Elsie Hooper

Elsie Hooper

Infobox webcomic|
title = Elsie Hooper


caption = "Elsie Hooper" heroes Ridley Hooper and Trent Gardner in a classic pose featuring hard shafts of light, heavy black inking, and jagged edges.
author = Robert D. Krzykowski
url = http://www.elsiehooper.com/
status = Weekly
began = 2002 December
ended =
genre = Horror, Action, Sci-fi, Black comedy
ratings =

"Elsie Hooper" is a black and white horror serial that began printing in December of 2002. The strip appears regularly in the "UMass Daily Collegian". Since August 2003, "Elsie Hooper" has been in the works as a motion picture in Hollywoodcite news
url=http://www.masslive.com/weblogs/movieboy/index.ssf?/mtlogs/mass_movieboy/archives/2004_03.html#016313
publisher=MassLive.com
title=Original Movie Boy article
date=March 2, 2004
] - the first online comic ever to do soFact|date=February 2007 - and has gained a substantial cult following on the net.cite news
url=http://www.masslive.com/blogs/movieboy/index.ssf?/mtlogs/mass_movieboy/archives/2005_06.html#065575
publisher=MassLive.com
title=Movie Boy interview
date=June 22, 2005
] Strips are posted weekly, often with additional gallery art or bizarre scribbles from the artist, Robert D. Krzykowski.

The Serial

"Elsie Hooper" is set in sleepy small-town America, in the fictional town of Campbell Falls, and follows the progress of Ridley Hooper from the morning he wakes up to find the streets silent, sunless, and infested with strange creatures referred to as 'shadowmen'. The journey Ridley embarks on is subtle and very human - not to save the world, or even his small town; nor for the love of a well-proportioned heroine - he fights simply to be reunited with his younger sister, Elsie Hooper.

As Ridley searches the empty neighbourhoods for signs of life and gathers strange hints as to Elsie's whereabouts, he is joined in his cause by two eclectic companions - a young boy named Trent, who possesses an unexplained link to the thoughts and intentions of the shadowmen, and Arch Stenton: an old man with nothing left to lose, who seems intent on making his last stand. Together, the three move through the nightmare towards the place where Elsie is held by the sinister leaders of the infestation.

The Characters

Ridley Hooper

Ridley is the everyman protagonist of the serial, and is by no means an action hero. We learn early on that both parents are dead, which may go some way towards explaining his determination not to lose Elsie to the shadowmen. He is not a naturally violent person - he mentions a hunting trip when his father remarked that Ridley 'was a good shot but [he] didn't have the instinct'. Despite his initial revulsion at the anger brought out in him by the shadowmen, Ridley soon develops the instinct through necessity and frustration, but retains his stoicism and dry humour throughout the serial. His fraternal instinct to protect Elsie translates naturally into protecting Trent, and this gives him new energy and resourcefulness when it comes to facing down shadowmen. He is also, interestingly, the only member of the group who sees truce as a possibility, and takes pity on fallen shadowmen.

Trent Gardner

Trent is the first fellow human encountered by Ridley, and quite possibly the only thing standing between Elsie and her fate at the hands of the shadowmen. Like Elsie, Trent has been selected to provide immortality for the invading force by acting as a vessel for their minds. However, this mental link has proven to be a powerful asset to the trio of survivors, as it provides an early warning system whenever the shadowmen turn their attention towards them. Aside from this, Trent also fulfils a role of companionship and optimism, not to mention little league standard pitching of grenades in a tight spot.

Arch Stenton

If you could imagine Commissioner Gordon with his back against the wall, a fire axe, and a score to settle, you might get an idea of the position Stenton finds himself in with the arrival of the shadowmen. Having been persuaded by his family to check into the hospital overnight for chest pains, the aging policeman awakes to find everything taken away from him - including his chances of survival when he is critically injured by a shadowman. Now he has no reason to hold back, and no desire to lose to the infestation, whatever the cost. Like Ridley, Stenton is a gentle person hardened by circumstance, but age has reduced his compassion for their aggressors.

Elsie Hooper

Not much has been revealed about Elsie, either in the narrative or from Ridley's mentions of her. She seems almost emotionless when she appears in the strip, but makes clear that she believes Ridley will come for her. Although the serial is centred around her, she is the only main character who does not give her own side of the story at any point, and in fact rarely speaks at all.

Father and Leader

The enigmatic and threatening pair at the head of the shadowmen's invasion play an unexplained double role, in which Leader is in charge of their operation, but Father is very much the one calling the shots. Although we know the purpose of their presence in Campbell Falls, we know very little about their identities or reasoning.

Motion Picture Project

In August 2003, only months after Elsie Hooper's debut online and in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Krzykowski was contacted by producers Troy Neighbors [ cite news
url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106950/
publisher=Internet Movie Database
title=Fortress on IMDB
year=2006
] and Steve Traxler [ cite news
url=http://www.hollywood.com/celebs/detail/id/1567310
publisher=Hollywood.com
title=Hollywood.com Profile for Steve Traxler
year=2006
] from Impact Entertainment in Hollywood, California, wishing to produce a feature length, live-action motion picture of the serialized comic strip. [ cite news
url=|publisher=The Greenfield Recorder
title=The Greenfield Recorder
year=2004
] Nearly a year later, the project had moved away from Impact Entertainment and into new hands. Since 2003, Elsie Hooper has traded hands from at least six producers and numerous motion picture studios. [ cite news
url=http://www.masslive.com/blogs/movieboy/index.ssf?/mtlogs/mass_movieboy/archives/2005_06.html#065575
publisher=MassLive.com
title=Movie Boy interview
date=June 22, 2005
]

The project is currently with White Rock Lake Productions [ cite news
url=http://whiterocklakeproductions.com/
publisher=White Rock Lake Productions
title=Elsie Hooper at White Rock Lake Productions
date=August, 2006
] and The Artists & Directors Cooperative [ cite news
url=http://artistsanddirectors.com/
publisher=The Artists & Directors Cooperative
title=Elsie Hooper at The Artists & Directors Cooperative
date=August, 2006
] in Hollywood, CA. It has been announced that the Aaron Sims Company [ cite news
url=http://www.aaron-sims.com/
publisher=The Aaron Sims Company
title=The Aaron Sims Company
date=April 23, 2007
] will be handling the special creature effects for the villainous Shadowmen in Elsie Hooper. [ cite news
url=http://www.elsiehooper.com/index.htm?blogentryid=1445761
publisher=Elsie Hooper
title=Aaron Sims to helm visual effects for Elsie Hooper
date=April 23, 2007
] Krzykowski and affiliated filmmakers on the Elsie Hooper project remain notoriously tight-lipped about the production and its evolution as a motion picture in development.

Origins

The serialized comic originated as a storyboard for a "backyard" movie that Krzykowski planned to shoot in the summer of 2003. While drawing storyboards in class at UMass, a student noticed the art and suggested Krzykowski submit the work to the student newspaper, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. Krzykowski approached the editor at The Collegian about printing the strip in the paper. He didn't actually expect the comic to be accepted, but to his surprise, it was. Due to the serialized nature of the strip, the demand for a website [http://www.elsiehooper.com] grew from those who would miss the strip in print on their off days of classes.

Shadowmen came from a fever dream Krzykowski had as a child. His fever was so severe that he saw strange, gangly creaures stalking his neighborhood. He says to this day that it was the most terrifying thing he has seen in his life. Following this experience, he created heroes in his mind that would fight these creatures. From these early characters and ideas evolved the beginnings of a story that years later became the story of Elsie Hooper.

Trivia

* In the very first Elsie Hooper screenplay, the shadowmen were invisible, and a sympathetic shadowman enabled Ridley to see them at the cost of turning him blind. While this idea was dropped from the screenplay, characters in the serial are still drawn with 'blanked out' eyes, because as Bob K. explains "If I draw him with pupils, it just looks ridiculous".

* At one point, the serial featured an experimentally extended action scene which spanned an entire year without furthering the plot. Nobody noticed.

* Bob K. briefly considered the use of prosthetics in the "Elsie Hooper" movie to make the actors appear as similar as possible to the characters in the serial, but the idea was panned by producers. This was before the release of Sin City.

* The map of Campbell Falls is based almost exactly on the real-life small American town of Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

* Campbell Falls is named after b-movie icon Bruce Campbell, the "Hooper" in Elsie Hooper is named after American horror director Tobe Hooper, and Ridley Hooper's first name comes from English director Ridley Scott who directed "Alien".

* Ridley tells a protracted story of a mercury hazard in his high school science class that shut down his school and sent the town into a panic; a true story based on Bob K.'s experience in high school science class.

* Hidden references in the serial include the following:
** A truck with the numberplate "CRM 114" (", A Clockwork Orange, Back to the Future")
** A banner for an "Enchantment Under the Sea Dance" ("Back to the Future")
** There are several references to Steven Spielberg's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial": a movie ticket in Ridley's wallet, Trent Gardner's t-shirt logo seen throughout the serial, and Ridley riding a girl's bicycle silhouetted by the face of the moon.
** Several angles in the tool shed are homages to Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead"
** Stenton, when cornered by the Shadowmen in the WWII Museum, says, "Mother puss bucket" (a line spoken by Dr. Venkman (Bill Murray) in "Ghostbusters")
** Ridley tells a Shadowman that he's going to beat its "rotten head in" {a line spoken by Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein"
** Stenton's first name is revealed to be Archibald. Arch Stanton was the pivotal name on the grave next to the buried gold in Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"
** Referring to a Shadowman he locked in the morgue, Stenton says he "kissed him upside the head" with a fire extinguisher, a reference to the Primus song "My Name is Mud" where an aluminum baseball bat is used in like fashion.
** Stenton keeps his gun near a copy of the book "The Mummy, The Will, and the Crypt" written by John Bellairs.
** The WWII Museum seems to have a painting of American comedian Larry David hanging near the doorway as the heroes exit.
** Much of the WWII transport truck chase is an homage to Steven Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
** The morgue is located in a room labeled "221b", the address of Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" on Baker St. in London, England.
** Ridley chooses to smash through a door in lieu of searching for a key card to open it, a tongue-in-cheek reference to video games such as "Resident Evil" where backtracking for key items is customary.
** Ridley comments that Stenton moves "like a sack of moldy tangerines", a reference to 'UHF' starring "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Merchandising

In addition to plans to publish the webcomic as a graphic novel prior to the release of the film, a card game based upon the world of "Elsie Hooper" is in development. The game was playtested at Greenfield Games in Greenfield, Massachusetts, by fans of the serial and is being handled by Steve Jackson Games.cite news
url=http://www.griffongames.com/blogarchive/2006_04_01_griffongames_archive.html
publisher=Griffongames.com
title=Elsie Hooper comes to Greenfield Games
date=April, 2006
]

References

External links

* [http://www.masslive.com/blogs/movieboy/index.ssf?/mtlogs/mass_movieboy/archives/2005_06.html#065575 Movie Boy interview with Bob K.]
* [http://www.comixpedia.com/elsie_hooper_by_robert_krzykowski_reviewed_by_kelly_j_cooper Comixpedia Review]


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