Clipboard Extras: The Story behind the story of the Story

Clipboard was a long and involved project for me. I didn't intend for it to be that way, it just happened. As I've mentioned before elsewhere on the site, the story was inspired by a comic and an RP session I had with an online friend, Liz Faire. The idea of Tasia tooling around and doing silly things with my clipboard could turn out to be a lot of silly fun, I thought, so I sat down with some blank paper and a pencil and started to create.

At first, I simply drew pages with no real plan - I just let one thing lead into another. And it went that way for nearly half the story - very little was written down, except for those pages where I felt I needed to work out the dialogue and then I usually wrote notes on the back.

Wonder if Keith is going to take his tail back...
Much of the content created itself as I went. For instance, when I drew the page where Dunkirk sees Lance's jacket floating by and decides to give up his bottle because of it, I thought that would be a funny little thread to weave throughout the story. Dunkirk would think all the craziness happening around him was due to too much drinking, making him the 'straight man' in a long and continuous joke. With that in mind, I began to think of all the weird things that could happen around him and he'd think himself to be a victim of his own wild imagination. And that in turn set him up for when Hunk comes along to tell him the truth of the matter.

Keith in the bunny outfit happened after I wrote the page where InvisoLance complains about looking stupid.  I wanted someone to come along that looked even worse than Lance did, so Keith got his ears.  By the way, Lance's comment about Keith's seams was due to my having watched Some Like It Hot - one of my favorite movies - not long before I started drawing up pages.

Dexter's treatment with the language barrier was an experiment.  I thought it would be interesting to have the reader assume what he said based on how the characters around him would respond.  By the way, it's all gibberish and some Egyptian linguist out there is probably hurling a Mummy curse my way this very moment.

When Tasia transformed the robeast, I picked Elmo because her favorite color is red.  So how else would Voltron defeat him, really? See what I mean about the story writing itself?

Zarkon the chef came about because one day I thought about cooking and how so much of the stuff done to food to make it edible could be equated with torture (don't ask me how I made that connection; it's probably due to a potassium deficiency).  Since Zarkon has probably never set foot in a kitchen his whole life, what would he think of all the implements meant to stab, skewer, slice, dice, bake and boil?


As for his attraction to Nanny, I figured Zarkon would secretly prefer big women, because the skinny ones are pretty, but they break too easily.  He probably thought that slap was foreplay or something.  Okay, scratch that.  I really don't recall why I did it.  It just seemed like a silly thing to do at the time, so there you have it.

Viceroy Throky-wocky...heh.
There's no way Tasia could resist this kind of cute.

Kinda funny that while people mistook Cinda for Krik, it didn't work the other way around...

The Dunkirk/Allura swap was a story arc that almost wasn't.  I wasn't going to put it in at first because the original outline I had in mind was way too clunky and difficult.  The parts with Dunkirk as Allura were okay, especially the scene where Dunkirk punches Cossack.  I thought that Allura, in her pretty pink gown, decking someone in the chops would be a funny thing to see.  I didn't want the recipient of that hit to be Lotor, though, because he'd already paid his visit to Arus, not to mention the fact that he would probably like to be smacked around by Allura (he'd be like his Dad that way).  So I chose Cossack to be the victim.

It was the reverse situation - Allura in Dunkirk's body - that I had all the trouble with.  It just didn't go over well the way I had it set up so I thought about it a little, made some changes and now I think it didn't turn out so bad.

In the Powerpuff sequence, Dexter was originally going to turn things that way while he and Tasia were fighting over the Clipboard, and Tasia says something like "Stop being a baby...!", then *POOF*, and on it went.  But as I was inking it, I thought "Duh, Chemical X...!".  The rest is history.  And I think just about anybody who went through High School had that particular copy of The Table of the Elements.  I think I may even still have mine somewhere...

And then there's all the silly little in-jokes.  The robeast the Team battles with actually comes from a Powerpuff Girls episode called "Uh-Oh...Dynamo".  On the page where Hunk and Dunkirk are told by the maid that Zarkon and Nanny have eloped, she has Powerpuff Mauld on her oven mitts.  In the Turbo sequence, Tom Turbo drew a picture of Fishmonkey on the clipboard Galen is holding.  Where the team is celebrating just after beating the robeast, Hunk is sharing his cookies with the Kittygals, who run a fan page dedicated to him.  The clicker pencil Tasia gets at the end of the story is from Liz Faire's "Fashion Nightmare", which is the comic that helped set the whole Clipboard thing in motion, and when Lotor is dolled up in fancy duds, his costume is based on the outfit Liz dressed him up in.

By the way, if you can name the two characters Tasia turns Keith and Allura into at the end of the story, you win a Monkeyprize. ~__^

One of the best things to happen to Clipboard was the series of pages created by my guest artist, Tom Turbo 17.  When Pidge got hold of the clipboard, I wanted to turn things Turbo-esque, and I was going to try drawing it all myself.  But deep down inside I knew I wasn't going to do it right.  It just wouldn't have the same spirit.  So I sent a letter to Turbo and asked if I could get some pages drawn.  The answer was 'yes', so I sent the dialogue as I had planned it out and Turbo did the rest.  And the results were wonderful.  The Space Llamas. The Llama Song.  Hagar's abrupt visit and the end results.  Excellent, excellent work.
The adventures of Fishmonkey (a nickname I adpoted for a short time), courtesy of Tom Turbo 17.
Powerpuff Garn and Kyle.  Aren't they just too cute? For a while, it seemed like the fun would never end.  Then everything abruptly ground to a halt due to a long bout of depression I had for some time.  The final pages were actually pretty much done as far as basic layout and pencils went, but I kept putting off the inking and coloring and so forth.  I simply didn't care if I finished them.  At one point, they got lost amid piles of other papers and junk, and I all but forgot about them for a long, long time...

It took a surgery in September of this year to get the ball rolling once again.  With all the time I had on my hands during my recovery I felt like I needed to get something done, and I turned my attention to Clipboard once more.  I dug out the remaining pages, looked them over, and set to work.  I had much of the pencilling done, but none of the dialogue was written down.  Fortunately, I could recall what I planned to write just from looking at what I'd already drawn.

A lot of changes were made this time around.  The first thing I did was to type out all of the remaining dialog and print it to have on hand as I worked.  Then I cut some pages, added others.  I also included a Vehicle Voltron story arc that wasn't originally planned to be there. How it came to be is a tale in itself, but suffice it to say I got by with a little help from my friends, especially SGB of the Voltron Forum.  Couldn't have done it without him.

Once I had every page I'd planned on (and a few more I didn't), I finished up the drawings that needed to be done, then each page was inked, scanned, cleaned up, colored and had the dialogue added.  After that, it was time to update the HTML code, post the new stuff, and I was done.


I couldn't believe it, but there it was.  I found myself feeling rather happy with the end result.  And the reaction from fellow Voltron fans was and is amazing.  Many people who read Clipboard have gotten some serious belly laughs and a lot of enjoyment from it, over and above what I'd hoped to achieve.  For a fan creating content for others to enjoy, it doesn't get any better than this.

Given the overall positive reaction that Clipboard has received, it may surprise you a little when I say that it doesn't read as being that funny to me. Don't get me wrong, there were points where I would chuckle while working out a page and say to myself, "I think people are going to really like this part, hehehe".  I was very happy with the page where Lotor chases Keith to get the bunny tail and the Epilogue page featuring Throk.  Both of those pages made me snicker the whole time I was inking them.  But since I spent so much time staring at all those pages during the whole creation process, much of the novelty has worn off. While it does make me smile when I look it over from start to finish (which I do from time to time, usually while testing the updates I make to the Navigator to insure that it works), I don't get a belly laugh from it and I am still amazed at people who do.  Truly.

And I thank you.

-- ZWM

My friend Lee still gets a kick out of this scene.  He's the one who inspired the 'lobster' page, by the way.

Clipboard Cuts: The pages that didn't make the grade

While creating the final pages for Clipboard, I got some ideas in my head that made for significant changes in the story.  Because of those changes, many of the pages I had created long ago no longer fit and had to be altered or cut altogether.

I am one of those people who likes to look at the Extras on a DVD to see what went on behind the scenes.  I have always enjoyed seeing how things are put together and become the finished product.  If you're the same way, then the links below are for you.  You can take a look at some of the pages that didn't get included by clicking on the links below. The images will appear in a new window.

NOTE: Except where stated otherwise, all these images are in pencil.

Cut Page #1:
Originally, it was Dexter who was to wind up in the bunny outfit and not Keith.  Lance shows up at Dexter's room to tell him about his girfriend being on the rampage.  I don't recall what any of the dialogue was supposed to be, except for the last panel.
Cut Page #2:
Just after his escape from the museum, Dexter gets some advice from Thoth and Annubis on how to fix things.
Cut Page #3:
This is one of several attempts to create the transition to the Powerpuff story arc.  This was the most complete page of the bunch (it was inked and ready to be colored) before I decided on the 'Chemical X' approach.
Cut Page Sequence - The Original Powerpuff Story Arc:
This is a sequence of pages which show a portion of the Powerpuff story arc as I originally created it.  In this version, Allura saves the day by singing the robeast to sleep with a lullaby.

There were many factors affecting the reason why this sequence was removed.  The biggest one was the page where Tasia runs out of pencil leads just before the robeast attack.  She had to run out, or else she could have just turned the robeast into something harmless. She also could have stopped the whole Powerpuff setup right there.  But even with the pencil being out of commission, she certainly could have used something else...

As I pondered the implications, I thought about the whole crayon business and which one of the team would be affected by it as a result.  As a nod to the Kittygals of HRH, I decided on a yellow crayon and thus the Super Hunk story arc was born.

Clipboard is Copyright © 2000 Guatemala Joe Studios. "Voltron, Defender of the Universe" and its characters are ©1984 World Events Productions, Ltd.  This web page and its contents are for entertainment purposes only.