All hail our cute overlords at the new Galactic Girl Guides website!
“A Girl Guide is wary, cunning, clever, assertive, flexible, patient, inventive and brave,
but not stupidly so.”
-Official Galactic Girl Guide Manual
"First, I was a girl scout. Sold cookies. Went camping. Got in trouble."
R: Susan Norfleet as Brucilla the Muscle
Elaine Lee wanted to become a starship captain and she did.
Her day job was starring on the NBC soap opera THE DOCTORS, for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy award. Beyond that, she led a theatre troupe which in 1980 put on the off-Broadway play STARSTRUCK, an affectionate spoof of all tropes Sci-Fi.
Like most things, the blame can lay on Brucilla the Muscle. A molten piston ready to blow, this character in the play had a past that rebounded in a key plot revelation: she had been a Galactic Girl Guide, and now something terrible has happened to her old sorority.
The Guides weren't seen onstage, merely implied as innocent stellar scout troops caught up in the plan of the villainess Verloona. But the conceptual seed was planted.
From this abstract aside, creative worlds would collide.
Elaine Lee colluded with Michael Wm. Kaluta, the famous artist who had designed her sets, costumes, and show poster: Why not be like their hero Moebius, and turn all these complicated backstories into an illustrated series Heavy Metal-style?
The HM serial stories of STARSTRUCK then became a graphic novel and maxi-series from Epic Comics, an adult imprint of Marvel, in 1984. They plotted, Elaine wrote, Michael drew. Geared for mature readers, these hilarious and complex comics also unleashed the Galactic Girl Guides onto the world.
Wherever the heroes Galatia 9 and Brucilla the Muscle careened in their space station escapades, the little GGG's were soon underfoot. They were everywhere and all aware. But where did they come from?
from 1952, included for fun.
NYC was a mess.
In 1980 it was a broke city with the fix against it. In the aftermath of the counterculture, caught between the punk uprising and the conservative clampdown, a liberating state of anarchy fermented within the entropy.
The STARSTRUCK stage set was cobbled from throwouts copped on the street, in tandem with the mercenary spirit of the music and film scene: Punk, No Wave, Mutant Disco, Hip Hop, and indie films.
Likewise, STARSTRUCK comics were set in AnarchEra, a universal free-for-all between regimes where everyone makes do pulling the screws without scruples.
But noone does it quite as well as the GGG.
– Galactic Girl Guide recruit poster
Art by Kaluta, color by Lee Moyer.
Readers first met actual Girl Guides toward the end of the Epic graphic novel. This same trio -Glynde, Scooter Jean, and Sneaker- dodged artfully through the following six Epic comics.
This is what we have to go on: the suspects are small, cute, and very devious. They are dressed in green, red, and black, with swirly-caps. They have six arms and are thus dangerous. Be on the look-out for jacked robots, stolen vehicles, missing moolah, and rigged gambling.
Galactic Girl Guides are the urchins -late of Dickens, Our Gang, and STAR TREK's "Miri"- with the art of street smarts. Pint-sized punks in skirts, they dance through anarchy in the AE. The GGG are girl scouts for an un-nurtured, denatured future.
They also traveled here from the past.
Kaluta loved ASTRO BOY, so he designed bladed hats for the stage wear of Verloona and Dwannyunn. These spun into the corkscrew hats of the Guides.
Lee loved Meddling Kids movies like OUR GANG (later shown on TV as "The Little Rascals"), THE PARENT TRAP, and THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS. Part slapstick, part subversion, all party.
Disney's HUEY DEWEY AND LOUIE comics were about the nature scouts earning their Junior Woodchucks badges with their wits, and to their uncle Donald Duck's apoplexy.
The GGG tipped the scales exponentially.
The GGG were wee girls, as in We Girls vs. The Galaxy.
They were Riot Grrrls before Kathleen was starting High School: feminine, fierce, networking, universal, active.
They had 'wings' in the millions, the savviest survival guide in the multiverse, and a filched satellite headquarters. They awarded medals for mischief to miscreant little missies. You kept an eye on the robots, clones, and soldiers, but the quick kid kept your wallet.
Never underestimate the power of cute. She's a doll, she's small, she'll sidle you seven sideways and let you take the fall. So long, sucker!
The adults in STARSTRUCK comics didn't stand a chance.
When the Epic series ended, the kids even stole the spotlight.
The GGG were a second stroke of genius for Lee and Kaluta. The disarming charm of the GGG gave that universe another chance at life.
A sharp cult of fans loved the sophisticated stories, intricate art, and perverse spirit of the adult STARSTRUCK comics. It was uniformly praised as an advance in comics and SF for female characters, complex storytelling, and satiric chaos. But the GGG had brought another dimension: kids and accessibility.
Usually a cameo in most SF fare, immature and fleeting, here children were a rippling undercurrent to the action that upended the cliches. They were more streetwise, crafty, and slippery than the adults, while endearing with their wits and cuteness.
Even straights who were baffled by all the subversive clamor in STARSTRUCK loved the Girl Guides.
Lee and Kaluta must have sensed this, and decided to do light-hearted, kid-friendly tales of the GGG independent from the main story.
In 1986, the Galactic Girl Guides made their solo debut as a back-up feature in Dave Stevens' THE ROCKETEER Adventure Magazine. If STARSTRUCK was Moebius, then the GGG stories were Eisner at his slapstick, sentimental best. These stories featured the sweet and madcap misadventures of the young Brucilla, with her accomplices Cookie and Puddy.
Would they get off the Kansas farm into the universe and earn their merit medals to become full-fledged GGG's? Could even mayhem, catastrophe, and spankings stop them?
It would take awhile to find out. A total of seven stories, all inked by Fantasy great and co-conspirator Charles Vess, were created, but THE ROCKETEER was grounded after only two issues.
STARSTRUCK started over in 1990 at Dark Horse Comics.
Lee and Kaluta reprinted the Epic stories expanded with oodles of new material. A Guide was seen on the first cover, adding one more for each issue of the series.
At the time, Dark Horse made its fortune franchising ALIEN and then STAR WARS as new stories. Publisher Mike Richardson then pitched their own properties for film, which led to eventual successes like THE MASK, HELLBOY, and SIN CITY.
Elaine Lee remembers Richardson pitching the idea for a Guide movie, retooled as "Maddie McPhee and the Galactic Girl Guides".
But the STARSTRUCK comics ended early at Dark Horse, for various reasons, and the expansions went on hold.
(© Lee and Kaluta)
Never count a good girl out.
The idea of an animated version of the GGG was then worked out in collaboration with Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, who wrote the screenplay for THE FLASH tv series (1990) and THE ROCKETEER film (1991).
Their Pet Fly Productions got an offer from the Nickelodeon cable network, who specialized in modern cartoon fare like DOUG, RUGRATS, and REN & STIMPY. The early 90's was also the era of rebooted smashes like DUCK TALES, ANIMANIACS, and Bruce Timm's BATMAN. When the offer didn't satisfy the production standard they had hoped to maintain, Pet Fly passed on it.
Elaine Lee remembers, "Bilson and DeMeo actually optioned the Guides twice, then Bilson optioned it for a potential video game, but the company wanted all the rights to the Guides and STARSTRUCK," a deal that co-creators/owners Lee and Kaluta declined as unwise.
in the unprinted stories.
Art by Linda Medley, color by Lee Moyer.
(© Lee and Kaluta)
But any Guide worth her plumb has her thumbs in multiple pies.
In the early 90's Tundra Publishing - flush with the success of their TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURLES comics, cartoons, and films - planned for a GGG comic: brand new stories co-plotted by Kaluta and Lee, scripted by Lee, and illustrated by Linda Medley.
Medley drew and inked 50 pages of new adventures of Bru, Cookie, and Puddy picking up where they had left off, now as scouts out and about in the 'verse, with new friends and calamity in tow.
Lee and Kaluta were friends with Phil Trumbo, who had won an Emmy directing the opening credits animation of PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE. They asked Trumbo to include his "Sky Pirates of the Stratosphere" strip as a chaser.
"They were going to print them as four books," Lee explains, "with Phil's 12-page stories as backup. Each book had a Guide story, a Science Project feature, an amazing mazes feature, and Phil's story." Although Trumbo's series was unconnected to the STARSTRUCK universe, she says, "We were going to do a page with the Guides saying that 'Sky Pirates' was their favorite comic."
But the company's collapse upended and suspended the girls again.
by Phil Trumbo.
The Lee&Kaluta/Medley stories have yet to see print.
But in 2009, IDW Publishing remastered STARSTRUCK, and all seven of the initial Lee/Kaluta/Vess GGG stories were finally printed together with lush color by painter Lee Moyer. Featured as back-up stories to the main narrative, the GGG won over a new generation of fans. All of this was collected in the STARSTRUCK Deluxe Edition graphic novel.
Yes, I'm looking at you. That's your cue to click the link.
And it turns out that Scooter Jean, of the Guide trio seen in Epic Comics, grows up to become the historian behind the hilarious Glossary that defines all things STARSTRUCK.
Elaine Lee is now a Producer for AudioComics, who specialize in adapting comics into audioplays for CD and download. They adapted the original STARSTRUCK stage play into a critically-acclaimed audioplay, followed by plans for new Galactic Girl Guide audioplays in the future.
Recently a successful Kickstarter campaign helped fund Lee and Kaluta's second STARSTRUCK graphic novel. With this new option in publishing for indie creators, there is perhaps the possibility for a similar publishing of Linda Medley's as-yet-unprinted GGG stories in its wake.
And now the Galactic Girl Guides have infiltrated the world net with their own website.
Read the adventures online of our cute overlords!
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to the Mother and to my Universe, to help other Girl Guides, whenever doing so does not conflict with my own best interest, and to obey, if possible, the Galactic Girl Guide Law.”
– Galactic Girl Guide Pledge
★ A special thanks to Elaine Lee, Michael Wm. Kaluta, and Lee Moyer for their input and support for this article!
Galactic Girl Guides website
The History of STARSTRUCK
The Roots and Influence of STARSTRUCK