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Nuke 'Em 'Till They Glow!! - The  Early Years

Special Report
Written by Benjamin A. Oliver
Artwork by Esa Karjalainen and Joe Fenton
May 7, 2003
Ben Oliver

Perfecting the ArbyFish

Now that my brother's color clipart kookiness called "ArbyFish: A Webcomic" is now working on a fairly regular basis, I feel an additional explanation on the true evolution of the ArbyFish character would be beneficial. What you are about to see and read may shock you.

Pink Arbyfish

Behold, a black and white representation of the dreaded Pink ArbyFish. Be glad you didn't have to witness it pick daisies or offer you another a box of chocolates. Esa drew this one, and I think it looks pretty cute...  Which would be the point, of course.

A long time ago, ArbyFish didn't come in so many colors. In fact, before 1997, the concept hadn't really even been explored. Then my younger brother got interested in Skee Ball and other ticket-giving games at a local miniature golfing/arcade place, and he acquired the oddest-looking seal I had ever seen. It was colored in a green-and-white-net camouflage and had this sort of defiant expression that made it look like it knew, quite proudly I might add, something really important that it wanted to taunt everyone else with.

ArbyMy brother, quite skilled in the art of fantasy, made up a personality for the little stuffed animal. We called it an "Army Fish" due to the seal's camouflaged appearance, but for various reasons, the name changed to "ArbyFish" and the personality ended up quasi-Monty-Python/Irish with a strange affinity for mold. The fungus and mushroom fixation came later, if I recall correctly.

So, time passed, and I discovered fan fiction. For some strange reason (possibly because 9 of out 10 fan fics are written about it), I started with Ranma fanfics, which led to Sailor Moon and other series. It was a vicious cycle, let me tell you. I found that I had a bit of a talent for writing, and I saw the comments that the better authors had been getting (it was just after the Revengefic Wars ended, truly the golden age of fanfics where it seemed like anyone could get commentary), and I wanted to see if I could make anything work.

I wrote two SIs, one that involved using a Sliders™ device to get to the anime universe in question, and then there was the unfinished sequel, which made use of a transdimensional parrot and featured the first appearances of the characters of Terra — who had been Sailor Moon's tiara until she met an infinite improbability generator — and the ArbyFish as her guardian cute-animal-something-or-other. I don't know where he came from in that story.


ArbyFish studiesWell, if you think that sounds bad, there was this Jurassic Park fanfic I did way back when I was 12 that involved powersuits, lasers, and time travelers who came from the future to desperately try and save the park. No, I didn't understand the concept of overkill back then. Some might argue that I still don't. They might even have a point.

Anyway, those stories are in the past, deleted on a hard drive in a computer that's long been consigned to the graveyard. But some nights, I can still hear the screams….

Hmmm? Oh… Well, after that, I read some stuff by Mark Doherty, who became my favorite fanfic author of the time, and I got to work on "Nuke 'Em 'Till They Glow!!" The story evolved starting with a main character whose name was the Moonlight Atom Boy, stolen directly from Sailor Jessica Rabbit's Sailors, Knights, and Masks story. The name sounded weird, so I changed it first to Starlight Atom Boy, then to Starlight Atomic Knight, and then finally Atomic Starlight Knight. Terra, a nifty addition from one of the earlier SI stories, came aboard as well. I considered the piece as one of my most serious works up until that point, so I realized that everyone would need a solid past of one kind or another. I had also read some concepts that I'd liked in some fanfics, such as adding a special guardian animal to annoying new SM characters, so I wondered what kind of creature to tack on.

Then, from the second I remembered Arby, NETTG's fate as a parody was sealed.

The character soon became noted for his oddball logic systems and very long rants about completely nothing in order to prove a completely inaccurate point. Here is an excerpt:

"Oh, ya see, ya gotta 'void mold. Bad for ya mushrooms. Mushrooms'd attempt ta foight it off, but it wouldn't work all that well. But if ya've got mold, what ya need to do is fill up somethin' loike eighty-BILLION gallons a' anti-mildew spray and throw it all on the fire. The fire'll take out that mould roight noicely if ya inject an anti-inflammatory inta' the mushroom's… ecosystem, and then if ya poile on soma'ya green beans … Senzu beanz'll work out, but the REAL powa' is in the GREEN beans… Truly magnificent power, along with the mushrooms and devastatin' the' mold."

—Nuke 'Em 'Till They Glow!! Chapter Two, original version.

Arby later recanted and decided that mold was an essential ingredient in every situation… Every situation, even as armor. "Ablative Mold" allowed him to deflect high-powered lasers, for example. A truly fine example of his twisted logic lies in NETTG's chapter nine, during a long flashback period where Arby was Sailor Pluto's advisor, much to the Time Senshi's chagrin.

Joe's version of ArbyJoe's version of Arby

Since then, Arby has mutated and changed, adapted to others' impressions and suggestions. Some have found the creature considerably difficult to visualize. A fellow fanfic writer, artist and programmer named Joe Fenton also took a crack at it. (In fact, he's my backup plan if Esa suddenly decides to explode someday. ^_-)

Given Arby's attitude and general uniqueness, it's not surprising that he should be difficult to work with. Esa has tried a few ways to draw Arby, some of which have come very close, but true perfection of the ArbyFish still eludes us all.


Our analysis continues, and little by little, we are getting closer. We must improve our design, work to better portray his refined manic obsessive-compulsive personality, and so we shall. One of the key elements that made the fanfic actually work was Arby, a true original. I feel that the comic is unable to exist without him. That's why I asked Danny to make his random supplimentary ArbyFish comic to begin with—NETTG needs a constant source of chaotic randomness to serve as a firm foundation.

A contradiction in terms, I know, but such is the nature of the beast. Expect a bit of ArbyFish in the main comic in a few weeks or months. Until then, thanks for reading!

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