Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ninja Girls of the Reform School

So I've finished up a draft of what I hope will become a comic book someday:

REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS

It's of course set in the world of DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, and much like that setting itself, started out as a sort of joke that I, in my pedantic fashion, took perfectly seriously and tried to elaborate on.

This is much how my brain works: somebody says something completely insane, and I think, "Hm. What would that be, if you assumed it was actually as advertised?"

So if there were in fact DINO-PIRATES, what would they be? And what on earth is a NINJA ISLAND? (aside, obviously from an island full of ninjas, but don't we already call that "Japan"?)

These are the sorts of questions that keep me up late at night. Unlikely to cure cancer, I know, but there it is.

So when it was proposed that a story about ninja girls in reform school would be a worthwhile notion, I considered it long and consideringly. Well, for about a half-second, then I said, "But what do we call it? NINJA REFORM GIRLS' SCHOOL? REFORM GIRLS NINJA SCHOOL?" This stuff is harder than it looks.

I was stumped. And to tell you the truth, I'm not sure who actually came up with the proper arrangment of words though I suspect it was either Matt or Jody. But there it was: REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS. And once the formulation was in place, my brain took over, doing the things it does, and asking questions like, "Who would send ninja girls to reform school? What would need reforming and why? And should they wear ninja outfits or schoolgirl outfits?"

The first incarnation of RSNG was a game I ran twice at GenCon 2008. I needed seven characters, so I based them all on women I had known in Japan: Masayo, plucky and cheerful and nobody's fool; Ayako, sweet and good-natured and always hungry; RItsuko, hilarious, always laughing and building robots; Kaori, the singer in a Judas Priest cover band; Eri, one of the greatest swordspersons I've ever known; and Yumi -- who was very sweet and completely insane. To these six I added Millicent, because the idea of a stuck-up English girl amongst these ninjas made me laugh.

The whole thing has to be played totally straight. Everything about DINO-PIRATES is meant to hold together without too much suspension of disbelief required.

Yes, I actually wrote that.

And I MEANT it, darn it all. These girls are REAL (sort of), and their story has to be real if it's going to be worth telling. Things are going to be hard for them and they're going to struggle to get through this. I'm writing six issues which will culminate in the battle royale that the GenCon 2008 adventure described, with pirates, robots, hopping vampires, sinister agents and possibly even fire-breathing monsters. The games at GenCon were fantastic illustrations of what can happen when everything goes right at the table, and inspiration builds on inspiration, but a one-shot game just can't have the history and weight that a lengthy story can acquire, and as much as I love running games, there are story-telling itches it just can't scratch.

I wrote my Barsoom Tales story hours as a way to scratch that itch in the fall-out of that game, and to bring to the surface some order around the story that had most captivated me in its first two seasons. REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS is sort of the same thing -- but this time wanting to go back in time and watch how we got to the wild craziness of that final conflict.

The first issue features flying through the air, giant tentacles, benches, decapitations, and plenty of wild ninja action. Currently our very own Claudio Pozas is having a look to see if he thinks he can find the time in his busy schedule to pencil this baby, which obviously would be ideal, as Claudio has been the artistic vision of DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND from day one.

Stay tuned! REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS is coming your way!