Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby MoDaD » Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:22 pm

That's a great character analysis and well cited.

EricoBard wrote:The Ninja Kats, on the other hand, are seen only in the episode Razor's Edge, possibly due to the more technologically complex nature of the thievery and operations required of the Spider Mech.


Due to the nature of that specific episode, where Dark Kat purposefully hides his involvement, I was wondering if you think the ninjas were purely a one time occurrence? Nothing more than sub contracted mercenaries so that no one would link Dark Kat to the thefts. The Creeplings seem fairly capable at following orders, stealing things and performing tasks as evident in prior episodes - their only downside being they're instantly associated with Dark Kat if seen.

I know a number of people have developed their own fanon expansions to Dark Kat's backstory, going so far as to give him an entire underground empire complete with a chain of command and numerous (sometimes even quirky) underlings, and even an extended family (i.e. The Godfather).

Do you think those kinds of additions fall in line with the character, or is Dark Kat at his best when we know as little as possible about him?
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:49 pm

MoDaD wrote:I know a number of people have developed their own fanon expansions to Dark Kat's backstory, going so far as to give him an entire underground empire complete with a chain of command and numerous (sometimes even quirky) underlings, and even an extended family (i.e. The Godfather).

Do you think those kinds of additions fall in line with the character, or is Dark Kat at his best when we know as little as possible about him?


I assume you're talking about that one fan comic where you've got about 10 different kats trying to do the work of Razor and T-Bone, and SK: Endgame. Those are the two most prominent examples I've run into in the last four years or so that tried to address the enigma that is Dark Kat.

I took the time to spend half an hour sitting down and chatting with Koosh in preparation for this most vital entry to the "Staying In Character" guidebook. We talked about the evidence, both in the show itself and in unused material and interview notes over the years which never got used, to try to get a bead on Dark Kat and his hench-things. In the end, we could only find hearsay and what-if possibilities; hence, why I said "Some believe..." in regards to his origins, or that of the folks working under him. We just don't know. More than anyone else, Dark Kat is a living, evil, X factor.

Dark Kat, as the most experienced of the villains, has something the others lack; resources. Viper lives in the sewers, and when we see his workspaces, they're hastily thrown together. The Metallikats exist in little hidey hole safehouses as seen in Unlikely Alloys, residences that would be lucky to qualify as a dive. The one time we saw Dark Kat in a residence, it was a secret volcano base. Since that was outed by the Enforcers, he could be anywhere now. Strangely, Dark Kat doesn't seem to go for the finer things in life, or if he does, it happens off screen. We know of only two instances of bling; he wears rings on his fingers and on occasion, he's got that jewel mounted walking stick of his, which seems more for show than function. We never see him sitting in an opulent throne room, drinking wine and waxing poetic about the ineptitudes of katkind. I suspect he throws all of his ill-gotten gains from one scheme to the next, and always has it somewhat in the back of his mind to plan for a failure, and to give himself an escape route.

Since I take Professor Moriarty as the primary source of inspiration for Dark Kat, with a much more violent terrorist bend (Moriarty was a Puppetmaster who enjoyed being in control of everything, something the Sherlock TV series got right), it is possible that those Ninja Kats were just hired goons. However, as Koosh pointed out to me, if that were the case, why are all their tails purple? Thus, it's more likely that they're more committed to his cause than just regular hired guns might be. If they were straight Mercs, shouldn't the uniform be enough? I argued that it was laziness on the part of the Colorists working on that episode; they saw that the Ninja Kats worked for Dark Kat, hence, their tails should all be purple. But you can take it both ways, and you won't hurt anybody's feelings if you say "They're Cultists! NO! They're Mercs!" Doesn't change the point of the episode much, which was him NOT using Creeplings for his latest project.

Personally, I don't see Dark Kat as trying to create a family dynasty, or anything like that. He's never shown any interest in fathering a child, or making anything for anyone else but himself. I could see him recruiting disenfranchised and angry katizens to further his agenda, because like any good charismatic, Dark Kat can talk a good game when it suits his purposes. Whether that equates to a Cult or to him merely building an underground network of Anarchists who want to see Megakat City burn as much as he does is very much open to author interpretation.

Endgame's presentation of an entire underground facility full of well equipped and well trained troublemakers was interesting, although I found it hilarious that a couple of Bunker Buster bombs dropped by a PMC F-15 Eagle wiped all his assets out, forcing him to find help overseas in Turmoil's home country. Personally, I don't think Dark Kat is all that interested in commanding a private army. I've always seen him as a much more decentralized villain, which makes him harder to nail down and stop completely. Saddam Hussein famously slept in a series of mansions with decoys who slept in the others, ensuring that there was less possibility of him being bombed and blown up while he was zonked out.

In comparison, in my Legacy of Metal (Mega Man) stories, I and my co-authors write Dr. Wily much the same. Every time Mega Man destroys a Skull Castle/Fortress and beats him, Wily retreats. And he always has another base to fall back on. I surmised that when he did finally kick the bucket in 20XX, there were over 50 unused facilities, ranging from perhaps 2 Skull Fortresses to a great deal more smaller 'safehouse' styled laboratories with Robot Master personnel waiting for him. This was the catalyst for Mega Man 7, after all; a certain amount of time passed without one base receiving a signal from him, so those Robot Masters activated automatically to locate and retrieve him. And the base Sigma uses in the end of Mega Man X5 is CLEARLY an abandoned Wily base, complete with its own Black Devil, disappearing/reappearing blocks, Quick Man death beams, a half-finished Gamma giant robot that Sigma commandeers, and that damn glowing Wily emblem.

If I were Dark Kat, and I had time enough to sit back in the shadows, play puppetmaster, and do all of that, then I would CERTAINLY have more than one evil hideout to retreat to at a time.

--------------------------

To summarize; the thing about Dark Kat is that there is so much we DON'T know about him, it really means that there are so many directions he could go. Could he have Cultists? Possibly, although I don't think he'd take command of them personally. He might chuckle a bit and point them in a direction, letting them unleash chaos to keep the Enforcers and the SWAT Kats distracted from his real objectives. Could he have armies of Mercenaries at his beck and call? Certainly, if he's got enough money to manage stereotypical Evil Supervillain Nefarious Lairs like his volcano base, and scoff at the military plans Hard Drive stole as small potatoes. But I doubt very much he would have a "Center of Operations", a target so vital that it would cripple his work were it located and destroyed. With his sense of planning and strategy, if Dark Kat had access to a bunch of folks, he would likely employ something akin to Resistance Cells; detached, independent operative groups unaware of the other cells, working towards their own objectives.

I don't believe his Resources are limitless, however. If they were, he could be much more destructive than he's been shown, and he wouldn't have to rely on Creeplings all the time.

I imagine that's a long and convoluted answer for you, MoDaD, but then again, there's a reason I saved Dark Kat for last. He's a hard nut to wrap your head around, and you HAVE to be careful in how you use him, to keep him true to the show.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Mikazo » Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:53 pm

EricoBard wrote:We know of only two instances of bling; he wears rings on his fingers and on occasion, he's got that jewel mounted walking stick of his, which seems more for show than function.


Hmm, now I wonder. If the creeplings wore that jewelry too, could they be called blinglings?
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby marklungo » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:49 pm

EricoBard, I'm sorry it took me so long to discover this excellent thread. I love your analyses of the SWAT Kats characters! You always make the most of the hints and clues the series gave us about its cast. Even when the conclusions you reach are controversial (i.e., the whole "Dr. Viper as twisted eco-warrior" thing), they're always well thought out.

I should mention that if "Succubus!"/"The Curse of Kataluna" had been completed, it would have given Jake/Callie and Chance/Felina shippers a lot of ammunition. Callie invites Jake to the Moorkroft Philharmonic Hall with her, while Chance (as T-Bone) and Felina have a "date" of their own as they try to save Katrina's latest victim.
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Tertiary Characters: Professor Hackle

Postby EricoBard » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:19 pm

Hello all, and welcome back to "Staying In Character", a series of articles written by yours truly, Erico, to help new and veteran SWAT Kats fanfic writers alike. Prior to today, we covered the primary cast, as well as some of their most popular recurring villains. Due largely to the fact that we are now starting a writing contest here at Megakat City, I decided it was high time to get back and start by finishing up some of the tertiary characters in the SWAT Kats continuity; characters who aren't in every episode, but who play a significant enough role that they are at least worth discussing in greater detail than a few sparse sentences.

We will begin with one of the most important tertiary cast members; Professor Hackle.


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Professor Hackle- In our own history, science has often been viewed with a mixture of awe and fear, mostly because of our own nature as a species to weaponize every new development. The internal combustion engine gave rise not only to a more mechanized transport fleet and a modern road system, but also a war machine of tanks and airplanes capable of striking in hours instead of days. No character better reflects this mix of wonders and nightmares better than a retired Pumadyne engineer who in the twilight of his life, regrets everything and strives with every breath to somehow reverse the effects of his achievements. That engineer? Professor Hackle. No first name ever given.

A retired scientist of considerable means, Professor Hackle lives alone on his beachfront property, an odd mixture of seaside mansion and homegrown laboratory that has allowed him to continue tinkering on his own without relying upon the assets of his former employer. He favors wearing a white laboratory coat over his trousers, shirt, and tie, and speaks in a (In our world's comparison) Germanic accent; what the SWAT Kats world equivalent to this is has never been clearly specified, but given that mentions are given of Megawar I and Megawar II, it is possible that he is meant to act as the SWAT-verse's iteration of Professor Albert Einstein, who famously emigrated out of Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime. It is likely that Professor Hackle's personality is taken from multiple real-world equivalent sources, with the top contenders for this role being Professor Albert Einstein (Relativity and the plausibility of atomic weapons), Werner Von Braun (Rocket development and the father of the space age), Dr. Robert Oppenheimer (The Manhattan Project), Nikola Tesla (Alternating current, wireless energy arrays, and an unfinished 'death ray' energy beam prototype), and Enrico Fermi. (The 'architect of the nuclear age')

Very little is known about Professor Hackle's past, save for his employment as a weapons designer and engineer for Pumadyne industries. It is possible, given his dialogue from the episode The Metallikats, that Hackle was responsible for the development of laser weaponry as a whole, rather than merely refining the system for decreased power consumption or increased damage output. He has also shown an incredible talent for masterstroke breakthroughs of genius in the field of robotics. In regards to any family, friends, or former co-workers, nothing is known. As to his age, he is certainly the oldest mortal cast member, but remains spry enough to tackle complex projects in his now abundant free time. He was somehow still alive and in full control of his faculties in the dystopian, robotic-dominated future in A Bright and Shiny Future, and with assistance from the SWAT Kats, was able to make his way to Metallikat City's command center and regain control of the robot horde. He was also able to squirrel away enough supplies and tools in his personal 'resistance' vehicle that proved vital in repairing the Turbokat for the showdown in that episode.

"I should have melted down those Metallikats long ago." In the course of the show, Professor Hackle's efforts have resulted in three major developments in the present, and one in a theoretical future that may yet be prevented. The bulk of his achievements have been cautionary tales about technology and its impact; he desired positive, beneficial changes to katkind with his work, and yet time and time again, his accomplishments have created problems, death tolls, and suffering. Most famous among his works in the show was a pair of robots that he modified to unknowingly resurrect a pair of high profile Megakat City gangsters; Mac and Molly Mange, who went on to rename themselves Mac and Molly Metallikat. His intention was to save their lives and show that robots could be a vital force in improving the lives of katkind. In what can only be described as a terrible lapse in common sense, he was unaware of their status as criminals from their prison uniforms. This single act of good intentions gone awry would taint all his future works, as the Metallikats would prove very adept at repurposing his inventions for their own dark purposes.

One example of this Metallikat interference is found in Metal Urgency, where Professor Hackle, preparing to reprogram the pair to remove their criminal personalities and start over, is interrupted by a news report showing a broken into hangar at one of Pumadyne's facilities. Inside of the hangar to the professor's dismay are a pair of enormous 'Macrobots' that he originally designed for deep space exploration, but which, against his wishes and without his knowledge, Pumadyne weaponized into a pair of prototype unstoppable warbots. The Metallikats take advantage of the distraction to free themselves, and in the course of the episode, manage to not only hijack the two Macrobots but also threaten the SWAT Kats in a way that the vigilantes never anticipated happening. Remorseful and desiring to put an end to the entire mess, Hackle provides Commander Feral with a neural neutralizer that puts the Metallikats permanently offline after they and the Macrobots are shattered in the episode's climactic battle. Sidenote: After Metal Urgency, the neural neutralizer is never mentioned or seen again, which is somewhat frustrating, given how many times the Metallikats return to cause problems afterwards.

Another example occurs in a 'what-if' future timeline, where thanks to the Pastmaster's assistance, the Metallikats are able to take control of every katbot worker robot in a future Megakat City and create a robot apocalypse. Again, Hackle is instrumental in stopping the crisis, but as in every situation involving the Metallikats, it is only thanks to the timely intervention of the SWAT Kats that his efforts are of any use at all.

To date, only one invention of Professor Hackle's during the run of the show has proven to be beneficial; The assistant robot, Cybertron. During the only episode he is seen in that does NOT involve the Metallikats, Professor Hackle provides the tread-equipped robot to Razor and T-Bone as a means of apologizing for all the trouble that the Metallikats have caused them and the city. While T-Bone is immediately dismissive of the robot, Cybertron proves invaluable to the SWAT Kats surviving the march of the Katchu Picchu mummies on Megakat City; repairing the Turbokat in midflight, and also, if temporarily, protecting Deputy Mayor Briggs before being overwhelmed. Cybertron, broken and battered, is returned to Professor Hackle at the end of the episode, and his fate is uncertain, with Hackle only saying cryptically that the repairs 'could take years.' Still, even if he is only seen once, Cybertron is the singular exception to the rule that everything Professor Hackle builds is eventually used as a weapon for evil purposes.

If there is a byline to Professor Hackle's life, it might best be summed up through another fictional inventor and scientist, Professor Emmett Brown from the Back to The Future movies. "I wish I had never invented that infernal time machine. It's brought me nothing but trouble." Hackle's life is one filled with self-inflicted trauma and troubles. Whatever he makes is eventually tainted by blood and terror. He is a kat who made his living as an ironmonger; a creator of destructive weapons. While we do not know if he was always opposed to it, or whether his guilt about the effects of his legacy came in the later part of his life, perhaps being the cause of his retirement from Pumadyne, that sense of guilt and shame is strong enough to serve as the foundation of the Professor Hackle we are witness to in the show's course.

Whether he will ever succeed in making something that erases all his faults and mistakes, or makes up for them, is an unknown that seems very unlikely. The course of his life, either prior to the show which is rarely spoken of, or his life during the show, seems geared towards self-inflicted wounds and suffering. In spite of it all, however, Professor Hackle has a strength that others should take note of and respect; Regardless of his faults, he keeps trying to improve the lives of katkind. In his sense of fervent tenacity and unfailing convictions to continue moving forward, Professor Hackle is the consummate optimist. If something isn't working, make it work. And if something is wrong, never stop trying to make it right.

What To Avoid with Professor Hackle: So much of Hackle's history is an unwritten book that it invites invention. However, there is a line not to be crossed; a moral core which he likely developed over time, and a line he refused to cross. Something caused Hackle to eventually quit Pumadyne, something that the true inventors in any given company rarely do except to protest its direction and focus, a lack of being unable to perform their duties, or death. Ben Rich, head of the real-life Skunk Works from 1975 to 1991, was involved with America's planes from the U-2 to the SR-71 and eventually the game-changing F-117 Nighthawk. He only retired after age caught up with him. Hackle is of a different take; given the shame he feels over his achievements, he left because there came a breaking point between himself and Pumadyne. Perhaps he felt early on that his efforts in making weapons were done to keep the world safer; eventually, his perspective changed, he changed, and Pumadyne didn't. Nowhere is that more clear than with the Macrobots, which Hackle designed for use in space exploration, but Pumadyne wanted to develop for use in warfare. Hackle may have been a very successful weapons designer who got rich making things that killed kats or blew up, but he never enjoyed it. Like Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, Hackle eventually came to regret his innovations and seeks a measure of penance in his twilight years. Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Prize to inspire science for the good of humanity; Professor Hackle retired from the ironmonger's trade and attempted to put his talents to better use.

This innate moral core is an absolute to his character, and ties in strongly with his tenacity. Professor Hackle may be many things, but he will always regret what his hands have wrought. And he will always try to make up for it.


Next Time on Staying In Character: Professor Abi/Abby Sinian
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby marklungo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:08 pm

Sidenote: After Metal Urgency, the neural neutralizer is never mentioned or seen again...


Which leads to an interesting Unresolved Question: Why not?
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:24 pm

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12329701/2/SWAT-Kats-Transitions

This was my answer to that exact question.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby LadyStormcrow » Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:34 pm

I know I haven't commented before, but I'm really enjoying all these :) As someone who's only come back to the show recently and is trying to get back into writing, they're very thought-provoking.

One thing - Hackle does specifically mention that he left Pumadyne because of them wanting to use the Macrobots for destructive purposes ("That's why I resigned!"). It was a 'last straw' situation, but it's still the canon reason he gives.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:14 am

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Dr. Abby Sinian- An archaeologist and curator of the Megakat Museum of (Natural) History would seem an unusual candidate to be involved in so many of the high-stakes situations Megakat City finds itself plagued with. In spite of this, Professor (Dr.) Abby Sinian carries out her duties with remarkable focus and aplomb, and when the need arises, provides just the right tidbits of information that the SWAT Kats and the Enforcers require to get the job done.

Like so many in the tertiary cast of characters, Professor Sinian's background is an open book for interpretation. It is expected that she attended one, or several higher schools and universities to get her bachelor's, master's, and finally doctoral degree in the fields of history, preservation, and archaeological techniques. Her skill with both dig sites and sorting through old documents without damaging them indicates she has multiple skills within her fields, each of which would require several years of work. Just as many other kats do, Abby Sinian has an accent with a direct relation to a real-world New England/English accent, but one which goes unexplained in the course of the show. There is no evidence as to whether she is single, dating, or in a long-term relationship or marriage. When she is seen, it is with a purpose; like Ann Gora and Professor Hackle, she serves the role as a helper/enabler, moving the plot along by supplying the necessary tools, advice, and background to solve the crisis of the week.

Twice in her career, she has been directly involved with the supervillain known as The Pastmaster; once at his initial resurrection, and again when he used the power of Katchu Picchu's ruins for his own ends. While even less of a fighter than Deputy Mayor Briggs, Sinian is the living embodiment of the principle that knowledge is power. When everyone else was clueless as to who or what the little 'troll' running around Megakat City was, or what his intention was, Sinian was able to both identify him as well as the tome of time as the particular macguffin that needed to be dealt with. Later on, her presence at the Katchu Picchu dig site and her knowledge of the ruins' purpose allowed her to supply the SWAT Kats with the knowledge that the jeweled headdress The Pastmaster had produced was the trinket to be destroyed.

Her talents in knowledge also have a strong link not only to natural history, but supernatural history as well. In her only non-Pastmaster related appearance, Dr. Sinian was present when the decayed aircraft of the infamous Red Lynx from Megawar II was dredged up and put on display. The return of the vengeful ghost led to an ongoing struggle to keep Mayor Manx from being murdered because of the actions of his great-grandfather. While the methods of her research in that particular incident are never clearly stated, her solution that it would take a blood relative of the Blue Manx delivering the killing blow to end the Red Lynx's cursed afterlife is an answer that nobody else would have been able to come to save for a wild guess or an unintentional surprise solution, ala "Oh, so THAT'S how you kill a ghost..." Unfortunately, the natural cowardice of Mayor Manx would have made an accidental discovery of the solution nigh improbable. It is possible that after her first encounter with The Pastmaster, she later consulted texts and books she formerly dismissed as gibberish and hocus-pocus in preparation for the next time, or at least made herself aware of where they were kept in the archives.

In every appearance, Professor Sinian is a non-combatant who serves in the vital role as lorekeeper and information gatherer for the SWAT Kats and The Enforcers. In an age prior to the internet, Sinian is the go-to source in the modern age for nearly every paranormal or ancient historical threat.

What to Avoid with Dr/Professor Abby Sinian: It wasn't long after SWAT Kats ended that Tomb Raider hit it big. And as appealing as gun-toting female adventuring archaeologists might be, it's important to remember that in every appearance, Dr. Sinian is clearly a non-combatant. Her battlefields are vastly different than the heroes' own, but just as necessary. There are very few academics who have the kind of self-defense training you'd expect, short of knowing how to deal with spiders, scorpions, mosquitos and foul air/tomb rot; Lara Croft and Indiana Jones are the exception to the rule. Abby Sinian has many talents, and those can and should be expanded on. Just don't expect her to pull out a gun to deal with a sword-waving wacko.

Next time on Staying In Character:

Ann Gora, Kat's Eye News
Last edited by EricoBard on Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Kooshmeister » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:27 pm

Is Sinian ever referred to as a professor? The only person I can recall who is referred to that way is Hackle (and even then, the SWAT Kats call him "Doc" sometimes).

EDIT: A quick consultation of the transcripts (and the Succubus! script) confirms Sinian is only ever referred to as a doctor.
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