Creativity – More Fun in the ’80s

There’s simply too many things that come to mind when I reminisce on where my imagination took me back in my childhood.

Movies and TV shows like Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Krull, Buck Rogers, and V are just a few of the main inspirations that come to mind.

I was also obsessed with books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I was such a dork that I actually carried around a satchel with a towel in it for awhile (which is ridiculously nerdy, but at least those of you familiar with the books will understand…maybe).

I mentioned that my brain is a repository for grandiose stories and concepts that have been swirling around from my pre-teens into today. I feel I should mention two, because up until this point, I’ve never shared them with anyone.

Inspired by the sheer awesomeness of Indiana Jones, at a very young age I came up with my own take on it. I created this character named Panama Joe Lansing. Sure, he was a knock off of Indy, but not exactly. He was a young adventurer who, part by skill, part by luck, stumbled upon some huge archaeological find. The discovery made him an instant celebrity.

But he was a celebrity not quite as legit as the hype. Being a starlet, he takes part in some goofy “Win a Date with Panama Joe” contest that a woman named Leslie LaParrish wins. They meet to very mixed results – he’s a bit full of himself, for one. Before the date can end, they get sucked into some grandiose scheme that plunges the two of them into an adventure to find some an artifact (the Gem of the Ancients, whatever the hell that was). Along the way, with no small support from Leslie, Panama Joe proves his worth and comes out successful.

I illustrated and wrote out this story as far back as like 3rd/4th grade. I’ve also mentally thought about at least two sequels. Again, not the most original stuff, but Panama Joe has been there in the recesses of my mind for like 35 years. I owe it to him to at least introduce him to the world!

Another one…I had this fairly elaborate idea for a fantasy TV series. Influenced by the game Ultima III, I imagined a world like the game setting. The main characters, however, were very much my own.

There was a guy (I think I named him Colwin or some derivative of the main character of Krull. Imagine that.) and a woman named Sabrina (again, nicked from the game Transylvania). Colwin was not your typical larger-than-life heroic warrior. He was instead a sneaky, clever kind, from a life of crime. He wasn’t above tricking his way out of trouble to hide his own lack of physical prowess. Sabrina was more the honorable warrior type.

Jane Badler as Diana from V

There are few shows that I was more into as a kid than “V’, “V: The Final Battle” and “V: The Series”. Jane Badler was, to me, the perfect person to play the main villainess of my made-up TV series.

Duncan Regehr as Dirk Blackpool in Wizards and Warriors

Duncan Regehr had a knack for playing dapper villains, in “V: The Series” and “Wizards and Warriors”. He seemed a perfect “villain you can’t help but like” for my heroes.

Michael Ironside from the intro of V - The Series

One of my all-time favorite actors, mostly because of his awesome portrayal of Ham Tyler in “V: The Final Battle” and “V: The Series”. Not only did I imagine him a great “tweener” character who sometimes helped and sometimes hindered the heroes, but when I created the next round of “Knights’ Quest” stories in high school, he was who I had in mind as Espynax, a ruthless general who winds up becoming king.

Anyway, Colwin was roped into serving the king to erase past crimes, and partnered up with Sabrina and another character name Saber. They carried out missions for Lord British (the king in the Ultima series as well as the pen name for series creator Richard Garriott). There was also a frenemy of Colwin’s, whose name I forget but in my mind was played by a favorite actor of mine– Michael Ironside of V, Total Recall, and Splinter Cell fame.

Over the years, I came up with all sorts of episodic adventures. In the early Ultima games, there were villains named Mondain, Minax and their “offspring”, a super-computer named Exodus. I imagined the series playing out like this – Season 1: the battle against Mondain; Season 2-3: taking on a vengeful Minax; Season 4: dealing with Exodus (who would be a proper human, not a computer). Such as my influence from “V”, that I imagined Jane Badler (who played ultra-villain Diana) as Minax, and a lesser known actor who for some reason made an impression on me, Duncan Regehr (also of “V”, but additionally from a very short-lived series called “Wizards and Warriors”) as Mondain.

And there they are, out in the world at long last.

Now about some of the other stuff I wrote in the 1980s. Well, now that I’ve been looking at some gems I created in the mid/late 1980s, I had completely forgotten that I apparently came up with a pen name too – King Richard!

As you can see from the example, King Richard was pretty confident in himself. I love it.

MacPaint-drawn cover for The Complex, with various scenes including lasers on buildings shooting down rocket ships and a man using a laser gun to destroy a force field.

The Complex, a story more than a little inspired by the Infocom game “Suspended”, by me (a.k.a. King Richard)

Cover of King Crusader, with three panels - one showing two men fighting with swords, one of a man swimming to a hole in the bottom of the sea, and one showing a sword.

This one was particularly bizarre. An epic battle against “the evil duke of evil” takes place…in Minocqua, Wisconsin. I think this was the last of the stories under the pen name King Richard.

Cover of The Ohio Ordeal, showing a murdered man slumped over a desk in a library.

The Ohio Ordeal, a story I wrote for an assignment in 8th Grade. With the exception of the gun, I believe I hand-drew everything via MacPaint.

Cover of Shard of Doom, showing a cloudy sky and a castle overlooking the sea.

Shard of Doom, heavily inspired by the Wizards, Warriors & You book series. I even copied their format of having a list of weapons and spells that the main characters selected from.

Next time, I’ll delve into the things I came up with in the late 1980s and throughout 1990s.

This has been a lot of fun…hopefully for you too!

Until next time, in the words of Ultima III….Journey Onward!


Creativity Series

  1. Creativity
  2. Creativity – Me & the ’70s and ’80s
  3. Creativity – More Fun in the ’80s
  4. Creativity – The Late 80’s and 90’s
  5. Creativity – Then and Now

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