This article originally appeared in Pyramid #6
When I found out that SJ Games wanted me to write yet another Toon sourcebook, my first thought was "Great! I'll make this one a catalog of Stuff!", my decision being prompted by dozens of Toon fans asking for a book of Stuff. My second thought was "Uh-oh! What the heck will I put in the sidebars?" A black cloud (with little bolts of lightning and some light showers) settled in over me and I began to think gloomy thoughts.
By Robert "Doc" Cross
You see, in the previous two Toon sourcebooks that I had written (Tooniversal Tour Guide and Toon Tales, both well worth your money), I had been able to pretty much fill up those pesky sidebars with character descriptions. Alas, the Ace Catalog would have only a few characters in it, so that meant I would have to actually write something. Hence the black cloud.
But eventually, I came up with a few things that the editor at SJ Games (a three-foot high bearded fellow named Chester Chainsaw) thought would fill the bill. I started with "The Painful Tale of Cosmo Cat," a five-part story that would not only make the readers spit their milk through their noses, but show them ways to use certain products found in the catalog. The story is very much in the roadrunner/coyote style and poor Cosmo . . . well, why tell you when I can show you? --
"As our story opens, Cosmo is sleeping peacefully on top of his master's television set, dreams of barbecued mouseburgers dancing through his head, when a loud crash from the kitchen causes him to leap seven feet straight up. Unfortunately for Cosmo, a shelf full of encyclopedias was only four feet above him! Knocked goofy, he falls to the floor behind the TV and is clobbered by the enitre 65-volume set of encyclopedias that are now falling off of the damaged shelf.
"After the little chirping birds stop circling his head, Cosmo walks over to the kitchen door to see what's up. His eyes fly completely out of his head and he screams as he sees his archenemy, Melvin Mouse, stuffing the entire contents of the refrigerator into a mousehole! "Egad!", Cosmo thinks, "My master will skin me alive if he finds that food missing! I've got to trash that rotten rodent and get back that grub!"
"Running over to the hall closet, Cosmo grabs the Suckotronic 9000 Heavy Duty vacuum cleaner and runs into the kitchen with it. After plugging it in, he starts feeding the hose into the mousehole. Melvin, however, is waiting and grabs the hose. He sneaks throught the walls until he comes to another mousehole right behind Cosmo. Laying the hose near Cosmo's tail, he sits back to watch the fun.
"Our feline hero decides that he's ready to catch the mouse and casually turns the vacuum cleaner on. Swoosh! Yowling all the while, Cosmo is sucked through the 528 feet of vacuum cleaner hose that winds through the kitchen walls. Banging off waterpipes, thumping into electrical conduits and squeezing through knotholes makes for a wild and painful ride for poor old Cosmo! Reaching a speed of roughly 300 miles an hour, Cosmo finishes his trip by slamming into a vacuum bag full of dirt. Melvin turns off the vacuum cleaner and goes off to eat a cheese sandwich. Cosmo crawls out of the bag and dials 911."
Once I decided that I'd pulverized Cosmo enough, I moved on to "A Short History of the Schwemp Family." Let me take this opportunity to say that I did not create the Schwemps! The full blame lies with Mark S. Denman, a contributor to Toon Tales and a noted Canadian Toonster. On the other hand, I am guilty of encouraging him, so I guess you can say that the Schwemps are an international bit of Toonishness. (I wonder how NAFTA will affect them?)
Since a couple of the Schwemps had made appearances in Toon Tales and several more had snuck into the Toon Ace Catalog, I figured it was my job to do a little creative genealogy concerning their roots. I found that, with a little inspiration from Mark, I had a definite talent for it:
"As nearly as can be determined by scholars, the Schwemp family started out in the small English village of Fnordington. The first mention of a Schwemp occurs in the 7th century. It was then that a young village boy named Arthur (or "Art") Schwemp, while walking through the forest, found a sword embedded in a stone. With the greatest of ease, he pulled it out and hefted it. He decided that carrying it around would be too tiring, so he placed it back in the stone and went home to take a nap. This was just the first of the Schwemp family's many brushes with greatness. Fortunately, from the Schwemp's point of view, they always avoided actually becoming involved in historical events, due to their amazing combination of laziness and stupidity."
Finally, it came time to do the Top 25 Lists. I have to admit that I was well practiced for this writing chore, having done Top Ten Lists in Alarums & Excursions (a gaming fanzine that's been around since the dawn of time) for the past several years.
Top 25 New Dungeon Names
#2: The Dungeon of Undead Guys Named Earl
#4: The Dungeon of Screaming Elvis Worshippers
#9: The Dungeon of Endless Stone Passageways That All Turn Left
#21: The Dungeon of Taxable Treasures & IRS Agents
#25: The Dungeon of Soft, Squishy Floors That Are No Fun To Walk On
Top 25 Great Names For Atomic Monster Theater Adventures
#6: Attack Of The Party Mice
#15: Clamera Must Be Destroyed! Or At Least Housebroken!
#18: The Slime Aliens Go Hollywood
#23: Duckzilla, Second Cousin To The Sister-In-Law Of The Younger Brother Of The King Of The Monsters
Top 25 Things You Can Drop On Somebody's Head
#4: A small feather, followed by a huge chicken
#9: The world's largest Lime Jello mold
#21: A sack of potatoes
#22: A sack of potato pancakes
Top 25 Things That The Serious Police Can Arrest A Toonpunk For
#1: Conspiracy to commit comedy
#8: Aggravated punning
#10: Inciting a crowd to tell "Knock Knock" jokes
#17: Contributing to the silliness of a minor
Top 25 Totally Bizarre Gangster Nicknames
#4: Oscar the Carpet Installer
#9: Desmond the Eel
#10: Big Wally the Amoeba
#13: Frank the Cat Slapper
#22: Really, Really Humongous Ed
Top 25 New Types Of Damage That Could Happen To A Character
#3: Exploding Watermelon Full Of Yak Hair Damage
#6: High Speed Tree Slamming Damage
#7: Stampeding Robot Pig Damage
#15: Firehose Up The Nose Damage
#18: Porcupine Juggling Damage
#25: Accordion Damage
Top 25 Completely Screwy Species That Have Never Appeared On Any Toon Species Table
#1: Chambered Nautilus
#20: New Gnu
#21: Old Gnu
Top 25 Real Names That Are Funny Enough To Give To A Toon Character
Top 25 All New Boggle Effects
#1: Face melts off
#11: Grab tongue and pull it out until there is a large pile of tongue on the ground
#21: Eyes fly out and orbit head like satellites
#23: Pull large mallet out of back pocket and pound self into the ground
Top 25 RockToon Albums
#1: Forever Your Squirrel, Paula Abracadabra
#13: Rebel Smell, Billy Eye Doll
#14: CyberToon, Billy Eye Doll
Top 25 Things That A Crime and Toonishment Animator Can Insert Into The Blank In The Following Sentence: "When A Man's Partner Is _______, He's Supposed To Do Something."
#5: Pushed through a keyhole face first
#13: Forced to watch the All-Commercials Network
#19: Trampled by giant chickens
#31: Dipped into sugar and then tossed to giant ants
#37: Beaten up by a book editor for counting to 37 instead of 25
And finally, my favorite...
Top 25 Creatures A Way-Out Western Cowboy Might Ride Into Town On And What It Says About Him
#2: Chicken (Silly cowboy)
#6: Yak (Tibetan cowboy)
#9: Porcupine (Very Tough cowboy)
#13: Praying Mantis (Religious cowboy)
#19: Stork (Baby cowboy)
Actually, the lists I had to censor out are the funniest. But you get the general idea.
I guess I should also say that I had tons of fun writing the main text of the book, too. In fact, it's even funnier than the sidebars! Where else are you going to find a Foot of Doom Missile or information on the Time Nerds of Gollygee (including the most famous Time Nerd, The Ducktor) or an Ace Glue-Filled Anvil? So get your 20 bucks ready and go out and buy the book! I'll sleep better at night knowing you have it.
But back to my tale of sidebar writing. I think perhaps I've broken through whatever mental blocks I had about writing them. In fact, I love writing them! Maybe the next Toon book will be "The Toon Sidebar Book"! Or maybe I'll do "GURPS Sidebars"! "GURPS Toon: Sidebar Tech"? Hey, I'm on a roll here!
(Author's Note: I'd just like to take a second here to point out that 1994 is the 10th Anniversary of Toon's publication. I encourage all dedicated Toonatics out there to run a Toon game at their local game convention. I'll be giving a "Toon At Ten" seminar at Origins and GenCon, as well as running demo games. See you there!
--Robert "Doc" Cross
Article publication date: April 1, 1994
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