Bruce the Duck

The Story The Characters The Movie Read/Leave Comments

Bruce the Duck is a bit different from my other teenage writing in that it was never meant to be serious. It was little more than an extended in-joke amongst my high school friends, but it grew so big and well-known that people I didn't know had heard of it and one of the characters had campaign posters to get elected sophomore class president. To this day, people who have known me since then make references and use phrases that came from this thing. Despite being extremely silly, "Bruce the Duck" was very important for a host of reasons.

What was the story about? More or less, it was the story of a courageous young duck named Bruce (whose name is a "Weird Al" reference) who fights for his right to consume Spam.

Yes, really.

Who are the people in it? The cast is large, and everyone in it is either someone I knew, a celebrity or character I knew/liked, OR a warped version of either. (For instance, people I knew were sometimes represented as animals or inanimate objects, such as Phil the Tie God—represented by a gigantic necktie—or Aaron the Giraffe; and celebrities took on new personalities and attributes, like in the case of Paul McCartney, who for some reason was always on fire and didn't seem to mind.) There was one exception to this formula: The character Pimpy the Stud-Mouse was my own original character, and he was not a reference or a caricature of anything/anyone. If you'd like more information about the characters and/or want to see what they looked like, you'll want to go to the character page.

Why and how was it written? I wrote chapter one to keep me from being bored in tenth grade biology class. I shared it with one of my classmates, and she was pleased because it contained references to Weird Al, Ween, Monty Python, and, well, ourselves. I kept writing chapters, and the cast of characters got larger and larger and a vague plot appeared (the quest to find a stolen can of Spam). I started sharing it with more and more people, who seemed eager to read the pages as I wrote them. It kinda became a "thing." I'm surprised I never lost any pages from lending them to people.

So it became a movie? Yes. Long story short, Jenny, one of the people I was lending chapters to, lent it to Mia, one of HER friends, who used references in the book to track me down, dig up my phone number, and CALL me to rave about the manuscript. (Yes, stalker extreme!) We had known each other before but hadn't really hung out, and after this got going she decided she wanted to film a movie of the book. She had a horrible video camera from the nineteen-eighties, and I had artistic fingers and too much free time, so I made construction paper characters and we filmed quite a lot of very questionable footage.

So this "Bruce the Duck" thing was just an idiotic high school stunt of yours? Why are you so lame? Believe me, I'm well aware that it was quite silly. But there were plenty of people who were amused by its silliness and were happy to participate in creating more of it with me. Mia, my sister Patricia, and I collaborated to film the movie (with stunning special effects), and eventually we had a viewing party which was attended by enough people to fill up my parents' living room. The invitations were silly, and a map to my parents' house was provided by handing out paper dolls of Pimpy the Stud-Mouse with the map folded up and stuck in his underwear. There were even "Bruce" tee shirts, for which we did commercials, and later we filmed a documentary about making the movie (but my sister Lindsay taped Dawson's Creek over it accidentally, so it's gone).

So what became of the whole thing? I never intended it to go anywhere, so it didn't. The last chapter, chapter 52 (entitled "Herminio's Shit"), was abandoned mid-sentence. A fitting end to such a random story. I believe we filmed up to chapter 17 (entitled "Monty's Quest"), though there was quite a lot of added material and interludes featuring us getting tied up in punishment for cuddling Yakko dolls or our group of friends trying to see how many marshmallows we could stuff in our mouths while still being able to say the phrase "Pudgy Bunny." (Stupid high school fun! Yay!) I got a little depressed when I wrote some actually very clever stuff in the book and I knew I couldn't use the story for anything. It was so full of references, stolen material, and real people who surely would not approve of the way I cast them (like a frizzy-haired boy I didn't like from my bus getting cast as "Chia Boy") . . . so there was no way to salvage it. Because of the absolutely ridiculous amount of non-original material in this book, I bent over backwards trying to make completely original characters when I started writing The House That Ivy Built in 1996.

The book was handwritten in manuscript print and reached 52 pages. In type it was about 55 pages, and it was about 17,000 words.

If you'd like to know more about this crazy venture of mine, here are your options:

Read "Bruce the Duck":This is an annotated collection of the original manuscript, complete with occasional misspellings and inconsistent tense/style. (I assure you that any mistakes you see, from punctuation glitches to random capitalization to spelling errors, are transcribed from the original, not made in typing. Yes, I care.) It needs to be annotated to explain some of the references, but if you really don't care, you can also read it straight through and resign yourself to not getting it.
See Cover:The cartoon cover of "Bruce the Duck" features a complete cast shot. You may recognize some characters and celebrities, but there's no way I could tell you who they all are. The focal characters in the front are Amy (in the Spam shirt), Dean Ween, Monty (in the guava tree holding an 8-ball), Bruce (at the base of the tree), Gene Ween, Julie (in the Blind Melon shirt), and Pimpy the Stud-Mouse.
The Characters:This is a sectioned page where you can see run-downs of the main characters and their roles and origins, scans of the main characters' construction paper models, and . . . gasp . . . a complete list of the characters appearing in "Bruce the Duck."
The Movie:See information about the making-of, rare photos of the process, and . . . MOVIE CLIPS TO WATCH!

Hope you enjoy these things and . . . don't expect too much from them. ^_^;

If you were amused by this and want to see more old bad writing, be sure and check out the "ancient history" section of my writing page.

If you're curious about my current skills in the long fiction department, check out the novels in my "current projects" section.

If you want to send me a comment about "Bruce the Duck," go to the interactive comment form.