The Fictional Andy Looney

By the Real Andy Looney

Back in 1982, when I was in college, I decided to take over the Universe. It seemed like the job of Emperor of the Universe was vacant, and so I made a grab for it. I declared myself Emperor. And with my new found power as Emperor, I started appointing my friends to cushy offices like Prime Minister, Admiral of the Space Fleet, Queen of Alpha Centauri, and so on. My right hand man, the High Advisor (who drove me around in the Imperial Staff Car (his VW Beetle)) printed up calling cards for everyone with their official Imperial Titles emblazoned on them. We all had a great time.

The whole thing was going so well that I started dressing the part and developing an entire persona as the Emperor. My closest chums and I (the High Advisor and the Minister of Propaganda) got some uniform coats from the thrift store and added some extra pins and buttons and stuff. And we'd dress up in these outfits and go to parties in character.

Then one night we decided the thing to do would be to go over to the campus radio station and try to get on the air, to start getting some press attention for my new administration. In those days there was a show on WMUC FM late Saturday nights called The Sub-Ether Wave Band, and the DJs, Steve Hauk and Gary Sommer, spun a mix of hip music, sound effects, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio shows. They seemed like just the people to give the opportunity of an interview to.

So we showed up and rang the bell. They didn't let us in the door that night, but we kept after them and eventually they let us sit around in the outer room and talk during times when they weren't on the air. Eventually we won their trust and friendship and stared going their every week.

And one week, Hauk surprised the absolute hell out of me by creating a little 8 page Emperor of da Universe comic book, with me as the main character! There were only 50 copies in that first run of books, but he made others in larger runs and the story got quite complex and interesting. The series contained 7 issues, plus a graphic-novel length adventure called The Box. Circulation on these comics was very limited, though, this being the early days of the desktop publication revolution.

Shown here are panels from throughout the history of Emp comix stories. Note how in the earliest versions he had a thin mustache. When I shaved it off, Steve adjusted the character to suit.

copyright © Steve Hauk

But while my alter-ego had many exciting adventures in these underground comic books, I felt I'd lost control of the character. I often made suggestions about what I'd like to see happen and who I'd like to see featured in the next issue (there was kind of a Simpsons thing going on where everyone wanted to be immortalized in the comic book) but at the end of the day, it was his story not mine.

So, I wrote my own depictions of the Emperor, in The Emperor Must Die! and in the character of the Emperor of Mars in The Empty City.

In 1985, I got a box of little metal figurines of the Emperor as part of a trade. Using some of the Emp comix panels as a guide, someone at Grenadier (I wish I knew who) created this amazing little inch tall statue of me!

More recently, I've appeared as the Emperor in art for the Event Horizon expansion of Super Nova. It's for an Event card called "The Emperor's Birthday," created by the amazing Lee Moyer.

But the Emperor is not my only fictional incarnation. Before I became the Emperor, I was the ruler of a mysterious castle in a land where technology had been outlawed. Or so it was in The Good Life, an early fiction effort by Charles Dickson, based on a three day campfire story in which, for some reason, I had been cast as the villain. Like Emp Comix, I didn't really feel this fictional version of me was accurate, but still, he wore my name and many of my features. The 24 page manuscript tells a strange and surreal story of an Andy Looney who lives in an outrageous and mystical castle, fashioned from the shell of the Empire State Building, ruling over a group of priests who worship his exotic lifestyle, the castle being the only stronghold of technology in a medieval wilderness. He is brought down by the hero of the piece, an idealist named Chuck Walden.

Here's a couple of brief excerpts:

"The lord of the castle was wearing sneakers, black pants, and a shirt with a pattern of red and yellow shapes. He had on a black cape and a strange, shapeless blue hat with little golden surfboards pinned on it."

"This Andy Looney was a strange character. It was obvious he wielded great power. His castle was an incredible feat. Yet he seemed crazy, insane. How could he have done these Herculean feats? He had a god-like manner and attitude, and obviously enjoyed it."

Here are some more of the many faces of the fictional Andy Looney:

As Colonel Klink

As Meteu, the Medicine Man in BSA OA ceremonials

As the Ghost of Jacob Marley

As Thurston Howell III (with Kristin as Lovey)

As Napoleon (or rather, a deranged mental patient who thinks he's Napoleon)

As Space Ghost (with Rob as Moltar and Keith as Zorak)

As Groucho Marx

As Brasilgore, a Saxon foot soldier (with Amy Lindsey carrying my shield)

As the Mad Hatter (with Kristin as Alice)

Copyright © 1998 by Andrew Looney.

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