hears.” He hooked his thumb at the drooling mess Billy Batsweat. Every time I saw him sitting there, I shuddered. Though, I wouldn’t mind if it happened to these two sometimes.
Silas groaned. “Fine. But I mean it. I gotta get out of here.” He shook his head and hung it low. “I miss my old life.”
We all sat quiet for another moment. Who here didn’t miss that? This is where old lives came to die. And then the new lives died here too. I hated to admit it, but Silas started winning me over with his weekly gripe. Of course, I was already formulating a plan, having watched the maintenance staff repairing a window on the far side of the room before I slipped into my usual murderous thoughts. I always had a plan brewing in the rare case someone screws up and leaves me an opening, however small. But I could always use a helping hand getting out. “So are you just bitching or are you actually proposing something?”
He sat for a few seconds looking at me then dropped his chin into his hands. “Just bitching, I guess.”
“Typical.” I eyed the window again.
Silas scoffed, “Hey, I may hate this place, but at least I ain’t on the streets.”

I stood in line at the shelter with my tray, just waiting to see what slop they tried passing off as food. I knew this stuff was all donations and they had to feed hundreds of us off it, but fuck, this stuff grossed me out. I couldn’t even force myself to eat that ‘hot dog’ they served yesterday. “Looks like soup today,” the stinky guy next to me muttered. He had to be talking to himself or that tiny guy he thinks lives in his beard. He stunk so bad I thought my nose hairs were burning. Sometimes I hated having a nose this strong. Who am I kidding? I always hated having this nose.
I got to the front of the line and held out my tray on which the living mummy behind the counter placed a bowl. She filled it with some murky water and a couple chunks of chicken. Soup, sure, let’s call it that. She smiled at me and I nodded back. Her eyes lit up for an instant. Probably the most gratitude she’d seen here all day. I proceeded down the line and amassed a flimsy slice of bread, an apple with a chunk sliced off it, and a half pint of skim milk two days past the expiration date. Why did I even bother coming here?
I found an empty table outside on the edge of the patio and sat down. The table see-sawed on the concrete. A stiff wind blew through the air and I felt every hair on my arms jump to life. I slurped down my luke-warm soup in two gulps, chugged my milk just as fast, and wadded up the slice of bread and stuffed it into my mouth. Upon examination, the apple was seventy-five percent brown splotches. Apparently they didn’t cut off as much mold as they should have. I tossed it behind me on the gravel and watched someone sneak back there to pick it up. He took a bite and dropped it back on the ground, munching on as much of the brown spots as his rotting teeth allowed.
I got up from my table and walked across the gravel lot then slipped through the open gate. I may have been willing to come here to get a free dinner but I wasn’t about to sleep here. I tried it once and woke up in the middle of the night with some crazy dude peeing on the bedpost a few inches from my face. He just kept going once I woke up. I took off before they were able to kick him out. Of course, I saw him get in the next night. He can pee on someone else’s head; I’d rather sleep on train tracks than risk that again. I walked across town, feeling the blisters on my feet rub against the worn holes in my shoes.
A gust of wind nearly threw me on my face. I stumbled to the left, just in time to see a wild fir branch whip by me. I ducked behind a wall at the rear entrance of a small hardware store and waited out the gale. I hated the hurricane-strength wind that blew through here in the winter. “I really need to find a better travel agent,” I said, patting my jacket’s breast pocket. I felt every contour of the action figure through the thin padding. I needed to find a better coat, too.
“It ain’t too bad, Manny,” it answered in a deep voice that happened to come from my mouth, “You just need to find a better…” I trailed off for a few moments, searching for the right word. “Cranny!” Roadblock would have been proud of that one. I waited until the wind died down a little and scrambled towards the east side of town.
After an hour and a half in the frigid wind, I made it to my hidden camp just before another bout of wind tried taking off my head. Have I told you how much I hated the wind yet? The stakes holding down the tarp on the bank of the river were in the same place I left this this morning. Thank God no one took my makeshift bed as free real estate again. I chased off an elderly homeless couple last week who felt like my camp made the perfect make-out spot. So many liver spots.
I sat down on the tarp and unslung my backpack. It felt heavier every day, even though I found less stuff every time I opened it. I ruffled through it and pulled out a beat up Pringles can. Oh, how I wished there were actually chips inside. I took off the lid and spilled out its contents: a travel toothbrush, a squeezed-empty tube of toothpaste, and a comb with a broken handle. I struggled to get some more toothpaste out but barely got any on the bristles. I dipped the toothbrush into the river and scrubbed my teeth. I put the stuff back in my can and replaced it into my bag. I looked in and sighed. I pulled out the coarse wool blanket and a second woven one. I wrapped myself up in both of them and tried going to sleep.
Another day down. Couldn’t wait for tomorrow.

It turned out I didn’t get to.
I woke up to a growling so loud I thought I was being mauled to death. It took a few moments before I realized I wasn’t under some rabid animal attack, but at the mercy of a wild beast stalking through my digestive track. Apparently, old chicken in water just didn’t cut it as a meal. I squirmed out of my makeshift sleeping bag and stumbled down to the river bed. I dipped my hands in the freezing water and splashed some into my face. Instant wake-up, better than coffee. I swiped my stubbly beard dry and rung the water from the long hair that always hung in my face. It may have made me look like a metal-head (I prefer classical music) but it kept the cold off my neck. It didn’t much work when wet however, so I balled it up and stuffed it under my stocking cap.
I sniffed around, so glad not to be surrounded by foul, crazy people. I picked out the brisk scent of running water and the usual burning stink that wafted off the Purina plant during the early morning hours. I sorted through the dry bark of bare trees and the dusty odor of old poops turning to earth. All the normal smells I wake up to every morning.
There had to be something more for it to wake me up. I closed my eyes and inhaled long and slow. I caught a scent of something gamey to the east and followed the river bed a few dozen yards. I heard splashing ahead of me. My stomach growled again as I spied a young raccoon washing its hands in the water.
I kept telling myself the growling came from my stomach, but I knew that was only a half-truth. I hadn’t felt that other part of me in a long while, a surprise considering how hungry I’ve been for so long. I guess it finally snapped.
But it’s not happening tonight. I kicked and scratched and yanked it back under control, panting in the freezing night air. It succumbed, but I couldn’t keep it at bay for long if I kept watching a potential meal play in the river. I tossed a rock at the little guy, who scurried away.
I refused to spend the rest of the night picking raccoon out of my teeth.