Hey, at least it's Creative - Jakob Burrows' Blog

Hey, at least it's Creative

When I was ten years old me and my two friends started cutting obituaries out of newspapers. We pasted them to cardboard, collected and traded them. We invented a game where higher ages beat lower ages. We couldn't afford Pokemon cards.

In later years I've learned that this led to some "crisis meetings" for the school staff, some of whom were understandably disturbed. Turns out we didn't get told off because two of our teachers were former punk rockers who thought it was brilliant. Obviously they couldn't say that, so instead they used the shrugging defence of "hey, at least it's creative". I feel like that statement defines everything I've ever done. To this day I start projects that are questionable one way or another, often leaving people nonplussed regardless of how brilliant I myself and undercover punk rockers might find them.

I've told you a bit about these books I used to write when I was 10-12 years old. Well, I've scanned one of these books and I'm going to upload it, but first I'm making this post so you know what you're getting into. The book series is called "Puckodum", and it started as a parody of Pokémon. In Swedish both "pucko" and "dum" are insults, meaning "moron" and "dumb". The name was taken from the Swedish version of this issue of Mad Magazine. This shows a trend in my early creative projects, which often started with blatant theft and then grew, mutating uncontrollably into something unrecognisable.

The main character is a moose called älgen Moose. (Älgen is Swedish for "the moose".) His first name isn't capitalized because he was never baptised. I know. Brilliant. His first and most important Puckodum is called Mewduck. (A combination of the mysterious Pokémon "Mew" and the word "duck". Because he's a mysterious duck. Obviously.) Mewduck is kind-hearted and pure while älgen is a murdering psychopath fascinated with violence, explosions, fire, blood and guns. How do two such different creatures become fast friends? Well, in one canon älgen cloned Mewduck in a cloning machine he built in his basement, but in most canons they just start hanging out.

Also they are both based on two stuffed toys I owned. So that might explain it.

Puckodum monsters were mostly bad puns of Pokémon. The Pokémon Charmeleon became a melon. Weedle became "Vedel" - and ved is Swedish for "wood", so Vedel was a stock of wood. Raticat became Råttikatt (literally "Rat-in-cat") and was just a cat who had eaten a rat... but who was somehow controlled by the rat I think? Beedrill became a Puckodum carrying lots of electric drills and my version of Wartortle had lots of weapons and was constantly smoking. You know, like you do in war.

But here's the thing... The Pokémon parody was just a backdrop. That's where it started. Center stage was actually given to whatever media was bouncing around my skull that given week, and copying was at the core of it. I re-told stories and blended them together. One book was just älgen going through the entirety of Metal Gear Solid even though I'd never actually played the game. I'd just had it explained to me and thought it sounded cool! At another point älgen gave up training Puckodum and instead trained and battled mythological creatures like pixies, unicorns and giants. Because why not?

Supplementary books delved into the world's history, showing complicated timelines that to this day I cannot decode. There were countless maps - a prequel of role playing days to come - and at some point I started reading Dragon Ball. Like a sponge I sucked up every aspect of that world and suddenly there were endless lists of power levels, intricate family trees, and plots that involved the creation and destruction of the universe. Of course Mewduck and his plethora of relatives discovered the ability to boost their powers by turning their hair yellow.

Each page was half lined and half blank, so you could draw up top and add narration below. One thing that struck me as I re-read some of these books was how often I messed about with the medium. Älgen would constantly argue with the narrator, getting him to do favours such as announcing things and thereby making them real, or teleporting älgen here and there with his narrator-powers.

Below is an important spread from volume five. In that book älgen has gotten bored with earth and gotten a job as a space delivery man (inspired by Futurama), but the infinity of space wasn't enough to fill that volume so in the same book älgen starts an ambling journey between parallel worlds. Here he meets XXU for the first time. XXU is the evil (okay - more evil) parallel version of älgen. He lives in a tree covered with melted clocks like a Salvador Dali painting.

So yeah. If you've gotten this far I think you get the gist of it.

Next time I'm planning on uploading an entire Puckodum book along with translation and commentary. And yes, perhaps I'm being self-indulgent (perhaps there's no perhaps about it) but for a while now I've been in a state of trying to spin creativity into some sort of job, and as part of that I'm looking back at my roots... And digging them up and holding them out to you and going "eeew look at these" and grinning as you grimace. Until next time.

August 28th, 2014