The Story Behind “Darth Goofus”

Over at SoundCloud, I’ve uploaded a four-part serial that mixes the characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Star Wars, and a couple of other fictional universes in a unique story.  Give it a listen!  Though I add the disclaimer that the audio on episode 1 is terrible and not indicative of the rest of the series.  If you can muscle through that, then the rest of the series should be a pleasure.Audio drama is a recently discovered medium for me.  I had never given any thought to writing it, much less producing it.  But, I had a very, very brief flirtation with podcasting for my apologetics blog in 2010 for which I used Audacity.  I was, therefore, familiar with how to mix audio.  Audio dramas, however, are much more complex and generally require more elements.

I did, however, figure out a decent workflow and I’m in the process of producing a sequel to Darth Goofus.  It should be ready and available much quicker than the original and I know that will make my kids very happy, given they were the ones that asked me to write another one.

This story is a convoluted mix of weirdness and some people might wonder where the heck I got this idea.  Well, it came to me years ago when I was watching one of the early episodes of Dora the Explorer.  Assuming you don’t want to spend the $1.99 to watch it, the premise is that Dora and Boots can restore the grass to a barren hill and thus save the animals living there if they plunge a magic stick into the ground and speak, in a robotic voice, “The stick, the stick, the magic stick / The magic stick can do a trick / The stick will work, it really will / But only on the highest hill!”

For some unknown reason, that episode every single day at one point.  Nevermind that we have 10 years of Dora the Explorer to draw on; no, we must air that episode once per day.

Since I had seen it a bajillion times, my mind wandered during the episode and for some reason I clearly saw Swiper carrying the Magic Stick to a spot outside the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Then he plunges it into the ground and repeats that rhyme, opening a magic ocean outside the Clubhouse.  The Jolly Roger sails to the shore, and Captain Hook attacks the Clubhouse!

I had to write that story.

This is what originally inspired me to write comic books.  I started reading everything I could on writing for comics, I developed a backstory and had a few pages of notes on how a Disney/Nick Jr multiverse would look.  The backstory had Prof. Inkling (Octonauts) teaming with Scrooge McDuck (DuckTales) to seal Capt. Hook (Jake & the Neverland Pirates) in Neverland.  Team Umizoomi was descended from the fairies!!  It was going to be awesome.

I had written the first six issues, each appearing to be a requisite episode of the shows Octonauts, Little Einstiens, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Phineas & Ferb, and Dora the Explorer.  I planned 12 total issues, and I used Alan Moore’s Watchmen as a model, weaving story and flashbacks together.

I gave up.  No artist.

A few years later, I tried a second draft but never got past the planning stage.  Again, no artist.

Then, last year, I stumbled onto audio drama podcasts.  Like the novella, the Internet has resurrected this relic of the past.  My United States-centrism is showing here, of course, since audio dramas are still commercial entertainment in Europe.  But in the U.S., audio drama is a tad quaint.

But it’s also way easier to produce than a comic book, and a hundredfold easier than a full movie.  In fact, I produced Darth Goofus on a budget of $0!  I only went $2.99 over budget, once I was introduced to Easy Voice Recorder Pro when the first beta listener reported that the voice recording was awful.

Could I do audio drama?  I tried a very short test run to answer that very question.  No sense in trying to produce what I knew would be at least an hour of story time if I couldn’t even put a convincing 5 minute one together.  As it happened, the first one was a success and so I tried a longer one.

Darth Goofus was born.

I simplified the storyline and drastically reduced the cast.  I am very pleased with the result.

And to think, all of this because I was so tired of chanting about the damn Magic Stick.


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