Wednesday, June 19, 2013

COLLINSPORT SHIPPING: Dark Shadows Vs. the World

Part II of Con-fusion, the art of crossover fanfiction, concerns the comedic possibilities of combining Dark Shadows with an unrelated work of fiction, drama, TV show.

A funny example is Collinsport High, a Mean Girls meme, by Sanpan. It’s short and cute.

South Collinsport.
I recently spoke to Feriku, whom I met on the Drawing Room Forum at She started a thread about crossover fanfics and a collection of ideas for zany spoofs. True, she is a writer who has yet to actually author a DS fanfic, but the young lady is a discriminating reader (and successful writer in other categories) and a big fan so I think she will go places once she get out of the starting gate.

Feriku is 22 years old with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and minor in Creative Writing, and about to seriously hone her skills in an intense fiction-writing graduate program. She also does freelance work; one job is a long-term position as the creative writer for a fashion store called Wizards of the West. Instead of standard product descriptions, all of the store’s products are linked together as part of an overarching fantasy story involving powerful wizards, grumpy scientists and dark forces just beginning to show themselves.

She has had several works of original fiction published as Samantha Lienhard. Zombie fans may enjoy Sacreya’s Legacy, a horror serial, starring a zombie detective, which is available online for free! Her resume also includes the short Christmas romance, A Special Present, and a zombie comedy novella, The Accidental Zombie. The author is currently running a contest to give away a free copy of The Accidental Zombie. In addition, this summer should see the publication of The Book at Dernier, a Lovecraftian horror serial.

Well, that’s all very nice, but how about some Shadows fic?


I’m actually a pretty new [Dark Shadows] fan; it’s just over a year now that I’ve been watching it, but the story actually begins a bit before that. I can remember being a little girl listening to my mom tell me about a show that her mom had watched. It was a soap opera, but it had a character who was a vampire, and another who was a werewolf, and there was a witch, too! At the time, I tried to picture all that on a soap opera, and was completely bewildered. The idea didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I thought it sounded like something I might watch.

The next time I heard about Dark Shadows was several years ago, after my family had discovered the miracle of iTunes.

“I have a surprise for you,” my mom said to my grandmother, handing her the iPod earbuds so that she could hear the new song she’d purchased. Almost immediately after my mom started the song, my grandmother let out an amazed gasp. “Quentin! That’s Quentin’s theme, from Dark Shadows!” 

And so, over the years, references to this strange show came up from time to time with no apparent chance of me ever getting to see it, until last May, when I decided to take a gamble and get the Dark Shadows Collection 1 as a Mother’s Day present.

I’m not sure how long it took me to become a fan. It might have happened the very moment that Willie’s insane grin turned to a look of utter horror as a hand emerged from the coffin he was hoping to rob. (Somewhere very early on, we went to see the 2012 movie—the less I say about that, the better, although some day I want to write a fanfic about the show’s characters watching it.) As we watched more episodes, I fell hopelessly in love with the show. We were getting close to the end of Collection 1 when I convinced my mom that we needed to buy the complete series, and we’ve been watching Dark Shadows ever since!

Due to the fact that I’m still not finished watching the show (at this writing, I’m somewhere in the 600s), the first thing that limits my choice of fanfiction to read is its potential for spoilers: is it before or after what I’ve already seen? The only exceptions I’ve made are an unfinished story titled “Monkeewood,” because a crossover between Dark Shadows and The Monkees sounded hilarious, and Ends, an after-the-end-of-the-show Barnabas/Julia story, because I couldn’t resist.

I can get a little picky about my choice of stories, after that. If I see an idea that sounds interesting, I’ll take a look at the first page. If it is overloaded with non-canon characters, I won’t read it. If they are acting very out-of-character and it’s not meant to be silly, I won’t read it—or I will seethe for days while resisting the urge to contact the writer and explain to them why their characterization makes me so angry. If the writing is bogged down with spelling errors, grammatical errors and huge walls of text, I won’t read it. (my primary source for stories) does not let you search by character for Dark Shadows, which frustrates me to no end (has no one ever sent them a cast list?). After all, I want to read about my favorite characters: Barnabas, Sarah, Willie, Maggie, Julia… I’ll give odd-sounding plotlines a try; even if some leave me giggling over illogical scenarios and inexplicable plot twists, others keep me more interested than I expected and reading on to the end. Blood and Jasmines by SweetFaith06 is a good example of one that I looked at just out of bewildered curiosity of how a Barnabas/ Josette/Willie love triangle was even possible, and ended up finishing in the same sitting.

Since I have yet to post a single Dark Shadows fanfic, it might sound absurd of me to say that I’m much more into writing fanfiction than reading it, but it’s true—it’s just my current position in the show that has kept me from producing the story ideas dancing around in my brain. Once I finish the show, then I’ll know enough to be able to choose the best setting in the timeline, know exactly what characters to include, know what possible plotlines are invalidated by canon, and be able to do research without fear of spoilers!

My fanfiction tends to come in two varieties: serious, developed stories, and utterly insane comedies. I especially like crossovers. It just fascinates me to think of two different worlds and casts of characters coming together, and trying to keep everyone in-character is even more fun when the setting is wildly different. My favorite idea so far for a Dark Shadows fanfic is a crossover with Green Acres. And it will most definitely be a comedy.

For anyone unfamiliar with Green Acres, it’s a sitcom from the ’60s about Oliver Douglas, a lawyer who moves from New York with his wife, Lisa, to buy a farm just outside a wacky town called Hooterville. It is utterly surreal, and as far as I’m concerned, that means I can use Hooterville logic to justify just about any crossover. My tentative title for this fanfic is “Who is Josette Collins and What Has She Got to Do With Baseball?” which should give you an idea of how strange it will be. So far, I’ve written one early scene and a handful of excerpts and notes.

When Eb, Oliver’s hired hand, wins a free vacation, Oliver objects to him leaving just before planting season. But Eb has already figured out who he can get to take his place for a while—Willie Loomis. He had met Willie several years previously, and, well, let me just show you where this is going with a short excerpt…

The streets of the city faded, and they were back in the kitchen. Eb looked at the two of them expectantly. 

“That’s it! So, can I go on vacation?”

“That’s it?” Oliver demanded. “What about the secret? What was it?”

“I can’t tell you that; I made a promise!”

“You vant him to break his promise?” Lisa demanded.

“I’m not hiring anyone with a mysterious and possibly dangerous secret!” Oliver folded his arms. “So, Eb, if you really want to go on that trip, you’re going to have to either tell me what Willie said to you, or find someone else to work for me while you’re gone.”

“Well…” Eb took a deep breath. “I guess it’s all right, since I’m just telling the two of you. Don’t go repeating it now, okay?”

“We won’t say a word,” Oliver said.

“All right… He told me that the guy he works for…” Eb paused dramatically before finishing. “…is an umpire.”

Oliver stared at him. “What kind of a secret is that?!”

“In the old country, ve had a custom,” Lisa said. “You alvays carry a bag of sand vis you, so that if you meet an umpire, you throw the sand on the ground, and he has to count it!”

“Yeah, baseball games in Hungary must be something else,” Oliver muttered, glancing sideways at her before returning his attention to Eb.

Eb’s eyes were bright with excitement. “The way I got it figured is that he must’ve been supposed to make a certain call in a game, but he didn’t, and so now he’s gotta keep a low profile, or the Mob will find him!”

“That makes sense!” Lisa said.

“No it doesn’t!” Oliver stared at Eb, wondering if his hired hand had finally gone completely crazy.

That’s funny, and it captures the flavor of Green Acres perfectly. I would need to see the entrance of some DS characters by Chapter 2, though.

I hope that Feriku will break down and write a Dark Shadows piece soon and stop worrying so much about accuracy. Where I can understand she doesn’t want to contradict canon, most of our favorite fanfics are alternative universe stories that peacefully coexist alongside their original inspirations. The beauty part about fanfiction is to start with a piece of paper, blank except for two words: What if . . . ?
Gee whiz, if I worried about real storylines, the Willie Loomis World Series would be less than a paragraph.

This DARK SHADOWS/KOLCHAK crossover actually happened.
And she’s up the 600s? I’m on #75. True, this is not my first encounter, I watched the show in 1967 and again in 1977, in addition to the paltry offering from streaming Netflix, but today I wouldn’t know a Leviathan if he hit me on the head. So, I don’t write about them. Watching these early episodes is my first foray into pre-Barnabas plotline and, where I would be loath to make a disparaging remark, that vampire ain’t going to show up a minute too soon. No offence to Bill Malloy, bleeder valves and fountain pens everywhere.

Did I get distracted again? We were talking about parody crossovers. I have transcribed to paper (well, screen) the lyrics which swam in my head last night: a combination of DS and a song from an Off-Broadway musical based on the Peanuts comic strip. I hope that’s not too obscure, or no more than Sondheim and Shakespeare.

Lights up. Julia is sitting behind a large box which serves as a desk. The sign overhead reads “Psychiatric Help.” Below is another sign: "THE DOCTOR IS IN." Barnabas enters.

Barnabas:Oh, Julia, I'm so depressed. I don't know what to do.

Julia:  I'm sorry to hear that, Barnabas. Maybe there's something I can do to help. I think that the best thing would be for you to come out and admit everything that's wrong with you.

Barnabas: Do you really think that will help?

Julia:  Certainly.

Barnabas:Very well, I'll try.
Who cares if I'm handsome and clever and lucid?
So what if I like drinking plasma for dinner?
I've always been known for my paranoid mood swings, and kidnapping, choking and killing off extras.
I think that I'm splendid at parties and dances
But I stand like a stick, or flies land on my face.
Or I murder the hostess
or bite Nancy Barrett
Start swinging my cane
and I spill all the claret
Oh, how could there possibly be
one fine person so thoroughly, totally, utterly bad as me.

Julia: (speaks) Well, that's okay for a starter.

Barnabas: A starter?

Julia:  Certainly. You don't think that mentioning these few superficial failings is going to do you any good, do you? Why, Barnabas, you really have to delve.
You're stubborn, self-centered and moody.

Barnabas:I'm moody.

Julia:  You're terribly dull to be with.

Barnabas:Yes, I am.
And nobody likes me, not Maggie or Roger or Vicky or David…

Julia:  Or Julia.

Barnabas: Or Julia.

Julia: Or Willie.

Barnabas:Or Wil—
(speaks) Wait a minute, now. Willie likes me.

Julia: He only pretends to like you because you beat him. That doesn't count.

Barnabas:(softly) Or Willie. (sings)
Oh, why was I born just to be
One fine person so thoroughly, totally, utterly—

Julia: Wait!
You're not such a very nice person.

Barnabas: That's certain.

Julia: And yet there is reason for hope.

Barnabas: There's hope?

Julia: For, although you are no good at drinking like Roger
Or pouting like David
Or mugging . . . like me
You have the distinction to be
No one else but the number one reason our ratings are tops.

Barnabas: It's me!

Julia: Oh yes
It's amazingly true
For whatever it's worth, Barnabas
It's you.

Barnabas: (speaks) Quite extraordinary. I'm beginning to feel better already. You're a true friend, Julia, a true friend.

Julia: That'll be five cents, please.


PS: I have been in contact with a friend of John Karlen’s son, Adam, who informed me that Johnny is in the hospital with complications from diabetes. Please keep him in your thoughts or prayers. Love you, JK.


Marie Maginity is the author of the six-part Willie Loomis World Series, and writes under the names Mad Margaret and Lizzie Bathory. She has a BA in Theatre and works as a professional actor, director and drama teacher. She has had many “straight” jobs, including bartender, gas station jockey, graphic artist, website designer, facepainter and film projectionist. Once, she bullshitted her way into a newspaper job as a reporter and, over the next eight years, became a copy editor, feature writer and assistant editor. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with one husband, two daughters and two cats.


Samantha said...

I'm not sure why I forgot to mention this at the time... but that excerpt I shared comes partway through the scene I've written; Willie appears in the flashback just prior to my excerpt here. :)

Samantha said...

Also, I hope John Karlen will be doing better soon!

D.W. said...

Good post! Found this searching for "Monkeewood". I'm actually looking for Reesie who wrote it. I said in my podcast for "The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows", (available on that even short and unfinished I'd be more than happy to read it for her on the Audio Fan Fiction Library. I sung her praises for this story of Monkeewood in my fifth episode. Really! I'm not sure I could get all the Monkees voices so well but I might with practice. Thanks!

D.W. said...

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