Sunday, April 11, 2010

Formative Years Fiction - Evil Robots

Sorry it took me so long to post the next one. There's a lot of scanning, etc. involved in doing these and I wasn't sure if it would be easier to try to make a .pdf, especially for one down the line that lacks illustrations and is long (for a kid's story). Anyway, at least for now we'll stick with the multiple images format.

So here is the next installment of my Formative Years Fiction feature. This story is from the 3rd grade (as will be the next one). It is an action-adventure story written in the first person. What kid doesn't dream about taking on hordes of evil foes and winning? Because each page is more self contained than in the previous story I'll be posting commentary after each page instead of just one block of text at the end. Without further ado, enjoy Evil Robots! (As always, you can click each image to see it full-sized)

As you can see, the cover sets the tone for what is sure to be an exciting romp in the world of robotics. Now, you may already be wondering how a robot, a mechanical construct without free will could possibly be considered "evil". Eat my butt.

Oh good, for those who somehow started reading this but somehow missed the cover with crazy robots all over it.

There was no particular reason why this book was dedicated to my cousin, Brett Pallos. I just thought he would enjoy a story about evil robots.

I didn't actually own a plunger dart gun as a kid. I desperately wanted one. So in my story, I got to have one. But it betrayed me! I liked using quoted speech and onomatopoeia in this story, apparently. Also, I would still find those fridge contents very disappointing today, except maybe some veggies. Meghan is my sister, Meghan Thirty, with whom I had a tumultuous relationship as a child. Yowsa? Really? I wrote "yowsa"?

Regarding the illustration, I like the random broken roller skate that has no purpose. I also like how badly 2D the fridge is, especially its bizarre face. And good lord, I hope nobody attempts to use those flimsy handles on the fridge doors.

Fridge, you dick! Those ice cubes look painful, and check out the massive flaming lump they left on my head! I was a big fan of the eye-pop-out effect for shocked cartoon characters at that point, it found its way into a lot of my drawings at that age.

"Too" not "to", young me. Also, poor Meghan, getting blamed for everything.

OK, so a steady diet of cartoons had taught me, by this point, that water is very bad for electronic devices, such as robots. Of course, if anything mechanical breaks, it must explode. That's just how those things work. I like the impossible angle on the dart shot in this picture. Also, it's weird but something about the face on this drawing of me reminds my of my cousin Sarah Thirty's long-term boyfriend Donnie Dunder. (He is much better looking than this drawing though, don't worry. He's also not a 3rd grader who fights evil robots.)

That first line is quite the rhyme. I like that the car needed no impetus to come to life, but turning the key will shut it off. Our house really was on a hillside, that angle is only a slight exaggeration of our driveway at the time. I like that I was so surprised by the car that I jumped two stories, had my Walkman fly off my head onto the roof, my eyes bugged out, my tongue went crazy, and I said "Aooga" with no exclamation point. As if I were calmly stating it. Also, I like that the car just has the word "Varoom" over it him.

Well, yeah, I'd say that's suspicious. I remember being super proud of Roboland's security system when I drew it. Thieves are brought to the roof and tied to a post. A robotic punching glove then punches them, post and all, onto the adjacent roof, into a cage that apparently has a poker game and a TV inside. Ray's Chopping Block was a real store in my town, and spelled their actual sign correctly. There was also a Citgo in the center of town, but the sign was not that big. Apparently in my story they borrowed the sign from near Fenway Park in Boston. And made it all lower-case.

Alright, shitty fiction trick #58: conveniently mention something had been true all along, right when it's necessary. However, this is really a borderline example. It wasn't as though I hadn't explained how I became soaking wet, I just hadn't explained it in a way that made any logical sense whatsoever. You see, the ice cubes that struck me in the back of the head when I was fighting the fridge were made of water. Clearly that brief contact with the ice cubes was enough for me to become soaking wet and remain that way for several minutes if not hours. I like the final robot ominously sitting in its display case, and I like that the case's upper left corner is shaped just perfectly to let the explosion not touch it.

And here it is, the big daddy of them all, the Spider-Snake-Dragon-Robot. I'd be a goner if that fancy water fountain didn't have a "Blast" option for just such an occasion.

And that's the end. No explanation of why the robots came to life. No explanation of what their purpose was. There are way too many questions left unanswered here... tell me this story continues!

Thank. God. If we read the whole series, everything will be explained! Also, there will be evil creatures, evil people, and... uhhh... evil minerals. Great. The evil people are the only ones who won't be in all caps, for some reason. Unfortunately, I never actually wrote these sequels. The unanswered questions will remain unanswered for all time. But here's what those sequels might have looked like in a parallel universe where I made them.

Evil Creatures is full of shout-outs to a favorite recurring conversation I have with my friends Josh Stryker and Marco Agrocrag about deadly animal hybrids. There's a Snawk, a Bat o' War Jellyfish (a thing of NIGHTMARES), an Alligator Snapping Tulverine, a Wolfornet, and a starfish holding an assault rifle (not a hybrid). I went with the JRR Tolkien "In a bind? Giant eagles, for the win!" idea too.

One of the shadowy figures in Evil People should be instantly recognizable to folks who have known me long enough. Enjoy!