Saturday, June 29, 2013

Consortium of Chaos superhero romance novel character bio #7: Vaudeville

I have nothing else to talk about (unless people want to hear about my laptop problems which will probably delay my next book, and possibly Cassie’s as well), so let’s do another character bio.  Purely at random, we’ll go with Vaudeville today.

Coriolanus (Cory) Henderson Henries AKA “Vaudeville” is head of the Consortium’s Public Relations Department.  He handles the press and deals with the other Cape and villain organizations.  He is aided by his assistant “Flimflam”, who hasn’t been seen on canvas yet.
He’s probably about six feet tall, has chestnut colored hair and is 35.  One of his eyes is an odd shade of blue, and the other is static.  When he uses his power, the static clears and displays whatever TV channel he’s accessing.

Cory has the ability to send himself-- or anything else-- into the television world.  He can use the power as a means to quickly travel from one place to another, to sightsee shows he likes, or to dispose of people he doesn’t like.  He claims to have gotten rid of Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch TV series, because he thought the kid took time away from the “established characters”.  He also and transported a villain he was fighting into the “Beverly Hillbillies” just because he thought it would be funny to ditch the man there.  Cory insists that the man is having a great time though, and that he really “adds something” to the show’s dynamic. 

He also seems to use bow and arrows on missions.  He insists that there’s no deeper story there.  I honestly don’t know if there is or not.  From a writing standpoint, it’s just an attempt to come up with something for him to do on occasions where there isn’t a TV around.  From a character standpoint though, he seems to really like the bow for some reason.  

Cory is the former child star of the “Klose But No Cigar” TV series, playing child genius “Cornelius Klose”.  During the taping of the final episode of the series, there was an accident, which put Cory into a coma.  When he awoke years later, all of his memories had been blended with those of his fictional alter-ego, and his eye had gone static.  Cory deals with these facts by trying to ignore them entirely.  He frequently has memory lapses where he can no longer remember which of his memories are his own and which are the show, and seems to think of both as being “real.”  He frequently talks about other fictional characters that he knows and argues that “just because they’re fictional, doesn’t mean they’re not real.”

Cory’s best friend is Cynic, although both seem to deny that fact for some reason.  They spend quite a bit of time together though, dating back to their mutual incarceration in the psychiatric wing of the SeaCastle Asylum for the Supernaturally Able Offender.  They both have issues recognizing “Reality” though, so I guess they bonded over that. 

Cory’s personality is a lot like Cynic’s, but all the rougher elements are more filed down.  He’s still selfish and sarcastic, but (at least in his own mind) is more charming, which leads to smugness.  He’s more content to quietly think that someone’s an idiot, without telling them to their face like Cynic does.  Cory is also much more concerned with his image than Cynic is, possibly a holdover from his days as a media darling.  He’s the one who handles the press for the Consortium, and is genuinely insulted when the group doesn’t receive the credit he feels they deserve.  He’s more of a team-player than Cynic is, and generally takes things more seriously.

I get the sense that the two Corys (which would be a pretty cool title for Cory’s hypothetical book in the future, although it’s the name of a reality show and is also awfully close to “The Two Jakes” the sequel to “Chinatown") are very different people.  The TV Cory is described as “morally ambiguous”, and I’ve always thought of him as sort of a darker version of “Alex P. Keaton” from “Family Ties.”  I think the show was a sitcom where his normal parents and sister have to deal with the fact that he’s a crazy “child genius”, and all the nutty hijinks which ensue, growing darker in later seasons as he aged.  I think the show eventually became a story of thwarted genius rather than merely being about a precocious brainy child, although I’ve never gone into any details about the show, so that could change.

Real Cory has never had a scene of his own before being merged with TV Cory, but I’d guess that he was kind of a Hollywood jerk; ignoring fans, throwing his weight around and having a huge ego about his “art”.  I’m not basing that on anything though, just the impression I’ve always had of his backstory (again, that could change).  Real Cory’s family is described as being abusive and drunk.  I think he’s an only child, and I’d bet that his family took every penny he earned.  TV Cory apparently had a slightly better time of it, but still had problems.  In either event, Cory now avoids watching his old TV show for fear of what he might discover about his life and prefers to mix and match his two timelines to create one “tolerable” life.

He seems to be obsessed with a show called “A World of No”, which I imagine is a sort of teen soap opera, like “Saved by the Bell” or “Fifteen” (“Hillside” to all its Canadian fans).  I used to watch “Fifteen” as a kid (don’t judge me), and I’ve always had good memories of it. 
Cory seems to delight in watching the A World of No's villain ruin the romantic pairings on the show, and will choose watching the show over anything.  Seemingly every episode that’s mentioned, he describes as “his favorite.”

Cory isn’t really based on anyone.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember where the original idea for his character came from or what inspired him.  I think it was just one of those instances where I came up with a power and built a character around it.  I watched the film “Stay Tuned” a few times when I was younger, so some of that could have been at play as far as concept goes.  I also seem to recall thinking of the old Burger King Kid’s Club commercials and the “Kid Vid” character, but I don’t know why. 


...Yeah, Cory looks nothing like this.

To the best of my memory, he also did not possess Cory’s abilities (a quick Google search reveals that he had magic remote things which gave him telekinesis or something).  I guess I just make an association because Kid Vid was a late 80s/early 90s idea of “Cool” and that’s how I see Cory’s show. 

In any event, I’ve always liked the idea of a former child star being a super-villain just because they’re usually pretty screwed up.  I also remember a particular episode of the Twilight Zone which inspired him: season one’s “A World of Difference” in which a man suddenly finds that his life is a TV show.  Unlike the “Truman Show”, the episode dealt with which of the two realities was the “real one” though, and I found the impact on the man very interesting.  Incidentally, that basic idea has been used on a number of different TV shows in the years since, most notably the “Changing Channels” episode of “Supernatural” (Whoo!  Supernatural!).  There’s also the “Dimension Twist” episode of “Kim Possible”, an episode which is referenced in Cassie’s Not Another Vampire Book… umm… book, which in turn follows a very similar idea of someone being pulled into something fictional.  Wow.  I feel like we should have a flowchart or something for this.

Cory’s name is pretty obvious: what else are you going to name a teen heartthrob from the 80s/90s?  I chose “Cory” to be short for “Coriolanus”, which is a Shakespeare play dealing with fame, duality, pride and the other problems which arise from the public’s perceptions of a famous man and how he reacts to them.  The plot of Yesterday’s Heroes takes a lot from the play, but in this instance, I just liked the name.  His last name is just something I came up with on the spur of the moment; it isn’t a tribute to anything as far as I remember.  I was just going for obnoxious sounding “cool actor” name.  It was originally “Cory Henries Henderson” instead of “Cory Henderson Henries”, but I changed it because I thought it was harder for people to call him “Henderson” than “Henries”.  …Although, in retrospect, that makes no sense.  Huh.

His codename comes from the old theatrical genre (obviously).  While it may seem odd to name a character whose powers are over the TV after a stage act, it makes sense if you understand the relationship between the two entertainment forms.  Someone once said: “if vaudeville died, television was the box they put it in.”  (I can find it attributed to four different people).  I’m sure Cory will eventually explain his choice of names, but I would imagine that it has to do with the fact that Vaudeville always allowed the audience to become part of the show, and that in Vaudeville, anything could happen.

Cory’s one of those characters who I use a lot as “the other guy in the room”, if that makes any sense.  Like Poacher, he’s an excellent utility character, in that, he usually has an opinion, he’s never afraid to give it, and I usually find his way of looking at the world amusing.