My interest in strange creatures, aliens, and other oddities probably started a few years after I became “puppet crazy” in the early 1970’s. I remember that my father had an interest in these sort of things. Dad (Denis E. Burke) used to watch the TV show “In Search Of” with my siblings when we were young. Years later, my dad had a radio talk show on WBZ radio in Boston and interviewed M.I.T. scientist & lecturer Robert Rines. I was spellbound that a scientist was researching The Loch Ness Monster, and my father was interviewing him! Later in his radio career, my dad interviewed physics professor and ufologist Dr. Harley D. Rutledge.
Around 2005, as I began to get things together for what would become the Wump Mucket Puppets, I was having a bit of trouble how to tie it all together. I wanted a theme or idea that held the show together. I was reading books by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman at the time, and had one of those “eureka” moments! I loved puppets. I had a very strong interest in cryptozoology, aliens, and strange things. Why not combine the two?
Cyril the Sea Serpent had been built, and was developing as “the monster of ceremonies” for the puppet show. I had found a furry little brown puppet from my childhood packed away in a box, originally called “Furry Guy” by my then toddler daughter Eleanor. It didn’t take too long to rename the puppet “Coleman the Sasquatch”, as a wink to Loren Coleman as well as a fond memory to camping trips with my family and the Boy Scouts (Coleman camping gear -get it?). I eventually came up with the idea for an alien puppet character. I seem to remember that the name came first, followed by a sketch, and eventually the puppet we know as G’Wazzl G’Wook (his full name) was part of the show.
It wasn’t until G’Wazzl was built and ready for the show that I noticed that the puppet resembled a chupacabra a little bit, although G’Wazzl is much friendlier and prefers Play-Doh to goats.
So what strange creatures and alien beings are in the future for Wump Mucket Puppets? Coleman has already made a few references to his cousin Snavely from Pennsylvania during the show. Cyril talks about his Aunt Bessie during “The Song About Cryptozoology” bit. A little voice inside my head has suggested creating a Loveland Frog character to perform at our shows at Julian’s Deli, which is not far from the frogman sightings in Loveland, Ohio. We shall see and leave this a mystery for now.
In the meantime, beware of the puppeteers in black!
For our younger readers & fans of my puppet show, my I suggest the book Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist