Death Head Radio Drama

Man, I have some cool friends.  Zack and Nick Keller, both of whom I have worked with on previous audio projects, wrote a comic book series for Death Head Comics called Death Head, a story about a family, a hidden danger in the woods, and a deadly mask.  (A note for all you young artists: you want to work on cool projects? MAKE COOL FRIENDS.)  I was approached to see if I could make an audioplay out of the first issue (half of the first issue, really); partly in hopes that Dark Horse might want to turn the entire series into an audioplay, but mostly just because it seemed like a neat idea.

And it was.

This features the wonderful talents of two more of my friends, Nathan Bock and Reut Sklar.  I work with Reut at the day job and Nathan and I went to high school together (see previous note).  Oh, and it’s best experienced with headphones.

It’s release also coincides with Dark Horse Comics’ release of the trade paperback of the entire Death Head series.  If the audioplay piques your interest, you can find out what happens later in the story by picking up a copy.  Get one from Amazon, Dark Horse, or select comic book stores.

Best Man Boys Radioplay – Part 1

A racing western theme with guitars and trumpets blares.

Beau:    Come and sit and let me spin a tale of the notorious Best Man Boys and their final stand in the town of North Cackallackee, North Carolina.  Known as the wedding capital of the state, the number of receptions and celebrations in North Cackallackee could often reach three dozen before a week’s end.

Preacher:  I pronounce you man and wife.

Audience:  (unenthusiastic) Yay.

Beau:  But the township of Cackallackee, and its rival-sister town in the south, had no inkling as to what went into the making of a fine wedding.  And as such, the people of the Cackallacks came to know the sound of The Stag Horn –

A deep horn rings out.

Preacher:  Oh no.

The audience begins to mutter.

Beau:  – a signal that the Best Man Boys were riding into town.  The Best Man Boys was gang of cussing, drinking, fool-hardy cowpokes that could not stand to attend another boring wedding, and so they took it upon themselves to liven up each nuptial gathering with dancing, singing, drinking, fucking (but not in the street), fighting (but only in the street), and non-ending confectionaries that seemed to float down from the clouds.

Bosco:  Get out of here, preacherman, because it’s time for ME to declare this marriage official; a declaration that I’ll make with this –

A shotgun is cocked and the audience gasps in fear.

Bosco:  – and this.

Audience Member 1:  What is God’s blessed name is that?!

Bosco:  It’s a piñata, a favor from Mexico, and today is its time to die.

Bosco heaves the piñata in the air and shoots it with his shotgun.  The crowd cheers as candy falls from the sky.

Bosco:  Now it’s time for the drinking, and as according to tradition, the bride drinks first.

Bride:  YEE-HAW!

Beau:  Tweren’t a man, woman, or child alive that didn’t relish the sound that low horn and the hooves of the Best Man Boys bursting through the square. All except one man.

Mayor:  I’m telling you, Sheriff Hondo, that the Best Man Boy’s must be stopped.  I did not spend $800 dollars on the finest preacher to come in from Arkansas just to have my baby girl liquored up in her wedding gown.

Sheriff:  Well, Mayor Cummingback, if it’s the gown you’re fretting about, she ain’t wearing it no more.

Bride:  YEE-HAW!!!

Mayor:  Tarnations!  Sheriff, I demand you go out and arrest them boys for disorderly conduct!

Sheriff:  But they ain’t hurting nobody, Gil.  So they get a little rowdy, but the town seems to love them.  People come from all over hoping they’ll get a glimpse of the Boys doing what they do best.  I think if a man wants to spread cheer throughout the town, who am I –

Mayor:  I don’t give two cusses what you think, Hondo, but I run this town and I say you need to run ‘em out!

Sheriff:  But Mayor –

Mayor:  Unless you want to find yourself on the losing end of the next election. I hear that new deputy of yours is a trig and ambitious lad.  Mayhap he’d want to try out a promotion.

Sheriff:  (sighing)  All right, Gil.  You made your point.  But these boys ain’t just fun and games; they carry hard calibers and they know how to use them.  I can’t just go out there right now, guns drawn, with all them people out there. Innocent lives are bound to be hurt.

Mayor:  Oh, don’t worry Sheriff.  I got a plan.

Beau:  And so a trap was laid for the Best Man Boys; an ambush disguised as a false wedding.  When the day came, and the Stag Horn blew, there weren’t nothing to do to save the Boys from the deception.

Sheriff:  It’s the Best Man Boys, boys!

Mayor:  Open fire!!!

Gun battle.

Beau:  Out of the fourteen men that rode into town, only five walked out.  They were told that if they ever returned to their joy-causing ways again in Cackallackee, their necks would be meeting a rope not long thereafter.  And so the last of the Best Man Boys parted ways, defeated and only husks of the men they were.  Most headed out of state, hoping to find some light in another town where they could start news lives away from any wedding planning.  Only one stayed in town, doing nothing but drinking at every open bar at every wedding that would allow him.  Since everyone feared that word would get back to the Mayor, no one ever talked with the man.  But there were a few bartenders that remembered a long ago time when a group of fellas brung jubilation that would reach the ears of the All-Mighty, and so an empty seat and a full bottle were always kept at the ready in the Cackallacks for the remaining member of the Best Man Boys.

The music changes to a slinky guitar riff.

Beau:  And it is thus we find the poor man hisself, living off of a memory outlawed by town ordinance, sitting at bar and drinking whiskey, listening to a hired band that only knew how to play depressing hymns regarding celibacy and cold showers and trying to forget who he once was.  But there is a new song that is about to sung in the Cackallacks, a song of hope, renewal, redemption. And though the first note of this ballad will be played by a young man that no one knows or has ever seen before in the North Cackallackee, the last note of it will be played by blaring of a deep, low horn.

Announcer:    In the next chapter of The Best Man Boys – The Man With The Holey Hat!

cowboys

* Co-Created with Joseph Payo

Captain Solecistic: The Illiterate Avenger – Part III

(This is the finale of The Captain Solecistic Series.  To catch up, here is Part I and Part II.)

Radio tuning.  It finds a station, where all that can be heard is the sound of a boat on a lake.  Then there is a mechanical whir, a plop, and a grunt.

BILLY-JOE:  Good cast, mmhmm.

More ambient lake sounds.

ANNOUNCER:  And that’s all we have for this episode of “Fishing with Billy-Joe on the Radio”.  Tune in next week, when Billy-Joe almost catches a pike and then has to contend with the horrors of running out of chewing tobacco!  Now, let us wind down from Billy-Joe’s exciting saga with the latest episode of Captain Solecistic: The Illiterate Avenger!

A trumpet fanfare.

ANNOUNCER:  When last we saw our hero he had temporarily allied himself with his greatest nemesis, The Librarian, to discover the best route to get to The Jack of Trades, who is holding the town’s single whiskey distillery for ransom.  Luckily for the Captain, the distillery and the library are actually in the same building; something he would have known if his super powers hadn’t stripped him of his ability to read any sort of written symbol representing language!

CAPTAIN:  Or maps!

ANNOUNCER:   Yes, he surely is stupid, and yet his heart is pure and his might is just!  But will he get to The Jack of Trades before the distillery-library goes kablooey?  Will he be able to stop the bomb before it sends the town’s whiskey and book supply sky high?  Will the Illiterate Avenger be able to save the day in time?  We certainly hope so as the producers have had enough of superheroes with powers that make no earthly sense and are about to cancel the show – (breaking character) – wait, what?

PRODUCER:  Just keep reading.

The music changes to an ominous rumble.

ANNOUNCER:  (back in character)  We arrive on the scene inside the distillery, where The Jack of All Trades is talking to negotiators.

NEGOTIATOR:  Be more reasonable here, Jack.  We’ll bring you $500 in silver dollars right now, but we need more time.  Whaddya say, huh?  $500, and you send out just the cheap stuff.  You know, as a show of good faith.

JACK:  You can’t buy me off with 500 dollar coins, copper.  It all stays until I have my money.

NEGOTIATOR:  But there aren’t that many silver dollars in the entire city!

JACK:  Then you best start asking the neighbors for sugar ‘cause I want my money!  And none of this new age gold coins with Sacagewasit on the front!  I want the good old JFK silver dollars.

NEGOTIATOR:  JFK wasn’t on the silver dollar, Eisenhower was.  Do you mean half dollar coins?

JACK:  Whatever, I just want to ones with JFK on them.

NEGOTIATOR:  Those haven’t been struck in more than a decade!  You want us to scrounge up ten million dollars in outdated fifty cent coins?

JACK:  And do it in one hour or else this booze factory is gonna see the hot end of a match.  I have it rigged so that if anything happens to me, the countdown begins and you won’t get in here in time to stop it.  AND MAKE SURE THOSE COINS ARE SHINY!!!

Jack hangs up.

JACK:  Hmmmm, I thought JFK was on the dollar.

CAPTAIN:  MAYBE YOU SHOULD DO A BIT MORE READING!

The sound of objects flying through the air and smacking Jack in the face.

JACK:  Ow!  Who just threw a book at me?!

CAPTAIN:  It is I, Captain Solecistic!  And I have come to foil your plans to rid our fair city of wonderful liquor.

JACK:  Never, you illiterate nuisance.  Don’t come any closer or I’ll blow up this whole place.

CAPTAIN:  Give up Jack of All Trades for you have no hope of winning.

JACK:  I fail to see how throwing books at me is going to stop me from blowing this place up.

Another book flies through the air and hits Jack.

JACK:  Ow!  Stop that!

A gun fires.  Footsteps.

CAPTAIN:  (laughing)  Bullets can’t hurt me.

The gun fires again and there’s a sound of glass breaking.  The footsteps stop.

CAPTAIN:  Jack, you fiend!

JACK:  Every step you take towards me, I’ll shoot another bottle.

Pause.  Then there is one footstep, followed by one gunshot and one bottle breaking.  Pause.  Three steps, three shots, three breaking bottles.  Pause.  Captain then starts to run back and forth to test Jack, and Jack shoots one bottle for each of his many footsteps.  Phone rings, and Jack picks it up.

NEGOTIATOR:  We heard shots and breaking bottles Jack!  What’s going on in there?!

JACK:  I told you people to stay back or there would be consequences.

NEGOTIATOR:  None of my people have moved.  We’re not willing to risk any whiskey; it’s not like they’re people.

JACK:  Then what is this caped moron doing here?

NEGOTIATOR:  Caped?  Oh lord.  Is it Captain Solecistic?

JACK:  Yes.

NEGOTIATOR:  Can we talk to him?

JACK:  It’s for you?

Captain walks over to the phone.

CAPTAIN: Hi this is – (to Jack) – I took four steps by the way.

JACK:  Thanks.

Jack shoots four bottles.

CAPTAIN:  This is the Illiterate Avenger.

NEGOTIATOR:  Cap, could you just sit this one out?  You know the commish doesn’t like you interfering with police business.

CAPTAIN:  Don’t worry about me, good sir.  I can’t stand by and watch my city’s sanity being pushed to the brink by some madman.

NEGOTIATOR:  We just don’t want to lose any more of the hostages than we have to.

CAPTAIN:  Hostages?

NEGOTIATOR:  The whiskey!

CAPTAIN:  Well, by my count, he’s only shot 16 bottles –

Gunshot.  Bottle breaking.

CAPTAIN: 17 bottles.

NEGOTIATOR:  That’s what we’re talking about, Captain!  We know you’re just trying to help, but we need to placate this guy until we can take him out safely.

Pause.  Captain punches Jack, and he falls down.

CAPTAIN:  Taken care of.  I just knocked him out.

NEGOTIATOR:  What?  NO!

A beeping/ticking starts counting down.

CAPTAIN:  Oh look, the bombs started doing something.

NEGOTIATOR:  Is it counting down?

CAPTAIN:  (hesitating)  I . . .  I don’t know.  But given the context of the situation, I would say yes.

NEGOTIATOR:  How much time do we have?

CAPTAIN:  I don’t really know.

NEGOTIATOR:  You mean you can’t read numbers either?

CAPTAIN:  Or maps.  I can tell you that it looks like a stick, a couple of dots, a broken pitchfork and what I assume is a deformed shrimp.

NEGOTIATOR:  Oh my god.  Get out of their Captain, it’s about to blow!  Just grab as many bottles as you can on the way out!  We can sell them to the highest bidder and live like kings!

CAPTAIN:  Don’t worry, sir.  I have an idea.

The sound of captain struggling and then heavy footsteps.

ANNOUNCER:  As the countdown counts down, Captain Solecistic lifts the bomb and carries it away from the town’s liquor supply.  Not being able to take it outside lest he injures the good, hardworking police force, the Illiterate Avenger has only one other choice.

Bomb explodes.  Dust and debris fall to the ground.  And then clapping and cheering.  Captain Solecistic has changed back into Parker Gently and is dictating to Robbie.

PARKER:  With quick thinking, Captain Solecistic lifted the bomb single-handedly and rescued all the whiskey in town.  What was once Ruby City’s Drink n’ Read Book Depository & Distillery is now just Drink n’ Drink Distillery, as the mighty Captain ensured that all the damage was done to the town’s library, who no one ever used anyway.  No one was harmed, saved for an evil Librarian, and may he burn in the depths of the abyss with demonic fire peeling the wicked flesh from his bloody bones –

ROBBIE:  What did you say Mr. Gently?

PARKER:  Nothing, other than that Captain Solecistic has once again saved the day!  You get all that Robbie?

ROBBIE:  Yes sir.

PARKER:  Now let’s go get a drink.

ROBBIE:  But I’m underage.  See my ID?

PARKER:  Uhhhhhhh – (throws card to the ground, slaps Robbie) – don’t contradict your elders, young man.  Now off to the local tavern!

ANNOUNCER:  And that is the conclusion of this chapter of the Captain Solecistic!  We’d like to remind all you young’uns out there that we do not condone giving minors any of the cool, refreshing, fun, will totally make you cool with all the kids in the neighborhood, pleasures of whiskey!  Tune in next week –

PRODUCER:  Maybe.

ANNOUNCER:  – maybe tune in next week for another exciting tale of Captain Solecistic: The Illiterate Avenger!

old radio

Captain Solecistic: The Illiterate Avenger – Part I

Static and the high pitch whine of radio channels changing.  Bits of music can be heard, along with some Spanish, but then the radio clicks in on its wanted destination.

NEWSMAN: . . . and they never did find the other shoe.  That’s it for tonight’s evening edition of Newest Nightly News at Night.  We’ll be back at the same time tomorrow.  And make sure to catch our midday edition, the Daily Data Deadline Dispatch.  I’m you’re host Phillip G. Rubenfelderheimerloben, bidding you a good night.  Now stayed tuned for the latest installment of The Adventures of Captain Solecistic, the Illiterate Avenger!  But first, a word from our sponsors at Blunt Briefs, makers of the underwear that don’t mess around with small talk.

A jingle plays.

ADVERTISER: BUY OUR PRODUCTS!

The same jingle.  Silence.  Then a horn plays a small fanfare.

MAN 1:  The world is full of criminals and corrupt philanthropists.

MAN 2:  They take our money, burn our houses, replace our jobs with robots and eat our babies.

WOMAN:  Is there any one that can help us?!

NARRATOR: This sounds like a job for –

Theme music.

EVERYBODY: (with echo) CAPTAIN SOLECISTIC!

NARRATOR:  That’s right, CAPTAIN SOLECISTIC, THE ILLITERATE AVENGER!  When Ruby City’s top reporter Parker Gently accidentally angered Thoth the Egyptian God of Language by urinating on the reference desk in the library while drunk, he was cursed by having his ability to read stripped away!  But the same curse also granted him super strength, super hearing, mild toenail fungus, and an unquenchable thirst to fight crime!  Now he battles the forces of evil and stands for what is true and good and happy and . . . stuff. But he must keep his new powers hidden away or else!  What adventure will he get into today?!

The music changes from the theme to a jaunty tune.  The sounds of a newsroom.

NARRATOR:  We find our hero in the office of the Ruby Bugle’s editor-and-chief, Dirk Harpoon, dictating his latest story.

PARKER: “ . . . and he’ll never be able to abuse the good people of Ruby City ever again.”

CHIEF:  That’s a great story Gently, but it needs to be written down!  I can’t remember my wife’s name, let alone an entire story!

The phone rings.

CHIEF: (answering) Yeah?

RECEPTIONIST:  It’s Barbara on 3.

CHIEF:  Who?  I don’t know a Barbara.

RECEPTIONIST:  It’s your wife –

Dirk hangs up.

CHIEF:  You used to write all your stories down, then you suddenly stopped.  What’s the skinny on that?

PARKER:  But chief, it is written down.  That’s why Robbie is here.

ROBBIE:  (popping out from behind Parker)  HI YA CHIEF!

CHIEF:  Jesus the Lord Slurping Soda on the Cross, I didn’t even see ya kid.

PARKER:  You get all of that Robbie?

ROBBIE:  Yeah, I got it all Mr. Gently, but you sure do talk fast.  My hand’s cramping all up.

The sound of someone slapping Robbie.

CHIEF:  Shut up and be grateful.  When I started in the business, I acted as an eraser when they printed a mistake.  5000 copies of the Bugle corrected by me and my tongue.  And did you hear me complainin’?

ROBBIE:  No.

CHIEF:  That’s right!  The ink was made with lead back then and I would pass out before I could say a word.  Not that it mattered as my tongue would be useless for the next thirteen days and the fumes from the machines did a number on my memory.  (Pause.)  What was I just talking about?

PARKER:  You were saying how much you liked my story.

CHIEF:  Oh yeah.  But start writing it down!

PARKER:  Don’t worry chief, I got it covered.  (to Robbie)  There’s a good boy; here’s a condom.

ROBBIE:  Gee, thanks Mr. Gently.  And it’s new!

PARKER: Now walk that story to the printer.

ROBBIE:  I won’t just walk there Mr. Gently, I’ll run!

Robbie leaves.  A door opens and closes.

CHIEF:  What a slow news day!  Nothing is going on around here!

NARRATOR:  Just then who walks in?  Why it’s none other than –

A knock.  The door swings open.

PARKER:  Stacy Bateman, top columnist at the Ruby Bugle and currently having a torrid love affair with yours truly.

Pause.

STACY:  I hate that you say that every time I walk into the room, Parker.

CHIEF:  What is it Bateman?  I’m busy talking about how nothing is going on.

STACY:  Turn on your radio, Chief, you’ll want to hear this.

A radio is turned on.

REPORTER:  This just in!  A terrorist calling himself ‘The Jack of Trades’ is threatening to blow up a local building.  Here’s an excerpt from his message to the police now:

JACK:  I demand the city hand over to me ten million dollars in unmarked silver dollars by the end of the day, or I will blow up Ruby City’s beloved bourbon distillery!

CHIEF:  NO!

The chief falls over.

STACY:  Chief!

PARKER:  He’s fainted.

REPORTER:  At present, there are no authorities at the scene as they all have mysteriously fainted after hearing the message.  It seems that Ruby City’s whiskey days are coming to a close.

The radio is turned off.

PARKER:  We have to do something!

STACY:  But what can we, masters of the written word, do to stop a mad man like that?  In these situations, the ability to read and write doesn’t mean a darn.

The sound of more people falling over.

STACY:  Oh no, it looks like the art department has heard the news.  I’m to go and help.

PARKER:  Reading doesn’t mean a darn?  Well, this looks like a job for –

An explosion, and a trumpet flare.

CAPTAIN:  – CAPTAIN SOLESISTIC, THE ILLITERATE AVENGER!  I have to stop The Jack of Trades before it’s too late.  The radio says he’s at the bourbon distillery, so I only have to look at a map!

He unfolds a map.  Pause.

CAPTAIN:  Damn.  I forgot that maps must be read.  This villain is more dastardly than I thought; always one step ahead.  It looks like I’ll once again need to turn to my old nemesis to help me in my quest to help save the city.

Dramatic music.

NARRATOR:  Who is this mysterious nemesis?  And can the Captain trust him, or will he be betrayed?  Who is the Jack of Trades, and why does he want to blow up all the sweet, lovely, life-giving whiskey?  Will the Captain be able to find his way to the distillery before it’s too late?  (pause)  You might want to get on that, by the way –

CAPTAIN:  Oh.  Right.  Up, up, and to places!

Sound of a glass breaking as the Captain jumps through the window.

NARRATOR:  For the answers to these questions and more, tune in next week for the exciting conclusion of CAPTAIN SOLECISTIC: THE ILLITERATE AVENGER!!!  Now a word from our sponsor.

SPONSOR:  Got a fresh apple pie waiting to be served?  Got some cocoa that isn’t quite ready?  Got a lonely Friday night and no friends?  Then get Hick’s All Natural Whipped Cream, the only whipped cream made with real ingredients, magic, fairy dust, and minute traces of LSD.  Hick’s Whipped Cream – Made with real cream, by real hicks, with real whips.

Radio clicks off.—Script to be concluded next week.  Created with Time For More Cake; check out his blog. —