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Story Critique / RugRascals
« on: 03:01 PM, 05/30/20 »

      So, if you're like me and grew up in the Nineties and cable, I don't need to ask you if you remember the Rugrats. The third show on Nickelodeon alongside Doug and Ren and Stimpy, it was their cash cow until a certain yellow sponge would go on to usurp the title years later. We all know about the Rugrats, and it's less successful spin-off, All Grown Up, and it's even less successful spin off Preschool Daze, but little does anyone know there was a spin-off of sorts made much earlier, courtesy of Gabor Csupo.
 I'm, of course, talking about Rugrascals. The premise of RugRascals was basically Rugrats, but with more adult humor. Not unlike John K's adult of The Ren and Stimpy Show, except looking back, the former was much more...strange, and I thought I'd share what I saw with you because ever since that day I've been having pretty visceral dreams about this show and hopefully this will prove to be theraputic.
Now, before I get into why I'm sharing this stuff, please understand that my memory isn't what it used to be, so I can't remember too much except for what I'm about to describe to you, and also before I get into this, it's probably important that I share some background info on the Rugrats, for context and all that.
Basing it off of their then baby son, Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo teamed up with Paul Germain to create what was then the most successful show in Nickelodeon's history: Rugrats. The first three seasons were a success, but suddenly the show hit a snag in 1993, causing it to get briefly cancelled. That snag being creator drama involving a certain pig-tailed antagonist named Angelica. You see, despite her being placed in the show as a way of showing kids that life isn't fair, and despite her being popular with the audience, Klasky HATED Angelica. As time went on, she started to view the four main characters, those being Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil as her "two dimensional children" and resented the fact that this borderline sociopathic toddler was never punished for bullying her "children", most infamously involving the episode "Barbecue Story" where Angelica tosses Tommy's ball over the fence and makes him cry.
In addition, while the premise of the show was basically "Babies When Adults Aren't Looking" and while they behaved sort of adultish (or what an infant would see as adult) with some baby talk thrown in, Klasky wanted them to act more like actual babies, effectively "dumbing down" the show. None of this went unnoticed by the creators, who made the overly anxious personality of Tommy's mother, Didi, as a stealth insult of sorts towards Arlene.
The differences between the creators would later reach boiling points. The show was cancelled, Paul Germain left the show to work on Disney's Recess, and Klasky and Csupo divorced.
I'm sure that's stuff most cartoon buffs know about, but what most of you guys DON'T know, is that Gabor Csupo would create a studio of his own, simply called Csupo Studios.
I know this because my uncle was one of the guys that worked for him. More specifically, working on the storyboard. I got to visit him on a few occasions when he was working when he would pick me up from school when my parents were too busy with work. Even though I was fourteen at the time and regarded myself as mature enough to be at home by myself, I had to admit to myself that it was pretty cool being in the studio of the guy who made a guilty pleasure show of mine.
I saw Csupo himself from time to time walking around the studio while I sat around and played on my Gameboy. He wasn't hateful or anything, but he had an odd sense of humor to say the least. Mostly he told morbid jokes, and never failed to turn anything, no matter how tragic into one. I remember one occasion when the news was on in the break room, and there was a death of some sorts. My memory is fuzzy as to what completely happened, except that a child was in his mother's hot car and died as a result.
While any person would be horrified by this, Csupo blurted out, "It's horrible isn't it? He came out well done instead of medium rare!"
When he wasn't doing this, he was murmuring to himself, "Americans are so soft. They get so offended by everything," or something along those lines.
I mention all of this because it involves what I've seen what his version of Rugrats was like.
I was sitting in the break room playing something or another on my game, when I heard a voice call out in my direction. "Hey! You there!" I looked up, and saw Mr. Csupo standing in front of the hallway leading to his office. "Hey, American boy, you're uh, you're Carl right?" I hesitantly shook my head. "Good good, your uncle works hard helping with this show, maybe someday you'll work for me too and be just as good," he said. I didn't know what to think at that point, or I can't remember what I thought because it's been so long ago.
He then motioned down the hallway, "Hey you want to get a sneak peek at what we're working on?" I just sat there, staring blankly at him.
He motioned again, "Come on, you'll love it, I promise," Though I was uneasy, I was highly curious to see what this RugRascals thing was all about. It was mentioned that it would have adult humor and being the fourteen year old sneaking episodes of Beavis and Butthead and Ren and Stimpy boy that I was, I was on this like a fly on shit.
Anyway, he led me to this room that had only a table and chair with a TV in front of it. I sat down and Csupo said, "I hope you love this, most of the time you Americans get so offended by every little thing, it's ridiculous," He leaned under the stand the TV was on, I distinctly remember him mumbling to himself during that time, "Fucking Americans wouldn't know humor if it bit them on their asses, just like her! Fucking bitch Arlene, she ruined the show" After a few seconds he pulled out a VHS tape and placed it in the VCR.
The following, I do remember.
The intro began the same as the orginal Rugrats, Tommy's diaper flying into the air, grandpa sleeping, all that. Except where Tommy would squirt milk at the camera with a bottle, he was holding a sex toy. The toy was always different each episode, but it always squirted out the same white fluid, and the title would appear: RugRascals. And here's where the episodes begin, I distinctly remember of them.
The first episode I saw involved Tommy and his friends trying to play with Didi's "toy", it opened with a point of view show of the inside of a red cave with a football shaped opening and water dripping down, I think you know where I'm going with this. Then, a long object slid into the cave, going back and forth, liquid coating the object. It then cut to Didi masturbating in bed. After moaning for a few seconds, completely naked with her red haired vagina on display, the sound of Tommy crying interrupted her "fun". She got up, shouting "Oh, goddamn that little shit!" After soothing Tommy, she told him and the others to be quiet so she can have fun with "mommy's new toy". Of course, the babies think she has the kind of toy infants play with. They sneak over to her room, her moans coming through the door. Tommy remarks that, "It must be a really fun toy if mommy's making those sounds," Suddenly the door knocks, and in a huff, she leaves the room. After hiding, the babies enter and see what's obviously a dildo on the bed. They grab it and investigate it. They go through all kinds of theories as to what it is, from a sword, to a worm, to a monster. Enter Angelica, telling them it's a grown-up toy, according to her it's what a mommy gets when she doesn't want daddy around anymore, and that it will be his new daddy. Naturally, Tommy and company try to dispose of it, but Didi kept finding it, blaming it on Stu. Towards the end. she yells at Stu that he's pathetic in bed and that it was a miracle that he helped make Tommy at all. Tommy witnessing all of this cries, and of course, in typical Rugrats style, we get a point of view from inside his mouth as Didi walks over to comfort him, deciding to stick with Stu to keep Tommy happy. It ends with him sleeping happily, and Stu humping Didi while she has a dissatisfied look on her face.
The second episode was Chuckie centric. It opened with a point of view shot from inside Tommy's mouth, as he slurps down chocolate pudding. It then cuts to a shot inside Phil or Lil's mouth as the mouth wraps around a bottle and sucks on it. Then Chuckie's. Normally, when the Rugrats used an "inside the mouth" shot, it would only last for a couple of seconds, these didn't. It would cut from mouth, to mouth, as more food slid down. Farther and farther down their throats, the gullet pushing the mush down farther, walls of red pulsating meat with that echoey womb sound. Suddenly, when it cut to Chuckie's, the camera quickly went back up and out of his mouth with gurgling noises, the other four with looks of shock on their faces. It then cut to a large puddle of vomit dripping off the small table they were sitting at, Chuckie holding his stomach and breathing heavily. Didi came in, tsking at how Chuckie threw up and left to get cleaning tools. Tommy and friends praised him, saying that was best thing they ever saw him do. Chuckie, being the outcast of the group, was proud of this and gained the idea to throw up more, even finding out that sticking your finger in your throat causes you to vomit. As it went on, he grew more weak and haggard, but his friends wanted him to puke more. His father Chaz finds out about this and naturally flips out. The last twenty seconds or so ended with a shot of an emaciated, almost skeletal Chuckie with an IV tube in his arm, staring at the camera. No music, and no sound save for the beeping of hospital equipment.
The third involved the babies learning about Heaven. They talked about how it was baby paradise with toys and everything, and Angelica comes in and corrects them, stating that the only way they can get to Heaven is if they die, and stated that since they would have to wait forever to die naturally, they would have to "make themselves die". Of course, this gives the gang the idea to kill themselves, with Chuckie of course being skeptical of the whole thing, and Tommy telling him to not be such a baby. They get in the bathtub and try to drown, but it fails when they come back up for breath. They find Grandpa's gun, and Tommy puts it in his mouth and pulls the trigger, sighing in disappointment when he finds out there are no bullets. They then walk out to the road and wait for a car to hit them, but instead Spike rushes in to save the day, getting himself hit in the process. Spike is on the side of the road, whimpering in pain with viscera and blood pooling around him. Tommy and company approach him with tears in their eyes, stating that he's in Heaven at least. Didi and Stu follow soon after, sighing in sadness as they state that animals don't go to Heaven. Cue a shot of Tommy and friends crying in sorrow, as the episode ends with a shot of Spike twitching and whining in a puddle of innards.
The fourth was Angelica centric, and I think this is where the inspiration for the Ren and Stimpy adult episode "Ren Seeks Help". It opened with Angelica telling Chuckie about the bug that lived in his throat. Chuckie flips his shit as he always does and Angelica assures him that she'll get it out. She comes back with a pair of scissors and instructs Chuckie to open his mouth. Naturally, we get a view from inside Chuckie's mouth, the uvula pulsating. Angelica points to it and says that there it is. She puts the scissors in his mouth, the closer they got to the uvula, the quicker it pulsated, almost like a heartbeat. It cuts to Didi and Charlotte discussing something, and then an ear piercing scream cuts through, interrupting them. They rush out and scream in horror at the sight of Chuckie laying there bawling, blood gushing from his mouth and the babies surrounding him crying as well, and the camera turns to Angelica, feigning innocence as she holds a pair of blood stained scissors. The scene then changes to a child psychologist's building, with Angelica telling Cynthia that it wasn't fair that they were putting her in this smelly room because she,"just had a little fun with the dumb babies," and the psychologist walked in. He asks her why she tried to cut out Chuckie's tonsils and she lied stating that it was just a little cut, she was just trying to get a bug out of his mouth. We find out that she completely severed Chuckie's uvula and that he'll be in the hospital for a long time because of her. She scoffs, telling him that it serves him right for being such a stupid baby. She goes on to recall all the mean and nasty things she did. She talks about how she forced Tommy to eat his own shit, nearly caused Phil and Lil to die after she feeds them a very poisonous mushroom, how she nearly cause Chuckie to drown, and how she loved to stick needles in Spike because of his "stupid dog face". Even recalling how she got her cat, Fluffy. She had a puppy at first, but she wanted a cat, so she beat the thing against her bedpost and hid the body in her toy chest. She would cry about how it ran away, and her father Drew would get her a nice sweet kitty first thing next morning. She grinned evilly as the camera turned to the toy box, leaking blood. The psychologist, mortified by this, was ready to call for her to be institutionalized and as a result Angelica cried and wailed. The psychologist shows sympathy, stating that she learned her lesson. The next day it cuts to Tommy's yard where he, Phil. and Lil were rolling a ball around talking about Chuckie. They look in horror as Angelica approaches them, a pair of bloody scissors in hand and a wicked grin on her face.
The fifth was Phil and Lil centric. It cut to a close up of Betty's crying face as Howard tried to console her. It zoomed out to reveal a massive stain of blood around Betty's crotch. She sniffs, lamenting that she wanted to give Phil and Lil a baby brother or sister as she holds up a tiny box in her hands. Phil and Lil overhear this and wait for their parents to leave the room. They creep in and find the box on the bed. Opening it, they find a stillborn fetus laying there. They nab it, thinking it's their new brother or sister. This leads to a fight between them, Phil wanting a brother and Lil wanting a sister. They pull on the fetus's arms as if it were a teddy bear. The rest of the episode was about the two taking it from one another, and trying to teach it how to be a boy or a girl. Phil rolling around in the mud with it, Lil dressing it up, all of that. The ending would show the fetus starting to rot, maggots crawling out of it. Phil and Lil then pull on it, eating the flesh and larva with gusto, as the episode ends with Betty shrieking in horror, camera zooming into her mouth.
The sixth and final episode was called "Chuckie's Mom". It opened with the babies talking about their mothers, with Chuckie sadly stating that he doesn't know what happened to his mother. It cuts to Chuckie's room as he sleeps. He dreams that he's newborn, in the hospital bed with his mother as she hums "You Are My Sunshine" to him. He smiles and leans into her neck, but is shocked when a stream of blood falls on his head. He looks up to see his mom, completely bald where her red hair used to be, her eyes rolled back into her head and blood oozing from her mouth, making violent gagging sounds. He screams out of fear, and Tommy's voice cuts in, "Oh, Chuckie," he looks up again and sees Tommy's head in place of his mother's, "Don't be such a baby." It cuts back to Chuckie, now his normal age, his back facing the camera as real life footage of a childbirth occurs in the background. He covers his eyes, and then his mother speaks yet again, "Oh, Chuckie, my dear sweet Chuckie," He hesitantly looks up, only to see his mother, a rotting body, screaming, "You did this to me!" Live action footage of a timelapse of a rotting body filled the screen, puffing up and exhaling as maggots erupted from the corpse. The footage switched to a man explaining the science behind Coffin Births, in which a pregant woman dies and thanks to gasses caused by decay, "gives birth" to the deceased infant. A grainy shot of a stillborn appears, while a woman screams, "WHY WASN'T IT YOU? IT SHOULD BE YOU THAT'S DEAD!" It cuts to Chuckie, curled up in a ball, crying, the sound was almost as if the actor was getting into it and crying for real. "My dear Chuckie," The voice said again. This time rapid shots of various things, from clowns to corpses, to videos of deaths flashed on the screen, "ALWAYS SO SCARED OF EVERYTHING," The screen is pitch black now, zooming down to Chuckie, standing with tears running down his face. Words cut across the screen
"But mostly"
Chuckie started to hyperventilate
"Afraid of himself"
Light flashed, showing Chuckie drenched in blood
"Afraid for what he did"
Chuckie screamed in pain and anguish
Chuckie continued to scream as words such as "childbirth" and "murderer" flashed across the screen over and over and over, until it stopped. A sudden shot of Chaz crying beside Chuckie's crib filled the screen, as it cut to Chuckie laying there, dead.
And the video ended, the credits the same as they were in the original Rugrats.
I didn't throw up or scream or anything, I could only sit there, squirming in my seat with Gabor tittering behind me. He ejected the video and looked at me with a smile on his face. "You see? THIS is funny! Life, and all of it's miserable things, is funny. You just have to find the humor in things and you'll never be sad again," He turned his back to me, I could vaguely remember seeing his shoulders shake, "I just wish that SHE thought the same way," After clearing his throat he turned to me and said, "Anyway, I hope you liked it! I'll try to have it aired as soon as possible!" I got up and, with shaky legs, left the room.
After a while my uncle drove me home. Along the way, he asked me if I learned anything new, to which I just shrugged my shoulders, lying that it was the same old same old. My uncle laughed to himself, saying that soon I'll learn so much more about life, especially once the show is done.
So, that's that. I hope this helps with these dreams I've been having. Chuckie and his bleeding tonsils, going down throats, stillbirths. These dreams have been haunting me for too long. As far as I know, RugRascals never aired, as Gabor and Arlene had made up and worked on the original Rugrats together, despite being divorced. My uncle killed himself a couple years after that day.They didn't find a motive.

Story Critique / Good Grief
« on: 03:32 PM, 01/ 8/20 »

If you're American and have parents in the baby boomer age range, you've probably been exposed to the Peanuts at least once in your lifetime. Good old Charlie Brown, who was and still is, the poster boy for Butt Monkey. Everything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong times ten for ol' Chuck. Such a comic could only be created by someone with some personal experience regarding bad luck.

Evidence for this can be found in David Michaelis's book, "Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography" which goes into detail about how Schulz would talk about childhood bullies from long ago in the present tense. How he would see himself, even when he was most famous, as a dumb dull meek loser that nobody would ever like. How he was a vindictive, almost manchildish person.

Personally, after what I've seen, I think those are all understatements.

I am fortunate enough to live in close proximity to United Features Syndicate, the place where Peanuts was published. I'll admit, I sometimes like to take a trip up there and rummage around in the dumpster, hoping to find some comic strip that some cartoonist trashed. Most of them were just cheesy puns we've all heard before, but there were some gems here and there. Some highlights include a doodle of Marmaduke humping the family couch, Garfield joking about Jon's date, his right hand, and my personal favorite, Dilbert flashing Alice, and her snarking that she's lactose intolerant.

What I found a week ago, well, wasn't exactly humorous.

I was about to open the lid of the dumpster, until I saw a black garbage bag behind the dumpster. Picking it up, I opened it and was almost floored. These were Peanuts comics. Like legit, honest to God made by Schulz himself Peanuts comics. I rushed home as quick as I could and was eager to see the "lost comic strips" that never made it to the papers.

Unfortunately the comic strips were losing the battle to age and time, the papers yellowing and the ink fading, so I'm unable to post them here without them being blurry as all hell, but I can tell you what I deciphered.

The first one started with Charlie Brown bringing Snoopy his food, announcing that it was suppertime as he always did. He remarked about how his day was bad and how nobody liked him, and was grateful that he had Snoopy to be there for him. It ended with Snoopy walking away, rolling his eyes and remarking that he "hated that kid".

 On the second one, Charlie Brown was called to the front of the desk, apparently in trouble for failing something. He was sent to the corner with a dunce cap on, saying "That's the first time someone got in trouble for a failure face"

The next few followed a small series revolving around Lucy trying her hand at magic, including trying to make Schroeder in love with her. One of interest, is her trying to turn Charlie Brown into an "ugly old toad", but unsuccessful, her excuse being that Charlie Brown was already ugly enough. The final one was her trying to make some friends out of thin air, but after finding herself as alone as before, she trashes her magic kit and storms off.

The next followed Charlie Brown and his best friend Linus at the brick wall they usually hang out at. Charlie Brown was asking about purpose. Linus, being the comic "wise kid" said that everyone on this planet has a purpose. It ended with Charlie Brown, with an annoyed look, asking what HIS purpose was and Linus about to leave, saying he was going to be late for supper.

The next, probably an attempt to cash in on a fledgeling Worldwide Web, was a Sunday comic that had Charlie Brown at a computer, remarking on how since he was anonymous, nobody would know that he was "good ol' Charlie Brown", and of course, it ended with people worldwide realizing he WAS Good Ol' Charlie Brown and ostracizing him from the internet.

Now, these are mean spirited, but otherwise typical Peanuts fare. Then I got to the next few.

This one had Charlie walking with an absolutely forlorn look on his face, remarking that nobody liked him but nobody hated him more than himself.
One had Charlie Brown finally recieving a letter from his penpal. I figured that this comic was before the penpal was canonically known as Morag, a girl from Scotland who Charlie had unsuccessfully tried to woo. This penpal was apparently from France, as he had grabbed a French to English dictionary to translate the letter. The letter read "I hate you, stop writing to me you big old American sadsack", it ended with no one liner joke, just Charlie Brown with an absolutely defeated look on his face.

The one after that had Violet and Patty surrounding him, telling him how he was a creepy unlovable freak that nobody would want to be around. No one liner at the end of this one either.

This one on the other hand was where the red flags should have started to fly. It had Charlie yelling to whoever was listening, that he was sick of this "mean old world" and he was going to "put an end to this once and for all", and stepped on a cliff. The "cliff" was shorter than he was, and it ended with him face first in the ground, saying "RATS".

The one after this followed Charlie and Lucy playing hangman. They had the letters C and R written down. Three guesses what the answer was.
After this, were just people telling Charlie Brown how they hated him, including one of Linus throwing his hands up, yelling that he's tired of Charlie Brown's mopey downer attitude, leaving Charlie all alone at the wall.

Did you know that during the mid 90s, For Better or For Worse creator Lynn Johnston has planned to kill off the family dog Farley. This got the attention of Charles Schulz, who had called her up and said, "If Farley dies, I'm going to have Snoopy hit by a car, then everybody will read it and nobody will want to read your stupid comic!" As a result, she hid the time when she had Farley sacrifice his life for his human companion.

I bring this up because from what I saw, Schulz wasn't lying when he made that threat.

It started off with Snoopy pretending that he was behind enemy lines as he always did. Just as he peered over the vast plains, talking about enemies ambushing him, a loud sound interrupted. He looked behind him, a large truck was barreling his way. The next strip showed Charlie Brown walking home, apparently from school, and having a look of pure shock on his face. It ended with Snoopy lying on the side of the road, a complete mess. What appeared to be a small puddle of blood pooled around his head.

Snoopy had one last "story", he was shot down, asking his comrade to tell the story of his life, or something (the ink got wet here I think), ending with Charlie holding Snoopy's body in his arms, head down.

The next few show Charlie crying and visiting Snoopy's favorite places, Charlie momentarily thinking Snoopy was still alive and bringing out his "supper", and upon realizing his mistake, proceeding to eat the dog food with a blank look on his face. One that stood out to me from this series, was Woodstock looking heartbroken, and then flying to where the dreaded cat next door lived. It ended with a screech and feathers flying.

Violet and Patty surrounded Charlie Brown again, teasing him how Snoopy got what he deserved because "he was YOUR dog, Charlie Brown", and proceeded to laugh as he walked off.

Charlie looked up at the sky, asking God "Why me, why is always me? Why did you take away the only friend I have?", to which he replied, words filling up the panels "Because you're Charlie Brown"

I probably should have stopped right there, but like a trainwreck, I couldn't bring myself to look away.

The final comics show Charlie Brown lying on his bed, as words from seemingly nowhere asked him such questions as  "Why do you exist?" "What are you here for?" as even more words replied "To be the world's punching bag" "Your life has no meaning to it" "You were a mistake"
Charlie Brown layed there, saying nothing, as he grew thinner and thinner, until he looked skeletal. The words continued, "It's better this way Charles, your death will be a blessing to everyone around you" "Just do something right for a change and die already" The final panel is nothing but Charlie Brown lying there. Motionless.

The last panel had the kids surrounding something, making remarks like "You had this coming" and "He finally did something right", they then walk off, a small tombstone with the words: Charles Brown, a good for nothing Blockhead.

This would be the part where I go on some spiel about how depression is a horrible thing, or how what I saw haunted me or whatever but...

What else is there to say?

Your Stories / The Choir
« on: 04:07 PM, 01/ 1/20 »
So this is where we post stories? Kk, lemme give it a whirl

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