Bizarro Universe

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Synonyms: Bizarro Seven, Bizzaro 7
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The Bizarro Universe was created in 1985 by Leah Rosenthal and Annie Wortham.

The Origins of the Bizarro Universe

In the editorial of the first issue of the zine, Leah Rosenthal writes of how and why the Bizarro universe got started and of how TPTB were aware and involved in this fanwork:
Back in 1985 Annie and I had just discovered the joys of BLAKE'S 7 and were reading every zine we could lay hands on that had a B7 story in it. Unfortunately, back in '85 the vast majority of B7 stories were very grim. I'm talking GRIM. This made sense, given the general overtone of the show, but it got a bit ridiculous. I guess a lot of the original B7 fen perceived the show's ending as some kind of unavoidable karma that was to be faithfully adhered to, no matter what. There were exceptions, like the superbly funny GOOD CLEAN FUN that appeared in an early issue of B7 Complex, but in general, you could count the good B7 comedy stories on the fingers of one Space Commander's hand. Well, unrelenting karma is all fine and good, but as a steady diet, too much of anything sometimes causes an allergic reaction. In the case of Annie and me, we reacted with BIZARRO....

There are literal [sic] thousands of influences that contributed to the shaping of the BIZARRO universe. Annie and I drew heavily from many sources, including minds polluted by Danny Kaye, Mel Brooks, Jay Ward Productions, Tex Avery and Warner Brothers, Jean Shepherd, Don Martin, Gary Larson and many others. We also owe tribute to the suggestions or mad ramblings of many of our fellow fan associates (with whom I intend to get even, a little further along) and the actors of B7 themselves. Anyone who's actually seen these folks in action knows in short order that they are actually more Bizarro in real life than they resemble the characters from the show. Annie and I had no idea of this fact when we started writing. If it were not for the fact that we have numerous witnesses, I'm sure it often looks as If we've taken their behavior in public as a model for many of the BIZARRO premises. The plain fact is that the opposite is true...we wrote most of these tales before, and ever since it's been an eerie case of life imitating BIZARRO, not the other way around. Paul Darrow stated after the fact on stage in Trenton, New Jersey that if he could not have been an actor, he would have liked to be a rock star 'because they get to wear all that neat black leather and studs'. We had no idea Gareth Thomas is a birdwatcher, nor that he would love the 'cute little ducks' at the pond in front of the hotel at SCORPIO (boy, was that embarrassing!). And Michael is always 'that way'. Period.

To make matters worse, some of them have started writing B7 stories too (and I suspect at least one of them is putting Americans he's met into his literary effort, as models for characters. Better watch out, kiddies It's all well and good to write 'get Avon' stories, but what the heck are you supposed to do when Avon starts writing 'get Avon' stories—?! I mean, gee whiz. For the record, although the actors are unaware of BIZARRO in general (which we prefer, for purposes of longevity), they have suggested ideas for actual stories. This makes perfect sense when you realize how brilliant most of them are at comedic portrayal.

Anyway, there are three basic rules of BIZARRO that have prevailed since the very beginning and they bear re
peating herein. 1) If you're one of those fen who staunchly believes that the Dignity of the B7 characters
must be forever maintained, BIZARRO is not for you. ('Dignity'?! These characters...? You're kidding, right?
 Hahahahah) 2) There is virtually no premise or basic concept in BIZARRO 7 that was not suggested by some
thing in the BLAKES 7 series itself. You may have a bit of fun chasing some of the sources down, but most of
the inherent comedy isn't that obscure. I mean after all. Captain Kirk never had parts of his own ship leap out
and attack him like a cybernetic pit bull. Han Solo never squeezed telepathic rocks for moonshine. They never
 threatened some poor slob's record collection to make them join the Rebellion in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. And
I can't think of a single piece of modern popular literature where the 'hero' becomes romantically entangled with
the villainess on a steady basis (with the possible exception of the Batman's romance of Selina Kyle. I don't
 count Sherlock Holmes's 'admiration' for Irene Adler). Like I said, your basically funny show. And it's got
 one hell of a silly punchline, when you think about it.

Although we are deeply grateful for all the reader appreciation, it also bears repeating here that Annie and I do have a very definite series of plans and a timeline for the BIZARRO universe and its characters. Not to denegrate the tribute, but we have to insist that the writing of BIZARRO stories be left to us, for many good reasons. Yeah, I know it's hard to believe, but all of this is actually going somewhere. (Frightening concept, no?)

Was It Shared With Other Fans?

In 1989, the author of "Intergalactic Velvet," a story in The Bizarro Zine, wrote:
One of the earliest Bizarro tales written, it's also a favorite with readers. It was here that we got our first glimpse into the weird and tormented family life of Kerr Avon, mostly through his weird and tormenting elder brother. The name "Terrick", like Avon's allergies, was not a Bizarro invention. It was a sort of tradition in B7 fan literature that had gained general acceptance through common use (rather than any evidence in the actual series). In fact, the bit about the allergies had become something of a cliche even back before the 'second wave' of B7 fanlit. [1]
While this bit of fanon was used in the story, in The Bizarro Zine, the authors give a warning:
Some readers may wonder why Annie and I are stern about protecting the use of Bizarro in fanlit, even from those who are so appreciative. Unhappily, there is good reason. Rather than go into a lecture, I'll cite an example for you of what can happen. A friend of ours who also writes B7 literature composed and wrote a terrific B7 story with a smashing original idea to it. This friend submitted the story for publication, but there was a long delay before the zine went to press. In the meantime, another fan who had been temporarily rooming with our friend read this story, and she loved it too...so much so, in fact, that her admiration compelled her to write a sequel, without the consent of the Author. I suppose she regarded it as a tribute or something. Also without the consent of the original Author, this admirer submitted the sequel for publication in another zine. It was published long before the original story finally saw print! Needless to say, this is only one way in which the best of intentions can lead to the worst. The highest reward that any writer should expect is that people come to trust their work enough to keep giving them a try.

Some Early Works

"The Thought That Counts" -- "This was one of the very first stories Leah and I ever wrote together and is a sort of precursor to our later Bizarro stories. A first or second season story wherein the crew learns a little bit about Auron biology.[2]}}

"Vila Don't Lose My Number" -- "The first-ever Bizarro story. Vila has a run-in with a vice squad and a crocodile!" Miami Vice crossover, printed in Magnificent Seven #4 (1987) and reprinted in The Bizarro Zine #4.

Some Fanworks

References

  1. from The Bizarro Zine
  2. Ashton Press, 1998