SG: Sporkman #17 - A New Profession (DCB 2/12)

Greg Fishbone gfishbone at
Thu Mar 20 07:15:41 PDT 2008

*  The Author reserves the right to excerpt, alter, or
*  invent all reader feedback presented in this feature.

Q. It's recently been suggested that in episodic fiction, each
installment should stand on its own or come with an introductory
summary so that new readers coming into the story aren't totally
confused and overwhelmed. Don't you think it would be an improvement
if you were to implement this policy in Sporkman?

A. It sure would.

Q. So...are you gonna do it?

A. Nope. That would take too much pre-planning, too much revision, too
much exposition, and too much of my attention. What I do instead is
post a recap between arcs (see Episode 15.5 for the most recent
example), a short description in the masthead (see below), answers to
reader feedback (see here), and an Author's Note at each episode's end
(see each episode's end). If you want to know more, your best bet is
to hit the archives.

**               The Sporkarific Sporkman
**             Episode #17: A New Profession
**                  By Greg R. Fishbone
**              Dillweed City Blues #2 of 12
** Mickey Dunne, a former child superhero, has reinvented
** himself as Sporkman, savior of the Supersonic Airship
** Unsplodable. Can he save the future by confronting the past?

     The gondola from the Supersonic Airship Unsplodable moved through
the water at a steady pace, pulled by a pair of Coast Guard cutters
and a thousand yards of steel cable. Mickey Dunne sat on the topside
with a number of his fellow passengers, scanning the horizon for their
first glimpse of land.

     "What are you going to do when you get back?" Hillary Clinton
asked Britney Spears.

     "Parenting classes," she answered, without hesitation. "I've
learned from Sporkman's example that nurturing and self-sacrifice are
what life is all about."

     " example?" asked Mickey in disbelief.

     "That's right," said Britney with a smile. "It's time for me to
grow up and realize that the world doesn't revolve around me and my
social life. I've got to become a more responsible parent, a better
person, and maybe even a more talented singer. How about you,

     "I've got some campaigning to catch up on," said the Senator from
New York. "But I've also learned a thing or two from Sporkman about
remaining focused and collected even in the face of overwhelming

     "I'd drink to that," said Lindsay Lohan. "That is, I would have
drunk to that if Sporkman hadn't renewed my faith in the power of the
human spirit, to the point where I've eschewed needless crutches like
drugs and alcohol."

     "The thing I've learned from Spoonman is that no single person is
above the law, no matter how many high-priced lawyers they can afford
for their defense," said O. J. Simpson.

     "Really?" asked Britney.

     O. J laughed. "Nah, I'm just funning with you. I haven't learned a thing!"

     "Well, Sporkman has taught me that it's wrong to shoot people in
the face for no good reason," stated Dick Cheney.

     Ryan Seacrest stood up and placed a hand over his heart. "And
I've learned from Sporkman that--"


     Ryan fell over and clutched at his face. "Ow, ow, ow! There's
buckshot in my eyes!"

     Everyone turned to glare at Dick Cheney who fumbled awkwardly
with his smoking shotgun. "What?" he asked. "You don't expect me to go
cold turkey, do you?"

     "What are you going to do when you get back?" Hillary asked Mickey.

     "I'm going to find the people who kidnapped Jeanette," he stated,
and that pretty much killed the conversation. Minutes later, Courtney
was the first to spot land, low and purple on the horizon like a bank
of clouds. Soon the gondola and Coast Guard ships were joined by a
parade of private boats, a flotilla of police boats, and a swarm of
news helicopters.

     "We're gonna be famous!" Lindsay Lohan exclaimed. Then she looked
around at the actors, politicians, and musicians surrounding her and
added, "Oh yeah... We already are."

     As the land continued to approach, the gondola passed a billboard
rocking back and forth on a buoy: "Welcome to Dillweed City Harbor,
ranked as Southern New Jersey's most flammable harbor, six years in a

     "Turn around." Mickey ran to the front of the gondola and shouted
to the Coast Guard, "Turn around! Take us somewhere else, anywhere
else. How about New York? Or Boston? I hear good things about Boston
these days..."

     "Boston's an anarchic militarized zone behind an impenetrable
wall," said O. J.

     "Yeah? What's your point?"

     "It will be all right," said Queen Elizabeth. "There couldn't
possibly be anything back in the civilized world for you that's worse
having a Clydesdale for a daughter-in-law."

     "Mumsy!" said Prince Charles sharply. "I keep telling you that
Camilla's feet aren't nearly hairy enough for her to be a Clydesdale.
She more of a Belgian Workhorse, if anything."

     Mickey slumped onto the gondola's deck and kept to himself for
the rest of the journey. The castaways arrived in port to a full-blown
media circus--and since a real circus had already set up a striped
big-top tent on a disused wharf, they all moved right in. There were
more elephants than at a usual press conference, and it was sometimes
hard to tell the reporters from the clowns, but otherwise it worked
out pretty well.

     The story Mickey pieced together was that there had been no
search for survivors because the Unsplodable's exploding gas envelope
had been photographed by a research satellite doing a survey of North
Atlantic icebergs. The dramatic image had graced the front pages of
newspapers worldwide, and all passengers and crew were presumed to
have been instantly vaporized by the blast.

     "We were saved by a superguy who called himself Sporkman," Samuel
L. Jackson told an assembly of cable news reporters. "Motherfarker
came out of the clouds and cut us free, just before the big explosion.
Then he vanished into the motherfarkin' air, and we never saw him

     "We didn't?" Lindsay Lohan looked over at Mickey. "But I thought--"

     "We never saw him again," Samuel repeated, more forcefully,
glaring hard at his fellow survivors.

     "Oh. Oooooooooh! Gotcha." She gave him a wink before taking her
place in the scrum of video cameras. "Sporkman was seven feet tall
with laser-beam eyes and fire belching from his mouth--but in the most
handsome way of belching that you could imagine..."

     "And so the legend begins," Samuel said quietly to Mickey, as
they ducked behind the human cannonball's cannon to avoid the media
turmoil for a while. Nearby, Hillary Clinton was recounting Rudy
Giuliani's last moments before being torn apart by lemurs.

     "His last words," said Hillary, "were that the only regret in his
life was that he hadn't been able to officially withdraw from the race
and put his full support behind me and my campaign. Seeing my calm and
collected reaction to the crisis convinced him that I would be a more
effective Commander in Chief than any other candidate in the race,
himself included."

     "It's a bad day for the truth," Mickey remarked. "But thanks for
covering for me."

     "You saved my life, motherfarker, and I still owe you for that.
If you're ever in Hollywood, have your people call my people."

     Mickey frowned. "Why can't I call you directly?"

     "Because that's not the way things are done in L.A.--it would be
like walking somewhere instead of taking your car. Everybody who's
anybody in the film world has people, and you need to have your people
contact their people."

     "What if I don't have people?"

     "Honestly," said Samuel, "I have no motherfarkin' idea."

     "That must be why I haven't been able to get in touch with my
mother, now that she's an actress."

     "Your mother?"

     "Emma Dunne."

     "Oh, yeah? The motherfarkin' Narrator? I'll have my people call
her people as soon as I get back. Then her people will get back to
your people and everything will be fine."

     "I don't have any people," Mickey reminded him.

     "Oh, right, damn. No How do you live that way? I
mean really, who gets your motherfarkin' latte in the morning?"

     Before Mickey could answer, he found himself flanked by a pair of
uniformed police officers. "Michael Dunne?" one of them asked.

     Mickey swallowed hard and nodded almost imperceptibly.

     "Come with us, please."

     "Hey, good luck, Mickey!" Samuel called after him. "I hope you're
able to get yourself some people real soon!"

     The officers led Mickey from the tent to their cruiser, and drove
him to Dillweed City police headquarters downtown. There, they put him
in an interrogation room and asked him to wait. "The Captain's anxious
to talk to you."

     "I'll bet he is," Mickey replied bitterly. The officers left and
Mickey paced back and forth in the tiny room, pausing only to wipe a
finger through the dust on the window grill. He could dig it out of
the concrete with his spork, given enough time, but that would be a
cowardly way out. It was better, he knew, to face up to his fate--no
matter how unpleasant it would be.

     The door opened and the police captain filled the frame with his
broad shoulders and muscular girth. His blue eyes squinted out from a
nest of permanent scowl-lines under tightly-knitted brows. "So,


     "I'm surprised to see you back here."

     "I'm surprised as well," Mickey admitted.

     The Captain's left eyebrow raised, and a vein pulsed on the front
of his neck. "Do you remember what I said would happen if you ever
returned to my jurisdiction?"

     Mickey nodded.

     "And now, here you are." The Captain clenched the knuckles on one
of his beefy hands.

     "I'm not ready yet, sir," Mickey blurted out. "If you let me go
on my way--"

     "It's too late for that, Michael. Your days of random wandering
are over." The Captain slammed a small metal box onto the
interrogation room's desk. He paused for a moment, as if he had
expected Mickey to flinch at the unexpected noise and instead raised
an eyebrow at his lack of reaction. "Patrolman Dunne, this is your
gun, your badge, your cuffs, and your half-off discount card for the
Donut Shack. Pick up a uniform from the supply sergeant and report to
the squad room for your first assignment."

     "But sir, I don't want to--"

     "You made me a promise, boy," the Captain reminded him. "While
you've been overseas 'finding yourself,' this job has been waiting for
you. And so have I."

     Mickey sighed. "Thanks," he said, with a notable lack of enthusiasm.

     "When you're on duty, you will address me as Captain or Sir--and
Michael?" The Captain cracked a rare smile. "I always knew you were
born to be a cop. Not just because you got the highest-ever score on
the police exam, but because you have crime-fighting in your blood.
And I ought to know because I'm the one who put it there."

     "Yeah, thanks a lot for that...Dad."





Find out in the next verbal SAT lesson of the Sporktastic Sporkman,
only on SUPERGUY!


While the Superguy version of Britney Spears was learning important
life lessons and turning into a well adjusted and responsible young
woman, the Real Life version continued to become more and more of a
self-parody. At this point, having Britney win a "Mother of the Year"
award would be just about the funniest thing I could ever write.

And I was so proud of myself for having Prince Charles in so many
episodes and only doing a single obligatory joke each about the size
of his ears and the equine appearance of his second wife. It feels
like zero jokes on either topic would be a failure to live up to
expectations, one joke is just right, two to eleven jokes are
excessive, while a dozen or more becomes funny again for being so over
the top. There's got to be a doctoral thesis about that somewhere.

With this episode, the celebrity parody phase of the story grinds to
an end and the police procedural phase kicks off. "Dillweed City
Blues" is a reference to "Hill Street Blues", a police show that I
never actually watched but have heard good things about. Police
stories aren't a particular strong point of mine but I had to do this
one because Mickey's father in the original series was a police
captain with great expectations that his superhero-worshipping son
would eventually get over his unrealistic obsessions and follow in his
old man's footsteps. Mickey, who bristles under any sort of authority
and pursues his own brand of justice, would make a great "loose
cannon" character on any police force--if he stayed with it long
enough to grow into that role. It's kind of a shame that he won't be
in uniform long enough in this story for that to happen...

For more details on the current status of Boston in the 000SUPERGUY
universe, I direct you to the works of Eric Burns.

Greg R. Fishbone -
* President: Class of 2k7 -
* ARA: New England SCBWI -

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