Today I’m introducing the second of my two main writing projects: Highton Heroes!
I do have other ideas in my head and noted down, but life is short. This project and Nash are the two I am most passionate about, so they’re what I’ll be focusing on, at least for the time being.
Highton Heroes is intended to be a sci-fi action animated TV Series. Each season should ideally consist of 10 episodes of about 20-25 minutes. While each episode will hold some form of a self-contained story, the season will follow a larger arc that centres on an antagonist.
I will be doing all the work in planning and writing all episodes in each season. I know it isn’t traditional for one writer to write all episodes in a season, but this isn’t the most traditional situation.
While the series is sci-fi, the younger target audience means it will sit more in the fantasy area of the genre. The tech and gadgets in the series won’t be too based in reality. If the setting starts to venture beyond Earth down the line, all the planets of our Solar System will be habitable, maybe even housing their own species on each one (certainly not realistic at all).
I currently have completed the writing for Season 1. Beyond that, I have rough plans for an additional 5 seasons, and even rougher plans for at least 3 beyond that.
How far will I get through all this? That remains to be seen! But my goal is to complete at least 6 seasons, ideally 9.
Like Nash, this series stems from an unusual place.
When I was in primary school (about Year 4 to Year 6) we had time in class to write creative stories. I wrote stories about a town that saved the world. It started as one story but over time I actually wrote what I guess you’d call a collection of different ‘arcs’. An arc that followed the town taking on a weird and strange threat and saving the world.
If you read any of this stuff today, it’s certainly not Shakespeare. It’s actually quite nonsensical most of the time. But I do recall the stories as I read them. I can see all the pieces there, and I remember really enjoying these stories. I wished I could watch them on the TV and would spend hours imagining how they would play out.
Highton Heroes looks to my primary school stories as raw material. The ‘arcs’ I wrote in my notebooks are essentially the rough pieces ironed out and re-pieced together for each season. A story I wrote might form the basis of one episode in that season or ongoing story arc surrounding a character. I definitely don’t follow my stories word for word. I’ve changed characters, renamed the town (you’ll know why in a second) and restructured the story to make a more coherent and clear narrative.
This whole experience raises one interesting question for me – can children create better raw material for shows than adults? A lot of the ideas I found in my stories are ones I would never be able to think of now, but I enjoyed them then and I enjoy them now.
Given I wrote a lot of concepts when I was young, I’d definitely say the raw materials, and series itself, have seen a few inspirations over the years:
- Ratchet and Clank: Definitely the most prominent inspiration, Ratchet and Clank is an action platformer game that lives on the Playstation. Without a doubt, it is one of my favourite series to this day. Growing up, I always played the original trilogy on my PS2. I believe my raw material took a lot of inspiration from the story, art design, worlds and boss fights – especially what will form the later, more space-based seasons.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: This is a Star Wars animated series set during The Clone Wars. I wasn’t watching this when I wrote my raw materials, but as I pondered the raw material over the years, The Clone Wars is what inspired the format of my series. A simple action animation show, each episode around 22 minutes.
- Selby Books: This inspiration is odd and the least direct, but I will say it conveys how inspiration can come from anywhere. I was a huge fan of Duncan Ball’s Selby book series when I was younger. They followed a talking dog, Selby, who lived in a town called Bogusville with his two owners Dr and Mrs Trifle (one being the Mayor of the town). Highton Heroes is nothing like these books really, but the raw materials I wrote in school took some inspiration, including the setting and Selby’s owners (I think my younger self even used the Selby book names). While Highton Heroes is nothing like these books, it probably wouldn’t exist today without them.
Highton Heroes is set in a very future version of Earth. Let’s say maybe the 26th century. Humanity has not yet settled other planets. Instead, the accidental discovery of a clean fuel named Koltak has allowed the planet to recover environmentally and become a technological powerhouse.
In this future world, the planet is divided into Zones and Factions. Zones tend to be politically structured like countries today. Factions are less civil and tend to be politically structured like a medieval kingdom. Regardless of their own internal rules, each must be represented by a Councillor. Together the Councillors are mediated by a President.
The President resides in the Capital (a large megalopolis city) and also has control of Highton. Highton is a city which has a sole purpose – the defence and maintained order of Earth. Everyone in Highton must serve this purpose. All its citizens join its army or run businesses that serve the army. Any who do not wish to be part of this purpose must leave.
The First Seasons Story
The first season starts with Ben Tully becoming the new Mayor of Highton after winning an election he sought to lose. The Mayor is a powerful position in Highton – one that combines the role of a city’s mayor in conjunction with the tasks of commanding an entire military. He ran in the election to please his dying father (the former Mayor). Much to his surprise, he won almost entirely off his father’s name alone.
Ben names his wife, Lucy, the Assistant Mayor. This move is highly controversial given she was not Highton born. Together Ben and Lucy must struggle to handle their newfound responsibility while facing obstruction and hatred from Highton traditionalists. Lucy handles things better, having wanted the role and wanting to change the view some Highton citizens hold towards outsiders. Ben, on the other hand, never wanted to be Mayor. He struggles to convey authority and is a bit of an introvert. He has more interest in science and inventions.
As Mayor, Ben has to handle working with his electoral opponent Ryan Lanik. Ryan is Highton’s ideal mayor – well spoken, elite in combat and a great sportsman. Despite these qualities, he still lost the election to Ben, and some are bitter about that. Ryan holds no ill will towards Ben, but there’s still a stigma any time they have to work together.
Not long into Ben’s turbulent start as Mayor, a major threat to Highton emerges. The Crazy Guy, an unstable but intelligent villain raises a mentally controlled and well-equipped army with the intent of destroying Highton. The Crazy Guy wears a cream suit and has a permanently red and white painted face. His is unpredictable, vicious and elusive. The Crazy Guy has a great amount of inside knowledge of Highton, allowing him to keep one step ahead of Highton throughout the series.
Obviously, that is a whole lot of surface level information. I have a lot more depth and detail to all this stuff, which I plan to reveal more about in future blog posts. You can find those here.
For now, I just wanted to introduce the project, where it came from and where it’s going next. And that’s my two main projects introduced for now, but there’s still plenty to talk about!
If you have any question or thoughts, feel free to reach out in the comments or my social channels.
Til next time,