Friday, August 18, 2006

An alternate Alley Oop storyline

Long-time Alley Oop Watch reader and devoted Alley Oop fan Jeff has drafted the first part of an alternative Alley Oop narrative which I am printing below. Jeff, who is frequently critical of the writing talents of the strip’s current authors (just a mild understatement), should be lauded for his initiative and his courage in putting his talent where his mouth is. I think his story outline is excellent and I would invite everyone to join in through the comments section and help him to flesh it out further.
So as the current Alley Oop strip plods along at its usual snail’s pace, I hope you enjoy this taste of what could be:

(During a powerful electrical storm, Ava is transported to Nazi Germany into a lab deep in the bowels of the “Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze”, or Wolf's Lair, the military headquarters of Adolf Hitler during World War II. There she accidentally happens upon the experimental time machine built by the brilliant Dr. Fritz Liess in 1944.)

Location: Moo
Time: Prehistoric

Our story begins with our hero, Alley Oop, Fishing in a Moovian stream. Suddenly Oop finds himself being transported through time, and into the laboratory of Dr. Wonmug.

Location: Doc Wonmug's Laboratory
Time: Present

Oop, feeling a little angry about being pulled from his tranquil settings without warning, lets his anger slip away when he sees the panic in Wonmug's face. Across the room, frantically typing at the keyboard of the computer that controls the time machine is Wonmug's longtime assistant, Oscar Boom.

A crash of thunder roars through the sky outside, loud enough that it seems to have come from inside the laboratory itself. Oop towards the time machine transportation platform and sees smoke wafting away from its frame.

“What happened, Doc?”

“We’ve lost Ava.” Doc replies. “What with the storm outside, we thought it would be a good time to do some light maintenance and repair work on the time machine. Ava was working on the platform when a lightning strike somehow activated the machine, and transported her into another time.”

“Where?” Oop asks.

“That’s what I am trying to figure out”. Oscar replies as his fingers fly across the keyboard. “The machine miraculously wasn’t damaged too badly, but we are only able to locate and transport people to the present. When the lightning struck it burnt out all the past and future time circuits”.

“Great!” Oop yells. “So you can get Ava back, but I am stuck here!”

“Not exactly.” Wonmug says. “Without knowing Ava’s coordinates, we don’t know where she is to bring her back. We weren’t sure how long the machine would work for, and we of course will need you to help retrieve Ava if we do find her, so we transported you here right away. After all, we knew you would want to help in any way you could.”

“Yeah,” Oop said, having calmed down once understanding Wonmug’s thinking. “You did the right thing, Doc.” But how did the lightning hit the machine? What happened to the lightning rod?”

“The lightning must have hit a power line.” Wonmug said. “A fantastic amount of electricity blew right past all of our safety precautions, and lit the place up like the Forth of July. We fired up the generator to power the computer while we were working precisely to prevent it from being damaged by a lightning strike. I never imagined if lightning were to strike an outside power line that it could activate the platform. I should have been more careful. I should have powered it down, but we just needed to run a few simple diognostics…”

“Don’t beat yourself up Doc.” Oscar said, “No one could have predicted this! What is important now is that we find Ava, and fast!”

Location: Wolf's Lair Laboratory
Time: 1944

Ava was knocked out by the force of the machine when it transported her through time. When she awoke, she found herself on a bed in what appeared to be a makeshift hospital. The room was sparse, and was only furnished with a few small beds, a handful of chairs, and one large desk over by the door. There was a cabinet with glass doors. It appeared to be a medicine cabinet. Her eyesight was fuzzy, and she had difficulty seeing clearly just a few feet away, much less across this room, but she thought there might be glass containers in the cabinet.

Two men in white lab coats were seated at the foot of her bed, and when they saw she was awake, they spoke.

“How do you feel?” the taller man said in German. Ava had taken German and French in collage, and understood what the man had said. She was still mildly confused, and wasn’t sure if she was dreaming, or if not, where she was. Even worse, she couldn’t remember what she had been doing that day, or how she got to be in this hospital.

“I feel… confused. Who are you?”

“I think it is more important we find out who you are, fräulein.” The man asked.

“My name is Ava.” She answered. “I work for Doctor Wonmug. Is he here?”

“Doctor… Want-mog?” the man asked. “I am afraid you have me at a disadvantage, fräulein. I do not know your doctor friend.”

Piece by piece her memory crept back to her conscious mind, and alarm started to replace confusion as Ava realized there must have been an accident in the lab. She remembered Wonmug had her and Oscar running some routine diagnostics when suddenly she saw a brilliant flash of light. The next thing she knew she was speaking German with a couple of strangers in a strange room. The obvious questions came to her mind.

“Where am I?” Ava asked with a little more command in her voice. “And who are you?”

“I am Doctor Fritz Liess, and this is my assistant, Olaf Fenstermacher, and you are in our infirmary. You appeared, well, out of no where! We were quite surprised.”

Ava looked at the nervously. She wasn’t sure why, but she didn’t trust the seemingly good natured doctor, and she certainly didn’t trust his assistant. Fenstermacher’s brooding face was defined by his heavy brow, sharp cheekbones, and strong chin that had a scar that ran from the right side of it back up and around to his right ear. He was a large man, and his heavy hands danced delicately across his clipboard as he wrote down every thing that was said.

“I… appeared out of nowhere?” Ava asked. She wasn’t sure what these men might know about how she was able to do such a thing, but her intuition told her they knew more than they should.

“Yes.” Dr. Liess said as he stood up and walked towards the desk. “Olaf and I were working in my laboratory. We are studying the new ideas proposed by Dr. Einstein..”

“New Ideas” he had said! Ava suddenly knew about when she was. Dr. Liess was obviously talking about Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity.

“We were conducting an experiment testing the good doctor’s hypothesis. We discovered that (I need and idea here) when all of a sudden there was a bright flash, and what sounded like thunder, and then you arrived.” The doctor said calmly. “It was very exciting.”

Ava wasn’t sure why the doctor was telling her all of this. If she was in the first half of the 20th century, any laboratory working on something as important as Einstein’s theory of relativity would presumably want to keep the work hush hush. But doctor Liess was more than willing to talk about his work. In fact, he was more like bragging about it.

Author's note: That's where it falls apart. Einstein’s “new ideas” about relativity weren't new anymore by 1944. Also, I can't rationalize why Dr. Liess would tell Ava all about his project when doing so right under Hitler's nose would be enough to get him killed. I guess I am just trying to move the story along too quickly. That is why I thought that if this were a good enough idea for a story, then perhaps I should just outline it, or just hand over the basic premise to the Bender's and let them butcher it.

Meet the bad guy

Now we have a group of Spanish sailors, who apparently dropped through a wormhole brought on by some kind of weather anamoly, about to descend on the happy residents of Moo, most of whom haven’t even wiped the barbecue sauce from their mouths.
Just in case it wasn’t obvious that the Spanish leader is the bad guy in this story, today we get the obligatory evil grin followed by the evil bad guy laugh (Bwahahahahaha). The last time we saw that cliched evil grin on a character (eyebrows turned down, mouth turned up) King Tunk was preparing to launch an unprovoked attack on Moo. And why is it that only the captain is allowed to wear a shirt, while all the rest of the sailors run around with less clothing than Alley Oop?
How will our Moovian protagonists respond to this new invasion of their land? Will they offer the sailors some of Phil’s zombie juice dino ribs - thus turning them on to the carefree ways of Moofest? Or perhaps they will challenge them to a dancing contest.
We all await the next (yawn) panel with rapt enthusiasm!