Corrupted Lines:  An Investigation Into A Dissipated Branch of the Wold-Newton Family


By J. Walker Bryson


In March of 1894, notorious womanizer and (mostly) undeserved  war hero Sir Harry Flashman sat in hiding in a nearly empty house in London.  He had killed many times, but had never before taken a life for purposes other than survival.  Only one thing could cause Sir Harry to resort to such an extreme action:  The honor of his granddaughter, Selina.  A dark figure entered the room and crossed to the window.  Flashman drew his gun, took aim….


And Colonel Sebastian Moran was captured by other, more famous individuals[1].  Sir Harry’s relief at this turn of events was greatly tempered when he discovered that his daughter had requested  his intervention not to salvage her Victorian chastity, but rather so that she would be able to continue her affair with HRH The Prince of Wales uninterrupted.  Selina went on to marry her intended Randall Stanger that June, giving birth to a single daughter,  Stephanie, in December of that year.  As it would be ludicrous for this scholar to insinuate that the British Royal Family would be capable of producing offspring who were anything but sober, intelligent, serious, and (in short) able to run an Empire, it can be safely assumed that Stephanie was the offspring of Randall and Selina.


The next several years of Stephanie’s life were typical for a young woman at the time.  As she entered her teenage years, she enjoyed a reputation as something of a coquette, attracting the attention of several eligible young bachelors.  Stephanie kept them busy attempting to woo her with gifts and extravagant promises.


In 1917, however, Stephanie’s life took a drastic turn.  A young group of privates were on liberty immediately before they were scheduled to be sent to the front.  Stephanie encountered them while slumming with friends in a working-class pub.    A drunken dare was proposed at her table.  Drawing the short straw, Stephanie was forced to seduce the smelliest, most disreputable-looking enlisted man in the tavern[2].  Journal entries of hers state that for weeks afterwards, she was attempting to cleanse the lingering scent of turnips from her skin.


In March, Stephanie discovered that she was pregnant.  Her father immediately disowned her, causing chaos between her parents, and driving her to seclusion at the Flashman estate.  She gave birth in August, naming her new son “Bertrand”. 


By 1921, Stephanie had grown utterly weary of the snubbing she was continuing to receive from her former social circle.  It wasn’t so much her having become pregnant out of wedlock that offended the local sensibilities--it had been wartime, after all--but rather that she had given birth to the child of a base commoner.  Child in tow, she took her share of her grandfather’s estate with her, and set off for a tour of Spain


Stephanie spent a few months in the Costa Blanca area.   Her father’s family sent her a message while she resided there:  If she were willing to change her name and spare the Stangers further disgrace, they would compensate her handsomely.  She took their offer, assuming the name of the local waterfall, Algar.  Stephanie Algar left the area, traveling to Italy for a tour of the countryside.  She finally settled in Sicily in 1922,   She soon fell in with a local bandit, marrying him and bearing a child of his later in the year.  Unfortunately,  the bandit was assassinated on the church steps during the christening of their child.  The infant was taken into hiding by his paternal grandparents, who had never approved of the marriage[3].  In disgust, Stephanie took back the name of “Algar”, and set sail for America in 1923.  On the passage, she worked as a translator for a prosperous Italian businessman, who gave her a job in his bistro in Little Italy.  It was only after she took this position that she became aware that she was working in a front for a criminal organization.


Growing up in such an environment, it was only a matter of time before Bertrand became involved in running various errands for the local gangs.  He moved up relatively quickly for a non-Italian, and was given ever-increasing responsibilities.  This lasted until 1933, when he finally came to the attention of the police.  The family sent him to Chicago to take charge of a local numbers racket.


In Chicago, Bertrand met nightclub performer and fading beauty Norma Cassady.  Norma was the former mistress of  shady nightclub impresario King Marchand[4], and the sister of former silent film star Lorna Lamont[5] (Who had changed her name from Cassady to Lamont in order to sound  “classy”).  They fell in love and married after a whirlwind courtship.


In April of 1935, their child Jennifer was born. 


Jennifer grew up as a willful but talented child.  She had a lovely singing voice, and was considered quite a catch.  However, she longed  for the Broadway stage  (Jennifer shunned film due to her aunt’s horror stories drawn from her own experience), and finally ran off to New York at age eighteen.  She met with indifferent success, taking a job as a hatcheck girl in a local top restaurant in order to make ends meet.  After a short while, the young and innocent Jennifer began an affair with Marko Vukcic, her employer.


Unfortunately, Jennifer was no luckier in love than  her mother.  In March of 1954, Vukcic was killed in front of his apartment building[6].  As he lay dying on the sidewalk, Jennifer sat in her small apartment holding her tests from the doctor’s office in her hand.   The results were conclusive.  She was pregnant.


The parentage of Marko Vukcic is well-known in Wold-Newton scholarship, and hardly bears repeating here[7]  Suffice it to say that  John Watson  was not  made privy to the romantic relationships of his good friend Sherlock Holmes, nor of the children resulting from his liaison with Irene Adler.  Jennifer immediately moved in with her grandmother Stephanie, who had retired to the town of Red Bank, New Jersey.  Stephanie was obviously in a position to be inclined towards sympathy, and supported her granddaughter over the upcoming months.  Jennifer gave birth to the twin girls Miranda and Persephone in September of that year.


From the beginning, the twins were close despite their diametrically opposed personalities.  Where Miranda was rebellious and playful, Persephone was thoughtful and obedient (whenever not being led into trouble by her sister).  They remained close as they grew, Miranda often relying on Persephone to  get her out of  some of the more difficult scrapes.


In 1955, Jennifer married George Spicoli, a local businessman.  They gave birth to a son,  George, Jr., in 1956, and another, Jeffrey, in 1958.  George got a job on the West Coast in San Diego, CA in 1960.  He left, taking Jeffrey with him[8].  She remained on the East Coast, filing for divorce on the grounds of desertion.  Jennifer remarried James Preston in 1968.  They had a child, William S, in 1969.


Miranda and Persephone’s lives were affected forever in 1964, when the twins were allowed to stay up to watch The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.  They became instant fans of rock and roll at a very young age, and  soon their walls were covered in posters of all the groups of the British Invasion.  The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, and other, similar groups played constantly from their room. 


In 1972, at age sixteen, Miranda ran away from home.  Persephone followed close behind in order to keep her sister out of trouble.  There is a rumor that they found employment as domestics with an androgynous scientist while hitchhiking through the Midwest, Persephone establishing a brother-sister bond with the estate’s handyman.  This tale was supposedly later related to actor/director/singer Richard O’Brien by the handyman, albeit in a rather muddled form[9].  However, many different theories regarding this scientist and his compatriots abound, and it is entirely possible that the truth may never be known.


Back home, Jennifer received a job offer in San Dimas, CA.  James arranged for a transfer with his company, and they moved, taking William with him.  He immediately bonded with his neighbor Theodore[10], and they remained lifelong friends.


Miranda and Persephone were both back in New Jersey by 1973, and had almost decided to move back home.  Their plans changed when they attended a concert by the group Spinal Tap.  Intrigued by their raw, primal sounds, Miranda decided to follow them on tour.  Persephone got a job as a roadie after impressing the group with her technical expertise.  Now calling herself “Abbey Road” after her favorite album, Miranda begins a relationship with the drummer for the group.


Unfortunately, this came to an end in 1974, when the drummer died under mysterious circumstances while he and Miranda were attempting to recreate a scene from the Marquis de Sade’s noel Justine.  They left the tour immediately, unable to bear the whispers and rumors.  The two bounced from tour to tour for some time.  While traveling with one famous group, the sisters encountered a young reporter for Rolling Stone.  Many years later, the composite character of Penny Lane in the movie Almost Famous bore many similarities to the sisters.


Things picked up for the sisters in 1975, when they both became employed as makeup artists for the rock group Kiss.  They followed the group on tour for quite a while, able to indulge their taste for the rock and roll lifestyle while maintaining steady employment.  Unfortunately, most of their activities up until 1977 are still shrouded in mystery.  Further research is required into their movements in the mid-70’s.


In 1977, Kiss passed through Houston while on tour.  Miranda had been rethinking her life for a few weeks following an accidental drug overdose.  While in Houston, she and Persephone decided to leave the tour in an attempt to build a stable life.  A going-away party was planned for the twins.  Miranda and Persephone spent a night of drunken revelry, eventually hooking up with Al and Buzz, two of the roadies for the group.  Unknown to the girls, Al and Buzz were in reality the hapless immortals Ollu and Buzsla, who were once again living a nomadic life[11].   Both twins became pregnant that night, though they would not discover this fact for two months.


After departing the tour in Houston, Miranda found employment in the nearby community of Arlen, Texas, in the Highland suburb (Suspicion that she picked the name “Highland” due to possible drug connotations is wholly unwarranted).  She became a teacher at the local cosmetology school while Persephone took a job as an electrician. 


The twins gave birth in March of 1978.  Miranda had a single child, Jason.  Persephone had twin boys, Robert Marley and Garth Izar (The first named after a favorite singer, the second a reference to Star Trek, her favorite television series as a child).


At this point, a word regarding the parenting skills of the twins is in order.  Miranda and Persephone, while certainly talented and well-meaning, were unfortunately lacking in the areas of supervision and discipline.  While Persephone’s distance from the twins largely had to do with her heavy workload, it must be sadly stated that Miranda’s neglect stemmed largely from the copious amounts of marijuana she smoked on a daily basis.  She spent most of her days in a stoned haze, barely holding down her job at the local beauty school.


In 1980, Jennifer died in an unfortunate shopping mall-related accident in San Dimas, CA..


The children did find a babysitter of sorts in the year 1981.  The music video channel MTV was introduced that year, and Jason, Robert, and Garth spent hours upon hours mesmerized by the bright lights and loud noises coming from the television.  The influence of the scantily-clad women, hard-driving music, and rapid-fire editing of the music videos of the time on their worldview cannot be underestimated, and may rank as the prime factor in their developing value systems.


While Jason and Robert seemed to be of low average intelligence, Garth was something of a genius (His Wold-Newton genes combining with the technical aptitude of his mother).  He puttered about the house at an incredibly young age, attempting to improve and jury-rig various mechanical and electronic devices located around the house.  Things came to a head in 1983, when an attempt on his part to hook up free cable for the family (successful) resulted in his accidentally setting fire to the basement.  Due to pressure from the local authorities, Garth was sent to live with his uncle George, now a successful salesman in Aurora, Illinois.  His further adventures as sidekick and partner in crime to struggling talk show host, musician, and music promoter Wayne Campbell can be found in the “Wayne’s World” sketches on Saturday Night Live, as well as in the movies of that name.


From 1984-1988, the two remaining boys existed on a steady diet of comic books (The mutants of “The X-Men”, the fictionalized exploits of Bruce Wayne in “Batman”, and the underground “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” were favorites) and MTV.  There is a rumor that in 1985, two alien robots on a scouting mission ran across the children, and were impressed enough with their talent for mischief and destruction to pattern their own personalities after them[12].  I have been unable to verify this claim, though if their portrayal in popular culture is accurate, then it does seem a likely scenario.


Jason and Robert attended an animation festival in Houston in 1989 while they were supposed to be with their classmates on an overnight field trip.  There they caught the attention of a young Texan animator, who used their past and future exploits as the basis of a series of animated shorts.  Changing their names for legal purposes to “Beavis and Butthead,” he met with some success, the shorts ironically being picked up by MTV as a regular series.


1992 proved to be yet another turning point for the boys.  In November of that year, a series of bizarre events led them to being mistaken for hit men by a freelance agent working for THRUSH.  Under the mistaken impression that they were being hired to perform sexual favors for the estranged wife of the agent, Jason and Robert found themselves being chased by agents of THRUSH and the United States government across the country, eventually (and accidentally) leading the government agents to those responsible for the theft of a deadly virus[13].


It was during the course of these events that Jason and Robert met their fathers.  Ollu and Buzsla had moved to New York for a short while, and were now traveling across the United States, trying to find a new place to live.  In the middle of the Mojave desert, the boys ran across their campsite.  It is unknown whether or not either of the pairs recognized the others as being related.  What is known is that Jason and Robert participated in a vision quest with the two, ingesting peyote and wandering the desert in a visionary haze.  Note that in the film depicting these events, the visions were played for comic effect.  The actual results were both different and extraordinary.


The peyote ingestion awoke long-dormant elements of the psyches of both boys.  Ancestral memories flooded them, albeit in remarkably different ways.  Jason suddenly found himself possessed of the libido of Harry Flashman, the “intelligence” of the young Private Baldrick, and the boundless energy of Norma Cassady.  Robert, on the other hand, drew what would generally be considered a better hand.  He gained the technical expertise and ingenuity of his mother, and the observational and deductive skills of his ancestor the great detective.  This overwhelmed him, causing his garrulous personality to shift into one more retiring and soft-spoken.  By the time he returned home, he was able to jury-rig the toaster in the kitchen into a CD player.


The homecoming itself was short-lived.  The United States government had taken an interest in the cousins, and found through investigation that their mothers had never filed a missing persons report on them.  Staying one step ahead of Child Protective Services, Miranda and Persephone moved with their children back to their hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey.


In March of 1992, Jason took his reward money from the THRUSH adventure (or rather, whatever had not been spent by his mother on drugs), and invested in a small supply of marijuana.  Using this as his capital, he set himself up as a low-level street dealer, spending most of his days and nights in front of a local convenience store[14].  During this time, Robert’s appetite for knowledge had increased exponentially.  Evidence indicates that during this period, he studied electronics, mechanics, modern dance, contract law, psychology, and many other unrelated disciplines.  At one point, Robert put his technical expertise to the test in an eventually successful attempt to assist a friend in sabotaging a dating game show being taped in a local mall[15].


At about this time, Robert began a passionate but ultimately unsuccessful relationship with a young woman named Amy.  A year later, he told the story of this breakup to a friend of his[16]


From 1993 to 1997, their lives stayed more or less the same.  Jason continued to sell marijuana, though his constant use of his own supply meant that he never made enough of a profit to truly improve his standard of living[17].  Robert continued to work on his electronic and mechanical devices, eventually coming to the attention of Mystery, Inc[18].  They contacted the budding genius in the hopes of recruitment.


Mystery, Inc. invited Robert to Chicago for an interview.  He came along, Jason in tow.  While tempted by their offer, loyalty to his cousin kept him from accepting it until a member sympathetic to the 1960’s hippie subculture saw a spark of potential in Jason as well.  They were assigned to investigate strange occurrences at a New Jersey church stemming from parapsychological research conducted there years earlier[19].   Along with organization veteran Velma Brown, the team managed to stop two deranged cultists from awakening something unspeakable.  Director Kevin Smith, their chronicler, was unable to use the specifics of this adventure in his works due to a copyright issue (The rights to a Mystery, Inc. movie had already been taken by others).  Instead, he combined certain elements from the Hellblazer comic book with the actual events surrounding this mission to create the film Dogma.


In 1998, Jason and Robert traveled to Hollywood to investigate the “Scream” slayings[20].  Later retellings of this case minimized their involvement to a single brief encounter with one of the participants, though this was largely due to most of their efforts being of a behind the scenes nature.  In fact, their role was pivotal, though the actual documentation regarding their involvement remains locked away in the Mystery, Inc vaults due to continuing legal disputes..


The year 2000 saw Jason and Robert in the Midwest, investigating a series of “spooky” thefts along with other members of Mystery, Inc.  They received word that a movie was being made of their exploits surrounding the church.  Unhappy with their previous portrayals as stoner slackers, they asked permission to go to Los Angeles to stop the production of the film.  Permission was refused.  The actual culprit (A rouge Mystery, Inc agent using a trained orangutan to perform the thefts) used the ensuing bad blood to frame Jason and Robert for the thefts.  Cops on their tail and orangutan in tow, the two ran to Hollywood to sabotage the production in any way possible.


Upon arriving at the Miramax offices, they discovered that the film was going through location shooting back in Red Bank, New Jersey.  However, Robert’s study of contract law proved useful:  After being threatened with a lawsuit over use of Jason and Robert’s images (as well as hints of a defamation of character action), Miramax renegotiated with the cousins, handsomely compensating them for the previous films.  Additionally, they used their own private investigators to discover the actual culprit behind the diamond thefts[21]


Bertrand died in 2001 of natural causes, having been preceded in death by his wife thirty years earlier.


The wrongful termination lawsuit of Jason and Robert Algar v. Mystery, Inc. is still pending.


The further activities of Jason and Robert remain a mystery, though the upcoming film The Passion of the Clerks promises to shed some light on the matter.




Acknowledgements:  First off, this essay would not have been possible without the first

Wold-Newton works Tarzan Alive! and Doc Savage:  An Apocalyptic Life by Philip Jose Farmer, as well as W.S. Baring-Gould’s Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street and Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street.  Dennis Power’s essay “Immortal Befuddled” was the direct inspiration for this article, and is worth reading as an excellent, original take on the Wold-Newton universe. The encouragement and support of Wold-Newton keeper of the flame Win Eckert was invaluable.


Additional thanks to the researcher Hooper_X for the Transformers crossover, and to the infamous Doc Loki for Kiss tour date information.



[1] See A.C. Doyle’s “Adventure of the Empty House” and G.M. Fraser’s “Flashman and the Tiger” for further details regarding these events.

[2] The misadventures of young Private Baldrick were detailed in the British television series Blackadder Goes Forth.

[3] The troubled story of this child and his descendants will be explored in full in a future essay by this author.

[4] See the movie Victor/Victoria.

[5] See the movie Singing In The Rain

[6] As detailed in Rex Stout’s Black Mountain.

[7] For further work, consult Philip Jose Farmer’s Tarzan Alive! and  Doc Savage:  An Apocalyptic Life, and W.S. Baring-Gould’s seminal Nero Wolfe of West  Thirty-Fifth Street.

[8] In 1975, young writer Cameron Crowe went undercover as a student at a San Diego high school, where he gathered material that would eventually become the book and movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High.  As will be seen later in this essay, this was not his only encounter with one of Jennifer’s children.

[9] See the stage musical The Rocky Horror Show, and the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show

[10] For further information, please see the films Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

[11] For further information regarding Ollu and Buzsla, read Dennis Power’s excellent “Immortal Befuddled”, located at

[12] See the television series The Transformers.

[13] See the movie Beavis and Butthead Do America.

[14] See the film Clerks for an overview of a typical day in his life at this point.

[15] See the film Mallrats.

[16] See the film Chasing Amy

[17] Certain highly satirized and exaggerated versions of their activities during this period can be found in the Clerks animated series, as well as the Jay and Silent Bob and Bluntman and Chronic comic books.

[18] The history of this organization beyond the purview of this essay.  For further information, I can suggest no better resource than Dennis Power’s exhaustive  “Mystery, Inc., or Scooby Doo in the WNU”.  You can find this work at

[19] See the John Carpenter film Prince of Darkness.

[20] See the film Scream 3.

[21] See the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back for further information.  It should be noted that Kevin Smith was still not allowed to use Mystery, Inc in this film, though he did use a reference to the silly cartoon based on them, showing their fictionalized selves as  marijuana-smoking sex fiends.  How much of this was influenced by Jason’s feelings of betrayal at their hands is unknown.