The Lair of the Dreaded Atrox burst forth into the world in 2005, launched by an uneasy alliance of childhood friends from Kansas City who had all washed up on the teeming shores of Los Angeles. They needed a place to stash their webcomics, videos, and assorted odds and ends, and the internet seemed as good a place as any. These are their stories.
TEAM ATROX IS:
In the late 1990s Paul Cibis was riding high. The information technology explosion and a sweet venture capital deal for his website, ShoeSize.com, had made Paul a millionaire almost overnight. The rush of success was dizzying. Eight months shy of taking the site public, the dot com crash hit and hit hard. As the haze of the internet frenzy began to clear, the investors decided that an online service for determining users’ shoe sizes was not economically viable. The financing evaporated, Paul’s Ferrari was repossessed, and he found himself in a debtors’ prison in Australia.
After two years, Paul’s good behavior landed him a role in Australia’s groundbreaking work-release program/prime-time soap opera Neighbours. In 2004, Jeff Stone’s serendipitous viewing of a satellite TV rerun of the show enabled Team Atrox to track down their long-missing, internet-savvy friend and (after some skillfully-executed, but ultimately dull, extradition negotiations with the Aussie government) recruit him to their online enterprise.
Paul did have reservations about returning to the harsh realm of Internet that had so coldly betrayed him but, by that time, Paul was willing to do almost anything to be free of the endless freak parade known as Australia*. He longed to once again breathe the air of a land not overrun by Cane Toads and fifty varieties of poisonous spider. He had hoped that land would be Jamaica but the terms of Paul’s extradition demand that he not leave the continental United States for a term of 36 months.
*FUN FACT: Australia is the only continent that is also an island!
As a child, Emory was unusually big, strong and unruly (for a Viking) and although he was only a little boy he managed to kill a courtier who accidentally had hit him on the nose with a drinking horn. When he was 12 years old he asked his uncle for his birthright, but when he was denied the co-rulership of Sweden he sulked for a long time on his father’s mound.
When he was 16 the council decided that he was too unruly to be king of Sweden. As a compensation his uncle gave him 60 well-equipped longships whereupon the frustrated Emory left. He ravaged the shores of the Baltic Sea until he was twenty. When Emory was ready to reclaim the throne of Sweden he sailed with a huge force which included 200 Danish longships in addition to his own Jomsvikings.
Emory marched alone to Gamla Uppsala. During the first two days, the battle was even. In the evening, Emory went to the statue of Odin at the Temple at Uppsala where he sacrificed. He promised Odin that if he won the battle, he would belong to Odin and arrive at Valhalla in ten years from then. The third day, Emory threw his spear over the enemy and said, “I sacrifice you all to Odin.” Then he moved to Los Angeles where he works for the LAPD.
As the only biological female of the group, Leslie finds that her pelvic bone is better suited to birthin’ than those of her teammates. Despite this setback, Leslie manages to contribute and even makes most of the art here on TheAtrox.com.
From her humble beginings in a one-room kindergarten class, Leslie rose through the ranks to become Snack-Helper and eventually even Line-Leader. Things have really gone downhill since then, however, and she’s ever haunted by the glory days. Recent, lesser accomplishments include not falling down very often, remembering to eat two or three meals on most days, and completely eliminating wool from her life.
Leslie also has the power to manipulate dignity into a protective shield or a powerful concussive blast.
When Matt was twelve he shot his first video. It was a short montage of his little sister trying to find their next-door neighbor in a rousing game of hide and seek. He shot the scene where his sister finds their neighbor forty-eight times. He taped over the last four episodes of M*A*S*H to film just that one shot. His dad grounded him for a week. However, Matt parlayed those filmmaking skills into a wonderful academic career in high school, where he met all the other Atrox guys, and subsequently in college where he met no one.
After college, he joined back up with the Atrox gang, came up with the idea to do a website, became a slave driver to everyone else while adding very little creatively, abandoned the project just as it was getting going to get married and now rests on his laurels somewhere in the Midwest.
Though he palled around with Paul, Emory, Leslie, Matt, and Jeff as a teenager, Frank never figured he’d end up working with them. Instead he spent most of adolescence pursuing his first love … dance. Completing his training in Canada at the Royal Winnepeg Ballet School (Professional Division), he went on to perform for three and a half years with the RWB’s prestigious company, eventually serving as a second soloist under celebrated choreographers Nina Menon and Mark Godden.
Touring stateside with the RWB, Frank reunited with the high school crew when they came to see him dance “Sentinel” (masterfully choreographed by the late David Berkey to Brahm’s Concerto in D Major), a performance to which Team Atrox had bought tickets under the mistaken impression that its story centered around a giant robot. Discovering the piece to be more concerned with the exploits of “gay soldiers and shit,” Emory convinced Frank that his creative energies would be better spent acting in Atrox shorts and sketches, because “at least some of them have fucking droids.”
Resettled back in Los Angeles, Frank spends most of his time fiddling with the website, working odd jobs, and laboring on his live stage side project, Lost Moon Radio (for which he serves as writer, performer, and assistant dance captain). Hopefully one of these endeavors will work out, because another year in Winnepeg and he might have had a shot with the Nederlans Dans Theatre of Holland. And he’d hate to think he’d given that up for nothing.
The following is an excerpt from a June 23, 2003 Los Angeles Times review of Jeff’s one-man show, “I’m ‘a Bust a Nut!”:
“Inane, puerile, and relentlessly unfunny, Jeff Stone’s series of monologues is an endless slog through his raging egomania. Stone cycles through a number of ‘characters’ (he never once attempts to change his voice or intonation) who deliver hamfisted platitudes full of dubious facts, all of which are dedicated to Stone’s self-professed genius.
“Among the characters Stone protrays, several are his supposed ex-girlfriends, (including such unlikely candidates as Naomi Watts, Lisa Loeb, and the woman from the Orbit gum commericals), all of whom cite him as their most skillful lover and pine for his return. Another character Stone plays, his old high school friend Paul Cibis, claims that Stone has saved him from burning buildings on three separate occasions and is also the world’s single greatest swordsman.
“Is Stone having a joke at the audience’s expense, or is it possible that he is truly delusional and is presenting what he believes to be the truth? It’s impossible to tell. Regardless, had Stone the talent to back the ridiculous claims of greatness he makes in his program, the three and a half hour production of ‘Nut!’ would simply seem needlessly self-indulgent and narcissistic. As it is, however, this stands as one of the greatest disasters in the history of the American theater.”
Jeff used to write and draw a comic of his very own, and he may pick that up again someday. Maybe.