Tag Archives: rockville

Bop City: A Synopsis

This week I decided to lay out the story behind Bop City. It reveals several of the big moments (today’s comics would call them beats) but I hope it will stir interest in potential collaborators and get this project produced.

Bop City is a theme park the size of an entire city with numerous areas themed around and devoted to different periods in rock/comics history. The Park’s location was chosen because of radiation from a spaceship crash that led to unusual phenomena in the area.  Amalgams of superheroes and rock stars live in Bop City, providing an alternate history of rock and roll and the golden age of comics and animation through adventures, celebrating and paying homage to rock, comics, and history.

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Sam Bop, 1952

Sam Bop is an orphan, born in 1927, from L.A. After passing through a few foster homes, he runs away sometime before 1935 and travels, meeting or seeing John Robertson, Abe Goodie, Pedro Gilbert, Blind Blue Willie, Hamilton Johns, the ParKer Family, Chris Charleston, Mon Williams, Tad Dowd, Red Eddie Buhlett, Jordan Lewis, and Jet Nourre. He enlists, underage, in the Navy back in L.A. and meets his future partner in animation, Burk Wise. He eventually lands as the radio operator on the USS Yorktown where he meets brilliant scientist Dr. Franz Amwerth and his artificial man Quantum. Sam is injured in the battle of the Coral Sea and comes home. He rejoins Wise in Hollywood and along with Wertham they develop 3D tech which gives their studio a huge boost. Sam goes to work at the border radio station XION in Mexico where he makes his first million with Amwerth’s help, selling bizarre tech trinkets. He also meets and hires Angel Black. Joining Wise as the Wacky Boys, he finances their first animated short, Manic Melody, in 1945. Stars continue to pass through Sam’s life, either visiting the studio or when he goes to see them, and the idea of building a venue to celebrate American music coalesces.

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Rockville, Crittenden County, Arkansas

In 1950 two spacecraft arrive in the Memphis area while Sam is there scouting locations. One ship carries a vicious killer, the Sheb; it crashes due to damage inflicted by its pursuers, the Elgim (Little Green Men). Radiation from the two ships (primarily the first) contaminates a huge area around Memphis, travels down the Mississippi, and is carried upstream by rail travelers to Chicago. The Sheb’s ship crashes at Junior and Maggie Yasgur’s farm and causes their livestock to be mutated into anthropomorphic, cartoon-like creatures which Sam gathers, christens the Wacky Wascals, and takes to Hollywood to begin making live-action toons. The Sheb suffers severe neurological damage in the crash and the Elgim seize the opportunity to use their talents, which we perceive as musical, to heal him. Because both ships are damaged beyond repair, they decide to pursue a career as entertainers. Amwerth is aware of them and helps them assimilate to human society as he gathers their genetic material for his own uses.

In 1951 the Wacky Boys’ first feature, Time Machine: 2051, is released, beginning a phenomenally successful reign for the studio in animation and live-action. Over time the Wacky Boys studio is responsible for hundreds of films and television shows and expands into a media titan, encompassing Broadway, touring productions, concerts, publishing, software and net content, and advertising.

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Dr. Franz Amwerth, ca. 1939

Amwerth frequently accompanies Sam as he visits entertainers. As Sam builds relationships for his project Amwerth is collecting DNA samples for his own: combining the aliens’ DNA with that of the performers to create a quanta-powered army to facilitate his planet’s takeover of Earth. Amwerth is a deep-cover agent who orchestrated Hitler’s rise to power with the intention of conquering the planet while it was in chaos. He did not foresee the development of atomic weapons and his plan failed, so the Quantum project is Plan B. Because of his failure from a lack of foresight, he has developed the Cassandra 6000, a prophecy device. It allows him to predict trends but not to see individuals’ futures. He develops quantas and places them in positions of power in the government and military, waiting for the chance to complete his mission. He also develops quantas for the Park, creating entertainers who can provide their own lightshow or stage spectacular displays, especially in combination with other quantas. These events are referred to as Fight SeensTM and can be compared to professional wrestling.

In 1953 Sam makes his pitch to Rockville, Arkansas, to buy their town, relocate anyone who doesn’t want to stay, and build Bop City. He promises a generation of prosperity for any who remain. In 1955 he holds a groundbreaking celebration and invites several golden-age adventurer-heroes to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the end of WWII. Amwerth seizes the opportunity to gather the heroes’ DNA while Sam encourages them to remain and participate in his Park. These heroes are representative of heroes past, with patriotic, jungle, cowboy, detective, spy, aviator, and science-hero archetypes.

overview2 Bop City Opening Day, 1959

After a series of successes and setbacks, Bop City opens in 1959. Founded on the burgeoning rock and roll sound, it is ridiculed and expected to fail. Organized crime figures are infuriated at Sam’s development, as it encroaches on their operations in the river town. As a measure of revenge, they bring about a plane crash that kills some early stars of rock. Nevertheless, the Park endures and truly explodes in the next decade when the Littlepool theme opens, capitalizing on the British Invasion. The figures responsible for this explosion allow Amwerth to create several significantly more powerful quantas. Amwerth believes his mission will be accomplished much more quickly, but the reverse is actually the case; the Elgim have known about Amwerth all along and have maintained control of the quantas through manipulation of their alien DNA. It is during this period that the quantas begin to form three groups: those who know about Amwerth and oppose his efforts, those who know but go along, overriding the Elgims’ control, and those who are unaware of any subterfuge and operate on the superficial level of entertaining Bop City’s visitors. A particular high point for the Park is the opening in 1967 of the PINC, the Point of Inter-Necine Contact, a prismatic, pyramidal stargate allowing unlimited expansion room for the Park in another dimension. The truly other-worldly opportunities prove to be a great boon. This coincides with the rise of Hy Matt O’Reily and Ron Tungsten, a pair of renegade scientists who begin developing a new type of quanta by introducing psychotropic chemicals to the process.

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Arrendem

By the late ‘60s the number of quantas within and outside the Park is reaching a critical point. Amwerth cannot control them all and several are particularly powerful, given the potency of their originals (the entertainers whose DNA was used). A series of public and political tragedies create an unstable atmosphere for Amwerth’s plans between March 1968 and July 1971, a period known as Bop’s Dark Ages. The Park was probably saved by the opening of Arrandem in August 1969 in the alternate dimension accessed by the PINC, celebrating other types of American music: Country, Jazz, Gospel, and Folk, allowing several of the forms that had been shoehorned into Bop to have their own place to grow.  On May 4, 1970, the Great Change occurs, when the opposing factions of quantas begin to battle in earnest, primarily in the Park but also in other locations across the country. With intervention by the Elgim and a number of powerful quantas, the conflict is ended. Amwerth is ousted and returned to his home planet with a warning to leave Earth in peace.

A period of gloom persists as Sam is forced to sell off the Park and private owners operate Bop City with numerous unpopular changes in policy. The ensuing confusion and near-collapse of the Park leads within a year to Sam returning as owner and a renaissance as new themes are opened every year as the music grows and expands. In 1980 Sam visits London and meets Nigel Stuart at the Venue. They discuss how music might have been different had the tragedy of February 1959 not taken place. Moved by this talk, Stuart decides to pursue his work in time travel and initiates the series of events that would create REWIND, an organization of operatives who rescue entertainers from the accidental deaths to which rock and roll seems so disposed.

Sam dies in 1982.

Ldmks-Nborhds-ThemesBop City Themes, Landmarks, and Neighborhoods

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Rockville and Megatown

Sam’s selection for Bop City’s location was never really in doubt. Although he considered many possibilities, Rockville’s fabled heroic tradition made its eventual choice inevitable. The explosion of heroes in the Rockville area from 1935-1945 was phenomenal and is overshadowed only by the similar Quanta explosion since the rise of the Park. Why did these heroes appear when and where they did? Only recently has the full story been revealed, and it sheds new light on Rockville’s history and the reasons for the Park’s erection there.

Energy Map

The crash of the Sheb and arrival of the LGM account for the rise of the Quantas, but the earlier boom of non-Quanta heroes is harder to explain until one understands the story of Rockville. When the Rockville Warrior and his juvenile lieutenants the Thunder Road Irregulars first appeared in Rockville in 1935, they were the first of their kind in the country.  Although some people contend that their prominence led to the rise of similarly colorful outré criminals, the truth is those criminals began to appear nationwide and would often come to Rockville to test themselves against the Warrior and his peers who soon arrived. It was a virtual flood of sometimes-megapowered heroes and villains. By the time Pearl Harbor was attacked, these heroes had settled in Rockville: the Midnight Cannonball, Blue Mountain, the Sublime, the golden age King Cougar, Bluesfather, Southern Cross, the Dixie Dog, S’tina, the Brakeman and the Wonder Family. The Hipster, who had first protected the innocent on the streets of New York, had left his charges the Swing Kids in the care of his partner Hip Rick and relocated to Rockville, joined by fellow ex-knickerbockers the Swing Sisters, the Black Flare, and Screwy Louie, along with New Orleans’ Dr. 88 and the Brass Blaster; the Texas Swinger, Cowboy King, Allegro, the Cruiser and the Singing Cowboy from the Lone Star state; Detroit’s Sax Master; Oklahoma’s Satin Suede; and still others from throughout the nation.

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A notable exception to this migration to Rockville was the Steel Dragon, who left the U.S. and the planet to defend us against the threat of invasion from space. After repelling the famous attack known as Worldswar 1938, Paul Stellar took his crew off-planet and battled the Barsoomians for years, his heirs carrying on the battle long after his tour of activity. The Dragon’s son Evim became the Space Cowboy, and numerous adventurers joined forces with the Stellar family to defend the planet. Among these were the Coral Coaster and his Sea 7, the Rayon Ramjett, the 4th Power, Mother and the Atomic Dawgs, Space Driver, and Blueswing.

Still, the reason so many adventurers seemed attracted to Rockville remained a mystery, until sealed USAF records revealed that the Sheb crash was not so random as it appeared. The Rockville area had long seen an abnormally high incidence of UFO reports. The usual explanations were given: weather balloons, unregistered aircraft, swamp gas. The truth was, the CIA had been conducting experiments creating megapowered operatives (codenamed EDIs–Evolved Defense Individuals) for decades in the Rockville area. The frequent misfires had resulted in the high number of unusually-powered citizens in the region, both criminal and vigilante. Even if they were considered failures by the government, the test subjects were usually conspicuous and most were loathe to return to their hometowns and stand out from the norm. Conversely, the CIA and USAF were usually unable to persuade these individuals to bow to their wishes and did not want to terminate them (hoping to avoid potential disaster), so the subjects had gravitated to their somewhat-facetiously named Megatown outside Rockville and watched and waited for more exiles to arrive. As word spread through the “powered” community, more and more such figures came to the town from across the country and farther. It turned into an unexpected blessing for Rockville, which had long suffered a disproportionate crime rate, even for a southern river town.

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Sam had followed the careers of many of Rockville’s (really Megatown’s) icons for years, planning to make greater celebrities of them through use of the media and perhaps acquiring some of their mystique for himself. He could not have foreseen the role he would play in creating the universe of Quanta heroes native to Bop City, but that serendipitous accident was one of the happiest occurrences in Sam’s life. With the success of the Quanta program, Sam had become a curator of rock and roll, an animation mogul, and a creator of heroes. All his dreams had come true.

Or had they?

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