Friday, May 30, 2008

Next Generation Skunk-Scouts

I spent Friday morning with 40 students at Central Lutheran School in New Haven Indiana. They had all just read Norman & The Stinking Space Goo, and were eager to discuss it with me.
It was a real treat for me to get to meet these kids. They all were very enthusiastic and loaded with questions. “How long did it take you to write the book?” Did you draw your own illustrations?” “Why did you set your story in Fort Wayne?” Then the questions got more personal, “Did you read comic books when you were a kid?” “Are you Norman?” “Who is Nemo?”
My answers were simple. As I mentioned before I used Fort Wayne because I was living there when I created Skunk-Guy and it has a rich history to draw from. It took about three months to write the actual book you see here, but I spent close to thirty years perfecting the idea and developing the characters. Yes, I do all the illustrations myself.
On a more personal level, yes I did read comic books when I was a young kid, and I still do. Well, let’s just say that Norman is modeled after me, only I would like to think that he is more of a klutz than I am. And Nemo was my Grandmother. She was a pretty special grandma to me and I have always called her Nemo. She passed away a little more than ten years ago now. Dedicating the book to her was my tip of the hat to her.
Several of the kids had developed games based on the book. Three of them were board games. It is such a joy to see that the art of board game design has not disappeared in this age of computer and video games.
One of the games was based on colored cards that directed you to the appropriate colored space on the board. There was a black box in the center that you could be sent to and hoped to avoid. Along the way you were quizzed about various smells and odors. The second game looked like a map of the school neighborhood. You traveled through the map by the roll of the dice and when you landed on any space with a students name on it you had to answer one of the questions that that student had written about the book. Tough questions like; “What was the 6th word on page 95 in the 3rd line,” answer: “him.” The third game was centered around a motley collection of super villains. If you landed on a black space you drew a card to see which villain you were going to have to fight and then you threw a dice to determine the outcome of the battle.
The forth game was not a board game but a simple smell & guess it game. It was a game that could be used by any one, in fact it would be a wonderful party game. They gave me a written copy of the rules they came up with so that I could post them at
The students were then told that if any one wanted to post a review of the book on line that they could get an extra 200 points toward their grade. I about fell over that was music to my ears. I was hoping that if the kids enjoyed the book that they may pass the word on by posting a review somewhere. But to make it a project for them to improve their grade was an exciting surprise. I have set the following web addresses on the skunk-guy website for the kids to post their reviews:
My only regret for the morning was that I took my camera and then got so wrapped up in our discussions that I forgot to take any pictures. I wanted to post some here. If any of the students from there read this blog entry, I would love it if you could send me a picture of your group or any of the games you designed. You can e-mail any pictures you come up with to this e-mail address
We talked about the further adventures of the Stinking Stalker and the production of the second book. The next Volume The Sensational Slime Saga should be coming out about the time they get back to school in the fall. There is even a preliminary picture of the front cover on the NEWS page of the Skunk-Guy web site. I look forward to going back to Central Lutheran High School to discuss book two with them. And more than likely swear them all in to the Skunk Squad.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The origin story of any superhero is a critical part of their legacy. Skunk-Guy’s story is no less important. Like many of the hero’s before him his tale has gone through many incarnations. I have had thirty years to tinker with it and it has been a creative challenge to find just the right scenario.
I toyed with the idea of Norman being sprayed by a radio active skunk. (A great idea, but too similar to someone else’s story.) Then there was the brilliant flash I had, about morphing with a skunk during a space-alien abduction. (Too gruesome, remember the Fly.) I plotted out the whole course of putting Norman and the earth in the middle of an intergalactic war. (Way too complicated.) I finally settled for simplicity.
Now the histories of all of the main stream superheroes have some trauma motivating them to do the deed and right the wrong, Spider-man loses his uncle, Batman lost his parents and Superman had his entire home planet obliterated. None of these tragedies would fit with a character called The Stinking Stalker.
Instead I opted for a theme utilized many years earlier, before Superman made his appearance. That of the lanky dreamer so filled with stories of knights in shining armor, that he mounts his own steed with lance in hand, in order to do battle with an army of windmills. Yes, the theme has been done before, but not of recent memory, at least not to any great effect.
Take this basic idea and move it into a domestic setting, introduce a few simple sci-fi elements and you have the formula for "Norman & The Stinking Space Goo". The official origin story of Skunk-Guy: The Stinking Stalker.