JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 26

The Morning After: Jake’s in the doghouse after Pretty Dynamo catches him with Sukeban Tsubasa!

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 26: THE MORNING AFTER

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After changing back into her magical form, Tsubasa left by the window. Jake had to press himself into the corner at the foot of his bed so she could—with her eyes squeezed shut—dash past him and leap to what she considered safety. Soon after she was gone, he closed the window, finished undressing, climbed into his pajamas, and lay down.

After all the commotion, the room seemed strangely quiet. His heart thudded in his ears, the only sound.

He tossed back and forth for several minutes, but no position felt comfortable. He had been having trouble sleeping for the last few months. Over the previous week, whenever he had slept, he had slept soundly from sheer exhaustion, but now that he had spent a weekend without anything trying to kill him, his insomnia was back.

The bed with its disarrayed and rumpled bedclothes felt desolate and empty. Thanks to Dana, he didn’t even have his Triceratops toy—not that he actually slept with the thing anyway; he just set it on his pillow on the rare occasions when he made the bed. Most of the time, it was buried somewhere under the covers or squeezed between the mattress and the wall.

He rolled over onto his stomach. In an ill-defined way, he had an inkling of why he couldn’t sleep. Now that he had come firmly and irrevocably into his adolescent years, going to bed alone at night had grown into a crushing, almost intolerable burden. It was worse now because he had tackled a girl in this very bed only a half hour earlier, an event that had provoked a bizarre mixture of fear and desire, leaving his nerves frazzled. He could still smell Tsubasa in his bedclothes: she smelled like roses and sweat—heady, salty, and exciting. The scent made his stomach ache. Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 26”

Team Pizza! (and a J&tD update)

Art by Roffles Lowell

My schedule is still fairly harsh through this coming week, but after Saint Paddy’s Day, things will slow down a bit for me. I hope to be posting more regularly.

Things are coming along smoothly so far on the publication process of the first volume of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO, which is currently under the working title of Down and Out in Fifth Grade. There’s no projected publication date yet, but some of the earliest preliminary work is done. I’m working on the bonus content: I had originally produced an extra chapter, but now I’m unhappy with it, and I’m considering instead including a novelette featuring Rifle Maiden’s misadventures while babysitting the Bubble Princesses.

I believe I’ve chosen a studio for cover art, and I don’t think he’ll mind if I say that I’m talking to Roffles Lowell about the possibility of doing interior illustrations. No commitments have been made, so this post isn’t an attempt to pressure him or anything. But I really enjoy the YA look of his style, and I appreciate that it differs from the standard style of Japanese light novels or Japanese-influenced work. This is obviously a weeb novel, so I like the idea of the art being non-weeb.

In the midst of our conversation, Roffles sent me the above picture of Team Pizza to show me what his work looks like in black and white, and he told me to do with the image as I wish. So this is me doing that. Featured up there, of course, are Pizza Margherita, her faithful dog Pepper, and Crazy Annie Shové, all riding comfortably on the Pie in the Sky.

Glossary of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

ALTER EGO: A magical girl in her non-magical state. While prolonged magical activity has certain effects on the alter ego (analogous to intense physical exercise), she cannot use her magical powers unless she transforms (see TRANSFORMATION).

ANSIBLE: Technomantic device for instantaneous communication employing quantum entanglement.

ASCENSION: The transference of the MOON PRINCESS from Earth to Earth’s moon. Occurred approximately two hundred years ago.

AUTO-TURRET: Computer-controlled anti-personnel or anti-tank weapon, typically situated at a street corner. Designed to harry invaders of URBANOPOLIS.

BOSS: Informal term for the individual responsible for coordinating MAGICAL GIRL activity in the city. Appointed by the Mayor, the boss’s identity is top secret.

CATCH PHRASE: A MAGICAL GIRL’S introductory speech encapsulating the nature of her MAGIC and her motivations. Love, friendship, and justice feature prominently. Most magical girls recite their catch phrases during TRANSFORMATION and sometimes before fighting a MONSTER in order to give themselves a sportsmanlike tactical disadvantage.

CITY FATHERS: The civilian, secular government of URBANOPOLIS. Consists of the elected City Council and Mayor, and the Mayor’s appointed officials. To offset the considerable power of the TEMPLE, the MOON PRINCESS decreed at the city’s founding that women would be ineligible for public office.

CONTRACT: Binding and irrevocable agreement between a MAGICAL GIRL and a FAMILIAR, written in blood. Because only children can serve as magical girls, the contract, being a legal agreement, terminates on the girl’s eighteenth birthday when she reaches her legal majority. Continue reading “Glossary of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO”

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 25

Wake Up Call: Finding a girl in your bedroom is an unpleasant experience when you’re Jake Blatowski!

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 25: WAKE UP CALL

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Jake spun around. There in the corner next to the door sat a girl, curled up in a ball with her knees against her chest. She must have been hiding behind the door when he came in. She had her right arm pointed at him, her hand bunched into a fist. That hand was shaking.

“Who—?”

With a loud clatter like tumbling kitchen utensils, several objects jumped out of her wrist: white knobs, spheres, and lozenges, all with long, gray tubes attached to them. The tubes pointed at him.

Tears ran down the girl’s face. She shuddered and ducked her head. “I’m … I’m r-really s-sorry—”

So dumbfounded was he that it took him several seconds to realize she had a dozen guns trained on him, enough time for her to shoot him several times over. Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 25”

Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza

Revenge is sweet, but obligatory Valentine’s Day chocolate is sweeter still.

Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza

It was late afternoon on St. Valentine’s Day. Now that school was out, Jake and Ralph sat on the floor in front of the couch and played a video game.

The game, specifically, was a port of Magical Girl Rumble for the Nintendo Ultimate. Although not a bad fighting game, it didn’t compare to the arcade version: it had only twenty playable girls instead of thousands, and somebody had decided not to bother taking advantage of the Ultimate’s motion sensor technology, so they had to play the old-fashioned way with handheld controllers.

“Boom!” Ralph shouted as he executed a devastating triple combo with Razor Urchin’s monomolecular filament. “You’re dead, dude. Just a few more hits, and—”

Jake mashed buttons until his Pretty Dynamo avatar jabbed and slashed with her spear, finally pinning Razor Urchin against a bombed-out building. Once Urchin’s health bar slid down to zero, she bounced into the air in slow motion before slamming hard into the pavement.

Jake dropped his controller. “Thank you, thank you. I’m here all night.”

“Ah, you got lucky! Where’s your stash?”

Jake reached behind himself, grabbed a plastic grocery bag off the sofa, and tossed it into Ralph’s lap.

“Ya gotta admit,” Ralph said as he dug through the bag’s contents, “going back to fifth grade has its perks.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“Are you kiddin’? Just look at this haul. I haven’t seen this much obligatory chocolate since—”

“Since fifth grade?” Continue reading “Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza”

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 24

Bitter Tears: Does Dana Volt’s dark secret conceal a deadly threat?

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 24: BITTER TEARS

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Jake sat on the sofa with his parents and fidgeted. He swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and tried to steel himself for what was likely to be the most awkward meeting of his life.

“Don’t mention Pretty Dynamo,” his mother said for the hundredth time as she patted his shoulder. “Just don’t mention her.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “I won’t, Mom—”

“And if you go out with Pretty Dynamo again, maybe you should wear a mask,” she added. “And if you talk to any reporters or anything, change your voice.”

“Change my voice? How?”

“I don’t know. Pretend you have a smoker’s cough. Like Batman.”

“Mom, Batman is fictional. I’m running around with magical girls, not cartoon characters.” Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 24”

Pizza Margherita! Part 3 of 3

When health food goes bad, pizza gets mad!

Pizza Margherita!
A Tale from Urbanopolis

Part 3 of 3

READ PART 1 | READ PART 2

Pizza Margherita flew over a desolate, broken landscape. The moon and the twinkling stars offered only a little light. The distant horizon glowed a faint red, but that wasn’t an approaching dawn: it was the glow of lava from the volcanos that had sprung up across the globe during the upheavals of the First Invasion, the onslaught that wiped out most of humanity.

Margherita never veered from her course. The Pie in Sky was swift and silent. The land below was nothing but a dark blur, so Margherita and Pepper were spared the sight of broad plains of glassy sand fused by alien weaponry, of vast seas of rubble that were formerly human cities, and of the bleached bones of the countless dead. Urbanopolis was the Earth’s one remaining habitation. All the rest of the planet was now the tomb of a once-great species.

“I’ll show you, Tosser,” Margherita whispered. “I’ll show you what happens when Pizza goes bad.” Continue reading “Pizza Margherita! Part 3 of 3”

Pizza Margherita! Part 2 of 3

When darkness cover the land, pizza makes its final stand!

Pizza Margherita!
A Tale from Urbanopolis

Part 2 of 3

READ PART 1 | READ PART 3

It was now one in the morning. Smarting from the recent disaster at the Unnatural History Museum, Magical Girl Space Princess Pizza Margherita and her faithful dog Pepper had retired to the Tomato Base, their secret hideout hidden in an old pizzeria down by the docks. This abandoned restaurant had been decidedly run-down when they first found it, but Margherita had spruced up the place. However, the carpet was still full of holes and the old tables were still piled in a corner. Cockroaches occasionally crawled around the floor. The wood-fired brick pizza oven, however, was intact and pristine. It stood behind the short-order bar, where it had been in full view of the customers.

Where a stainless steel kitchen counter had formerly stood, Pepper had installed a massive supercomputer, its surface full of knobs, switches, flashing lights, and blinking screens. Running on PizzaTech, the magic that Pepper had brought to Earth from Planet Italia, this computer required no electricity: it could easily and rapidly perform the most complex calculations as long as it had a steady supply of fresh ingredients. At the moment, Pepper stood on top of the bulky machine and grated a block of mozzarella cheese into its fuel tank. Continue reading “Pizza Margherita! Part 2 of 3”

Pizza Margherita! Part 1 of 3

When killer vegetables attack, pizza bites back!

In honor of National Pizza Day, we present this three-part short story featuring the sauciest—and cheesiest!—magical girl in all of Urbanopolis: Space Princess Pizza Margherita! Enjoy this story I decided to write just now … and did!

This is an official prequel to Jake and the Dynamo!

Pizza Margherita!
A Tale from Urbanopolis

Part 1 of 3

READ PART 2 | READ PART 3

Midnight. In the midst of a sea of coldly twinkling stars, the full moon hung over Urbanopolis, and in the Sea of Serenity, the lights of the Eternal Kingdom were steady, clear, and unblinking. Down below, the citizens of man’s last city slumbered peacefully in their beds. It was a cool night, a clear night, a calm night. As the Urbanopolitans love to say, The Moon Princess is in her sailor suit, and all’s right with the world.

But hark! A crash of breaking glass! The lonely, frantic wail of an alarm! Once again, an evildoer has shattered the city’s peace—for there is no rest for the wicked.

In the lavish, velvet-carpeted lobby of the Unnatural History Museum, the night guards made their final stand. Armed only with nightsticks and conventional firearms, they stood no chance against the slavering, vicious horde that skittered through the smashed glass entryway. Foul, greenish beasts, their backs covered in rustling leaves and their insect-like limbs crackling with every twist and bend, poured in like a flood. The guards overturned tables and display cases to set up a barrier, but it did no good. The creatures swept them aside, heedless of the bullets from the guards’ pistols. They picked up screaming men who begged for their lives or called for their mothers, and threw them whole into their slavering maws. Deep in their gullets, the drowning, dying men dissolved in the monsters’ digestive vegetable juices. These monstrosities were neither animal nor mineral: they were the Salad Soldiers, carnivorous plants grown in the volcanic wilds of the Earth’s hollow core. In man’s last days, these fell creatures had ascended to the surface to claim their place as the planet’s new overlords. Continue reading “Pizza Margherita! Part 1 of 3”

Jake and the Dynamo Fan Art #3

Featured image: “Jake and Dana” by Roffles Lowell.

I asked Roffles if he’d be willing to draw Jake and Dana together, and he came through. Looks like Jake finally got Dana that juice box he owes her, though from the design on the box, it looks like he didn’t find strawberry milk. That’s probably why she’s pouting. Of course, she’d pout anyway. I like the big brother/little sister vibe he’s captured in this drawing. Three different artists have produced interpretations of the characters now, but I believe this is our first picture of Dana in her non-magical form.

Roffles doesn’t like the way I dress Dana and has told me so, so he went his own route with her clothes. But the joke’s on him: she’d probably be perfectly comfortable in ripped jeans and sneakers.

For the record, Dana’s canonical couture is based on Jake and the Dynamo‘s inspiration. Before I went to bed and had the dream about Jake and Dana that eventually became the serial novel, I was watching the anime adaptation of Shugo Chara, an influential and successful magical girl title from the beginning of this millennium, created by the two-woman manga-ka team Peach-Pit (who are probably best known, at least in the U.S., for Rozen Maiden, which has a substantial internet cult following).

Anyway, the protagonist of Shugo Chara is a fifth-grader whose mode of dress is described in-universe as “Goth-punk.” I attempted to mimic the look, more or less, with Dana’s wardrobe.