The first thing you have to do with any new concept is generate story ideas. I had my basic idea: superheroes in a nursing home. I even had some of the characters worked out. But what to do with them? In the fall of 2006, I spent a few minutes jotting down whatever came to me and I generated this list of story ideas (BEWARE – Spoilers for those who are not current on their SuperFogeys):

SuperFogeys Story Ideas

1. Everyone gets on MySpace as part of a technology seminar and finds Star Woman working a webcam.

2. Dr. Klein brings in a Wii and Star Woman sees everyone battling demons and the like.

3. Dr. Klein has one-on-one interviews with everyone in a effort to get Spy Gal away from CS.  (Jerry revealed as Dr. Klein at the end?)

4. Tangerine comes to Valhalla and wants to kill Dr. Rocket.  The other SuperFogeys have to step up to save him.  Then, Tangerine does kill Dr. Rocket and he’s revealed as a robot double.  Dr. Klein then moves to get the real Dr. Rocket into Valhalla by enlisting the help of the Society of Heroes.

5. Visits from their family members send  the SuperFogeys into a depression.  Tangerine’s son is The Healer.  “Father, homicidal as ever I see.”  The Healer accuses Tangerine of killing his mother and Tangerine responds: “Our romance was epic.  I’m an antihero, she was a ninja.  It could only end one way.”

6. The younger versions of the SuperFogeys time travel to the future to meet their older counterparts.  Except a time-travel accident occurs and instead of a younger Swifty, an OLDER Swifty comes through and the older one is far more venomous and incorrigible.

7. A sidekick youth group comes to visit the SuperFogeys and do some caroling.  They’re brats.

8. Swifty hooks up with Star Woman.  Why?  Because she’s the only one who thinks he’s funny.

9. Something with Swifty–but what?

10. Bingo night and CS wins!  Gets time with a healer and can walk again but decides to stay in a wheelchair anyway because it’s easier.

Now, let’s talk about this thing. What do you notice? Well, for one thing, Star Woman. Obviously, she turned into Star Maiden later on. Also, there’s no order to any of it. Faithful readers will recognize the plotlines and moments from the first nine chapters of SuperFogeys, but the throughline isn’t there yet and the last idea was actually the first one used, in Chapter Two – Bingo Night.

This was me just brainstorming. Just taking the concept of superheroes and marrying it to a nursing home and seeing what I came up with. As you can see, some big ideas were right there from the start. Jerry as Dr. Klein a cool idea, though I had no idea yet how, logistically, that would work–or even why. Not all of the ideas were good. Number 7 never happened. Number 9…I’m not sure what I was thinking there. I don’t think I even knew at the time. Maybe I had an idea and then lost it. Doesn’t matter. I moved on. I wrote the ideas down as they came to me, abandoned them when they didn’t.

What’s important is that I got the ideas down. How did it all fit together? What, thematically, was I trying to say? That all came next.

Next: The Throughline