Thursday, March 23, 2017

Designer's Notes:Terry Toucan & the Puzzle Pals - The House of 10,000 Sock Monkeys!


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My involvement in this article was mostly as a format checker and "crunch" meister. Though I did help J. hammer out some of the details. I spent maybe 10 hours total, with 0.5 hours writing, 5 hours editing/format-checking, 0 hours for research, and maybe another 4.5 hours of revision. I had a blast working with J. and we've discussed the possibility of another team up in the near future.

The following is J. Edward Tremlett's designer's notes.


The Case of the Sock Monkey Abuse
When I was a kid, my favorite stuffed animal was a sock monkey. I slept with it around my neck to keep vampires from biting me. The poor thing was loved to pieces, so my mom sewed it a superman suit to keep it "alive." It then became... Supermonkey!

Supermonkey continued in his mission for truth, justice, and keeping my neck from being punctured by bloodsuckers. After some weird adventures in misplacement, maturity, and moving out, the fellow was eventually framed and presented to me at my wedding rehearsal dinner.

It's still up in my office, stuck in what may be a "Saturday Night Fever" pose, and still protecting me from vampires -- even behind glass. Supermonkey is mighty.

Let's just keep that in mind as we begin.


The Beginning
I approached the humor issue with some degree of dark amusement. I've written a lot of funny stuff for Pyramid in the past, mostly involving heroes. I thought about doing another generic supers humor article, but decided against it, remembering that, frankly, no one liked reading them as much as I liked writing them.

So I thought of a few other options, and decided that I wanted to do a one-shot humorous horror misadventure. One of my favorite pieces was Electric Hoe-Down of the Atomic Reptile Bikini Women - in 3D! - A Call of Cthulhu "Blood Brothers"-style Scenario that ran in Worlds of Cthulhu.

So now I just had to think of a suitable story. After a few false starts, one finally gelled enough to stick to the inside of my skull -- what if Scooby Doo turned evil and decided to kill off the gang while they were solving a mystery? It could be done as cartoony, low-firepower Monster Hunters, maybe with its own, special splat for Teen Sleuth.

And no one would suspect anything until the big, brown dog said "Ruck You" and pushed them down a cliff... which is the image that made me decide this was my ticket.

Now, anything I write tends to evolve -- and hopefully improve -- from where it starts. Sometimes I go through several iterations before I arrive at a finished product (like the !@#$ !@#$ thing I'm working on now). House of 10,000 Sock Monkeys was no different, though it's still recognizable from where it began.

I originally had a mystery gang going to a small island to investigate the "ghost" of a pirate, only to have their talkative parrot friend try to kill them. I imagined them learning about the mystery from a newspaper in their favorite burger shack, and then going to the island, where they'd be cut off from the outside world because they'd wreck on the reef. They'd only survive by getting the ghost's boat, but only if their animal companion didn't kill them first...

I got a little ways into that, but was thankfully informed of the fact that there already was a villain parrot out there. One of the iterations of Scooby Doo had such a bird, already -- Professor Pericles -- and I didn't want this to be a rip-off. This is why it's Terry Toucan instead of Pauly Parrot.

I can't quite remember how it made the hop from an island to a small tourist town. This is probably the point where the ideas started to mudslide and it all came together as the mash-up that it is. It's also the point where I decided there needed to be a further "aha!" in the mix, and came up with the idea of this being half cute homage, half potential TPK, thanks to the addition of a dangerous monster.

I'm not sure why possessed sock monkeys became the monster in question. As mentioned earlier, I love them, but they are kind of creepy. (It's the black, soulless eyes. They look like Cybermen eyes)

So, thanks to Christopher for sewing the monkeys together... so to speak. Further help came from my girlfriend, who suggested the widow be involved in keeping the ghosts at bay. (Thanks, Chrys!)

I think this is one of the best epilogues I've written for a story:

But seeing all this death and destruction never quite leaves them. Between that and Terry’s betrayal, the Puzzle Pals return to Groovyville changed people. No longer swinging teens, their 1960s innocence is gone – replaced with the hard, grey cynicism that predominates the decades to come. In time, their childhood seems like some strange cartoony dream they all woke up from.


Small Notes:
  • The Omop tribe is just a stand-in for the Pomo, who lived around that area. They were not slaughtered by disgraced Spanish nobles, though they suffered from smallpox and were nearly wiped out. 
  • The Widow Redheel gets her name from the Red Heel Sock, which "official" sock monkeys are made from. Blue Feather is a play off that. 
  • The real sock monkey capital of the world is Rockford, Illinois. The largest Sock Monkey is in the UK. This is why Solivar is the sock monkey capital of the West Coast, and can only lay claim to the world's second largest sock monkey. But being first to be second is often what tourist towns are all about. 
  • There is no Solivar in California. The area between Freestone and Occidental is just a nice, mostly uninterrupted drive. Certain people reading this may know why it's called Solivar, but it has more to do with DC Comics than Scooby Doo. 
  • Speaking of Scooby Doo, fans of the show may find a few familiar names in the story. I'll let you find them yourself ;) 
  • Affendammerung is supposed to be "twilight of the monkeys." I probably screwed that up. Oops. 



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