The 'Shroom:Issue 185/Palette Swap
We're over halfway through the year- but the August 'Shroom is here swinging!
August has been seriously busy for me so far- long hours at work plus working hard chipping away at the new games that keep coming out keeps me busy.I finished my Azure Gleam of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes and have moved on to Xenoblade Chronicles 3. When I get the time, I'm definitely headed back to 3 Hopes to take on the other two routes to clear things up, but for now, I'm hard at work grinding away at XC3. So far I'm not 100% hooked, but Xenoblade games tend to start out very slow. There has to be a slow place in these 100+ hour JRPGs, I suppose. Either way, I've got a couple months to play until Bayonetta 3 drops, so I'll keep working. Hopefully I'll be a little further next time we're checking in.
This month, we have a couple absent sections due to Awards, but there is a treat in store for you- the final battle of World of Plight is waiting for you just below. I definitely won't keep you from the thrilling conclusion of Magolor's story, so I'll shut up here and let you read on!
Section of the Month
We return to Section of the Month! Keeping up a first place streak is Waluigi Time (talk), with Waluigi Time Comic! Next on the list, we have Magolor04726 (talk) and a boss battle edition of World of Plight. Coming up in third, it's Long John Spaghetti (talk)'s Luigi and Associates Detective Agency. A big thank you to everyone who voted, and please do keep it up for this month's issue as well!
|PALETTE SWAP SECTION OF THE MONTH|
|1st||Waluigi Time Comic||7||36.84%||Waluigi Time (talk)|
|2nd||World of Plight||5||26.32%||Magolor04726 (talk)|
|3rd||Luigi and Associates Detective Agency||3||15.79%||Long John Spaghetti (talk)|
Drawn and Pressed
"It's a serious world, someone has to make fun of it": this is the quote that would describe The Norm. Created by Michael Jantze and debuting on 12th of August 1996, The Norm offers humour on adulthood, where the main character goes through life as an adult and even comments on the absurdities in the situations he finds himself in, either caused by him or happening around him. One of the more interesting things about this comic strip is how its life basically extends beyond its original run, even though the material aren't part of any newspaper runs, which is an indication that many found the continuations enjoyable. In fact, I thought of this comic strip as interesting myself, finding how relatable Norm is.
The main character of The Norm is the titular Norm, whose fully name is Theodore Norman Miller, which is a play on the comic strip's title. Norm is described as a "boy who didn't grow up", where in this case he has a relaxed attitude and is impulsive. He is also a graphic designer and is a twenty-something year old at the beginning of the comic, so in some ways, he still has an inner child. Speaking of inner child, he could have conversations with one of his several alter egos that range from his child self to his senior self. These alter egos highlight a different part of his personality, and might also be easy for the reader to understand, so for example when Norm is depicted as a child, he's actually expressing his inner child. Plus, Norm is prone to break the fourth wall to address his commentary to the reader on the events that happen during the cartoon. Norm is considered likeable because of how flawed he is, as he's also not very socially adept, so I guess it's what TVTropes call "adorkable". Very similar to how caffeine is usually depicted, Norm is one of those characters who just can't operate without it. He is also a Star Wars fan, and even has a friend of that type named Chris, who is usually wearing a Wookie costume. One thing to note about Norm is how his parents are depicted. Instead of being depicted as being regular cartoon characters, they are depicted as scribbles to indicate his immature relationship with either of them.
Besides the main character Norm, there are other significant players in Norm's life. The biggest one is Reine, who was introduced as merely Norm's friend, who is a woman, since college, and is defined by her over-focused driven tendencies to counterpoint Norm's relaxed attitude. As could be guessed by the "opposites attract" thing, other characters saw them as a good fit for each other and they would eventually get engaged and marry each other, though how it happened is indirectly caused by her parents (she lied about being engaged with Norm, and then they all go to a Hawaii trip together, and then they were properly dating). Unlike Norm's parents, Reine's parents have normal interactions with the other characters, including Norm himself. Ford, another regular character, is an African-American man and a close friend, as well as frequently being Norm's co-worker. He occasionally acts as a voice of reason for Norm, though he also encourages and goes along with Norm's whimsical tendencies. There are various other characters in work that Norm encounters, including Wonk the older co-worker, and Norm's African-American lady boss (her name isn't given) that tends to overload his workload.
One of the enjoyable aspects of the comic strip is when it takes advantage of the medium, through the interwoven use of words and images to create something special. This is something the author of The Norm has taken from the great Charles Schulz (creator of Peanuts), who believes the best approach to writing a comic strip is to develop the ideas around both the words and pictures simultaneously. As such, many things in the comic strip are not meant to be taken literally, even though one can use it to understand the situation figuratively. As an example, the aforementioned Norm's parents are usually depicted as scribbles, which is obviously not how Norm's parents literally look like. One advice that the cartoonist would give to aspiring cartoonists is to not quit, because anything can happen if doing anything long enough, including success.
Even though some fantastic imagery were used within the comic strip, it is very much a slice-of-life strip where Norm goes through moments of his life, such as at home, at work, or even with friends. Moreover, it does not abide by the status quo, meaning that just because something bad happened it does not mean everything snaps back in place quickly. As an example, for a good deal of time, Norm is depicted as being a bachelor, as he's not have gotten any luck with other women, some of whom are seen within the comic strip's life, until he married Reine. Norm's also gotten some patches of unemployment, where months could even pass by without being on a job. Of course, a regular fixture of comics with progression of events is story arcs, and the strip has plenty, typically interwoven with Norm talking to the reader. One of the things I have also liked about the comic strip is the references to other comic strips. As an example, one comic strip references the Comic Strip Switcheroo on 1st April 1997 on a different year, and briefly used the style of FoxTrot (this comic strip was taken up by On the FasTrack on that day).
While The Norm had ended its run many years ago back in 2004, the cartoonist expressed interest in continuing the lives of the characters. Back in 2005, through the use of the potential benefits of the internet, where he created a subscription-based feature around the cartoon, and his wife helped to start up by raising a lot of money. It should be noted that this was back before Kickstarter so it was not as convenient. In the continued run, Norm got a job at an advertisement agency and continued his life with his wife and friends. The run was rather short due to the author questioning this approach of doing daily comics, but that does not mean that The Norm did not have more material. In fact, he used the opportunity to explore his characters in new ways, through creating comics for the books Flat Norm and Knocked Out Loaded. The former is a short 70-strip story that dealt with Norm taking a mental vacation and letting his alter egos take over for most of it while the real Norm did some soul-searching. The latter is about Norm taking steps to advance his life to the next level, in an inspired format which is to go through the daily strip process with the intention of putting it in a book. This means that each page would fit three strips, and when necessary, more of a page is used. The characters continued their lives in the aptly title The Norm 4.0, and based on the numbering, I felt that 2.0 is the sequel strips after the syndication's end, and 3.0 is the story in Knocked Out Loaded. These strips do not feature a story arc this time, opting for a more slice-to-life approach that nonetheless retains the imagination and whimsy of previous The Norm works. It chronicles the life of Norm and his family, including his children Taylor and Lily. The jury is out on if there would be more The Norm cartoons, but the cartoonist did a superb job in providing more of what makes the characters loveable and relatable.
Beyond creating The Norm comics, the cartoonist also produced some small works and even provided commissioned cartoons to some popular establishments like some of KaboingTV's Frog in a Suit cartoons (Example) and Youtube (The Birds and the Biz). Among the works, he also has sound-accompanying comic videos for some of The Norm. Here is one example of a motion comic. They're sadly not voiced, so the author's intended voice for the characters are not known. His other cartoons can be viewed under one umbrella in GoComics's Studio Jantze, which the cartoonist jokingly mentioned that there would be "No more digging around that awful Internet for all these gems". These are sanity sketches, which are, according to the author, done "to relax and remember how much fun my work can be". While some of them involves characters from The Norm, there would also be appearances of Mr. Lux, deemed to be a "magical creature who can be anyone and everyone", the occasional self-insert of Jantze, and other miscellaneous cartoons. They are not essential for the enjoyment of the comic strip, so you can view them as supplementary material if you like the author's works.
All in all, I really find this comic strip very enjoyable to read, because it has everything: it has characters that are written well and likeable, the artwork is very creative, and it's a very relatable type of comic strip. The best part is that the author is not afraid to continue the characters, when a lot of cartoonists basically leave behind their work after they are done, which I felt amplified the enjoyment of the characters because we know that the end of the comic strip is not the end of it.
- The Norm (coloured) comic strips can be read from the beginning at: https://www.gocomics.com/thenorm/2021/08/09
- The Norm strips (continuation) start at: https://www.gocomics.com/thenorm/2019/08/12
- Flat Norm starts at: https://www.gocomics.com/thenorm/2020/01/02
- Knocked Out Loaded starts at: https://www.gocomics.com/thenorm/2020/03/13
- The Norm 4.0 starts at: https://www.gocomics.com/thenorm/2020/12/30
- Studio Jantze: https://www.gocomics.com/studio-jantze
Thank you for reading.
World of Plight
I stared in horror through the haze of Karkaton at what Azcron had become. The true final battle had begun.
Azcron brought his left arm back and swung it at the tower’s peak. The massive sword sliced through the roof and dust rose from the rubble.
“I think they might need help,” I said, my eyes wide.
“We could send for others and have them enter through the Warp Pipe,” Sakurai replied, “but there’s no telling how soon they’ll be here, unless you have a way to teleport people across the world.”
Mario grabbed Link’s hand and helped him off the floor. “Pit, Kirby, Fox, Simon, and Samus! Go keep him busy!”
“How do we defeat a foe this strong?” Link asked, as Pit took to the skies and tried firing arrows at Azcron.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
I might know of a way.
The duo turned to Mewtwo. “We’re open to suggestions!” Mario said AS Azcron swung a hand and barely missed smacking Pit clean out of the sky.
Mewtwo closed its eyes and a purple aura emitted from its body. Hidden one… REVEAL YOURSELF!
Suddenly, there was a pulse from the ground nearby. A massive question mark appeared on the ground and pulsed from blue to black, causing the tower to shake. White rings appeared in the air and flowed together like foam on the sea, crashing through each other and settling over the question mark. The rings glowed like the sun and suddenly, a blue coat was billowing in the wind. A black hat stood tall atop it as gloves materialized around the arm holes.
“OH-,” Little Mac started, “Not again!”
The Magic Master had appeared.
Marth shook his head and unsheathed his weapon. “Let’s go.”
Stop! Mewtwo projected. He is not our foe.
The coat’s arms floppily crossed each other and he said, “You really haven’t figured it out yet?” His voice didn’t sound like a dead tree branch scraping a window anymore. It was powerful, like it should ring strong from a mountain.
“Figured WHAT out?” Sora asked, tilting his head in confusion.
“In order to succeed against such a powerful foe,” he replied, holding his hands up, “the people must unite! Those from to and fro!”
“… did you seriously just make a rhyme?” Snake asked.
“And your companion is right,” the Magic Master said, ignoring Snake’s question, “I am not your foe.”
Suddenly, the air split apart with an ear-shattering CRACK! as The Magic Master’s body crumpled to the floor.
A pair gloves shot from the pile into the air as if by magic and each gently settled its middle finger to its thumb. With a swift snap, light burst forth from the hands and they grew to a massive size, almost big enough to fit Azcron in his current state. The right one began slowly revolving its fingers in an almost dignified manner as the left began twitching and curling its fingers in an erratic pattern.
Sora pointed a hand at the gloves in shock. “It’s Master and Crazy Hand!”
My mouth flopped open like a trapdoor. “We had the two of them undercover working with Azcron this WHOLE TIME?!” I asked incredulously.
The gloves gave each other a fist bump and spread apart slowly as a voice said, “Let’s call on some allies!” Master Hand snapped his fingers. Bright points of light burst forth from everywhere around the tower. Blue streams of light soared across the sky and swirled together, jostling with each other before solidifying into a cone shaped battle machine. A massive star shaped swirl tore the sky apart and a ship gracefully flew through, its oars rolling in their holes as though the ship were at sea. A yellow sparkle shone brightly, and a kid in a striped shirt appeared, brandishing a stick. A familiar egg-shaped robot dropped from the sky, its clawed feet pressing into the charred earth, the C on its chest shimmering through the haze.
“What is this?!” Azcron bellowed. “You would dare turn on me?!” He pointed to the gloves as his face twisted into a sneer. “I have the power of hundreds, THOUSANDS of beings across time and space!”
Master Hand pointed defiantly at their foe. “That’s why we’re going to rise to meet your strength!”
“First,” said a blue bird in high tech gear, “an excellent base!” A massive golden statue appeared as the chicken-based mech stomped underneath it and the pilot squawked menacingly.
The battle robot crawled up the side of the statue with the agility of a spider and latched onto the front, producing enough beeps and whirs to pass for a factory.
The emblem on the front of the flying ship dislodged from its resting place and soared through the air. “Turns out that thing makes a pretty good belt!” the captain exclaimed, piloting his ship back a ways. A pair of ships with decals like needles jutting out the back - one black and red and the other green and gray – settled onto the shoulders of the statue. “Slippy and Caroso, ready to fight!”
A knight with orange wings held its sword tightly in front of it and thrust it to the heavens. The sword grew to a gargantuan size and Crazy Hand quickly grabbed it and set himself where the left arm would have ended on this makeshift entity. A small meteor shaped like Mario’s head floated above the shoulderpads before Master Hand nudged it backwards a bit. Flying to where the right arm would have ended, he snapped his fingers and the Fighters vanished in a flash of light. Link appeared behind the panther piloting one of the shoulderpads and Kirby landed on top of the belts star emblem. Mario landed on top of the meteor-head with Sora as a large plum-colored Luma gestured to the wheel. “All yours, Cap!”
Finally, a red heart flew upwards out of the kid’s chest and glowed in the center of the massive makeshift mech. “The power of DETERMINATION!” Red sparks of lighting shot from the heart across the components of the mech. The eyes at the peak seemed to glow as the mech entered a battle pose.
Azcron took a step back and a look of uncertainty flickered across his face, but was quickly replaced with an intense scowl. “So be it! The fate of the universe is decided here and now!” Raising his arm, Azcron brought his sword down towards the heroes.
Crazy Hand shot upwards, the orange blade of the butterfly sword connecting with the steel of Ganon’s edge. An orange-yellow rain shot from the blades as they struggled to push each other aside. Twisting his hand, Azcron pitched the blades aside and brought his other hand forward, bashing the side of the head with his fist. The head, due its detached nature, spun wildly in place as Azcron grabbed one of the shoulderpads and closed his eyes. A purple mist seeped from between his fingers and danced around the cockpit of the ship-shoulderpad, which began screaming sparks in every direction.
“Mayday! Mayday!” the pilot cried, “Energy levels dropping drastically!”
The meteor-head stopped rotating as Mario spun the wheel at the helm hard and pressed violently on a large yellow panel with his foot. Emitting a whistle that rattled the heavens, whisps of blue and green poured from a smokestack as the head darted forward, ramming Azcron’s head with the giant nose of Mario.
Azcron’s head reared back as his grip on the ship loosened and he stumbled back, his sword falling to the earth below it. The chicken piloting the legs threw levers from one end of the cabin to the other as the right leg rose forward and CRUNCH!ed the sword in half.
Sora watched the sword from the meteor-head and his eyes widened. “Mario!” he said, tapping him on the shoulder. “Look!” The blade of the sword had begun to turn a dark shade before it quickly crumbled to a sad, purple dust.
“I think if we can beat him part by part…” Sora started.
“We can beat him once and for all!” Mario exclaimed.
The luma next to him pointed to their gargantuan foe. “That leaves four parts: The tail, the wings, the crown, and the head.”
Azcron, blinded by rage, jumped into the air and spun his legs around, the toes of his boots connecting with the opposite shoulderpad. In an instant, the ship dislodged and flung into the sky, smoke trailing from the ship’s engines. As Azcron’s feet came back down, the large, black, blocky tail that jutted from beneath his armor swung towards the heroes. Master Hand reacted instantaneously and grabbed onto the appendage, wrestling it to the earth. Crazy Hand, understanding his intentions, spun the butterfly blade ‘round and stabbed hard into the tail’s core, refusing to relent.
Azcron bellowed and leaped upwards, the tail yanking free from Master Hand’s grip. Flapping his flashing wings furiously, the fearsome foe flew for the heavens. The tail disintegrated into a purple mist as he climbed the skies before disappearing entirely. The Fighters still on the tower cheered as Azcron clasped his hands together. “You may think you have me figured out,” he said from his place in the skies, “but you can’t begin to fathom what I am capable of!” His hands flew apart and a bright ball of flame burst forth, hitting Crazy Hand with astounding force. As the orange sword hit the ground, Crazy Hand fell with it, stunned from the force of the blast and practically seeing stars.
The battle robot strapped to the chest of the heroes torso beeped and spun its head before emitting a red light. A miniscule, red reticle danced across Azcron’s chest almost joyfully as he flew back a bit, a look of uncertainty crossing his brow. Suddenly, the robot whirred as the heart in the center of the mech glowed and a brilliant bolt of blue burst from the robot’s singular eye. It soared through the air at an astounding speed as Azcron’s eyes widened. Turning, he shrouded himself in his wings as the laser connected with his protection and flames engulfed the sparking green wires strewn from the wingtips. As smoke rose quickly, Azcron fell quicker. His wings seemed to disassemble themselves as he streaked towards earth. On landing, a great plume of dust rose upwards, enveloping the Karkatonian skies. Covered in a smoke screen, Master Hand flew back and forth in a vain attempt to clear the air. Suddenly, a red glow appeared through the haze and Mario’s eyes widened. Before the dust was ripped apart by a laser forced from Azcron’s crown, Mario had time to yell one word: “BELT!”
A multitude of stars burst forth from the ship-emblem-belt, meeting the red bolt head on. Both powers continued to clash when Master Hand snapped his fingers. “All forward! Everything you have! Now!” Curling into a fist, he stretched his fingers forward, blue light exploding from his fingertips. The robot spun its head around and its eye glowed as it fired another volley of lasers towards Azcron’s temples. The remaining shoulder-pilot’s fingers flew across his control panel, enabling the ship’s guns to open fire as the leg pilot gave all his might into pulling the resisting leg-levers into action.
The red bolt of light from Azcron’s crown began to creep backwards, inching its way towards its commander. “NO!” he bellowed, “I REFUSE TO LOSE HERE!” With a mighty yell, he pushed forward, his Bowser mask dissipating into purple smoke, which enveloped the crown. Suddenly, the pace of the lasers ground to a halt, each at a standstill. Then, slowly but surely, the red laser began to grasp its way towards the heroes.
But the heroes stayed determined.
The red heart at the core of the heroic amalgamation pulsed violently, red sparks shooting across the mech.
“One more push!” Mario cried. “LET’S-A-GO!”
I watched with wide eyes as he spun the wheel of the meteor-head and everyone yelled in agreement, a war cry rattling the skies. Azcron’s laser jumped backwards like water on a frying pan, leaping away from the heroes as Azcron yelled in fury. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash of light. A bright white enveloped everything visible and a massive KRAKAKOOOOOM! was all that could be heard.
Slowly, the white faded away and the noise died down. I looked through misty eyes at the screen. Something began to solidify on the screen. A hood with spikes along the top lay on the ground where Azcron had stood.
The final battle was over.
Good had won.
Azcron was defeated.
Shmaluigi, Private Investigator
Crunch Time: Part 1
It was early in the afternoon when I had an unexpected visitor at my office - my big brother Shmwario.
"Hey bro, I'm all outta garlic, mind if I snag some from ya?" he asked.
In the past, I probably would've said something like "go buy your own garlic you freeloader", but ever since Joja pretty much squeezed out all the competition, I tried to do my best to give them as minimal business as possible, directly or otherwise. If some garlic was the price to pay to keep the amount on Shmwario's next Joja receipt down a little, so be it.
As my brother went upstairs to go raid the fridge, my phone rang.
"Shmaluigi, private investigator."
"Hey, Shmaluigi! It's Waluigi Time."
See, here's the thing. Waluigi Time? He's fine, I guess. Kind of an oddball, but at least he makes good cereal. But you know the noir cliche of "I knew they were trouble when they walked in"? Well, that's this guy, in the sense that he's essentially a chaos magnet. And, well, a lot of that chaos is self-produced. It's a wonder The 'Shroom hasn't burned to the ground with him in upper management.
If I took this case, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be a doozy, but still, money's money...
"Oh, um, what can Shmaluigi do for you?"
"Well, I'm having some business issues over here... Financials haven't been so good, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, yadda yadda yadda... No fault of my own, mind you! Everything I spend money on is very important, even if Shbig says otherwise."
I had to wonder why he was calling me for this. "Look, if you want a business consultant, you should probably call somebody else," I told him.
"Oh, no, that's not why I'm calling! Although I have tried that, but that Nathan guy won't return any of my calls... But anyway, I have something that's more up your alley. Some weird things have been going on over at the factory, and we suspect that there's some sabotage going on. You up for it?"
"Eh, sure. Shmaluigi's on the case."
"Great! I'll tell my secretary to expect you. Just come over to Waluigi Time Cereal Tower whenever, I don't really have anything important coming up. I can probably skip that meeting with the board of directors..."
"Alright, see you in a bit."
I hung up, and Shmwario returned munching on an entire clove of garlic. "Hey, who was that?" he asked.
"Oh, Waluigi Time called, he needs some help at the factory..."
"You goin' soon?"
"Yeah, probably, I don't have much else to do at the moment."
"Listen, you gotta take me with you!"
"I'm not sure if that's such a good idea..."
"Aw, c'mon! I never get to do anything! You wanna know what happened the last time I had a case? Some lady called because she couldn't find her cat. It was under the bed the entire time!"
"Besides, I love that stuff! I wanna tell Waluigi Time about my great Garlic Burrito Cereal idea! Besides, you owe me!"
"...Fine. Just, don't make me regret this, okay?"
"Bwahaha! When has Shmwario ever made you regret something?"
"Too many times to count, bro."
We arrived in Waluigi Time's reception room, and were greeted by a green Birdo sitting at the desk.
"Hello there, what can I do for you two today?" she asked.
"We're here to talk with Mr. Time, he should be expecting us. The name's Shmaluigi," I told her.
"Ah yes, here you are, penciled in for 'whenever I guess'. Always the professional..." she said, picking up the phone. "Mr. Shmaluigi is here to see you, sir. ...Alright, Waluigi Time will see you now. Head on in."
We went into Waluigi Time's very purple office to find the cereal magnate spinning around in his desk chair, stopping when he saw us.
"Ah, hello Shmaluigi! I see you brought Shmwario too. This is our president, Shbig Changes," he said, motioning to a glowing purple rabbit on a screen.
"Greetings. I would shake your hand but I am sure your detective's intuition will tell you why such an interaction would be unfeasible."
"Hey, before we get started I got a great idea for a new cereal! It's got-" Shmwario started trying to pitch his new cereal before I interrupted by elbowing him in the shoulder.
"Business first, alright?"
"So, what can we help you with?" I asked.
"Well, there's been some odd things happening both here and at the factory for the past few weeks," Waluigi Time explained, "machinery being sabotaged, security footage being wiped, money disappearing from the treasury..."
"Which wouldn't have happened if you just deposited the money at the bank like I told you," Shbig Changes noted.
"Yeah, but then you can't roll around in it, we've been over this. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that no-good saboteur Cornelius from Kellogg's is behind this! He got a spy into the company or something!"
"You blame everything on Cornelius."
"What? No I don't!"
"You blamed Cornelius when you stubbed your toe last week."
"Look... I'm pretty sure that table was a couple inches to the left the last time I saw it."
I had a feeling this conversation was going off the rails fast, so I attempted to steer it back on track. "Ahem, do you have any idea who could be doing this?"
"Besides Waluigi Time's paranoia, not exactly," Shbig Changes said, "I keep my own independent backup of the security footage from the factory, but all we have is, well, this."
Shbig Changes disappeared from the screen and displayed a brief clip of security footage of a cloaked figure in the factory. They were very careful not to let any of their features be seen - at best, you got a sense for their general size and shape, but given the sheer amount of size-manipulating items you can acquire, I wasn't going to take that as anything concrete. Or it could be a hundred Mini Goombas in there or something. I actually saw that happen once.
"Oh yeah, was that from the night before we found the packing machine full of gum?" Waluigi Time asked.
"No, this was the night prior to the 'mud in the onions' incident."
"And none of the other footage makes things clearer?" I asked Shbig Changes.
"Negative. I have analyzed it quite thoroughly, I assure you."
"Hm... Well, Shmaluigi guesses we better get to interviewing your employees, then. Anywhere we can get a list?"
"Oh, just go see Bumper over in HR, he can get you sorted out there," Waluigi Time said.
"And anywhere we can interview them?"
"There's an Interview Room on the fourth floor, right between the Ice Cream Bar and the Alien Artifact Room. You can't miss it."
"Wh- you know what, Shmaluigi's not going to question it."
"Man, I felt like a fish outta water in there," Shmwario said to me, "this detective stuff is more complicated than I thought."
"Well, when you can count the amount of cases you've had on your hands..."
"I forgot to tell 'em about Garlic Burrito Cereal."
"I'm sure we'll be talking to them again."
Our first interviewee was Charles Charger, head of security. I figured if security footage was being deleted, he'd be a good place to start.
"So, Mr. Charger-"
"Ech, just call me Chuck."
"Alright, Chuck it is. So you're head of security, correct?"
"Are you aware that security footage from the factory has been deleted recently?"
"Yeah, Waluigi Time told me."
"DID YOU DO IT?" Shmwario yelled, bolting from his chair.
"Easy, Shmwario, if you wanna do the 'good cop, bad cop' thing you at least have to be good at being the bad cop," I told him.
"Sorry," Shmwario said, sheepishly sitting back down.
"What measures did you take afterwards?" I asked, getting things back on track.
"Nothing, really. Not much I could do at that point. Door to the security room's supposed to be locked anyway, I guess maybe I just left it unlocked by mistake? Don't go in there all too often, only when there's a problem, but it didn't look like there was any tampering."
"Who has access to the room besides you?"
"Just the big boss, he has the only other copy of the key as far as I know. I guess Shbig kinda has access too, but figuring out how all that stuff works is above my pay grade."
"Have you noticed anything strange going on, either here or at the factory?"
"Man, strange is the status quo around here. But nothing like, suspicious or anything."
"Do you know if anyone around here has been having issues with management?"
"Nah, not really."
"Alright, thank you for your time."
"One more question," Shmwario added, "would you buy Garlic Burrito Cereal?"
"Uh, I'm more of a steak guy, actually," Chuck replied.
"Bro, this is an investigation, not market research," I said, rolling my eyes.
Next up was Murda Crowe, chief financial officer. I didn't expect her to be hanging around the factory, but perhaps she could shed some light on what was going on with the treasury.
"Alright, Ms. Crowe," I started things out, "it says here you're in charge of finances for the company."
"Indeed I am," she replied.
"That would give you access to the treasury then, correct?"
"Yes, of course."
"Are you aware of funds disappearing from the treasury recently, then?"
"Absolutely, I make it my duty to count its contents daily. Nothing comes in or out of there without my knowledge, although sometimes I wish I didn't know... Mr. Time has no respect for budgets, sometimes I fear this job will send me to an early grave."
"You count everything in there every day?! Isn't that kinda weird?" Shmwario asked.
"I'm a Crowber and I'm in charge of finances hun, you do the math," she snapped back.
"Man, I like money, but I'd rather just roll around in it instead of bein' a math nerd..."
"Shmwario, please," I said in an attempt to get things back on track, "how much is being taken?"
"Oh, a little here and there. It's never too much at one time, but it's been adding up quickly."
"Have you taken any precautions to stop these thefts?"
"I've been trying to convince management to invest in better security systems, but guess who blew the budget again..."
"Is there anyone else with access to the treasury?"
"Only Mr. Time and myself."
"Do you know of anyone in the company who might want to steal funds?"
"Well I can't speak with certainty, but there's nothing that would make me suspect it, at least."
I could see Shmwario with that look on his face like he was about to ask about Garlic Burrito Cereal again, so I shot him a dirty look to shut him up.
"Thank you for your time, Ms. Crowe."
Our last "expert" of sorts was Rocco Moles, mechanic responsible for maintaining the factory machinery, among other things.
"Let's see, Mr. Moles-"
"Hey, the name's Spanner," he interrupted, "I didn't become a mechanic to be treated like some common Monty Mole."
Lots of people here touchy about their name, apparently.
"Okay, Spanner, you've been doing maintenance on the machinery, correct?"
"Yes indeedy, and that's been a job and a half lately, let me tell you, I don't get paid enough to clean up the messes that have been going on lately!"
"So you're aware of the sabotage then. Could you explain a little more about what's been going on with that with your knowledge?"
"Oh, there's no need for that. Anyone could do this kind of stuff, it ain't anything that you'd need much understanding of the machinery beyond what it does to pull off. I'm not even doing any repairs, just cleanup. I'm like an overpaid janitor right now!"
"Interesting... Have you seen anything strange going on, with the sabotage or otherwise?"
"Nope, only seen the messes they left behind. Boy, have I seen 'em..."
"Is there anything you know of that would make you think anyone in particular would want to do this?"
"Can't say I do, sorry."
"Well, that should be all for now. Thanks for your time, Mr. Spanner".
We continued our interviews, but with no one left who was directly involved with any of the affected areas, nothing useful turned up.
"So, out of everyone we interviewed, only Chuck and Ms. Crowe had access to relevant restricted areas, but not the same ones..." I noted.
"You think there could be more than one culprit?" Shmwario asked.
"Mhm, it's possible... We don't even know that the same person's been responsible for all of this."
"What I still don't get is the whole deleting security footage business, if that rabbit's always watchin' everything going on in the factory."
"Whoever did it probably wasn't privy to that information. Or... didn't have to worry about it."
"Waluigi Time is the only person anyone knows of that has unrestricted access to pretty much every place around here."
"You think he's sabotaging his own company?!"
"No, no- well, not intentionally, anyway. I don't think Time's bold enough to come up with an insurance scam like that... Even if someone else suggested to him I couldn't see him going for it, considering how many less-than-optimal financial moves the guy makes. He just kind of does what he wants."
"Help me out here then, I'm already lost."
"If Waluigi Time has the keys, someone close to him could probably be able to snag them and do their dirty work."
"No one's got a better shot at it than him, I'd say. And who's to say he didn't tamper with that security footage? He has the only copy left of it. If the company's in such dire straits, maybe he's trying to shake things up or jump ship completely."
"He kinda gives me the creeps."
"Yeah, well, I think we need to have another talk with those two."
To be continued...
Pretty good cliffhanger, right? Maybe? Well, thanks for reading the beginning of another one of Shmaluigi's cases. I've been wanting to dive more into the inner workings of WT Cereal for a while, so it's fun to get the chance to do that here. Be sure to come back next month to see what happens when Shmaluigi and Shmwario get another meeting with the big wigs! See you then, hopefully.
|The 'Shroom: Issue 185|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner • Strategy Wing|