Okay, first of all... Just got a look at two nearly-finished pages from the artist for this story. They are incredible!
All right, so in our last installment I mentioned that my editor, Chris Stevens, who is definitely the driving force behind the DWPFF project, suggested I adapt a story from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Books" series. I also mentioned that as soon as I saw "The Jungle Books" in his email, I knew exactly which story I wanted to adapt. What story, you ask?
The story is "Rikki Tikki Tavi". Of all the stories in Kipling's Jungle Books series, the story of the young, inexperienced mongoose battling against the fearsome cobras in the garden of his adopted family's home has always been my favorite. There are a few reasons for that. First, anyone that knows me knows I love a good hero vs. villain story. For example, my favorite of the original Star Trek movies (with the original cast, I mean) is "Wrath of Khan". The reason being that the way Kirk and Khan interact with one another throughout the film is brilliant. My favorite Star Trek movie period, "First Contact", captures the exact same concepts between Picard and the Borg. In fact, in "Wrath of Khan", Khan quotes the incredible novel "Moby Dick", and Picard does the exact same thing (although with different quotes) in "First Contact". I just really happen to enjoy how characters that are polar opposites interact with one another in stories, movies, comics, etc., and "Rikki Tikki Tavi" is a perfect example of that.
Another thing I'm a sucker for is an underdog. I'm an unabashed fan of the Dallas Cowboys football team, but any year that they're eliminated from playoff contention in the NFL, I immediately hitch my horse to the wagon of the worst team the playoffs has to offer. And if it isn't the worst team, it's the team that has been the worst historically. I love rooting for the underdog, in all things. Now imagine you're reading a story where a half-drowned, undersized animal that looks like a cross between a ferret and a weasel is pitted against two massive, menacing and murderous cobras! Who would you root for? I rest my case.
(And if you said the cobras, my friend, you have no soul.)
But that isn't all that appeals to me about the story. If you think about it, the mongoose is kind of like nature's superhero. And I should know, because I absolutely love superheroes. I think they're keen. Now don't get me wrong, I realize the mongoose doesn't have superpowers like some animals out there. He's not super-fast like the cheetah, or able to generate electric current like certain types of eels can, but what the mongoose does do better than any living creature on the planet... is fight poisonous snakes! And if there's any animal out there that resembles a supervillain more than a poisonous snake, I don't know what it is. Cheetahs and eels aren't out there using their unique gifts to battle these fiends. That's all mongoose.
And finally, and most importantly, the reason the story of "Rikki Tikki Tavi" appeals to me most of all is because I really feel like it captures the idea that love can conquer all. Think about it. Here's this little mongoose, facing overwhelming odds in the form of a couple of snakes that could eat him up in a single bite. He's outgunned and outnumbered, and the snakes give him the option to turn tail and run. The easy thing to do would be to abandon the family living in that house and head for the hills. But because the family saved his life, fed him and provided him with a home, Rikki decides that the only way those snakes are going to run his family out of their home is over his dead body. If you love something, you want to fight for it no matter what it might cost, and "Rikki Tikki Tavi" captures the essence of that idea perfectly. It's one of my favorite stories ever, and I'm just hoping to do it justice.
That's enough for this installment, I think. Next time we'll talk about my "RTT" pitch and the numerous false starts I made while writing the script.