And now, an in-depth look at the Cocoon Academy story arc! This thread will feature all sorts of behind-the-scenes info, stuff I decided not to use, and even aspects that I wish I would've handled better. Of course, I'd recommend anyone in this thread to check out the storyline first since there will obviously be a multitude of spoilers.
So basically, this is the DVD bonus footage.
-From the beginning, this was a storyline about Dedede and Meta Knight, which had me a little worried that users expecting some depth in the Kirby/Dedede relationship might be disappointed. But part of what I like about Kirby and Dedede is that their interactions are somewhat vague--Dedede is always looking to "get" Kirby, and I thought going too in-depth with that might not work very well. Some users apparently agreed along the way, since they thought the "currently enemies but formerly friends" angle (a la Star Wars) was cliche. It was tricky to write the comic to where it could still make some sense both ways though.
-The CA logo is designed specifically because there's a "cocoon" in the negative space between the letters. That's where the Roman-esque font came from.
-I had decided that this would be around 15 years in the past, which would exclude characters like Link (who would be a toddler), Lucas and Ness (not born yet), and a large portion of the Fire Emblem cast. Most importantly, Kirby was right out; while his age isn't stated, I definitely see Dedede and MK as older than he is.
-There's a caterpillar in the first panel of this story, and a butterfly in the final panel. And it probably goes without saying, but the school's name comes from both the fact that they help develop these potentially-great students, and that it's a sheltered, shielded environment (of course, this changes).
-To help keep things straight, I made a list of the various students and teachers we'd see:
-Game & Watch
TEACHERS AND STAFF
-Headmaster Hand - Principal
-Mr. Dragmire – Gen Ed
-Mr. Oak (and Charmeleon) – Gen Ed
-Mr. Toadsworth - Ethics
-Mr. McCloud – Vehicular Combat Education (VCE)
-Ms. Aran (student teacher) – Physical Training
-Mr. Gadd – Science/Social Studies
-Mr. Hare (is everywhere) - ???
-Eario - Janitor
-Goris - Lunchlady
-Dark Matter (outside villain)
-Wart (class pet)
-Adam Malkovich (previous teacher)
Here's an early sketch:
-The Pipe Yard was fun to design, although I sort of wish there was space for exploring them a little more. I was pretty restricted with space throughout the whole storyline, since I really didn't want it to be too many parts and risk alienating readers who weren't into it, so I had to work efficiently.
-Mr. Saturn appears in almost every part. Many readers theorized he'd do something awesome at some point...but it's mainly because I love EarthBound.
-Notice how Pinky is on the bus when Dedede arrives. This implies he's not originally from Dream Land...
-Goroh is loosely based on Otto from The Simpsons. His lines are a reference to Dedede's name pronunciation being different in Japan.
-Someone has used their finger to wipe out the zeroes on the dry-erase board. I still do this.
-The Goron's name is Lunchlady Goris.
-Olimar can't breathe oxygen without a helmet. Whoops!
-That's THE Birdo. I'll leave it to you to fill in the mysterious blanks of his backstory...
-Technically, Captain Falcon should not be a student at all going by the time passed. But I couldn't resist the Falcon Lunch gag, so I tossed him in for that brief moment.
-The shot of Dedede running from the assault (with the Spongebob "MY LEG" etc) is meant to evoke militaristic imagery, such as with Dedede's helmet-shaped hat.
-Mario visibly has argyle socks, which Eario later wears.
-The nickname "Pinky" was thought up by my girlfriend, Sarah. I had bounced between a lot of nicknames for the guy: Munch(er), Chomp(er), Chewer, Swallow, Bitey, Pie Hole, Gulper, Cruncher, Black Hole, Vacuum, Sucker, Upchuck, Gorge, Gobble, Gobbler, Fang, Fangy, Eater, Gnaws, Jaw, Jaws, Devour, and leading the pack, Mouth. I definitely think "Pinky" was the right choice.
-I didn't want to mess with canon TOO much, so I decided not to "make a name" for Meta Knight; that's the reason he went by a nickname the whole time. It also made it fun to have people guessing the character's identity.
-The Intermission was originally the end of this comic. I'm glad I moved it now, because it wouldn't make sense with Meta Knight's narration.
-This is before Samus joins the Federation but after she's left her Chozo homeworld. She thinks this school is a good opportunity for her, and being particularly talented and agile, she's gotten the promotion to student teacher.
-Veran is appreciating Jessie's wild 'do (which she'll later adopt, herself). Her beret and loose-fitting clothes make her resemble Adeleine a bit, but this was unintentional. Apparently, Jessie is a young teenager in the show...!? I didn't know this until recently, so I guess she shouldn't be here! But sheesh, she looks and sounds like she's in her mid/late-20's.
-The target-collecting (as opposed to breaking) was mostly so that Pinky could give Dedede a viable way to cheat.
-A gag I liked a lot was Dedede smacking the little paper target into his box out of frustration. I'm afraid it didn't read that clearly though.
-Oak's Charmeleon was a subplot that got dropped, mainly because I wasn't sure when Pokemon were supposed to be "known" in the world of the games. Like, when they were discovered. The idea is that the Charmeleon would evolve into Charizard and Oak wouldn't recognize it at first (since this had never happened before), thinking it was a threat or something. I didn't really have space for that and hadn't planned on where to take it, so it was cut.
-There's a fully-playable Picross puzzle in this comic. If you don't know how to do Picross, you should learn! It's totally fun! Or if you're lazy, you can click here for the solution, thanks to user GigaX.
-Dunno how clear this is, but Pinky is riding Toadsworth's "Power Star" as a Warpstar in the Mario Party panel.
-Meta Knight's narration is sort of a cheat with Dedede taking front-and-center on "I was feeling quite a bit more confident with myself." But so it goes!
-Adeleine's "Why you now always w-" was meant to make the reader think "want to get that Kirby," but most people jumped right into the correct question: "wear a mask"!
-Waddle Dee was a pretty late addition to the story, but he definitely helped throw people off the Meta Knight trail, as well as gave Dedede someone to start bossing around.
-Some Mother characters are in the background: Flint, Mr. Saturn, and Master Belch. But you can also see the outline of F-Zero's Mr. EAD.
-You can see stains on Dedede's locker here and in the next comic. It's implied that the Dark Matter blob seeped from his booksack and out the locker, leaving those smudges, and then went to the roof to attack the bell/shield system.
-Eario is not yet a Mario fan, and as such, doesn't have a hat with the letter on it.
-The Dark Matter blob is kept in an electrical force-field cage as opposed to a normal one.
-Graffiti on the lockers includes "I AM ERROR" from Zelda 2, a variation on the Konami code, a reference to the Minus World in Super Mario Bros, a doodle of the Headmaster, and the Smash Bros logo.
-Waddle Dee is noticeably impressed with Pinky's resolve, and decides to stay at the school. His excuse to "get home before dark" is somewhat flimsy when the clock says it's 4:00.
-Instead of "BONG BONG" or "DONG DONG," the school bell is more video-gamey: "PONG PONG."
-Ganondorf, for the purposes of this comic, isn't really a villain in this story. By this point, it's a few years before OoT and he's still on King Hyrule's good side, and is opposed to Dark Matter's invasion like everyone else. Even so, his view on heroics is somewhat questionable. So while some theorized he'd be starting an uprising in the school with his home-grown villains (a cool idea), he's merely misguiding these fellows in a mostly unintentional way.
-That's baby Wart in the aquarium, being fed his least-favorite food.
-Waluigi was originally supposed to appear in this part as a side gag involving Luigi and Daisy, but was ultimately cut for time (and for having nothing to do with the rest of the stuff going on).
-The serpentine take on Dark Matter came about to mainly give the entity a way of physically attacking something, and it ended up working out with the possession of Headmaster Hand. The original plan was that it'd lose its tail upon defeat, and look like the current Dark Matter, but I decided to cut to the infirmary instead.
-This is probably my favorite part.
-Pinky originally used the Star Rod here, as well as a shield. When the shield broke, he affixed it to his face with his headband, leading to a very Meta Knight-like appearance. This ended up being changed mostly when I added Waddle Dee into the mix, but also because I didn't have time to go into the backstory of the Star Rod.
-Looks like Dedede has repaid his favor to Tom Nook.
-That is James, not Fox. BitF Peppy is just bein' BitF Peppy. A cut line involved him showing up earlier out of an air vent or garbage can or something, with Pinky informing Dedede: "Oh, that's just Professor Hare. He's everywhere."
-I wanted to touch down on something that would make Mario look cool, so it had to be something that only he (not Luigi) has done. The tail-spinning seemed like an interesting way to do it, although that's only if we ignore SM64DS.
-All future villains (or characters who've been villainous at some point) have some Dark Matter on them. This is really more of a parallel rather than an implication that the Dark Matter "turned them evil," though. Pinky/Meta Knight has heroic traits, but he's also done some brash things in the past. K. Rool gets some in his eye (implying it's bulgy and bloodshot from that). And what of Mario's small amount of Dark Matter spatter? Donkey Kong Jr. players know that even everyone's favorite plumber has had a dark side!
-"Masked Kid" uses a spear here, a hint to his true identity.
-Pinky's "Nebula" sword is merely a precursor to "Galaxia," which has two more blade points. The relation to Dark Nebula is just a coincidence (but one I was happy to find out about after the fact).
-Sadly, I wasn't really able to get into Dark Matter's motivation. It's implicit but it could probably be clearer: basically, the school houses future heroes that could really be a thorn in the side for whatever diabolical plans Dark Matter is cooking up, so it wants to destroy the school and the children within. What a jerk, huh?
-"Mirror...MIRROR!" is a reference to the first Batman film.
-I would've liked to explore more of what's happened in the school itself at this point. Unfortunately, I think having two parts devoted to the resolution would've really been pushing it, and I was late enough with the comic as is. So those aspects will need to be left up to the imagination, except for the fact that the school will be closed for a bit.
-The color palette in the panel where the minions are stealing food is taken straight from the Game Boy's four colors.
Okay, so that's about it! I hope you enjoyed these details. This would be a good place for any questions and comments you might have as well. I feel like there're more things that can be done with this world and characters, but I'm not sure if I'd return to them for a good while (and I probably won't do another arc, at least not a big one). But it was quite enjoyable to come up with and draw, so thanks for your interest!