MOU Behind the Scenes: The Beginning
Hello everyone! In the run-up to the Finale, I’d like to share some special behind-the-scenes features all about the MOU to give you a taste of what it was like to pull together this massive undertaking. So, why don’t we start at the very beginning, which is the very best place to start? In dramatic retelling, this is how it all unfolded…from my perspective, of course. Some things may be a little off as memory has naturally worn down, but hey, we all gotta start somewhere!
That was the year.
I had been a member of the EU Council for five years at the point; I was inducted in 2013 after helping JC write the (to that point) biggest story of the Expanded Universe, Origami Yoda and the Bounty Hunters. However, while I assisted in planning the Bounty Hunters saga, after it ended…I didn’t have much to do. I’d become very good friends with JC, but I never was very involved with the other Council members, like the elusive EvilJawa or enigmatic CJ. It didn’t help that there was almost a dozen members at the time, all spread out around the community. As the youngest of the group by far, I was an isolated member, but I still loved the EU.
For several years after that, I kept up with JC as we both shared our own writing projects with one another, including one that JC seemed to love about supervillains in high school? Pff, it would never catch on. Still, I ended up illustrating that book, so shame on me. Always, though, we discussed bringing the EU back; some connected to new characters as an adaptation of the Sequel Trilogy, some being conclusive endings to characters like Jacob Minch. Both aspects ended up a factor in the true ending. As most of the original Council drifted off of the site as the years went by, the old guard helped sponsor new stories like The Knights of Pen, Crease of Rebellion, and, crucially to myself, Rogue Wug. None of these new stories picked up the steam we wanted them to, however. People just weren’t interested in the Origami Yoda fanfiction like they used to be. Darn millenials.
It was around this time that we were planning something based around The Last Jedi; I think it was called the Last Jelly. We had some neat ideas, but the passion wasn’t there. It was clear that this wouldn’t be what the site needed either, and with the march to what was at that time the pipe dream of Twilight of the Student, it just wasn’t working. JC was even taking this time to step back from the site to focus on school and his book. We both wanted the site to continue. But how?
Remember, this was 2018. Spring 2018, to be exact. And just what was currently the discussion all around the planet?
Avengers: Infinity War.
The idea struck me like a thunderbolt from Thorigami’s hammer. What if we didn’t focus so much on the Star Wars origami, which we’d clearly burnt ourselves out on? What if we didn’t have to keep writing for the McQuarrie middle schoolers, but create a completely new cast of characters at a new school with new situations to place them in? What if we turned to a totally new franchise completely?
What if we made a Marvel Origami Universe?
I pitched the idea to JC and he loved it, but since he’d stepped back, he couldn’t do much to enact it. That honor would fall onto this new kid, SFCamster, who JC had transferred ownership of the site to because he seemed like the only one interested. I had no idea who this guy was, but with the help of a rehired CJ, I shared my pitch once more and Cam seemed to like it.
We got planning immediately. This wouldn’t be like the EU with crazy Skittles and magic portals, but as close to realistic as possible. Our characters would be high schoolers instead of middle schoolers, and the tone would be much closer to the original Origami Yoda books. To simulate the fights of heroes vs. villains, we established the concept of two warring schools, one named Wheeler and one named Kirby. (Kirby is obviously named after Jack ‘King’ Kirby, but a little-known fact is that Wheeler is named after Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, the founder of the print company that would become DC Comics.) We would start with the famous MCU Avengers, but aim to grow and include so many more characters the movies hadn’t touched. And even from the very beginning, we knew we wanted T.H.A.N.O.S.; a group of kids working in the shadow to enact their sinister goals. We planned this the right way.
With the first teaser posted in May of 2018, we were underway. We asked Tom to promote it on the Origami Yoda website – which he did – had advertisements for the first story, and CJ wrote a short story titled the Initiative to set it all up. And finally, on June 22nd, The Invincible Iron Fold was made public. The Marvel Origami Universe started with a bang.
And just like that…the EU was back. With all humility, the MOU saved the EU from an untimely death. And really, as you have to do to see the impact is to look at our stat charts: 2017 had around 19,000 viewers. 2018 received over 55,000, almost tripling the previous year. And we just kept climbing; 2020 was our most popular year ever, with 87,000 views.
And I won’t take all the credit, obviously! Almost from the start, EvilJawa, who had never really left the site, started working with the three of us closely. SFPeyton, a long time viewer of the site, joined that summer, and he brought with him the DCOU, which has rivaled the MOU in popularity. But from my completely unbiased opinion, mine is better, of course. Jar Jar was inducted last year, and now Hades and Guillermo are mods themselves. But more importantly, I count all of them to be among my closest friends. And obviously, none of this would have been possible without you all visiting the site, reading the stories, and turning the Origami Yoda Expanded Universe into the grand Superfolder Central it is today.
There’s no denying the MOU changed everything for this little community. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to start this project with such awesome friends, and to gain so many along the way. As I write the ending, it’s just as important to remember the beginning. It hasn’t been perfect. There are so many things I would’ve changed looking back now. But I still love what it was, is, and how it will change. Because Clark Largent, Andy Gardner, Tilly Waterson, Dover MacLeash and Ally Weber have become some of my closest friends as well. It hurts to see them go, but I know they’ll be just fine without me.