The Apocrypha #6 – The Grundy/Bizarro Letters

By Uatu the Watcher
Visiting Professor Emeritus to DCUU

In 1978, at the bequest of criminal mastermind Lex Luthor and fashion-senseless android super-computer Brainiac, the Legion of Doom was formed as a villainous counterpoint to the Super Friends.  Charter members of this most blatant of organized crime cooperatives included arch nemeses of the Super Friends team, villains with comparable powers to the heroes, and a few purely sympathetic choices.  From powerhouses of like Sinestro to inexplicably successful criminals like Toyman, the Legion’s roster was all over the map.  Within this unlikely mix were two villains who had never previously worked together but instantly found a common bond with their pasty complexions and poor grammar – Bizarro and Solomon Grundy.

The monstrous Grundy gravitated instantly to the angularly chiseled Bizarro at the first meeting of the newly formed Legion.  Headquartered in swampland purchased by Grundy after a particularly successful crime spree, the retrofitted flying saucer that Brainiac had lying around his workshop would prove to be more than a meeting place of the malevolent and repetitive establishing shots.  It would serve as the catalyst for an enduring friendship.  However, this did not mean that said friendship was not without its drama.  The Justice League recently declassified a variety of documents which included the documents confiscated from many super-villains.  Pre-production researchers for documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ upcoming exploration of the Super Friends, “Super”, uncovered and reconstructed correspondence between Solomon Grundy and Bizarro that was found among the captured papers.

Florentine Films have graciously shared these documents with The Apocrypha which are reprinted here for the enjoyment and edification of our readers.  For the purpose of clarity, these letters, written between November 1978 and August 1979, are printed with Grundy’s letters in green and Bizarro’s in red.

I hope it okay I call you Biz… 

Grundy happy to meet you at anti-Super-Friends meeting.  Shock of mistaking you for Superman wore off soon and Grundy feel safer to talk to you.  There not things in common with other villains in group.  Bizarro funny, like backward Superman.  No laughs for Grundy in long time. 

See you at next villain meeting.  If ever in swamp, look Grundy up.  Old shed by tree in front of bubbling geyser.


I do not remember you at all.  I hated meeting you with your face that reminded me nothing of my own.  You seem like someone I could really be enemies with in a small way.  I really found it uninteresting the way you speak with such perfect grammar and diction

I would hate to visit your swamp home.  I have always hated such places and yours sounds like the worst.  You are the most boring hero I have ever met!

Hope to never see you at a meeting,

P.S. Don’t ever call me Biz.

Sorry to offend.  Took big liberty calling you Biz.  Grundy confused by your letter.  Realize my command of language limited, but striving for improvement through tutoring and daily language exercises.  Most of time Grundy lapses back to bad use of English. 

Still thrown by your letter.  Seemed like Bizarro and Grundy make good friends, maybe team up in future to destroy Green Lantern and Superman.  Outcasts need stick together.  Obvious Luthor only invite us to Doom Legion for being strong.  Grundy not one to give up easy, just ask Green Lantern.  Any of them.  Or Justice Society.  Or guy that used to live in shed in swamp.  But Grundy digress.  Giving friendship second chance, does Bizarro want same?


Now I understand you completely, without question.  Last time you call me Biz, which clearly is not okay as was not said in my letter.  Then you further enlighten me with your eloquence and clarity in your reply.  I can tell exactly where you got the ideas you speak of in your missive.

Now that I have been able to make perfect sense of your words I want even less to do with you than ever.  You could well be the worst possible enemy for me.  The kind of enemy I would not have spent my life hoping not to find.  Difficultly put, I hate you already. 

Don’t write back ever,

See what I didn't do there?

If Grundy had patience it would be pushed to breaking point.  At last Legion meeting you hung around and joked and talked like old friend.  But letter say you want nothing to do with Grundy.  Confusion is order of day here.

It is difficult enough to be Grundy and have almost no friend.  Bizarro says one thing, means another.  If feelings were something Grundy had at disposal they would be hurt.  If friends then friends, if just working together to smash Super Friends that just as good.  Some of Legion don’t like Grundy and feeling is mutual.  Can’t understand why guys think Giganta hot.  Kind of plain to Grundy’s eyes.  And unnerving when growing big like Super Friend Chief.  Grundy never get used to that.  Is against nature!

Grundy is nothing if not patient.  Hard to believe given Grundy’s penchant for flying into fits of uncontrolled rage and decidedly out-of-character moments of clarity and eloquence, especially when penning correspondence like this particular specimen.  So, before this latest such incarnation should fade, I wish to extend another opportunity to reconcile the dichotomy of your past writings which stand in stark contrast to your recent behavior in person.  To that end Grundy not know what Grundy just wrote.  Must end writing now.  Hear old foe Green Lantern flying over swamp.  Want to throw dead trees at him and yell.

Solomon Aloysius Grundy
Gentleman of the Bayou

Again, Grundy not understand words clearly written by Grundy himself!

Just how smart are you?  How often do I need to difficultly write nothing before you understand how little I care about you.  I have never wanted an enemy like you in my entire existence.  I tried ignoring you at the meetings and that helped.  Or so I didn't think.  Then the postman did not leave your latest letter and I see that I made my point well.

This back and forth is so very welcome.  There are simply words for how certain everything is to me when you write.  I understand what is right with you, that much is uncertain.  I disagree with your desire to attempt to build the enmity between us, I really don’t care.

I will be avoiding you at every opportunity and you shouldn't do likewise.  Enemies is what we are, enemies and less.

With a lack of sincerity,

Editors Note:  It is at this point that a gap of one and a half months occurred in the flow of Bizarro and Grundy’s ongoing correspondence.  Originally this was taken to be the result of some of the original letters being lost or simply not in the possession of either super-villain when they were incarcerated.  The Florentine Films researchers, however, found through meticulous inquiry that the pause in communication between the two occurred during a time that Bizarro was frozen into the side of a glacier near the Fortress of Solitude and Grundy was languishing in an inert state between physical destruction and inevitable regeneration.  The letters resume briefly when each was again back in action.

I know it has been a short time since I didn't write.  I wasn't frozen in ice during the summer and thawed free just this winter.  Superman needs to keep his headquarters where it is so I don’t ever freeze my ass off when leaving him alone!

Now that I am my new frozen self, I don’t want to reestablish contact.  I don’t care what you have been up to.  I don’t ever want to see you or hear your name unspoken.

Enemies never,

I must admit that I too have been grossly indisposed for some considerable period of time.  Green Lantern, bemused by my use of decayed foliage as missiles some time ago, saw fit to scoop me up within an energy sphere and transfer me into the custody of one of the prisons suited to those with powers beyond those of mortal men like myself.  During this latest period of incarceration I feigned interest in rehabilitation so effectively that scrutiny of my person by my jailers lapsed and I was able to formulate a plan to reestablish my liberty and return to my swamp and service within  the Legion of Doom.

While this imprisonment did afford me the opportunity to enroll in speech and diction classes at the State’s expense, to great personal gain I might add, my focus never strayed from my intense desire to escape those who would hold me in their sway.  Alas, my bid for freedom was cut short by a laser cannon array installed by the prison after such time as the schematics I had been utilizing to plan my escape were drawn up, and I, yet again, found myself dead in action.

While I have made my standard return to the realm of the living and journeyed back to the swamps, I have suffered a crushing disappointment in discovering that the old headquarters has been abandoned and that the Super Friends are now known as the Super Powers and are concentrating on staving off advancements toward Earth by the forces of Darkseid.  This not withstanding, you should know that I stumbled on a dossier that Lex had compiled about you that was most enlightening.  I have been able to make sense of your seemingly random missives and realized that your disdain was in fact respect, your hatred love, and any expressed desire to see me, as you once put it at a meeting, “pulped and ground into a fine white paste” to in fact be your hope that I was in good health.

With this new found understanding of your unique approach to self-expression I sincerely believe that we shall be the best of friends.  Or perhaps I should say, the worst of enemies.  To this end I suggest we make team to fight all heroes that are found.  It seem Grundy, lacking constant reinforcement of grammar stuff from jail school now lapsing back into my Neanderthal-like means of talk.

Grundy want to meet soon to plan on smashing ex-Super Friends!


I hated to hear that you had lived only to wind up dead again.  It is terrible to have you around.  I don’t look forward to seeing you now that the Legion of Doom headquarters is open.  That was good news and most expected.  I know exactly what I will do from now on! 

I don’t like your stupid idea for parting company so we can show the Super Friends how much we love them.  Without you in my corner I can have the hardest time helping my friends that I want to see alive and well.  I would hate it if Batman were safely away from my clutches and without your help it is uncertain I will fail.  Batman is the strongest and most dangerous to me, so he must be the last on my list.

Don’t look for me in your swamp lair next week.  I have no plans to build the old headquarters now that it is fully occupied.  It makes me so happy that the rest of the Doomers told us all about the plans to move in to the headquarters.  It makes me want to fix up the place in the best way!  I hope you won’t join me in the construction I don’t have planned.


Trashing the old HQ really helped put Grundy back on the top of game.  Next day fight with Wonder Woman and that stupid purple monkey saw Grundy nearly winner.  Was still on high from smashing up Luthor’s precious laboratory and Brainiac’s favorite computer.  Why he call computer “son”, have no idea.  Stupid Christmas-light head green man!  He think smart, Grundy think dumb to leave big headquarters behind in swamp.  Left note that say, “We destroy your Doom house! – Super Friends”.  That make Luthor real mad Grundy bet!

Grundy realize we forgot discuss team-up to kill Super Friends.  Will visit your Plaza of Cacophony in desert soon.  We make that Legion of Grundy and Bizarro base and start hunting down Super Friends starting with Batman as Bizarro suggest in last letter.


Dearest Mr. Grundy,
Enclosed please find a map to my Plaza of Cacophony.  Your concept of using my sanctum sanctorum as a headquarters from which to launch strikes at our enemies was nothing short of brilliant.  I look forward to beginning a fruitful partnership that will see us at last revenged upon those who have wronged us for so very long.

(Editor’s note:  the above was type written with Bizarro’s handwriting following.  The reason for the abrupt change in both grammar and syntax and the nature of committing the thoughts to paper is made clear by the first handwritten sentence.)

I had to start the secretary I kidnapped from not writing more.  The less she wrote the less confused I got at how perfectly she took my dictation.  I can wait for you to get here and not plan for anything we don’t want to do to our best friends.  They will be thrilled when we come to make them not pay.  There will be so much to forget!

Don’t ever come here,

And thus ended the correspondence between these two villainous powerhouses.  As planned, Bizarro and Grundy pooled their resources and enjoyed some early victories in their campaign to destroy the super-heroes who had prevented their past schemes from being successful.  Quite full of themselves, the pair soon began to take credit for the conquests of other villains.  Despite being nowhere near the locales of major events in super-heroics, Bizarro vehemently claimed (or in his case quietly denied) having beaten Superman to death in (1992) and similarly Grundy was known to insinuate that he was Bane and subsequently the author of Batman’s crippling spinal injury (c. 1993). 

Other outrageous claims included Grundy’s assertion that he had bitten off Aquaman’s right hand and Bizarro’s insistence that he had discovered the Anti-Life Equation, though he flatly ignored a summons to Apokolips to present his findings to Darkseid.  Ultimately the two found themselves ostracized by the criminal fraternity and seemed destined to obscurity when the Infinite Crisis struck and they retroactively found themselves comfortably reestablished in the “New 52” universe.

"Invent me some waterproof paper and I'll be happy to write!"

The Apocrypha #5; Classical Cars (or How I Learned to Stop Hating on Disney/Pixar’s “Cars”)

by JediCole

Sometimes a conversation with a friend about nothing in particular can prove the catalyst for something cathartic.  Such was the case when I was talking with Andrew Farmer prior to recording an episode of our weekly series Hey Kids, Comics! about a month ago.  Perhaps due in no small part to the impending release of Disney’s latest bid to milk an inorganic cash cow, Planes, the personally reviled animated feature Cars insinuated itself into the conversation.

Reviled may be too harsh a word to apply to a film I have never seen and have little inclination to ever see should providence insure I must never be forced into such an unexpected screening.  More accurately I find no appeal in the concept beyond an opportunity to extrapolate on the logic-threatening nature of a world peopled by autonomous automobiles.  I have certainly delighted in my exaggerated questioning of the physiology and life cycle of such entities, not to mention the patently impossible nature of the mundane aspects of their day to day lives such as construction and governance.  But such explorations into the minutia of what is wrong with the core concept behind Cars is not the purpose of this article.   In fact my intention is not to further vilify the fuel-injected denizens of Radiator Springs, but rather to deify them.

What came about in this pre-show conversation was the inspiration for two related features for your enjoyment here at The JediCole Universe that share a common thread.  While questioning the nature of the airborne in a realm of largely earthbound creatures as suggested by the latest incarnation of the Cars franchise, I began to see a previously unrealized connection between those animated autos and the Autobots.  Could Mater have been a rejected product of Cybertron?  Is it possible that the Transformers represent the pinnacle of evolution for the cars, trucks, boats, and aircraft of the realm portrayed in CG animated form on the silver screen?  Was there a connection between these two portrayals of anthropomorphic vehicles?  This certainly bore further investigation.

Initially my thoughts took me to an inevitable place as we were warming up for a discussion of comic books, the crossover!  What has become more a part of the comic publisher’s bag of tricks than the mash up of one property versus another?  Granted, this chestnut existed on screen long before it became a staple of printed serial fiction (think Frankenstein Meets Dracula; c. 1957) and persists to this day, but comics have held fast to this technique as well.  From the 1976 treasury-sized Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man to the trend-launching Aliens vs. Predator, the cross-property crossover has become almost commonplace.  Suddenly the thought of a Cars vs. Transformers mini-series seemed at least a possibility.  1994 saw the highly improbably Archie Meets the Punisher after all!  But such a cooperative effort between the two hit properties is  unlikely given that, to my thinking, Lightning McQueen and company would perceive the abilities of the Transformers as something akin to a human being watching another person turn himself inside out and utilize his kidneys as boxing gloves or something equally disconcerting.  Thus was this week’s JCU Sunday Funnies inspired. 

Absent such a crossover event my Ever-Ticking Brain was left to further struggle with the nature of Cars and the tantalizing potential of tying their universe to that of the Decepticons and Autobots.  Oddly enough I had never been as bothered by the Transformers’ bizarre Energon-centric culture or even that alien automatons should by miraculous coincidence happen to passably resemble the creations of Earthly engineers and designers.  Somehow this always made a perverse kind of sense in the way that McQueen and friends failed to do in any conceivable fashion.  Perhaps this was a product of the Transformers being presented as robots (albeit in disguise) rather than some sort of established civilization with no adequately explored origins.  And then I found the reconciliation that had long eluded me.  I found a way to make sense of Cars(and even Planes) in a way that meshed perfectly with the self-aware car/boat/airplane/tank/triceratops-shaped androids of Cybertron.  A discovery that would elevate Lightning, Sally, Mater, and even Ramon to godhood.

Simply put, Cars is the Bullfinches Mythology of  the Transformers universe.  The plots of the three feature films and all other video productions and books produced for this franchise are simply the recounting of the ancient myths and legends of Cybertron.  In the classical civilization of the Transformers, early robots worshiped a pantheon of god-like transportation methods from the young demigod Lightning McQueen to the Titan known as Finn McMissle, aspects of their world were embodied by their deities.  While this once thriving religion is now reduced to folklore, Autobot and Decepticon alike have imprinted on their memory banks the adventures and machinations of the gods and heroes of a bygone era.  The archaic tales are not only preserved but are also part of the very fabric of Cybertronian society to this day.  The constellations Ripslinger, Sarge, Mater, and Crabby the Boat are familiar to even Dinobots.  The etymology of the word “shiftwell” is traced to the godess Holly Shiftwell of Transformer myth.  Some Decepticons have even been known to have images of such legendary figures as Chick Hicks painted on their fuselage before going into battle.  These cited examples are just a few of many that illustrate the influence of the Classics on contemporary Transformer culture. 

So it is with no shortage of amazement I find myself at last discovering a way to reconcile all of my previous doubts concerning the viability of the world in which Cars takes place.  By couching their universe in the antiquated past of that of The Transformers I have reconciled one of the most troubling pop culture mysteries that have plagued me in years past.  As the legends of Cybertron I find comfort and reconciliation in the existence of Lightning McQueen and his ilk.  Furthermore I can lend a further depth to a society of robots that took their ongoing struggle to the very doorstep of mankind, bringing with them a piece of their ancestry.  So it was that these myths, altered and made more approachable to humans, would give Walt Disney Productions a surefire hit with kids and adults.  A hit that I can accept more readily than I ever imagined possible.

For the further edification of the reader The JediCole Universe is proud to offer an abridged glossary of the Cybertronian pantheon as translated from Sproketus’ The Motorworks and Days.

Lightning McQueen – Demigod.  A common Car elevated to the pantheon due to his heroics and embodiment of speed and perseverance.  God of fuel-injection credited with bringing six cylinders to the world.  Considered father of the Nascardian gods.  
Classical Analogue: Zeus, Prometheus, and Heracles

Sally Carrera – Goddess of beauty and justice.  Wife to Lightning McQueen after his ascension to the throne of Nascardia.
Classical Analogue: Hera and Aphrodite

Mater – God of maintenance.  Mater was the ever-present aide to the higher pantheon.  Part healer, part servant, part engineer. 
Classical Analogue: Hephaestus

Sarge – God of war.  The gruff and officious patron of both primeval Autobot and Decepticon factions. 
Classical Analogue: Ares

Holly Shiftwell – Goddess of weaponry.  Credited in myth with teaching Transformers to create missiles, lasers, and rocket-propelled fists.
Classical Analogue: Diana

Leadbottom – God of agriculture.  The cropdusting plane brought plant life to prehistoric Cybertron for the benefit of earthmoving and land-clearing ancient Autobots.
Classical Analogue: Ceres

Ramon – God of style.  In the ancient world it was believed that Ramon transformed Transformers from bleak, primer-gray entities to the stylish multi-colored robots seen to this day.
Classical Analogue: Apollo

Ripslinger – God of the Overworld.   In the traditions of the ancients, upon their demise Transformers would “roll out” of the physical world and their core programming would download to the Overworld, an afterlife realm for robots.  While often depicted as vile in the legends, Ripslinger was the caretaker of the realm of the deceased and determined which level of the parking garage like afterlife Cybertronians would occupy for eternity.
Classical Analogue: Hades

Cole "JediCole" Houston is a freelance Texas-based writer and recovering Cars hater who feels that the autocentric franchise is the bone claws of Disney/Pixar.  Through intense study of Cybertronic folklore he has come to the realization that it could be worse, Disney could green light Percy Jackson and the Lightning McQueen Thief, an ill-advised meshing of the concepts expressed above and Grand Theft Auto.

The Apocrypha #4 - Can You Hear the Muppets Sing?

by Mr. Johnson
Charlie's Restaurant, Sesame Street

In 2011 Walt Disney Pictures released The Muppets, a return to the big screen (and the public eye) of Jim Henson’s timeless creations.  While the underlying plotline of the film, a struggle to save a beloved “fill-in-the-blank” from the machinations of an evil business man, has been one of the most grossly overused chestnuts in children’s entertainment (The Three Stooges, Dudley Do-Right, The Little Rascals – the list goes on and on), there were those who decried the film as propaganda that fostered a sentiment of class warfare in the minds of its youthful viewers.  While seemingly a stretch, the sociopolitical climate at the time bred such levels of paranoia that anything remotely suggestive of a threat to the status quo was attacked with fervor.  Just over a year later Universal Pictures released Les Miserables, the cinematic adaptation of the musical theatrical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s greatest work that was once lesser known than The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Despite its every attempt to veritably cram class warfare down the throats of its audience, this particular social commentary super-charged movie received not so much as a raised eyebrow!

Alarmed by the combined commercial success and absence of backlash enjoyed by this Academy Award nominated tour de force of social unrest, Disney immediately sought the rights to produce their own adaptation of the popular musical – A Muppet Les Miserables!  What follows are recently leaked details on the production which is slated for a Christmas 2013 release.  Special thanks to our Ain’t It Cool News-like band of studio spies who managed to dodge a gauntlet of Disney security, both human and hand-puppet, to deliver this story.  No Bothans died to bring us this information; however we are sad to report that one did pass away from having mistakenly eaten a bowl of Hunger Games berries for breakfast.

In what is likely to be considered the most startling development of this production, there is not a single human actor making a cameo in this film.  This is a unique first for Muppet movies that may have fans crying foul.  From The Muppet Movie (1979) straight through to The Muppets (2011), films of this beloved property have starred at least one human lead and been replete with cameo appearances by B to N-list celebrities.  The producers of this outing have reportedly invoked 1982’s The Dark Crystal as proof positive that a Muppet-centric film can be a box office powerhouse.  How well Muppet Les Miserables will fare absent the Fantasy Island/Love Boat casting appeal of past incarnations remains to be seen.  

Until then, enjoy this report on the casting of the most socially relevant Muppet cinematic excursion since Muppets From Space

Muppet Les Miserables
Walt Disney Pictures
Christmas 2013

Gonzo as Jean Valjean/Monsieur Madeleine
The much plagued hero who finds nobility in the midst of proving himself the worthless thief that 18th century French jurisprudence had rightfully branded him is given ironic new life in the form of a Whatever. 

While seemingly odd casting, Gonzo lends the role its requisite humility while juxtaposing his slight form against the character’s immense physical strength.  Producers reasoned that like Chewbacca, his gangly exterior masks powerful sinews and raw muscle power that is not obvious at first glace.  Gonzo’s countenance, a permanent expression of exasperation and confusion, ideal for conveying Valjean’s lot in life, also played a role in putting the often underrated Muppet to the forefront of this tale. 

Beaker, Swedish Chef, Beauregard, Zoot, and Whatnots as Prisoner Chorus at Bagne Prison
Background and extras roles are the staples of any Muppet cinematic outing, and Muppet Les Miserables is no exception.  As the film opens, a disheveled and downtrodden Gonzo takes center stage amidst a collection of imprisoned Muppets pressed into service by the State.  Familiar faces abound as incarcerated workers toil in the blistering noonday sun, chipping the stone walls of an imposing quarry with the prison walls visible in the background. 

In brief solos, Beaker peevishly begs for the welcome release of death and the Swedish Chef declares that his love will patiently await his inevitable release, both to the discouraging refrains of dirge-like responses from their fellow prisoners.  Producers admit that placing largely incoherent Muppets in the mood-setting initial scene was a deliberate attempt to “inject a little of the trademark Muppet Show humor into the weighty subject matter of a forced labor camp.”  

Kermit the Frog as Inspector Javer
In a striking turn of casting against type, the affable Kermit lends unmistakable irony to the role of the obsessive and officious policeman.  Citing the amphibian’s ability to maintain focus when all around him was collapsing into utter chaos during every single episode of The Muppet Show, director Tim Burton defended his choice of Kermit in such a pivotal role.  Burton did confirm early rumors that Sam the Eagle was an early contender, but an urgent letter from the Department of Homeland Security expressing concerns that the iconic felt and feather jingoist cast in the role of a French national might reopen the rift in Franco-American relations that had gone the way of freedom fries in recent years.

Many in Hollywood have drawn comparisons to casting the face of Muppetdom in such a powerful role with Tim Burton’s decision to hand the cape and cowl of Batman to an actor best known at the time as “Mr. Mom”.  While theatre mavens are likely to complain that Kermit has no place in such a profound musical, producers of Muppet Les Miserables are confident that the sight of Javer effecting the frog’s trademark hard swallow as he prepares to fall to his death in the Sine will sway even the staunchest naysayers.   

Fozzie Bear as the Bishop of Digne
Amid the tragic circumstances that lead a beleaguered Valjean into the graces of the Bishop, the wacky antics of Fozzie offers the audience a welcome  respite. 

While the slapstick nature of this comical bear is toned down considerably, the production does take advantage of this unusual casting choice.  From a cassock that subtly suggests Fozzie’s polka dot pattern tie to the rubber chicken-shaped silver candlesticks gifted to the ex-convict upon his return to the abbey, a number of decidedly tongue-in-cheek flourishes instill the crucial scene with whimsy.  Furthermore, much of the Bishop’s singing is punctuated by oddly appropriate pronouncements of,  “Wakka wakka wakka!”

Pepe the King Prawn as the Arresting Officer (Abbey Scene)
While slight compared to most Muppets, the enthusiastic crustacean is commanding in his brief interlude escorting a thieving Valjean to face the judgment of the trusting holy man.  Producers felt that Pepe’s uncanny ability to convey a range of emotions, mostly varied species of bemusement, made him an ideal choice.

Annie Sue as Fontene
While technically younger than the Muppet’s most famous pig, Annie Sue was chosen to portray this vital character due to the similarities between the two Muppets. 

Seen as a means to get Annie Sue more actively in front of fans, this challenging role has proven none too difficult for the starlet wannabe.  According to eyewitnesses on the set her performance was so moving that boxes of tissues were commonplace off camera.  From the character’s expulsion from the factory that was the livelihood of herself and her daughter to her moving death scene in the arms of a contrite Valjean, an Oscar-worthy portrayal was delivered by a performer who will be patently ineligible for such an honor.  Annie Sue’s puppeteer was quoted as saying, “Now I really know how Andy Serkis feels!”

Sweetums as the Factory Foreman
The boorish foreman is given tremendous presence in the factory scene, towering over the rest of the cast including his charges.

While brief, the role does move the course of Fantine’s life, so producers wanted a character who would mke the scene that much more memorable.  Removing Sweetums from  his traditional characterization of a simpleton to that of a no-nonsense worker who feels slighted by having his advances dismissed serves to convey the atmosphere desired.  Many at Disney are calling this is a turning point in the career of the man-sized Muppet.

Camilla and Hens as the Factory Workers
Camilla heads up the troupe of busy-bodied factory workers as the jealous lover of the foreman in the crucial scene that places Fontene in he hands of cruel fate.  In the fashion of contemporary opera, the clucked lyrics of the scene are conveyed to the audience in subtitles. 

Omagrossa as the Crone
The one-off Grouch from a single episode of Sesame Street appears briefly to offer Fantine a pittance for her necklace.

Miss Maxwell  as the Old Lady
The bookish mouse of Bear in the Big Blue House fame has a brief cameo convincing Fantine to sell her long blonde locks in song. 

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew as Bamatabois
The brutish “gentleman” who assaults Fantine and demands her arrest when Javert enters the scene is masterfully portrayed by the affable scientist.  In another example of ironic role reversal, Honeydew is remarkably well suited for this particular character’s brief moment on screen.  Test audiences found his delivery of the lyrics, “It’s the same for the whore as it is for the grocer!  The customer sees what the customer gets!” to be strangely delightful.

Dr. Teeth and Janice as Monsieur and Madame Thenardier
Who better to conjure up the outrageous innkeepers than one of the most colorful Muppets in the troupe?  Dr. Teeth brings his trademark bombast to the whimsical scenes of comic relief while Janet provides an understated counterpart. 

Director Tim Burton makes exquisite use of the flamboyant showman, muting his color palette in his initial scenes to juxtapose his more humble attire against the psychedelic finery he comes to sport at the Pontmercy-Madeliene wedding.  Even Teeth’s famous gold tooth plays a role, obtained in the sewers below Saint Michele from the corpse of a fallen Muppet during the “Dog Eats Dog” number.

Janice, it is reported, has surprised even the casting director, belting out stunning counterpoints to her on-screen husband’s claims during “Master of the House”, the first set piece to be filmed when principle photography began in February.  “She really did Jim proud!”, became a catch phrase repeated on set throughout a week of grueling takes.

Miss Piggy as Cosette Madeleine

Utilizing both the Muppet Babies and traditional incarnations of the porcine femme fatale, Miss Piggy takes on the challenging role of Valjean’s adopted daughter.  

Early call sheets reportedly had Piggy in the vital role of Fontene, but both the director and the studio felt that she was too powerful a performer to be limited to a first act performance alone.  With the fanciful younger form of the character well established since 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper, Miss Piggy proved a natural fit to take on both the child and young adult roles of the hapless illegitimate orphan.  Screen tests shown to focus group audience were found to be so moving that the decision was finalized and Piggy began filming Cosette’s wedding to Marius within a week.  

Prairie Dawn as Young Eponine
On loan from Sesame Street for the production, the veteran Muppet acts as the counterpoint to the waifish baby Miss Piggy in subplot developing scenes at the inn owned by the Thenardiers

Robin the Frog as Gavroche
The youngest of the Friends of the ABC, the Dickensian street urchin is portrayed with aplomb by Kermit the Frog’s diminutive nephew.  

A child of the slums, Gavroche acts as a youthful everyman (or everyMuppet) to introduce the conditions under which the poor and oppressed of Saint Michele labor.  And he further serves to add an indelible layer of poignancy to the fate of the student revolution when he is gunned down in cold blood while seeking to supply his comrades with much needed cartridge boxes.  Preproduction notes leaked last month suggest that Rizzo was originally considered for the role, but producers felt that Robin’s inherently adorable nature would give the character’s murder in cold blood by French troops even great weight to audiences.

Rizzo and Rats as Urchins and Orphans of San Michele
Accompanying Gavroche as he leads audiences through his poverty-ridden neighborhood is a mischief of rats led by the ever-present Rizzo.  The simplicity of their form allows a large population to be performed by a handful puppeteers, providing a savings to the budget-heavy production.

Walter as Enjorlas
The newest Muppet to take center stage, Walter proved himself in the lead puppet role of 2011’s The Muppets.  It is little wonder given his acting and musical talents that he was hand picked to appear as the leader of the band of students known as the Friends of the ABC.
Where in his cinematic debut Walter questioned his status as man or Muppet, in this stirring role he asks of his fellow non-humans, “is this just a game for rich young boys to play?”  With the future of his beloved country at stake, this bold Muppet leads the vanguard against French troops determined to put down the revolution and restore the poor and downtrodden to their former state of quiet desolation. 

Scooter as Marius Pontmercy
The no-nonsense stage manager of the gaffe-plagued Muppet Show is ideally cast as the lovelorn Marius.  His commitment to the revolutionary cause is distracted by a whirlwind romance with a woman he fell for after a passing encounter of less than five seconds.

With his patient demeanor and the scholarly air implicit in his nerdy spectacles, the self-effacing young Muppet makes bold strides as the first new love interest for Miss Piggy since she broke into super-stardom in 1976!   While the studio initially rejected the casting given the character’s eventual marriage scene, a test reel of Marius pining over Cosette proved more than ample to sway even the staunchest detractors.

Wanda as Eponine
With a female population not much greater than that of the Smurfs, finding ample Muppets of the fairer sex proved difficult for casting directors. 

Called out of relative obscurity, the female half of the ill-fated duo Wayne and Wanda provides a compelling portrayal of the conniving daughter of a family of crooks who’s love of Marius leads her to find compassion while becoming one corner of a love triangle of which her would-be love is oblivious.  His realization comes too late but adds poignancy to their tragic duet before Eponine succumbs to a combination of a musket ball to the abdomen and a falling spotlight to the head.   

Friends of the ABC
Clifford as Combeferne
The bulk of the Muppets portraying freedom fighters at the barricade are culled from the ranks of Muppets Tonight.  The hipster proved an ideal choice to be second in command of the student warriors siding with the oppressed people of France.

Floyd Pepper as Jean Prouvaire
The flag waving revolutionary of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” is lent additional screen presence in the form of the most eye-catching member of the Electric Mayhem aside from the band’s front man. 

Bobo the Bear as Fleuilly
The non-student member of the Friends of the ABC is brilliantly portrayed by this humble ursine, clearly representing the common man in the impending struggle.

Johnny Fiama as Coufeyrac
The womanizing student siding with the cause of the people is brilliantly cast in the form of the stylish crooner. 

Animal as Grantaire
The boorish and drunken member of the inner circle of the Friends of the ABC is masterfully portrayed by the Electric Mayhem’s uncontrollable drummer.  His ever-present drumsticks are replaced by a flintlock pistol and a wine bottle.

Rowlf the Dog as Joly
Speculation abounds that Rowlf’s part in Les Miserables as the hypochondriac medical student is little more than typecasting based on the long-running “Veterinarian’s Hospital” segment of The Muppet Show.

Seymour as Lesgles
The sizeable elephant bellhop becomes a student revolutionary with minimal alterations to his bellhop’s uniform in this cuddly adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic.

Thenardier’s Gang
Farmer Lardpork as Brujon
Unseen since his appearance in Muppet Musicians of Bremen (c. 1972), the brutish Lardpork is the muscle of the gang.

Behemoth as Babot
The friendly exterior of his massive Muppet mingles well with the impending menace of Thenardier’s scheme to extort the much-plagued Valjean.

Banana Nose Maldonado as Claquesous
As obscure as he is culpable, the tropical fruit-faced criminal was a given when casting began for this minor role.

Big Mean Carl as Montparnasse
Rounding out the vile assembly, this traditional Muppet monster gives the group a foreboding screen presence.

Muppet Cameos
A puppeteer who worked on the production during what was described as “a Muppet-heavy week”, and spoke under condition of anonymity, reported that a number of Muppets not commonly seen were utilized as extras and background characters in a variety of set piece shots.  Among these were a variety of Koozebane aliens, cows from The Muppet Show, Uncle Travelling Matt (Fraggle Rock), Blotch (Kermit’s Swamp Years), and Big Bird.  Saturday Night Live’s King Ploobis and Scred were said to have been visible at the barricade and the sharp-eyed should be able to spot The Mighty Favog acting as set dressing at the wedding feast in the role of  a fountain.  A number of penguins can also be found milling about the background of that scene.

Statler and Waldorf
Fans of the acerbic pair fear not, they have not been left out of the proceedings!  The bellicose hecklers provide running commentary throughout the film in the form of prison guards (Work Song), Abbey priests (Valjean Arrested, Valjean Forgiven), road-weary travelers (Master of the House), and residents of the Saint Michelle slums (Do You Hear the People Sing) to name but a few of their cameos. 

While most of the gags are being filmed on closed sets to be added to the film in post production, two distinct interactions have leaked to the entertainment press.  Following the conclusion of the innkeeper’s introductory number the pair are seen peeking out of a room in the inn where one admonishes, “I told you we should have gone to the Super 8!”, followed by a shared laugh.  The second such scene, filmed only this week, involved the two Muppets throwing furniture from a second story window to student revolutionaries building the barricade.  Waldorf says to Statler, “Why are we tossing out all of this great furniture?”, to which his companion replies, “Because this isn’t our house!”  Again, their trademark wicked laughter ensues.

Photo smuggled from the set shows Javer contemplating suicide.
One prevailing concern expressed by many who have seen the leaked script and casting is the apparent lack of human stars.  From The Muppet Show straight through the cinematic career of these endearing puppets there have always been human co-stars with whom these endearing puppets can interact.  Insiders have indicated that the director felt that the scope of the production demanded a full Muppet cast devoid of human co-stars.  This despite a threatened lawsuit on the part of the Screen Actors Guild demanding that a number of their members be allowed to appear in the feature.  In the end the decision was made to go full-Muppet after negotiations with SAG reached an agreeable conclusion.  

“Besides”, said one Disney executive who asked to remain nameless, “If it worked for The Dark Crystal there is no reason it won’t work for Muppet Les Miserables!

The Apocrypha #3 - The Cave Man of Steel

Editorial Note: This edition of The Apocrypha was to have been published on Sunday, November 11.  That it failed to be thus is typical of how things happen when the staff of The Apocrypha are given a deadline.  Despite this grevious error in timing, the headline banner has been published with the original scheduled date unchanged.  This will serve as a reminder to our staff that timeliness is key and to our readers that The Apocrypha is about as half-assed an operation as you are likely to find in the world. 
                               Captain Theodore Vincent MacHornberger III (CTVM3) - publisher, The Apocrypha

The Cave Man of Tomorrow
By Joe Rockhead
In 2001, Warner Brothers reinvented the Superman mythos, though certainly not for the first time, with their hit television series Smallville.  Previous television shows like Superboy and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman put their own unique spin on the Man of Steel, however there was a certain ABC show in the 60s that served as a pathfinder for all of these programs.  In 1963, early into its fourth season, the Hanna Barbera-produced prime time cartoon The Flintsones debuted the first televised retelling of Superman’s origin.  A groundbreaking  move that went unnoticed for nearly a decade!

Hanna Barbera was notorious for borrowing themes and characters from other creators, retooling them, and calling it original.  From the Sgt. Bilko-inspired Top Cat to their more famous, and far more contentious, Honeymooners rip-off, The Flintstones, this little animation studio made a name for themselves that persists to this day.  Secure in having successfully avoided a threatened lawsuit from Jackie Gleason, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera next set their sights on DC Comics for inspiration.  And with flagship character Superman still basking in the limelight, the character’s back story must have seemed ripe for the picking.

But what connection does the “modern Stone Age family” have to “the last son of Krypton”?  The story of a mysterious orphan with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men being adopted by an amiable and childless couple to be raised as a normal human being of course!  Or proto-human being depending on the epoch in question.  And so it is that, like his contemporary counterpart, the Cro-Magnon Kryptonian known as Bam-Bam shares an early history that mirrors that of Kal-El.  

Strange Visitor
While not as dramatic as the planet fall of his comic book cousin, Bam-Bam’s arrival in Bedrock would be no less impactful.  Abandoned on the front porch of the Rubble house in a tortoise shell cradle, the baby boy was a blessing to the Flintstone’s infertile neighbors.  Initially mistaken for “another basket full of kittens” in exactly the way the infant Kal-El’s unearthly conveyance was not, Bam-Bam was a welcome addition to Barney and Betty’s lives.  So overwhelmed were the couple by there unexpected bundle of joy, they were completely unbothered by the child’s inexplicable superior strength.

At least, like the Kents, the Rubbles had to make the adoption of the abandoned child official.  Unlike their counterparts they faced a legal battle with prehistoric one-percenter Mr. Stonyfeller who presented a prior claim on the boy.  Represented as he was by the highly successful Perry Masonary, the couple lost the custody battle and very nearly their bid at parenthood.  While they certainly could have elected to pursue more traditional avenues of adoption, fate smiled upon them when Mrs. Stonyfeller proved not to be barren after all.  Upon discovering that he would have a true blood heir, the wealthy Bedrock resident retracted his custody claim and averted potential class warfare.

Whether Stonyfeller was aware of Bam-Bam’s potential like some prototype of the Luthors of Smallville is uncertain, but within the confines of a single prime-time episode, Bam-Bam became a Rubble for all time.  And it was under the care of his newfound parents that he began to exhibit the preternatural strength that would be his childhood trademark.  Much like the infant Superman-to-be, Bam-Bam’s was known for incredible feats that were beyond the capacity of even the most powerful adult, like lifting his father’s automobile and placing it within the garage.  Plus he had the personal liability-inducing habit of hurling Fred Flintstone bodily to the floor from one side of himself to the other. 

Powers and Abilities
Unlike Clark Kent’s adoptive parents, Bam-Bam’s openly reveled in the unique nature of their son.  Given the level of social sophistication exhibited over 10,000,000 years before a strange visitor from another planet plowed into a Kansas field, there was little likelihood that government black-ops teams or experimentation on extraterrestrial life forms had been invented yet.  At that period in prehistory, if it couldn’t be done by a trained animal, it simply couldn’t be done!  So in that regard it was relatively safe to tout the existence of an adopted child who could lift hundreds of times his own weight with ease comparable to his parents lifting a dodo feather.

In order to skirt copyright infringement issues such as those that plagued Fawcett Publications’ flagship character Captain Marvel, the animators shrewdly opted to limit Bam-Bam’s super-humanity to impossible strength.  Early drafts of fifth season scripts had suggested the addition of “fire vision” and “ice breath” to the boy’s repertoire but when the high-profile Shazam! case reduced Fawcett to reprinting Family Circus comics, plans for power expansion were scrapped.  By managing to escape the attention of National Periodical Publications, Hanna Barberra was able to effectively borrow the basic conceptual themes of Superman for an additional two years.

What Ever Happened to the First Last Son of Krypton?
Five years after the show that made Bedrock famous and wooly mammoths synonymous with housecleaning, a spin-off show was to be launched that would bring a teenaged Bam-Bam, flushed with Herculean strength, to the forefront.  However, a shrewd copyright lawyer at DC Comics happened to be home with the flu one fateful day and chanced to watch two episodes of The Flintstones prominently featuring the baby version of the character, including his first appearance.  The similarities in the origin and powers of Bam-Bam and those of Superman as presented by Simon and Shuster were not lost on this litigator. 

Contacting his employers from his sickbed he insured a promotion by informing the publisher of the blatant disregard of intellectual property rights  displayed by the syndicated cartoon.  A threatened lawsuit forced a last-minute rewrite of the first episodes of the new series, The Pebbles and Bam-Bam Show, dooming it to obscurity in the eyes of many fans.  In an out of court settlement the creators of the cartoon did not admit direct wrong-doing but did acknowledge the similarities and pledged to remove any super-human aspects from the character in any and all future incarnations.  

And so it was that when the Flintstone and Rubble children were given their own series, every vestige of his former strength was not only absent but also not spoken of in past tense.  While such a move spared the show’s creators a potentially devastating court appearance, it did leave life-long fans wondering why Bam-Bam had managed to outgrow his super power.  While the onscreen  character was officially no more endowed of strength than the Bronto Bunch’s Zonk, fan fiction picked up where the show left off.  Bedrock Babylon, a popular fanzine of the day, was the most noted for not only extrapolating the Bam-Bam/Superman connection to its logical conclusion, but also suggesting that the aforementioned motorcycle gang were in fact corollaries to the Phantom Zone criminals. 

While the Bronto/Zod connection went quietly unnoticed by a more attentive DC Comics, it was not the only example of Hanna Barbera skirting the Cease and Desist order.  The Great Gazoo is widely recognized as a blatant rip-off of Superman’s extra-dimensional thorn in the side, Mr. Mxyzptlk.  None the less, speculation runs rampant to this day that perhaps the character did garner notice and as such was the real catalyst for the demise of The Flintstones rather than the lackluster, shark-jumping plotlines and incessant pop-culture nods.  An unpublicized action against the animation studio could well have been what opened the door for future DC Comics parent company Warner Brothers to obtain Hanna Barbera outright, thereby taking the Bam-Bam saga full circle.

Joe Rockhead is a freelance writer and author of “Modern Stone Age Conveniences – The Technology of ‘The Flintstones’”  He resides in New Rock, NR with his wife, three children, and their hoparoo. 

Note: This article is dedicated to my lifelong friend Steve McCauley and his lifelong love of Superman and to my friend John Glio and his lifelong love of The Flintstones. Special thanks to John for his suggestions and Flintstone fact-checking. - JediCole

The Apocrypha #2 - A Job History

Welcome once again to The Apocrypha, your resource for news and stories that never really occured. In the last edition I treated you to a mythological tale that I had written some years ago. This time I have a more recent story that, like the previous one, had its geneis in a conversation with Mrs. JediCole. There really is no more set up necessary as the tale takes care of itself in that department.

Occupation: Stick

     Behind every law, regulation, statute, edict, ordinance, act, decree, or rule is a little piece of history that led to a good idea becoming one of these aspects of a legal system. While it is often a simple matter to extrapolate what circumstance or occurrence may have made such legislation a necessity, it is not generally as easy to discover the story behind the aftermath of rules of law. A prominent case in point that stands proudly on street corners nationwide in spring and summer months are the professional Sticks.

     Sticks, or Stick-Men, are individuals who’s vocation is to act as a kind of ambulatory analogue to a traditional inanimate stick. City ordinances have emerged over the years across the land that limit the use of signs tacked to wooden stakes, attached to aluminum rods, or otherwise connected to sticks for the purpose of temporary or permanent advertizing to the exclusive use of politicians. That is to say if said signs are to be secured in the turf of street corners or medians and abandoned for the duration of their purpose. Such statues are in answer to increasing demands on the populations of larger cities to maintain a level of standards in the beautification of public places. By legally classifying such signage as “litter”, the effective advertizing potential of a sign promoting “Two Large One-Topping Pizzas for $10.99” or “Quitting Business, Everything Must Go” was rendered not only ineffectual but also illegal.

     But for every law there is a loophole and shrewd business people began to exploit the glaring one that accompanied the signs-as-little laws to remarkable advantage. While a wooden or metal stick can be considered refuse a human being, from the standpoint of black letter law, cannot. And thusly was the profession of Stick born. By employing a hapless individual to spend their work day engaged in holding a stick that would in years past have been planted in the soil where they now stand. From announcements of grand openings to the promotion of limited time offers, the signs and their handlers effectively bypass the rules that would have spelled the end of an era in American retail sales.

     Some proponents of the oppressive sign laws cried foul but were soon forced to the resignation that the stringent definition of their legislation required that restricted signage must be effectively abandoned in one location for a prescribed amount of time. A skilled Stick Man never allows the base of their sign to even touch the ground and is commonly seen moving about along a personal territory of anything from one square foot to three linear yards. Even the most lethargic of the professional Sticks at the very least maintain possession of the signs at all times during their shift. Early into the Stick movement the question of vagrancy was raised as a possible means to end the practice but as the Sticks are engaged in the gainful employment of shop owners they cannot be legally considered vagrants.

     Once established as a viable and legal alternative to stationary and inanimate signage, the plight of the Sticks did not end. While public outcry has faded over the last few years with some communities even embracing their local sticks (in Paul’s Valley, OK the local Women’s Guild hand sew and deliver over 100 Santa hats to that city’s Sticks each December) , there are still trials and pitfalls to be faced by those who have made “sticking” their vocation. Many fall prey to the lure of high-paying temporary work directing passing traffic to garage sales.

     While the wages offered are generally higher than average for Stick Men employed by businesses, they tend to lack the amenities provided in the business sector. By law a full-time stick employed by a company of any size must be afforded two paid 15-minute breaks and a minimum of 30 minutes unpaid time for lunch. It has also become customary for employers to provide complimentary water or sports drinks to those they employ as Sticks. No such courtesies exist in the short term, contract work environment.

     But misleading employment offers are the least of the worries of the contemporary working Stick. The single greatest threat to the safety and comfort of these sign holders is “Gorilla Warfare”. The term Gorilla Warfare was first coined in 2007 when a minor altercation between a pair of professional Sticks in the employ of a family jewelry store that was closing after 75 years in business and a vacuum cleaner repair shop guy-in-a-gorilla suit escalated into a small urban war.

     Long before legal precedent led to the genesis of the Stick, the most common live advertizing and promotional occupation was that of the Vacuum Store Gorilla. In an age of increasing automation, animatronic primates have begun to surface but have often proven cost prohibitive. So as in days of old a guy in a gorilla suit continues to be the promotional stunt of choice for vacuum cleaner repair and sales outlets everywhere. While the connection between household cleaning equipment and counterfeit apes may seem inexplicable, the use of a person in a gorilla suit has historical background linked to the vacuum cleaner industry in this country.

     In 1908 a rather perplexed William Henry Hoover was contemplating the best way to introduce his new Model O cleaner to the market. It chanced that his sons Hiram and Malacek were participating in a school pantomime of Noah’s Ark in which the elder boy was portraying a “fierce gorilla of the Africas”. With the play still a week away, Hoover arranged the use of the costume and utilizing Hiram’s acting talents he showcased his “vacuum cleaning device” with the aid of a “tame ape” at the Chicago Exposition of Mechanical and Electrically-Powered Devices two days later. The fanciful gimmick captured the imagination of those in attendance and soon gorilla suit-sporting pitchmen became commonplace in the fiercely competitive vacuum cleaner industry for the next five years.

     It is speculated that photographs of these gorilla-men of old inspired the more contemporary use of fake gorilla skins as a promotional stunt that could be utilized year round. The earliest documented use of a guy-in-a-suit was in 1970 at Hobson’s Vacuum and Home Appliance in Lindale, GA, though earlier attempts may have gone unnoticed. With a distinguished pedigree and lengthy history the formation of GiGS, the International Association of Guys in Gorilla Suits, in 1977 was a natural progression. With a professional organization well established, many older members of the gorilla-suit profession resented the arrival (and seemingly instant propagation) of Stick Men. The time-honored profession of standing in front of a business establishment waving at passersby had quietly tolerated clowns, Statues of Liberty, and even jester-capped teenagers clutching oversized facsimiles of music CDs over the ensuing years. But the arrival of these human sticks seemed to be the last straw.

     In the legendary incident of 2007 Martin Cooper, a 26 year-old itinerant worker from Bakersfield, CA and Dale Enders, a local 19 year-old student were brutally assaulted in western Huntsville, AL after their shift ended on May 17, 2007. It was the eve of the 30th anniversary of the foundation of GAGS and the two were accosted by (reportedly) six two eight gorilla-suited individuals who forced the pair into an unmarked van where they proceeded to administer a savage beating. The chief suspect in the assault was Mike Dougal, a 40 year old professional gorilla-man who specialized in children’s birthday parties but also found work with traveling carnivals and as a vacuum store ape. He was known to have had altercations with the pair of Stick Men who were promoting the closure of Moore and Sons Fine Jewelry which was located in the same shopping center as Vacuums, Etc., Dougal’s employer.

     Though he was cleared of all charges due to well documented whereabouts at the time of the incident he did impart to police that he had made reference to his difficulties with the neighboring Stick Men, who had repeatedly infringed upon his work territory, on the GiGS website forums. Frustration with Sticks was a common topic of discussion on the message boards with complaints ranging from lack of discipline to unprofessional attire to talking or texting on cell phones during working hours. A growing feeling of distrust and resentment was evident in the gorilla man community nationally but was most prevalent among the Alabama membership. Investigators were unable to formally charge any local gorilla men with the crime, though it would leave a lasting stigma on the profession for some years.

     Unfortunately the example set by this unfortunate instance was taken up by gorilla men around the country. From May 2007 to June 2010 (the most up to date statistics available) there have been as many as 25 such assaults perpetuated annually. By February 2008 the term Gorilla Warfare was in common use, replacing the previously used “gorilla on stick violence”. 2010 did see a decline in per-capita incidents, a fact that some suggest is a direct result of the GiGS organization officially denouncing Gorilla Warfare in May of that year, fully three years after the Alabama incident. Ben Yearling, president of the group, has pledged that he will continue to seek an accord between gorillas and Sticks. This coupled with greater community outreach and vigilance on the part of professional Sticks has helped curb the violence of years past.

     As of this writing a non-profit organization, Sticking Up for Sticks has announced that its outreach programs have been nationalized. With a support base that has been bolstered in recent years they have begun to lobby Congress for Federal classification of Gorilla Warfare as a hate crime and for funding to aid victims of such crimes. Despite great strides in the rights of Stick Men in the workplace, few employers of these sign holders offer health insurance benefits, making recovery from physical violence a costly proposal for those in the trade.

     For now it seems that the familiar Sticks that can be found pointing drivers to bargains on dining, goods, and services at strip malls and shopping centers everywhere are here to stay. Once a friendless occupation the Stick Men now enjoy a population of supporters as numerous and vocal as those who still oppose them. Federal Judges in five states have overturned laws and statutes that would have limited or eliminated the position for all time. A cover story on Stick Men in Newsweek, in which reporter Mark Rafferty spent six weeks in the trade, ran in early 2010 and further raised awareness of the ups and downs of this unique modern profession. With a greater awareness and understanding on the part of Americans on a whole the lives of Stick Men everywhere are starting to improve.

The Apocrypha #1 - One Hell of a Letter!

Welcome to the first installment of a new humor feature for The JediCole Universe.  I often tell people that I "dabble" in writing.  While more often than not any given writing project becomes part of a vast collection of incomplete manuscripts and voluminous notes and drawings, a few find their way to completion.  One of my favorite types of writing is a kind of stream-of-consciousness writing in a humorous vein.  To showcase some of my work of this variety I have created The Apocrypha as it seems an appropriate title for this work. 

What follows is a piece I wrote back in 2000 for my self-published mini comic Genre.  The anthology comic featured comic stories and art by myself and various friends and included this story in the the book as kind of palette cleanser between the various illustrated features.  It is time it enjoyed a much larger audience than it did as a comic that almost no one has ever seen.  Perhaps in the future I will reproduce some of the comic stories from Genre on this site. 

The original concept came from a conversation about some aspects of classical Greek mythology and the role of Heracles (or Hercules if you prefer the Roman) in a great many of the sagas.  Naturally I had to take things in a skewed direction that led to me committing it all to paper a few days later.  While much of the story is based on my own foreknowledge of the myths, I did not research specifics so if there are any folklore and mythology scholars who happen upon this missive I apologize in advance.

Please feel free to post your thoughts on this story and look for more humorous tales in the near future.

Cause and Effect in Hades
A Memo From Hell



     As you are no doubt aware, your nephew has again graced your realm with his dubious presence.  I really must formally protest this latest intrusion.  You have to speak to your brother, Lord Zeus about his son's behavior and unscheduled visits.  With this in mind a full report follows of Heracles' exploits during his time in the underworld and the aftermath thereof.

     Heracles arrived in Hades in the late afternoon through one of the too numerous subterranean tunnels (an issue I have addressed in the past and will not dwell on at this time).  As is so often the case when the living arrive at the River Styx, Heracles needed only pay Charon the requisite fee and he was across with full access to the various realms, most specifically the one in my care.  Granted, I do not hold Charon personally responsible.  He is a most efficient boatman, but ultimately little more than a vending machine.  Place the proper fee in his hand and your passage is booked.  Lacking a brain (which undoubtedly rotted out Milena ago), our good ferryman lacks the cognitive ability to discern the living from the dead.

     Once on the opposite shore, the living are generally devoured in short order by your loyal guard dog Cerberus.  However, upon catching wind of Heracles' scent, he promptly tucked his tail between his legs and beat a path to the lower caves!  It appears that Cerebus' recent abduction from the shores of the Styx to the court of King Eurystheus had a far greater impact on the animal than anyone had imagined.  This of course left Heracles with an unopposed path to the realm of Tartarus. 

     What followed was perhaps the most dreadful crime yet perpetrated on Hades by this dreadful demigod.  Losing no time, he proceeded directly to the cliff face upon which Prometheus was justly imprisoned.  Breaking the criminal free of his bonds and escorting him promptly out of Tartarus and Hades as well.

     This particular infraction has no doubt reached you attentions, hence the lack of detail in this portion of my narrative.  What stands at issue now is the effect that Prometheus' absence has had on Tartarus.  The great eagle charged these many years with the daily task of devouring Prometheus' liver arrived to find the staple of his diet conspicuously absent.  Not content to skip a meal, the tenacious bird of prey began to search for a suitable substitute.  Accustomed to encumbered individuals, the enormous eagle soon found Sisyphus, at the time midway through his daily task of uphill boulder rolling.  Harassed by the hungry bird snapping rapaciously at his back, the hapless Sisyphus lost control of his monolithic burden.  What followed was a horror unparalleled in all of Hades.

     The boulder, now no longer directed, rolled perilously down the hillside at great velocity, crushing to pulp both Sisyphus and our highly trained, liver-pecking eagle.  However, the losses were not limited to the infamous hillside.  Unhindered, the giant stone continued to roll across the plains of Tartarus until it came to rest in a nearby pond.  Unfortunately, the pond in question was the receding pond devised to torture Tantalus.  The result was that the retracting fruit tree nearby was splintered, the waters of the receding pond were irreparably displaced, and Tantalus, of course, was subsequently flattened.

     In the aftermath of this transgression, my staff and I have devised a pair of suggestions that should be implemented at your earliest convenience.  First, I request the employment of a giant or Cyclops to screen new arrivals to Hades before they board Charon's ferry.  This would allow a dual line of defense against the encroachment of the living.  Secondly, in order to salvage some good from this tragedy, I request that the next prime criminal remanded to my care be condemned to clean up the dreadful mess on the hills and plains of Tartarus, only to have the entire event replayed the following morning, requiring his janitorial services anew.

     As you know, we in Tartarus take great pride in the torments we prescribe.  The loss of not one but three inmates in the course of an hour has taken a devastating toll on morale.  I believe that the implementation of these suggestions will have a most positive effect.  I thank you for your attentions to the details of this recent tragedy.