Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wrap-Up Wednesday - 2/28/18

First off, let me say I haven't made any progress on the book's release besides figuring out a pricing strategy and taking a look at formatting the ebook. 

I had originally planned on releasing the ebook and PoD version with some supplemental material in the back - those pesky production bibles.  I've decided now that I'll release the ebook without them and a few months from now, when I've figured out how to format the book for print on demand, I'll include them there.  I don't want to delay the book more than it already is just because I haven't drawn up the different titles and insignias.  So that'll be a bonus for people willing to pay a little extra to have a physical copy of the book.  Sounds decent, right?

Besides that, I've been thinking more about the future of Old School Evil and I started thinking about the different generations of cartoons.  And I think I can really expand on the idea of villains and their legacies from different eras.  I've broken them down into decades - the original Old School Evil story, with Jayce and Max and all the cartoons I've made up for it covers the 80s and into the 90s.  You're looking at teams for colorful heroes and villains fighting against each other - only the 90s had a lot more anthropomorphized characters, like the Ninja Turtles and all of the cartoons that followed in their wake.  Biker Mice from Mars, etc.

So, what villains came before them?  It was pretty obvious - the villains were primarily people that dressed up in stupid costumes and tried scaring people away from treasures. You know, like Old Man Withers.  So I've been looking at the bad guys from Scooby-Doo and all their clones - Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, shows I've come to call Mascot Mysteries.

I've got some ideas floating around my head on how to introduce those costumed crooks into the Old School Evil universe, and I've been spending the last week coming up with all sorts of ideas.  Just like with the cartoons I came up with for the original trilogy, I've been building ideas for shows and I've got a couple really good ones that I think would fit in really well with Scooby and his ilk.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 10 Results

The pulsating brain squealed on the communicator, making Shredder flinch.  “That energy reading is too dangerous, Saki!  I demand you return to the Technodrome!”
“I have to go, you blithering brain – my readings show that this Phaeta Seven matches the mutagen that created the turtles.  If I can combine the two, I could super change the mutagen and create an army of Mega-Mutants!”
“Even if you had a way to contain that substance,” Krang replied after an irritatingly long squelch of his mouth, “choosing to travel to that unstable continent in a tunnel drill is beyond foolish.  You could cause a collapse of the entire landmass if you tunnel through the foundation.”  Another squeal.  “Not to mention those pesky Raiders trying to lay claim to the land.”
“Those fools? Gliding through the air on ribbons?  Did you forget I’m a master ninja?  I can get in and out before either of those groups of morons can find me.”
Krang waved him off with one of his fleshy pink tendrils.  “Fine.  But if you get in trouble, don’t expect me to bail you out.  I’ve got Neutrinos to deal with.”  The communicator shut off and Shredder stuck the device in his belt.
“Fool.  As soon as my Mega-Mutants finish off the turtle, I’ll turn them on you.  Then I’ll have the Foot Clan and Dimension X under my complete control.”  He manned the controls of the tunneler as it navigated across the globe to the Pacific Ocean.

General Plague shot through the sky with his Deception Raider jet pack, speeding along apower cable.  The Sky Commanders had been quite silent lately and he suspected an ambush any moment.  He reached the end of the cable and disconnected, landing on a small crag of rock.  The ocean roiled hundreds of feet below him.  Nothing else could be seen for miles besides dozens of rocky spires jutting toward the sky.  The High Frontier, the world’s most treacherous landscape, would scare away even the biggest of adrenaline junkies and mountain climbers.  
But Lucas Plague felt like home here.  His Raider jetpacks and fliers allowed him to get anywhere in the continent.  If only he could get his hands on the Sky Commanders’ Battle Track tech, he could dominate the entire High Frontier.  Where were those Sky Commanders?  It had been over a week since the Raiders had last seen any of them.  “Raiders, report in.”
“Nothing yet,” Rath said, and Slade confirmed the same in her quadrant.  Kreeg complained of being kept on patrol duty, but Plague silenced the communicator before he could hear much.  When Mordax didn’t check in, Plague repeated his order, threatening his brother-in-law with jail time.  He still received no answer and Plague smiled slightly.  The Sky Commanders had to have captured him.  As much as Plague would have loved to leave the idiot in their custody, he was itching for a fight.  “Raiders, continue your patrols and check in in fifteen-minute intervals.  I’m going to check on Mordax.”
Plague hunched over and fired the power cable from his Deception Raider pack, the energy beam coursing through the air for miles before striking another spire and digging deep.  The bolt solidified into a steel cable, allowing Plague to slide through the air.  He touched a button on his arm-mounted controller activating the Hotwire technology and energizing the cable, shooting him across the High Frontier.
Just a few minutes and two power cable transitions and General Plague found Mordax.  His obese minion lay on his back on a cliffside.  Plague briefly entertained the idea of kicking him over, but pulled him away from the edge.  His Raider pack was missing, along with his arm-mounted control panel.  
“I can tell by your hesitation to help that oaf that you’re the leader here.”
Plague spun around to face the spire, finding a tunnel.  It was too smooth to be a naturally occurring cave – something drilled that hole.  And there was a silhouette standing in the middle of it.  Plague drew a pistol from his hip, but didn’t point it at the individual.  “Whoever you are, you’re right – I am undisputed ruler here.  And you’re trespassing.”
“Am I?” the intruder said, stepping out of the shadow.  He was dressed like a samurai, with bladed pads covering almost all of his body.  Plague vaguely remembered reading about him in New York, fighting mutant reptiles.  
Plague raised the gun.  “Yes, you are.  Shredder, right?”
The intruder bowed.
“You’re wasting your time coming here.  The High Frontier and all of its Phaeta Seven belongs to me.”
He shrugged.  “Then I suppose if I want it, I have to go through you.”  He dashed at Plague, side-stepping the pistol fire.  He leapt into the air and brought his feet down squarely in Plague’s chest.  The impact shoved the Raider off the edge and tumbling down to the ocean.
Plague activated the jets in his backpack, stabilizing his fall so he could fire off another power cable.  The energy beam connected to the cliff he was kicked off and he hotwired back up.  
“That seems to be a careless way to travel,” Shredder said, looking over the edge.  “Someone could easily cut this wire.”
“And someone could easily blow you to bits.  Missile 1, fire!” The rocket blasted from the Deception Raider’s wing, burning through the sky toward Shredder.  
The ninja backflipped from the edge, avoiding the missile by inches before it streaked up and blew the tip of the spire into rubble.
Plague zipped toward the ledge and prepared to flip off the line and onto the cliff.  Just before reaching the end of the power cable, Shredder sliced through it, severing Plague’s lifeline and causing him to plummet once again.
“I guess I’ll have to do this without a power cable,” Plague said outloud, firing up his boosters again and flying all the way up this time.  As he crested the cliff face, he slid both pistols out and fired on his attacker.
Who wasn’t there.  Instead, he found a troop of purple-clad ninjas, prepping handfuls of shuriken.  His shots struck two of the figures, shattering them into scrap.  “Robots?” Plague shouted.  “Are you hiding behind these tin cans?”  Ninja stars spun past him as he twirled through the air, yet his shots hit each of their targets, destroying the robots one-by-one.  “You need to upgrade their targeting computers.  Not that you’ll survive this.”
“Survival won’t be a problem for me.”  The ninja pounced on Plague’s back, bringing it crashing down to the ground.  With a swipe of his hand, his claws slashed through a wing of the Deception Raider and slicing the engine in half.  “Survive this!” he said with another kick to Plague’s chest, again sending him over the edge.
With the Raider pack useless, Plague unhooked himself from it before throwing up his grappler, a hook connected to his arm-mounted control panel.  Far below the cliff he fell from, Plague dangled above the ocean considering his options.  Calling for help was impossible, as the control panel was at the hook end of the grapple line and out of his grasp.  He began climbing the line when a trio of ninja stars sliced through the air toward him.  Two of the stars bounced off his helmet, ringing his ears, but causing no damage.
Before he could gloat, the cord of his grappler was severed by the third shuriken, sending him on one final drop to the ocean, this time striking the water’s surface hard enough to break his skull and crush his torso, the last vision he saw being the silhouette of a ninja far above him.

Click here to see Shredder's respect thread.  Click here to see General Plague's.

While General Plague had the technological advantage, Shredder had ways around all of them.  He could avoid most of Plague's attacks, and the ones he couldn't - like Plague's impressive aim - he had his Foot Clan robots to distract him.  Without his weapons and backpack, Plague's an incredibly bad fighter and easily defeated by someone of Shredder's fighting caliber.

The Winner
To see who Shredder will be facing off in the next tier of Bad Guy Beatdown, click here.  To see the rest of the fighters so far, click here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Top 5 Cartoon Theme Songs

There's something about a kick-ass cartoon theme song that will just get stuck in your head and stay there your whole life.  A few notes is all you need to bring you back to the days you watched those cartoons and you'll catch yourself drumming along to the rhythm or cranking out a line or two.  With that, I present to you my favorites. 

Special thanks to Rediscover the 80s and Banzai Retro Club for the argument on Twitter that inspired this list.  I'm sure they'll have a lot to say about it.

Honorable mention 1 - GI Joe: The Movie
This version of the GI Joe cartoon intro is probably one of the coolest things to ever attack my eardrums.  The "Cobra!  Cobra!" sections are my favorite part - when do the villains of the shows get their own reprise? The only reason this isn't making it on to the list is that it only shows up in the movie (as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong).  Of course, if it showed up in the series, it would cut too far into the episode, right?

Honorable mention 2 - The Raccoons
I've never watched the Raccoons and judging by the snippets I've seen, I don't think I want to.  But what business it has having a outro theme like Run with Us, I don't know.  This song is great and I think it's my favorite Cybertronic Spree cover - even over The Touch and Dare!

Honorable mention 3 - Disney
There's no way to pick the best Disney cartoon theme - they're all fantastic, and super catchy.  Maybe they put the extra money into making the themes that they saved from recycling animation for the intro from random scene in the show.  It always bugged me that they did that, but there's no denying the songs were great.  So how do you pick a favorite?  You don't, and that's why they're not in the top 5. 

Without further ado - my favorite themes:

Mighty Orbots
Skip that cheesy narration in the beginning and skip straight to that action packed intro music.  It is a bit simplistic with "Go Mighty Orbots" repeated so much, but that music combined with the great animation in the beginning get my blood pumping.

Count Duckula
I know I said skip the narration in the last mention, but don't you dare skip it here.  That Vincent Price-sounding narrator was suitably creepy for the Count part, but I love the disco sounding Duckula half.  "If you're looking for some fun" is totally right.

M-M-M-M.A.S.K!  It starts out slow, but by the time you get to The end of the first verse, it ramps up to some kick-ass levels.  "Working overtime, fighting crime" has to be one of the greatest theme song lyrics.  Too bad I still can't tell what lies behind the... Matt sher rays?

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Lightning strikes!  Okay, it's just fun to shout some of these lines.  I'm glad I don't drive while listening to these tunes or this one would get me a ticket.  It's hard not to get pumped up as the song keeps going.

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
No Gut, No Glory.  This song is right at home in the 80s - you could picture it playing in any action flick of the decade.  There's no wonder why this show was on track to get its own soundtrack album.  I'd have bought it in a microsecond.  And it even gets played by the Rangers in one episode!  Sorry, Banzai, this song totally kicks Bionic Six's ass.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 2/14/18

It's been a while since I've done a Wednesday Wrap-Up post and I feel like a jerk for taking so long to write any progress down.  In truth, I'm dealing with some real bad mojo at work and it's sapped a lot of my energy to do anything constructive.  It's a real bad situation that been created by one person and it making the three of us that work for her miserable.  I've been looking for new work practically everywhere and I'm hoping to land another position in the very near future.

The worst thing of it is this would be the best time to be working on my book!  I got my manuscript back from the editor a few weeks ago and all I need to do is make up the cover and I'd be ready to publish.  But besides having worked a bit on the blurb, I think it's complete now, I just can't get myself to work on it.  I've take a few days off since my birthday and my wife's is this weekend, but I'm not sure I'll have much time to work on it with all the stuff we have planned. Not to mention the dread of what'll be waiting for me on Tuesday....

Anyway, since I've written the blurb, I figure I'd post it here.
I grew up quick.  Turning into a monster and murdering your foster parents will do that to a guy.  I ended up on the streets with nothing but a busted action figure and the love of the cartoons it came from.
When someone claiming to not only be my real father but an actual cartoon bad guy, I couldn’t turn down his invitation to meet. His name - Major Max Malice the Menacing, retired leader of the Muttants, enemy of the Hurricanines, and former would-be world conqueror.  But can I trust anything he says, even though he offers to teach me the way to control the beast inside me?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 10 - General Plague

Today we're looking at the Shredder's opponent, General Plague, leader of the... Raiders.  Whatever abilities this guy has, creativity is not one of them.

Hailing from Sky Commanders, General Plague strives to harvest the deadly energy source Pheta 7 to take over the world, willing to destroy whole continents if he has to.  When the New Frontier, a massive unstable land mass breaks through the Pacific Ocean, he mobilizes his Raiders to attack, using "laser cable" technology to traverse the craggy landscape.  While he's shown to have a large number of generic Raiders that he treats as cannon fodder, he has four named minions, including Mardok, who happens to be Plague's brother-in-law.  That's a new one.

While many of the characters in the show are bound to laser cables, riding them in awkward and uncomfortable backpacks (seriously, how can anyone stand with those things?), Plague gets around this by primarily flying in a Jackal Raider.  Yes, their equipment is also called Raiders.  As you can see, the Jackal is equipped with missiles but also has laser cannons.  Unlike most of his cartoon villain peers, he's actually a good shot with them, more often than not hitting his target in a few shots, even with something as small as a power cable.  He's also a good pilot, being able to maneuver tight canyons, make quick u-turns and even outmaneuver missiles.  The ship is fragile though and can be brought down with a single shot from a hand-held laser pistol at times.

When not flying the Jackal, Plague gets around on a Deception Raider.  Seriously, who came up with these names?  Everything has such a terrible name - even Plague's name is stupid because it makes no sense.  It's not like he wants to poison the world or anything.  And that's his real name, by the way, Lucas Plague.  Anyway, the Deception Raider, a giant metal hang-glider, which some of the other Raiders use as well.  Strangely, while the other Raiders are usually stuck to navigating the power cables with their Deception Raider, General Plague flies freely most of the time.  For weapons it has two standard missiles, voice activated in one episode.  Another ability of the Deception Raider backpack, as well as every other kind, is Hot-Wiring, which activates a power cable and sends whatever backpack is attached to it speeding along.

We've seen him fly, but what can General Plague do when he doesn't have a jet strapped to his back?  Believe it or not, even with a pistol, Plague's aim stays pretty true.  In episode 5, One on One, Plague spends most of his time stalking his nemesis, Mike Summit (ugh), and blasts him out of the sky a few times.  It's not pictured here, but he actually carries two pistols.  He's also able to break a grapple line with his bare hands once - thought it wasn't a power cable, it was still strong enough to hold those ridiculously huge backpacks, so it has to be pretty strong.

Speaking of the grapple like, all Raiders and Sky Commanders are equipped with a Grappler, which acts as a control panel for most of the their weapons and backpacks and also is thrown as a grappling hook.  Seems like you'd want to throw the hook without giving up your control panel, but whatever. 

Lastly, we've got to talk about his hand-to-hand abilities of which he has none.  Only one episode shows him actual engaging in melee combat, and he quickly loses a wrestling match with Mike Summit, even after starting with the upper hand. 

I'm starting a new feature here where I summarize the combatants' strengths and weaknesses so it's easier to refer back to when I'm writing the big fight.
Strengths: The Deception Raider backpack enables him to fire ziplines and fly, and he's a good enough pilot to avoid almost any oncoming fire.  He's also an incredible shot with hand-held weapons and whatever he's piloting.
Weaknesses: He's got no hand-to-hand abilities, so if he's ever disarmed, he's going down.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Top 5 Cartoons that Deserve a Movie Like Transformers (But Good)

Last month, I wrote a post about cartoons that deserve a reboot (you can read it here).  Ever since then, I've been planning to write a second post about the cartoons that deserve a revival but would fit in a movie more than a new series.  I'm not saying the others weren't good enough to deserve a movie in their own right, but these five cartoons have just the right mix of compelling stories and compact casts that would do best on the silver screen.  Let's just hope thee do better than the current movie offerings we're getting.
Spiral Zone
When the villainous Overlord flipped on a series of Zone Generators across the globe, he turned half the world's population into mindless zombies - only he can control their every move.  The Zone Riders are the only defense against Overlord and his Black Widows as they try to take down the generators and return free will to the Earth's people.
The Reason
The zombie trend is movies and television is definitely dwindling, but I think giving the bad guy complete control over them is enough of a game changer to make it stand out in the otherwise boring zombie landscape.
The Movie
I'd get rid of the Black Widows and make the Zoners (the people within the Spiral Zone) the bad guys.  I'd also update the Zone Riders by getting rid of their ridiculous gear and focusing on the characters' tragedies, like Tank who lost his son in the Zone.

Marshall Bravestarr is the only lawman on the entire planet of New Texas and uses the his spirit powers to call on the planet's animal abilities - Strength of the Bear, Ears of the Wolf, Eyes of the Hawk, and Speed of the Puma.  The outlaw Tex Hex leads the Carrion Gang in stealing the planet's rich Kerium resources.
The Reason
Westerns are a dying breed, but I think adding the sci-fi elements into the mix could make for some real interesting stories, like Guardians of the Galaxy have shown us.
The Movie
I'd go the route of the original Bravestarr movie and show an origin story for him and Tex Hex, maybe making them known to each other before going to their respective mentors - the Shaman for Bravestarr and Stampede, the Broncosaur spirit for Tex.  The main story would be a huge heist that Bravestarr has to try to stop alone.  Not sure how I'd throw Thirty-Thirty in there though.

Ace McCloud, Jake Rockwell, and Max Ray use their advanced weapon systems to save the world from Doc Terror, who wishes to wipe out humanity and replace the Earth's population with robots.
The Reason
I'm thinking with the popularity of Iron Man in the Marvel movies, you can't go wrong with heroes that have a bunch of different techno suits.  The cast of Centurions is small enough that it would be easy to have them all appear in the movie without any losses.  Except maybe that damned orangutan.  
The Movie
I'd start with Doc Terror already having taken control of the world, his robot armies having culled most of the human race.  Ace, Jake, and Ray are part of the resistance and make contact with Crystal, a weapons satellite long forgotten.   It takes them a while to get used to their new suits, but after that, it's all robot carnage.

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
The Galaxy Rangers police the stars, determined to stop the Crown Empire from expanding her empire with Slaver Lords - telepathic manifestations of their leader, the Queen of the Crown.
The Reason
I debated not having this on the list since we already have a space cowboy movie with Bravestarr, but since this show is all about space-fairing instead of stranded on one planet, I think it deserves a shot of it's own.  While Bravestarr focuses on one lawman, Galaxy Rangers has a squad of them, each with their own power.  
The Movie
I'd keep the focus on Foxx, whose wife is captured, and he has to find her.  While the cartoon never did reunite the two of them even after 65 episodes, I'd make sure Foxx got her back by the end of the movie.  

Dungeons & Dragons
When six kids go on a roller coaster, they're sucked into another dimension where sword and sorcery rule.  The enigmatic Dungeon Master gives them magic weapons and sends them off to fight the wizard Venger.
The Reason
There have been a number of movies trying to bring Dungeons & Dragons to life, but they've been terrible - unlike the cartoon which is pretty damned good and has one of the best villains in it.  Why not just build on the cartoon?
The Movie
Just do the cartoon!  Take six kids, throw them in a fantasy land, and give them some magic powers.  Just make sure to give us a good Venger!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 10 - Shredder

We've reached the double digits!  Today, we're looking at the evil leader of the Foot Clan, Oroku Saki himself, the Shredder.  While Saki had a lot of history in the various Ninja Turtles stories, in the cartoon, he and Homato Yoshi were part of the Foot Clan in Japan.  Trying to take control of the Foot from Yoshi, Saki used a knife to make it look like Yoshi was attempting to kill their Sensai, who was then banished.  Once Saki became leader of the foot, he turned it into a vast criminal empire. We all know Yoshi turned into Splinter and trained the turtles in the sewers of New York, but what happened to Saki?

How he found Krang, ended up in New York, and turned the Foot into a robot army isn't spelled out in the cartoon (as far as I remember at least), but he took on the name of the Shredder and covered his armor with a multitude of blades.  Before we get to his powers, let's take a look at the Foot since they're with him so much.

The Foot Clan is made up entirely of robotic ninjas.  They're weird looking with somewhat gorilla proportions, always with their shoulders hunched and arms sticking out.  Normally they're armed with laser rifles since they don't really display any ninja fighting skills at all, but sometimes they'll show a shred of their origin, like in the first few episodes where they had throwing stars that glowed red hot and fins that show energy ripples.  Like most cartoon robot army fodder, they are defeated easily and fall apart after a hit or two.  Still, in large numbers, they could be dangerous - the Mousers from episode 3 certainly were.

Now on to Shredder.  Having trained in the same dojo as Yoshi, who trained the turtles, Saki is an incredible ninja.  Though his skills dulled over time (name a villain who this didn't happen to), he was more than a match for the turtles on their first few outings.  In Case of the Killer Pizzas, when Donatello throws a ball of dough at him, he catches it in his hands, spins it around and fastens a "doughnet" from it!

Another benefit of his training seems to be some real super strength.  In episode 7, The Incredible Shrinking Turtles, he defeats each of them one by one, but the real feet is breaking a massive wooden beam in half with one chop if his hand.
In other episodes, he's shown to chop through a branch he was standing on with one chop, bend iron bars of a cell, kick down a metal door, and twice slice a punching bag in half after throwing it into the air.  I'm not sure what part of ninja school teaches you that, but it's damned impressive.

Shredder does have his drawbacks, though.  His anger frequently gets the better of him, letting the calmer Splinter defeat him, like in the episode Shredder and Splintered.  He loses his patience and gets real sloppy.  He's also terrible with guns.  The few times he's picked up a rifle or pistol, he can't hit anything.  Granted, no one else in the cartoon has good aim either, but it's something to consider if Shredder loses the upper hand.

Be sure to come back next week to see his opponent, Sky Commander's General Plague.  Click here to see how Bad Guy Beatdown is going so far.