Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From the Valley of Lost Projects -- Greetings From Grid City or Cyberpunk: The Future of my Youth

You know how old fashioned cyberpunk is? This was done using Zipatone. And Grid City, the comic script it was based on, was written on a typewriter.

Well, I promised a non-mopey update. I didn't get any work done on my novel this morning -- I used up my juice on three short fiction pieces for the next issue of Milvia Street. But here's a blast from the past, the first time I tried doing a comic book story. I wrote a hundred and thirty pages of script and some concept drawings and that was as far as it got. I gave up because I thought I sucked; now I look at this stuff and think, hey. Back in eighty-seven this would have been a hell of a comic book.

These two are a couple of good-natured drug manufacturers. When they combine cocaine with the amino acid precursors to the neurotransmitters whose release is stimulated by coke they have a hit on their hands. Too bad it winds up making people allergic to their own neurochemicals... When I heard the story about people getting those kinds of reactions to aerosol pig brains I got a nostalgiac glow. Oh, and the benefit of this rig is that they can each choose their favorite details for the lovemaking session without bothering the other person.

When I first read a review of Neuromancer in Heavy Metal I avoided reading it for a year just so I could let the idea of cyberpunk twist in my punk-rocking SF geek brain. When given a copy as a gift, I fell in love with it and tried to push it on my brother. "Fuck that," he said. "I've got this copy of Omni with a story called Johnny Mnemonic. It's the best fucking science fiction ever!" Took us a while to put two and two together. William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley! I salute you!

Any Big Black fans out there? This here's Dead Billy. He's a former soldier who had a Tin Man number done on him. Is he is or is he ain't a person? Who knows -- just don't get on his wrong side.

The Grid City script is long gone but I did write a short script for a screenwriting class that draws on the background. Ol' Dead Billy and his main squeeze Helter Kitty play prominant roles. The teacher said, "Give me something as weird as you can imagine." Well, I wasn't going to do that -- but here's a compromise.

Take a look at comment number one for the animation script Chad and Debbie's Vacation Wonderland!


Sean Craven said...

Chad and Debbie's Vacation Dreamland

EXT. near space, geosynchronous orbit
At first, all we see is the black sky and the insane plethora of stars visible through the clear vacuum of interplanetary space.
Then a spaceship appears. It's asymmetrical, a passenger cabin on a long boom, a much larger pod opposite it on a shorter boom, both rotating around a central spindle which contains the engine. It's charcoal gray with pink details, and on the side, a logo reads "Chad 'n' Debbie."
Video chad
(Voice Over)
Well, there's been a change in plans. It looks like the Rat's going to talk to you himself.
As we watch it pass, a tower comes into view, then the vast docking complex that it's attached to.
Oh, really? Debbie will be thrilled.
The docking complex is attached to a larger tower. As they eye follows the tower, it crosses the horizon of the Earth, and keeps going down, towards Central America.
The Earth doesn't look good. There's no green visible, and the clouds are the sick pinky-brown of photoreactive nitrous oxide smog.
Yeah, well, that monstrosity's a nasty negotiator. Watch your ass. He's going to try and culture shock you. It won't be fun.
Candy-colored plastic cables emerge from the tip of the tower we first saw as the spaceship draws near.
Jets fire from the passenger cabin and the pod, halting rotation.
With an oddly organic, animalistic motion, the cables begin groping towards the spaceship. They grab it and pull it in.
Int. Chad and Debbie's spaceship
CHAD is on the tall side, trim, mature, his features simultaneously rugged and refined, impeccably dressed and groomed. He looks, to be blunt, like money.
Chad is strapped into the pilot's seat. In front of him, hovering over the instrument panel, is the holographic image of another Chad sitting in a luxurious office.
Now, now. Chad always has fun.
VIDEO CHAD cracks a dazzling grin. His (like all the other Chad's) teeth are quite reflective -- what could they be made of?
I guess we chose the right Chad to handle the deal.
VIDEO DEBBIE appears in the image behind Video Chad. She's a petite blonde of the broadcast variety, wide blue eyes, perfect hair, and so on. The words 'chipper' and 'pert' are unavoidable.
She leans on Video Chad's shoulder, and looks at Chad.
Video debbie
Hey, Chad! Where's Debbie?
Chad shrugs.
Hey, Debbie. She's in the little girl's room.
He smirks a tiny bit.
CHAD (cont'd)
Microgravity gives her the whoopsies.
Video Debbie makes a sympathetic face.
Video dEBBIE
Well, try giving her some ginger next time. It really helps.
The spaceship is being manipulated by the cables, attached to a clamp set into a groove in the tower. The clamp closes, and the spaceship slides along the groove down to the docking complex.
Video dEBBIE
You know we need to get this resort on the tracks what with this Ken and Barbie nonsense.
Yes, the latest word is that Disney's feeling them out.
Chad moves in his chair as the spaceship starts its descent.
Disney and Mattel? No way. The mouse don't play that. Ken and Barbie will be vacationing on the moon with the other schlubs.
As the spaceship is slid into a berth, a thick, accordion-folded disembarking corridor fastens itself over the spaceship's airlock in the fashion of a lamprey attaching itself to a perch.
If Disney does a deal with any franchised couple, it's going to be Adam and Steven. And that's not going to happen soon.
Chad undoes the straps fastening him to his chair, and floats upwards.
No, the only way to get real estate for an exclusive vacation spot in a decent location is gentrification.
A BUZZER goes off, and a pink light flashes on the control panel.
Well, we'd better let you go. Talk to you soon.
Video dEBBIE
See you later, alligator!
The holographic video winks out.
Hurry up, Debbie! We've got company!
(from off screen)
Okay, just a sec!
(to the control console)
Let me see the foyer, please.
A new holograph showing the airlock interior flashes into view.
There are two people inside the airlock, DEAD BILLY and HELTER KITTY.
Dead Billy has numerous artificial body parts, the most visible being the clear dome that's replaced his cranium. Bits of circuit have been crudely plugged into the tattered remnants of his brain, LCD's winking on and off. A shotgun barrel is mounted on and in his right forearm. He's dressed in sloppy urban camouflage.
Helter Kitty has the build of a sex doll and the head, tail, and fur of a white cat. She has small video cameras sewn into her eye sockets, fringed by stiff black stitches. Her mouth has been likewise crudely sewn shut. A pink bow is attached to her head. She's wearing a white tank top, checkered clamdiggers, and a variety of sidearms.
CHAD (cont'd)
Hey, there! We'll be with you in a second, okay?
Dead Billy salutes, Helter Kitty bows.
CHAD (cont'd)
Off, please.
The holograph vanishes.
Chad leans his head back and closes his eyes.
CHAD (cont'd)
Oh, God.
INT. luxury elevator
Chad, DEBBIE, Dead Billy, and Helter Kitty are in a luxury elevator, going down. The elevator is about fifteen feet square, and looks something like the lobby of a nice hotel -- artificial palms, couches, off-white walls, an Oriental rug, some flowers...
A Muzak version of Girl from Ipanema plays in the background.
Debbie is perfectly assembled in an outfit that strikes the right tone in between feminine and businesslike, but she looks a little pale.
So what kind of restaurant are we going to?
Sir, that's a surprise, sir. I just hope you brought your appetites.
He looks at Debbie.
I'm fine. I just needed to get a little weight on my feet.
She doesn't do well with microgravity.
Dead Billy nods knowingly.
A lot of people get gravity pukes, ma'am. There is no shame in that.
Debbie smiles tightly at him.
That's good to know.
Helter Kitty extends a retractable claw from one fingertip and uses it to prick another. Squeezing blood out from the wound, she goes to the wall and in beautiful Asian-influenced calligraphy writes:
Feeling slow ovals?
Caught in the whirling heavens?
You should try ginger.
DeBBIE (cont'd)
Well, that's what everybody tells me.
There's a ding and the door slides open. Everyone gets to their feet.
Sir, ma'am, just come this way.
He walks out the elevator into the corridor, followed by Chad and Debbie, with a clearly wary Helter Kitty taking the rear, a gun in each hand, her little camera eyes rotating independently.
EXT. outide of spunky's
This place looks like a mall in Hell. It's a broad, roadlike corridor, lined with paneled walls and storefronts. It's crowded with people and things that bear no resemblance to one another, and who make Dead Billy and Helter Kitty look like Norman Rockwell refugees.
Dead Billy is pointing a sign out to Chad and Debbie. Flickering neon spells out the name SPUNKY'S, and a little neon girl with a knife and fork chases a little neon guy across the front of the restaurant. There's a door and no windows.
Sir! Enjoy your meal, sir!
He opens the door and waves Chad and Debbie through. As they pass, he takes a gander at Chad's legs. They're too long, and Chad walks a little awkwardly on them, like a child wearing his father's shoes.
Dead Billy lets the door swing shut behind them, and turns to Helter Kitty.
DeaD BILLY (cont'd)
What the fuck's wrong with his legs?
Helter Kitty squeezes more blood from her finger, and writes on the wall:
Femur, tibia,
broken and stretched. Chad has a
height requirement.
Dead Billy nods knowingly, and they take up guard positions outside the door.
A walleyed man with cable spools where his arms should be starts to lick the haiku off of the wall. Dead Billy jerks a thumb at him and makes a face. Helter Kitty puts her hand to what's left of her mouth and mimes giggling.
Chad and Debbie look around the room as they enter it. It's large and resembles a gymnasium. It has padded plastic walls and floor, a buffet in one corner, and two gurneys with domed silver covers.
The buffet has glasses, napkin-wrapped silverware, and a clear bottle with something gray curled on its bottom. The silverware sets include, in addition to the usual, two-foot long electric carving knives with sword grips.
Standing by the buffet is THE RAT, a man with the head of a rat. He's dressed in a suit that makes Chad and Debbie's outfits look cheap and dowdy in contrast. He's very small, about four foot ten, and wears a pair of mirror shades designed to fit his distinctly non-human head.
He cocks his head to one side to look at them -- his eyes are on the sides of his head, so his body language always reads oddly -- and steps over to them, extending his hand.
The rat
Chad! Debbie! The Rat has looked forward to meeting you for -- Oooh!-- so long!
When Chad reaches out to shake The Rat's hand, The Rat turns Chad's hand over and sniffs at the palm. The Rat then does the same to Debbie, who makes a SEXY LITTLE INVOLUNTARY NOISE.
Oh, I just love your music, Mr. Rat. I watch your videos all the time.
The Rat loves to be loved, Debbie, but it isn't Mr. Rat. The Rat is The Rat.
He pulls them over to the buffet.
THE RAT (cont'd)
Now how about a little drink before dinner?
He lifts the bottle, and the tiny creature at the bottom, half-man, half-tapeworm, turns a terrified face towards him before picking up a sign lettered in an Olde Tyme Mexicali style from the bottom of the bottle and holding it up for Chad to read, his poor little hands shaking.
La Luna Reposado
110 Proof, 100% Agave,
Vacuum Grown and Distilled
Product of Aztlan, Copernicus
THE RAT (cont'd)
The Rat knows you're going to love your dinner here at Spunky's. This is the place where revenge is served hot.
The Rat unscrews the cap from the bottle and pours drinks into the glasses as the little worm guy swims desperately against the current.
THE RAT (cont'd)
When The Rat heard about your little tiff with Ken and Barbie, he knew what you'd want for dinner.
The Rat presses the drinks into Chad and Debbie's hands, then turns to the gurneys and grasps the handles to the dome tops, whipping them off with a performer's grace.
Underneath are Ken and Barbie, life-sized, anatomically correct, and apparently alive. They smile winningly, and roll off the gurneys and onto their feet.
Are they... They aren't real, are they?
Animatronics, darling. The speciality de la maison.
Debbie steps back, obviously flustered.
But we're vegetarians!
Well, of course you are, and so are they. Ken is vegan, and Barbie--
The Rat honks one of Barbie's boobs. A thick, translucent yellowish fluid with green flecks oozes from her nipple, and she giggles.
THE RAT (cont'd)
--is lacto-ovo.
The Rat licks his finger.
THE RAT (cont'd)
Mmmm. Bearnaise!
The Rat fetches the silverware from the buffet, and hands it to Chad and Debbie, who look reluctant.
Ken and Barbie bob and sway, insolent in their nudity.
Oh, God, are these those tacky little people who are trying to sue us?
What the-
You know, the first Chad and Debbie--
You mean the real ones?
Hey, wait a minute!
Chad and Debbie are both looking offended. More then that, really angry.
The Rat reaches over and turns on Debbie's carving knife, which BUZZES.
Just do what feels natural, dear.
Yes, the real ones. They said on Oprah that they got the idea from us. Everybody knows--
Debbie swings at him, cutting a gash across his torso. The cut reveals that he is, in fact, made of food. Sauce drips.
He takes off running, Barbie following close behind.
Chad turns on his BUZZING carving knife, and takes off after them while The Rat APPLAUDS.
INT. sPUNKY'S DINING ROOM - after the meal
The walls, floor, even the ceiling are splattered with bits of and fluids from Ken and Barbie, whose mutilated remains thrash slowly on the floor, running down like clockwork toys.
Debbie is sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. She has a fork in one hand, a STILL-BUZZING carving knife in the other, and a disconnected expression on her slack-jawed sauce-stained face.
Chad is at the buffet with The Rat, who is pouring the worm guy out of the now-empty tequila bottle. He hands the glass to Chad, then holds up his own glass.
Bottoms up!
They clink glasses, and Chad, with a stunned yet determined look on his face, gulps at the worm guy. The tail protrudes from his mouth, and as he sucks it up like spaghetti, a tiny hand and arm are forced from between his lips, and the tiny fist beats frantically until Chad bites down and, with great effort, swallows.
THE RAT (cont'd)
Well, that was lovely, wasn't it? Now. Let's talk business.

Glendon Mellow said...

This stuff is terrific.

Sean Craven said...

I'm going to try and do a post on a similar project -- only this one failed because of collaboration. It's a funny animal comic, may the Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy on my soul.

Unknown said...

Dark and comical stuff. (but then i think a guy being turned into a pattern on the wall by a rocket launcher is hilarious.) Keep this style of writing alive, heck you may even be able to write campaign stories for Cyberpunk:2020 in the future.

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