A Tale of Three Rooks
There’s this character called “The Rook.” He’s the star of a series of Sci-Fi comics stories, created by Bill DuBay and Budd Lewis, and first appearing in VAMPIRELLA and EERIE back in the 70s. He is named after the chess piece, the rook. He looks an awful lot like Han Solo to me. A lesser known character, also called “The Rook,” is an old-school pulp-style hero in the vein of Will Eisner’s THE SPIRIT. It does appear this character, created by writer Barry Reese, takes his name from the bird, although he looks like a cross between The Shadow and the Comedian from WATCHMEN.
I created my own character called “The Rook” in 2015 or thereabouts. He takes his name from the classic card game, although he wears a plague doctor’s mask reminiscent of a bird’s skull. He is more of a villain than hero, the world’s greatest master criminal, a would-be actor during Hollywood’s golden age (the silent film era) who, failing to achieve stardom, chose to recreate himself. As he’d previously been trained as an assassin, he just added a touch of Theatre and went with it. His inspirational antecedents, visually, were Count Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera, and Edgar Allan Poe’s THE RAVEN. Oh, and with a tad of the 80s slasher thrown in.
The Rook–my character always has the “The” capitalized as well–has appeared in a series of four plays, all written and directed by moi, and said series has proven quite successful. I have more installments planned in the future. I’ve even gotten to perform as The Rook (due to the time constraints of costume changes, it is necessary to employ “stuntmen” to act out the scenes wherein The Rook is in costume; that’s me in the above photograph), murdering some of my favorite actresses onstage. Turning off all the lights, with me wearing a black robe, cloak, and hood, nothing visible except the stark white of the plague doctor’s mask, materializing out of the shadows behind some unsuspecting ingénue while the crowd oohs and ahhs, it’s so much fun.
I fear, though, that I may have created a monster. A product of my imagination may have taken on a life of its own.
More on this in the follow-up next week.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.
Denn die totden reiten schnell!