Thursday, July 14, 2011

Invasion from Planet No Face, or The Great Doorknob Robbery

Story, Character Creation, Design and Development by Anabelle McGinley

Assembly, and Continuity Editing by Jeff McGinley

Once upon a time, postal worker Ana Belle went to Wal*Mart to buy a new pair of roller skates. She skated everywhere she went, and thought it was much quicker and easier to deliver the mail on them. She found a pair of skates on a pallet in the back of the store, and also a destiny changing chocolate yo-yo. Hungry after her long route; she ate the candy while trying on the skates.

Just then the back doors of Wal*Mart were blown apart by the villainess Chainarina. With a cry of, “Yee Ha, Yippee Ki Ay, You stink if you’re good!” she chased everyone away while jumping mightily around the store. She began wrapping up the pallet with her electric seaweed chains, while absorbing energy from her other glove to power them.

Ana could feel a change come over her after eating the chocolate yo-yo. It was not limited to her skin and hair colors. She quickly skated through the aisles with much greater speed and skill than normal skates would allow. After she assembled enough clothes, and swim goggles, to disguise herself, she headed back to the theft in progress.

Chainarina heard a sneeze like blast (or perhaps a blast like sneeze) and had the electric seaweed chain knocked out of her hand by a small round object. She looked up as her attacker skated into view proclaiming, “I’m Yoyo-Ana! Yo-yos shoot out of my nose!”

Ana then fired off a second shot that knocked Chainarina back. However, when trying to deliver a knockout yo, Ana found her nose was empty. Her wounded adversary began to sing, “I imagine that I’m floating down a Gentle Stream,” and vanished.

Realizing she needed to eat chocolate to maintain her nasally launched yo-yos, Ana quickly added belt pouches to her ensemble to maintain a supply. As she was paying for all of her stuff, two members of a karate school on her route entered the store. Olivia Old and Larry Berry collected as many items off the pallet as they could carry and told Ana she should accompany them back to the school. They dropped a small plastic egg as they left, which a tired employee merely tossed into the freezer section instead of trying to return it.

As they entered the karate school with their assortment of odd items, Olivia explained, “Pouf will want to talk to you.”
“Why are we heading to a door that says, ‘Toast Pie’ then?” asked Ana.
Olivia: “That’s her real name; she’s called ‘Pouf’ because that’s the sound her flashlight makes.”
Ana: “And she has a flashlight because?”
Olivia: “To see in space.”
Ana: “Right…and why would she be in space?”
Olivia: “She lives in space.”
Ana: “Right…Then why is she here on Earth?”
Olivia: “Because there are no houses in space.”
Ana: “Right…”

Ana entered the office where she was debriefed by Pouf. She learned that Chainarina was a girl beast water spirit that lives in the Gentle Stream outside of town. She has been a prisoner of the stream for a hundred years and was forced to do the bidding of the resident of Bad Castle, next to the stream.

Pouf went on to explain how the stream was a dimensional doorway between Earth and the Planet No-Face. She knew the aliens were coming so she set up the karate school to prepare for it.
Ana: “So who lives in the Bad Castle?”
Pouf: “Nobody.”
Ana: “But you said the No-Face Planet people were there.”
Pouf: “He is.”
Ana: “Who is?”
Pouf: “Nobody.”
Ana: “Third base…wait, his name is Nobody?”
Pouf: “No his name is Chocolate Candy Bar, but his villain name is Nobody.”
Ana: “Of course… and what can he do?”
Pouf: “He uses some things you’ve already seen in Wal*Mart, and brain guns…”
Ana: “That shoot psychic energy of some sort?”
Pouf: “No, they shoot brains.”
Ana: “That’s nasty.”
Pouf: “Yes.”

Slightly less confused, Ana continued with the meeting. Pouf explained that Nobody set up a supply of variously powered items to be delivered to Wal*Mart, and Yoyo-Ana’s debut stopped the pick up just in time. Pouf told her two best students that it was time for them to become the heroes she trained them to be.

Olivia always liked dressing up as both a leopard and a princess, so she combined the two in her costume. As a back up to her formidable training she chose a paddle from the Wal*Mart stash that creates a growing ping pong ball that can hit twenty bad guys…in case the karate doesn’t work. She loved all her students, and promised them she’d never leave, but the crisis caused her to have to leave them in the middle of training. Therefore she chose the superhero name Leaf. (She also had a leaf collection.)

Larry was a tough hard karate master who worked as a gardener and snow cleaner at the Olanna Lagoon School. By combining some make up with his work clothes, and adding Wal*Mart wings, he became Cherry! (Because he likes cherries.)

Pouf’s brother, Chocolate Cake Choo Choo (“Everyone in space is named Chocolate,” she explained.) had been fighting crime as the famous Silly Head, using knives to knock bad guys unconscious and then jumping on them. (Unorthodox, yet surprisingly effective.) She sent him through the stream to observe the planet No-Face’s activities. There had been no report back and she was concerned that he didn’t make it past Chainarina’s sons, who act as guards on either side of the stream. Both sons tried hard to fit into the society on the side of the dimension door they were on, with mixed results.

The Earth side was guarded by Bed; so named for spending much of his time lazily sleeping on the streambed while using his tail to whack bugs away. He picked out clothes to try to fit in at the mall, as well as a name from the first sign he saw, “George Washington Bridge”. His failures at the mall added to his sour disposition and dangerousness.

On planet No-Face, the much more socially successful and always talking Mouth guarded the door. This water spirit, who took the common No-Face name of Kazingzing, kicked people in the butt with the magic foot in his cape.

Pouf claimed the only way to save the Earth was an assault on Bad Castle before the invasion could get underway. However, it would not be easy. Along with fortified walls, and Nobody’s equipment, agility and brain guns, they would have to deal with his two guardians.

Nobody was accompanied by the vicious, club wielding Arial Chocolateface, who went by the marginally more dangerous sounding name of Hootia.

Hootia’s partner in protection was not a No-Face native, however. As a part of his diabolical plan, Nobody captured young Sunny Kingsworth, and brought her to planet No-Face. He gained her trust by painting her yellow, and keeping her in a box full of yellow paint (her favorite color). He gave her extensive combat training with sharpened shields as well as a robot tarantula to web the good guys. Sunny was forced to wear a no-face mask on the planet which she didn’t like, and removing it too quickly left a black eye which she kept covered. As it was the only word she could say after spending days in a box of yellow paint, she was known as Googoogaga.

Now that we have learned of the Karate school heroes and their foes we turn our attention to the Electric Company that was just down the street, and some of their employees who also shopped at Wal*Mart.

Magenta, the eldest daughter of the Waters family was the boss of the group that answered phones at the Electric Company. Her younger sister worked for her. As a fan of the Justice League TV show, she decided to become a hero herself. She dyed her hair, strapped on an oddly colored armored full body suit, and duct taped a pillow shooter to her arm that she bought at the “Giant Gun Store” section of Wal*Mart. Taking her name from her arm’s armament, she fought street crime as Pillow.

Pillow was not the only super-hero obsessed member of the Waters clan, however. Magenta found Nobody’s egg of magic Silly Putty in the freezer at Wal*Mart. She thought it was ice cream and put it on a pie for her sister, Candy, at work. The magic putty reacted, and gave Candy the ability to shoot Silly Putty from her hands.

Their younger brother also had aspirations in line with the rest of the family. He long felt destined to be a super hero, having been born with gray stripey skin, but sadly, no powers or abilities. Still, desiring to protect others, he took a job as a guard at the local French museum. Candy’s return home with her goal to start heroics led to an argument with her brother.

Candy: “I shall become a super hero, and I shall be known as Eyeball.”
Michael: “No, I’m going to be Eyeball”
Candy: “You don’t even have powers.”
Michael: “I have a costume.”
Candy: “Some costume, where did you get those ridiculous metal boots?”
Michael: “At the Metal Boot Shoe Store.”
Candy: “Obviously…anyway, my name is Eyeball.”
Michael: “But your mask covers your whole face, you can barely see your eyes.”
Candy: “That protects me from mosquitoes. I’m still Eyeball.”
Michael: “But why? Your powers have nothing to do with eyeballs.”
Candy: “I have an eyeball symbol.”
Michael: “But why do you have an eyeball symbol?”
Candy: “Because my name is Eyeball.”
Michael: “But why is your name Eyeball?”
Candy: “Because I have an eyeball symbol.”
{30 minutes later}
Michael: “But why do you have an eyeball symbol?”
Candy: “Because my name is Eyeball.”
Michael: “But why is your name Eyeball?”
Candy: “Because I have an eyeball symbol.”
Michael: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaggghhh!”
Magenta: “It doesn’t matter anyway, Mom said you can use the symbol bro, but she’s Eyeball.”
Michael: “Oh maaan.”
Magenta: “I know, you can be Nose!”
Candy: “Or since you work at the French Museum, Nose’.” (Pronounced ‘Nose-ay’)
Michael: “Fine, I shall be…Nose’!”
Candy: “But you still don’t have any powers.”
Michael: “I have a gun, I can shoot the bad guys, Mom said so.”

Early in their heroic career, the Waters family heard a tremendous buzzing. Peering outside they discovered hordes of insect like, and insect surrounded faceless aliens that they dubbed, “Mosquito Monsters.” As they tried to figure out how to handle an alien invasion with pillows, putty and a pistol, a frantic if weak knock came to the door.

The oddly dressed individual who collapsed into their house was immediately recognized as the lost Silly Head. The wounded warrior related how he had managed to get through the Mosquito Monsters, and passed on information about them. “They are called the Chacks, and while dangerous, are nothing compared to what is coming.”
He told them what he learned on the planet No-Face. Nobody had been sent to conduct a subtle campaign to steal all of Earth’s doorknobs, and when that had failed Planet No-Face has launched a full-scale invasion that would not stop until every doorknob had been removed from the planet.

He asked them to please help him get to Bad Castle to warn Pouf’s group. He warned that Qazaqzaqq, a demon from the planet No-Face, would soon follow the Chacks. He also told them that she was armed with sword arrows, “that could possibly give you a giant cut.”

Pillow: “What else can she do?”
Silly Head: “She can split into a hundred copies of herself.”
Pillow: “Why would she need to do that with an army of Chacks already here?”
Silly Head: “There are still more doors.”
Pillow: “OK. Is there any reason you wear a beard OVER your mask?”
Silly Head: “To hide my mask so people don’t know I’m from outer space.”
Pillow: “I see. Are your hat and boots from Wal*Mart? Maybe they can help us.”
Silly Head: “Yes, they are from Wal*Mart, but they’re not super…I just like them.”
Pillow: “Perfect. Well, Eyeball, Nose’ and I will help you get to the Castle.”
Silly Head: “In that case, I shall be called Ear!”
Pillow: “Why Ear?”
Ear: “Because I have this ear gun.”
Pillow: “Ah, some kind of powerful sonic attack weapon?”
Ear: “No, it shoots ears.”
Pillow: “And that stops the bad guys how, exactly?”
Ear: “When one hits them, they go, ‘Ugh, blood!’ and pass out.”
Pillow: “Obviously. Shall we go?”
Ear: “Yes, and now that we are a team; we shall be called…Ocean Blues!”
Pillow: “Why?”
Ear: “I have NO idea!”

Having established as much as possible from that exchange, the Ocean Blues group set off to meet up with Yoyo-Ana, and the Karate school gang. The scene at Bad Castle was total chaos. Qazaqzaqq and the Chacks were pouring out of the Gentle Stream, heading off in pursuit of mayhem and doorknobs. The hero’s attacks did almost nothing to stem the tide.

The constant flow of No-Face people had pushed Bed, Mouth and Chainarina out into the battleground. While the boys joined in the fracas, Chainarina jumped, and used her electric seaweed chains to fight desperately against being pulled back into the Gentle Stream, where she had been bound for so long. Mid struggle, her eyes locked with Nose’’s across the war torn field, and it was love at first sight. Ignoring his own safety and his duty to his team, Nose’ ran to her gun blazing. While bullets are no match for the curse of a magical (if gentle) stream, true love certainly is. Chainarina vowed to become good, and proved it by telling Nose’ that the No-Face people all wear hats to protect them from getting the sun on their face, or they melt. The happy couple returned to the hero’s lines and after a great deal of yelling by the Waters’ sisters and the rest, the alien’s weakness was shared.

In a massive wave of flying strongmen, giant ping-pong balls, alien flashlights, pillows, silly putty, bullets, electric seaweed, and nasal yo-yos, the No-Face people’s hats were rapidly removed, as were the No-Face people themselves by the sunlight. The castle was easily breached and Nobody and his guards were melted or jailed as appropriate. Chainarina convinced her sons that they would have much more loafing and socializing time if they sealed the dimensional portal. The doorknobs of the world were safe once again.

(Except for the No-Face people who were melted...and that’s good because they were bad.)

The Method:
This began when, at age four, my daughter dispelled my theory that there are no original superpowers left that haven’t been used somewhere by standing, arms akimbo, and shouting, “I’m Yo-yo Ana. Yo-yo’s shoot out of my nose!” and then proceeding to detail a battle with Chainarina.

Pretty much everything in this story is based on Anabelle’s ideas over the next fourteen months. My work as “Continuity Editor” was limited to the following (long before I ever heard of Axe Cop, I might add).

I introduced Anabelle to the Heromachine program and she used it to draw all the heroes and villains.

My input was minimal. I helped her load the program, and saved the people as she finished them. Occasionally I would offer minor advice such as:
“That one is dressed exactly the same as another one you did, do you want to change something?”
“There needs to be some vowels in that name.”
“You didn’t finish that one, if you’re bored of doing this now, we should stop and do more another day.”
(This happened a lot, as we did this only when she wanted to, hence the long development time.)
And the ever popular “You can’t make every single item yellow (or “honeybee” as she called it); you won’t be able to see anything.”
Occasionally I would say, “Those colors don’t go together at all,” which she would ignore.

After each picture (including a hero/villain name) was done I would ask her open-ended questions and take notes. Much of the dialogue in the story is shortened forms of these question and answer sessions.

I’d ask her what their powers were, what their names were, why they had certain costume or weapon parts, how their powers worked, etc. I’d also ask how they were connected to/interacted with the other characters. The only times I would not accept an answer was: (1) If it contradicted something she had said earlier (or we would have never finished). (2) If it made no sense to the point that it could not be used in a story (“The answer to every question cannot be the song, ‘She imagined she was floating down a gentle stream’.”) (3) If she said, “There’s no reason” more than twice in a row (indicating the bored thing mentioned in “Pictures”.)

When she finished everyone, I assembled all the notes into the story above, asking for clarifications as needed, and throwing in superhero-ey words (destiny, formidable, fracas, etc).

She also had final creative approval, as I read her the whole thing, adding her comments, before inserting the pictures.


Anabelle said...

Thank you for putting our story on! Titi luzma enjoyed the story as I read it to her. Love,Anabelle

Jeff McGinley said...

And thank you for creating such great superheroes. Love Daddy

Grandma said...

Anabelle, you made me so proud. First your father and now you have shown your great imagination and your wonderful sense of humor. What a talented father you have. I'm glad you've become a chip off the old block. I don't usually comment on the blog. But for you I just had to do it. Lots of Love OXZ

Anabelle said...

Thank you for the nice comment,Grandma!