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Melonpool

Melonpool is a collection of characters created by Steve Troop whose adventures have been portrayed through both puppetry and in a long-running webcomic. The webcomic is the larger of these two areas and has recently been restarted after a long hiatus.

Webcomic

Overview

The storyline centers on a cast of alien misfits and their adventures in space and on Earth. It has been published on the web since April 28th, 1996, making it one of the first webcomics. Regular updates ceased on December 20, 2005, with just one update since (on April 28th, 2006, marking the tenth anniversary). From October 9, 2006 Troop began posting a page a day from two successive 24-hour comics. The comic restarted on the 29th October, 2007.

For most of its history Melonpool was a daily webcomic in black and white (not grayscale), with a simple line art/India ink art style and 4-panel format reminiscent of classic newspaper strips such as Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes. Larger and frequently coloured Sunday comics were also produced.

The comic parodies many popular television shows, movies and other cultural phenomena, such as Back to the Future, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Jetsons, and Gilligan's Island. Although it has a strong story arc, most strips end with a punchline.

The 2007 comics appear to be part of the original continuity, albeit set in a different timeline.

The comic was part of the Keenspot collection before Troop became one of the founding members of Blank Label Comics.

The Melonpool Universe

The strip was originally set on Earth as we know it, where the Steel Duck had crashed. After repairing the ship the crew hoped to get to the star system containing Melotia and Zinobop. However, circumstances repeatedly prevented this occurring, and the crew find themselves on earth most of the time, forcing them to try and assimilate into earth society with varying degrees of success.

Crossovers with It's Walky and Zortic have occurred. The strip also frequently references Star Wars, frequently featuring the 'rejected characters', especially No-Da, Yoda's brother, who uses the grey side of the force.

Time Travel

A time travelling VW bug was invented by Ralphie and since then time travel has been a mainstay of the strip. It appears to adhere roughly to the rules of the Back to the Future movies, though the resulting chalkboard diagrams are far more complicated, many, many alternate universes have been created by the crew's irresponsible temporal ventures. It is revealed in the final time travel storyline that so many alternate timelines were created by this that the multiverse effectively collapsed.

An overview of the multiple timelines in Melonpool can be found in this thread on the Melonpool forum.

Characters

The character descriptions below are taken from the webcomic. The puppet versions of the characters exist in the 'real world' rather than the comic continuity, and it is yet to be fully determined how similar these will be.

Crew of the Steel Duck

Mayberry Melonpool

Mayberry is the Melotian captain of the Steel Duck, Mayberry Melonpool answers the question "What would happen if Gilligan played Captain Kirk?". Mayberry is hopelessly addicted to Star Trek and Star Wars. Though technically captain his actual position is more in line with "chief scapegoat" for Ralph.

Mayberry's stupidity lands the crew in many problems as well, his accomplishments include stranding the crew on an asteroid patterned after Gilligan's Island as well as many temporal paradoxes.

Ralph Zinobop

Ralph, from the planet Zinobop, is part of the royal family exiled by his despotic father to Melotia. There he built the Steel Duck and created Sammy in one of many "mad scientist" experiments. Employing Sam as a pilot and Mayberry as captain his goal was to get home and claim the throne. Greedy, self-interested and highly intelligent Ralph wields most of the real power on the ship from engineering.

Ralph dislikes Mayberry, who he blames for most of his problems. Most of the time, he's right.

Sam T. Dogg

A telepathic dog from the planet K9, Sam was a test pilot who crash landed on Melotia. The only member of the crew that possesses common sense, Sam remains surprisingly good-humoured despite putting up with years of the crew members. A running gag for much of the strip was Sam's lack of opposable thumbs, though this did change after medical treatment from the inexperienced Roberta.

Sammy the Hammy

A giant hamster, created when one of Ralph's experiments went awry. Sammy functions as the ship's engine by running on a giant hamster wheel. When not doing this, he eats vast quantities of food.

Ralphie Zinobop

Ralphie is a clone of Ralph created by the Dupe-o-matic (an experiment of Ralph's that has been the crux of many plotlines). Though Similar in appearance and intelligence Ralphie is far more liked by the rest of the crew as instead of Ralph's temper he is kind and considerate. Ralphie worries considerably about the time paradoxes that the mishaps of the crew cause, and ventures to fix them. (However this tends to create more).

Ralphie and Roberta have had romantic engagements, though these have since ended. In an alternative timeline they married and had a child, Gil.

Roberta Smeffinfeffer

Melotian (like Mayberry) Roberta Smeffinfeffer (that's Smeffinfeffer with five "f"s) joins the crew in late 1996 after being stranded on Earth due to a clerical error by alien abductors the G.R.A.I.S.E. She acts as the ship's doctor -- even though she only went to nursing school for one week. Her purpose for being on the Steel Duck is to get home to Melotia.

Jalea Bates

Jalea Bates was originally a protocol droid named J-LB8 (rumored to be the silver droid at the beginning of Star Wars), the then male droid was disassembled in the late 80s after a messy paternity suit threatened to ruin him.

In 2001, Ralph Zinobop accidentally sold half of J-LB8's parts at a garage sale. He assembled the remaining parts into a Pop-Singing android named Jalea Bates. Jalea has had quite the singing career, including such hits as "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful" and "Overdue," songs which can be downloaded from the audio/visual section of the Melonpool page.

In 2002, Jalea's body was destroyed and her mind uploaded into the ship's computer during the "Zinoforming" process to make an asteroid Mayberry had got the ship stranded upon hospitable for the crew. Ralph made another body for her out of a vacuum cleaner and uploaded her mind into it. Several months later it was revealed that the Zinoforming process regenerated her body into a real human being, The human was a primitive hunter, and a mind swap using one of Ralph's inventions put Jalea into the human body and the hunter into the vacuum.

Since then, Jalea has been finding out what it means to really be human and currently acts as navigator aboard The "Steel Duck." She has recently attempted to revive her singing career but has found her voice lacking following her reconstruction as a real human being. Whether this was due to nerves, lack of practice, or the complete loss of her talent is unknown.

The Duck (aka Captain Quack) and The Cat (aka Maddie)

An Earth duck that's been hanging around Ralph for eight years. The duck is occasionally promoted to captain to get Mayberry's goat. Most of the time she and Roberta's cat Maddie appear to be a normal, everyday Earth specimens.

Enemies

Fauntleroy Zinobop

Fauntleroy is basically a pure evil version of Ralph. Instead of creating an opposite clone (like Ralphie), Fauntleroy was the manifestation of all of Ralph's negative emotions, amplified to the nth degree.

Fauntleroy's body is a twisted, burned version of the original -- the aftermath of a run-in with a volcano while the crew was stranded on the Gilligan's Island asteroid. Revenge is his main objective, and will do anything to ruin Ralph's life and get back a perfect body.

Rasputin Melonpool

The Mirror Universe version of Mayberry. While Mayberry was fixated on Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Rasputin was obsessed with Khan Noonien Singh. As of early 2005, Rasputin and Fauntleroy have joined forces to get revenge on the crew of The "Steel Duck."

Mecha-Sammy

Mecha-Sammy is a robotic version of Sammy the Hammy created by Fauntleroy. Because its mind is patterned after the Jungle Boy character from Gilligan's Island, its intelligence is rather limited, but its strength and ferocity make it one of the most intimidating adversaries of the Steel Duck crew.

The G.R.A.I.S.E.

The Genetic Research Alien Intelligence Scientific Expedition is an alien race that acts as the scientific branch of an alien empire which has not yet been named. Their modus operandi appears to be abducting life forms from their native planets, experimenting on them, and putting them back on their homeworlds. When the G.R.A.I.S.E. mistook Melotian abductee Roberta Smeffinfeffer for human abductee Rebecca Samantha Pheiffer, they accidentally deposited her on Earth, where she remained until the crew of the Steel Duck found her. Another notable G.R.A.I.S.E. abductee is Elvis Presley.

King Zinobop

King Zinobop is Ralph's father and the former supreme monarch of Planet Zinobop. Extremely selfish, he arranged for his son to be banished to Planet Melotia and replaced with a robotic yesman. When the citizens of Planet Zinobop discovered this, they removed him from power and set up a democracy form of government for their world. King Zinobop is now seeking a way to return to Planet Zinobop and regain his power, just as his son is.

Other characters

Steve Troop

Steve Troop makes several appearances in his web comic, generally (but not always) as an artist at his drafting table.

No-Da

The less-successful (and slightly more ethically dubious) twin brother of Yoda of Star Wars, No-Da arrives in a box as part of a Jedi Training Kit in 1998 for Mayberry after being ordered from the back of a comic, and attempted to teach Mayberry the "Grey-Side" of the Force. J-LB8 came from his garage.

Bibliography

Cartoon compilations published:

  • The Ultimate Melonpool: A Collection of Comics ISBN 0-9672306-0-8
  • Melonpool II: The Voyage Home ISBN 0-9672306-1-6
  • Melonpool III: A New Hope ISBN 0-9672306-2-4
  • Melonpool IV: Castaway ISBN 0-9672306-3-2
  • Melonpool V: This Island Earth ISBN 0-9672306-4-0

Puppeteering

1994 movie

In 1994 the Melonpool movie was produced by Steve Troop and Erik Przytulski featuring puppets of Mayberry, Ralph, Sam, and Sammy. The puppets were operated and voiced by Troop, Przytulski, Roger Przytulski (Erik's brother), and Chris Gleason, respectively. The 23 minute film is almost exactly the same in terms of content as the first few weeks of comics, beginning with the crash of the Steel Duck in Junebug County.

Quick Stop Entertainment

In 2006 Troop began producing 'Quickcasts', a feature on the Quick Stop Entertainment website, as well as being accessible on YouTube. Once again Przytulski plays a significant part in production.

Puppets have been made of Mayberry, Ralph, Roberta and Sammy. For the most part, the quickcasts consist of interviews conducted by the puppets with real people, though a few are staged scenes starring only the puppets. The quickcasts exist outside of the continuity of the comic (are set in the 'real world') and do not form any story arc.

Just over twenty quickcasts have been produced. Troop, and the crew of the Steel Duck have MySpace pages and can be added.

Performer Continuity

Several other character puppets (most notably, Roberta) have been created in the years since the initial movie, each additional character has had several different people performing in the role. The original four puppeteers (Troop, the Przytulski brothers, and Gleason), however, have continued in their original roles to this day.

Other Media

The character of Jalea Bates, a pop singer for some time in the comic, was given a real life collection of songs produced by Erik Przytulski, including Don't hate me (Because I'm beautiful) which is featured in the comic. This collection, as well as a few other Przytulski Melonpool songs were available on a limited edition CD, which is now sold out but can be downloaded for free

External links

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