Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Beginning of TOONS: A Brief History of TOONS Pt 1

I'm always interested when authors talk about the origins of their work. My comedy series TOONS has a particularly complicated past, so I thought you might like to hear its journey. I'll be discussing how I came up with it, the path of writing, the problems I faced trying to get it published through traditional publishing, and how it ended up self-published. Part one, the birth of TOONS.

My comedy series TOONS began way back in the eighties with Wile E. Coyote. I'm a huge fan of the Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoons. I think I've seen every Warner Bros cartoon that's ever aired, and if there are any I haven't seen, I want to see them so I can finish the series.

Of all of the characters, the one who fascinated me the most is Wile E. Coyote. I think I love Wile E. for a lot of reasons. One, he's at heart an engineer who's dedicated to his craft. I also sympathized with his desperate quest, and always hoped to see him finally enjoy a nice roadrunner burger at the end of the cartoon. I also loved his crazy inventions that always went wrong.

More than anything, I found myself fascinated with the mystery of his character. Unlike Bugs or Daffy, we knew almost nothing about Wile E. Coyote other than when he stood on that road, trying to catch the Roadrunner. What did his house look like? How could he afford to get all the stuff he got from the Acme Corporation? Did he have a job? Why was he so focused on catching this one bird? Were all coyotes in the Warner Bros universe trying to catch roadrunners?

I also wondered about the Acme Corporation. Where were they? Why did they seem to build everything in the universe? We never saw Wile E. Coyote write a check and drop it in the mail, so it seemed like he didn't have to pay for anything. Did the Acme Corporation give everything away for free? And how did they manage to deliver mail so quickly?

As you can tell, I over-analzye things.

As I got older, I found myself imagining what it would be like to live in the world of cartoons. I came up with all these different rules and scenarios to explain the strange world they lived in. It occurred to me that they might all live on their own world, and cartoons are just recordings from that world. My ideas went beyond just Warner Bros. cartoons to other genres. Eventually, I decided that I would try to write a novel satirizing that world, something like what Douglas Adams (one of my biggest influences) had done with science fiction.

I vividly remember riding home on the train with a little notebook, jotting down notes on ideas for the story. The basic story came pretty quickly, but the world-building took a while. I remember writing down different words I could use to describe the creatures in my world. I had all sorts of names and words written down, but one seemed to jump out at me: "toons." Well, I actually wrote it with an apostrophe: "'toons," short for "cartoons." And that's how I came up with TOONS.

Of course, at this point, I know what you're thinking. "What about Roger Rabbit?" Well, that's a long story I'll have to save for part two.

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