I’ve been taking a break from the Internet as a creative tool. I’ll come back to it some day, but for my current creative direction, I’m more interested in endeavors that make something that can be held and not just watched onscreen. There was a time, though, when I was really caught up in it. Sadly, most of that work is gone now, accidentally or intentionally deleted, or just plain misplaced. I just came across this one, though. I made it when we were living in Belfast. It’s hard to believe that this was our front yard!
A lesson that gets drilled into you in graphic design class is to use just one typeface per design. Two are sometimes permissible, but only if one is serif and one sans serif. However, if we look to the past, we see a different story:
Almost every line uses a different typeface and yet the design is still elegant. How? How were they able to make this work? I think there’s a lesson here. Design rules are just there to keep amateurs out of trouble. A true designer makes their own rules.
The scientist has not been forthcoming with accurate information about the Protos. We’ve assembled a little information through observation and through interviews. Any additional information will be most welcomed.
Proto Note #1. The Protos were cast away one at a time. Some were too young to remember where they came from, and most are unaware that there are any other Protos out there. The scientist just assumed they would die when left on their own, so even he doesn’t realize there are Protos loose in the world.
Proto Note #2. To create the Protos, the scientist mixed human DNA with that of other species to try to create beings that combined the best attributes of each species. Unfortunately the creatures usually wound up with the least obviously useful traits and got discarded.
Proto Note #3: The Protos are created in batches. With each batch the scientist becomes a little better at it. Protos in later batches are more aesthetically pleasing and have more obviously useful attributes. However, to date none of the Protos have lived up to the scientist’s standards.
Proto Note #4: Unbeknownst to the scientist, some Protos have hidden secondary traits based on their genetic mix. They manifest in times of stress and in time may cause the Proto to evolve into something new. These Protos look exactly like other Protos, except they glow in the dark.
Proto Note #5: With one exception, first batch of Protos were obvious failures to the scientist and were discarded before they gained sentience. They must make their way in the world with no knowledge of who they are or where they came from. The later batches were more promising, and the scientist kept many of them around for longer. They’re aware that they were created, and then rejected. Which would be worse?
Proto Note #6: Protos vary in size, but they generally appear to be at the midpoint between the average sizes of the creatures their DNA came from. A cross between a Newfoundland dog and a starfish would be the size of a small dog. However, most Protos are actually very young, have been living in stressful conditions and are likely to be malnourished. If they find a happy home, who knows what they might grow into?
Proto Note #7: Protos, at least those from the first and second batches, pose no threat to humans. Misunderstandings occur because their physical appearance is often frightening and their behavior is sometimes strange. But really, they want nothing more than love, acceptance, and a safe place to live. In other words, they’re just looking for home
Proto Note #8: Within a batch there were often revisions, so many Protos have near-identical copies of themselves somewhere in the world. Sometimes many copies. Very few of them are aware of this fact, however.
Proto Note #9: All the original Protos were albinos. The scientist didn’t think to give them skin pigment until later in the process. Being completely lacking in aesthetic sense, however, the colors he chose were often random and strange.
Proto Note #10: Is conflict inevitable? With each batch of Protos, the scientist comes closer to his dream of creating superior beings. But this is a man who callously discards his creations just because they disappoint them. The “superior beings” may in fact be as monstrous on the inside as the early batches were on the outside. Will the first Protos bow to the new Protos as their masters? Or will they unite to stop them?
Name: Lil’ Otis
Genetic Mix: Human (assumed)
Series 1, Revision 1 (assumed)
Lil’ Otis was one of the doctor’s earliest creations and may have actually been an early “rough draft” predating the first series of Protos. His genetics appear to have come mostly from human sources. It is unknown if his large eyes and tentacular arms are the result of tinkering with human genes, or mixing in genes from other species. What we do know, however, is that Lil’ Otis is very fond of the smell of clean clothes, especially kids’ clothes. He loves to sneak into closets just to smell them. Unfortunately, his large eyes are very sensitive to light. As long as lights are on, he’s trapped in the closet and can’t leave until its dark again.
Name: Le Roi
Genetic Mix: Human, Amphibian
Series 2, Revision 1
Le Roi is the self-proclaimed King of the Protos. Initially, the doctor thought Le Roi was a successful creation and kept him around the lab, training him to be a lab assistant/henchman. He’s one of the few Protos who is aware that there are other Protos in the world, although as yet he’s been unable to locate any others. Le Roi is cunning and manipulative and highly intelligent. Cast out for being too talkative, Le Roi now seeks to find and unite the other Protos. His plan for what he’ll do once he’s united them varies. Some days he plans to redeem them in the doctor’s eyes by proving their value. Some days he plots revenge against the doctor for casting them out into the world to die.
Genetic Mix: Human
Series 2, Revision 1
Otto is one of the more fortunate Protos. Otto possesses a single arm that is so long that he must wrap it around himself when he’s not using it. Thus he grew up in the comfort of a constant hug. Although he’s strange looking, his appearance is goofy and completely non-threatening. His long arm is obviously useful for reaching things off the highest shelf. Otto was taken in by a family of Sci Fi fans who believed him to be a kindly alien on the run from a secret government agency. There he lives to this day, having forgotten his true origins, but happy nonetheless.
Genetic Mix: Human, Fungus
Series: 1 Revision: 1
They say it’s what’s inside that counts. Sadly for Matango, people rarely act as if this were true. Although she’s truly beautiful on the inside, a human/mushroom hybrid can’t help but feel a little self-conscious in a world that thinks she looks like a monster. As a mushroom, she’s drawn to dark, damp places. As a human she’s desires companionship and love. So she hides in the deep woods, speaking to hikers and other travelers from the shadows, but never letting herself be seen. She has the most beautiful voice you’ve ever heard, and even though most of what she says is a lie, it’s OK because she always says what you want to hear.
Genetic Mix: Human, Reptile
Yoko believes herself to be a baby Japanese dragon, and that one day she’ll be able to soar into the sky. As a result, she’s more confident than the other Protos and has no trouble acting superior to them. She prefers the hustle and bustle of cities, and likes to be around people. However, she’s aware that while many people find real dragons intimidating, statues of dragons don’t bother them. Yoko can strike a pose and hold it for days, even weeks at a time. She can often be found in crowded places, pretending to be a piece of public art while she waits to reveal her true glory to the world.
Name: La Cantadora
Genetic Mix: Human, Bird
La Cantadora, or Dora as she prefers, is a great singer with perfect pitch. She also can mimic any noise she hears with absolute perfection. Regrettably, her ears are malformed, with thick membranes growing over her eardrums. This means that every noise she makes sounds like it’s coming through the wall from the next room. She’s not really aware of this fact and thinks that’s just the way it sounds. She loves to sing and rarely stops. Fortunately, she tends to be more confusing than frightening. She usually manages to find places to live among humans who just assume she’s some sort of novelty item that someone bought at the mall, like Billy the Singing Bass
Fairy tales serve a vital role in our culture. Their purpose is to entertain while surreptitiously teaching lessons intended to guide kids to grow into good people. The traditional fairy tales are filled with messages like be kind to those less fortunate, your wits can help you out of a bad situation, or find courage when things are at their darkest.
Now we live in an age where the telling of fairy tales isn’t just through oral tradition. It’s done through TV shows and movies, video games and toys. But the role is still the same. We’re still instructing our children as to who they should grow up to be.
We’re expecting a child. Maybe this is just making me a lot more sensitive to things I wouldn’t have noticed before, and once our child is born all this stuff goes out the window. Now I’m seeing things through the lens of, “What will this be teaching my child?” and you know, there’s a whole lot out there that makes me scratch my head.
Barbie is the first thing that springs to mind because she’s so ubiquitous and so clearly targeted at kids. Barbie sends a message of superficiality and materialism. A woman’s only value is looking pretty, and the most important thing is to have lots of stuff. The imagination level they inspire is, “Let’s pretend we’re going shopping!” or “Let’s pretend we’re getting ready for a date!” To top it off, she’s made in sweatshops by children who are often younger than the kids who play with them.
The Protos are a kind of anti-Barbie. They’re all about learning to look past the surface to see the goodness within, and about finding the strength to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. We hope we’ve given enough of a story to start a narrative that audiences will continue in their imaginations. We hope they will spark more worthwhile questions than, “What’s it like to shop for expensive clothes?” The questions we hope the Protos raise are more along the lines of, “What is it like when people hate you because you look different?” or “What’s it like to be abandoned?” But maybe I’m just old fashioned in thinking that things like empathy and compassion are worthwhile things to develop.