Who are the Lectroids and what do we know about them?

The following information was provided by Scott Tate :

Funny names, a penchant for recreational electricity... Just who are these alien Lectroids who have resided unsuspected among us?

The final details of the overall Lectroid concept apparently developed relatively late in the story's evolution. Early drafts of the script referred not to Lectroids from Planet 10, but to "lepers from Saturn." Throughout most of the working drafts, the alien antagonists were called "arachnoids," presumably emphasizing a somewhat spider-like nature. But what do we know about Lectroids as they finally appeared in the novel and onscreen? If and when new materials are added to the Banzai canon, more information about these denizens of Planet 10 will possibly come to light. Until then, here is an overview of what we have been able to glean thus far. The following details were compiled primarily from the TABB press kit, Earl Mac Rauch's novel, and an interview with W. D. Richter conducted by James Burns that appeared in Marvel Super Special #33.

There appears to be two major factions: the warmongering Red Lectroids and the relatively peaceful (albeit arguably harsh and demanding) Black Lectroids, or Adders, as they're referred to in the novel. Whether the two groups' differences are strictly ideological or if they might in fact be distinct sub-species remains indeterminate. At the time of the original docudrama, the Black Lectroid leader was a female named John Emdall, while the Red Lectroids were ruled by Lord John Whorfin. During Whorfin's relative absence while trapped in the incarcerated body of Emilio Lizardo, power effectively resided with John Bigbooté.

Whorfin and his Red Lectroid followers were exiled from Planet 10. (It is unclear how many Reds were allowed by the Blacks to remain on their homeworld.) Eventually the refugees made their way to Grovers' Mills, NJ, where they adopted human identities and established a front company, Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, from which they could plot their return. During their long stay on Earth, many of these Lectroids assimilated our culture to some degree, passing for human on a regular basis, growing comfortable and perhaps even becoming half-hearted about furthering John Whorfin's ideals.

Black Lectroids are somewhat more conspicuous when posing as humans, since they don't share the Reds' years of experience at being fully immersed in earthly customs. At the time of the original docudrama, Black Lectroids bore a broad resemblance to Jamaican or Rastafarian subculture in general speech and appearance. If and when they appear again, it will interesting to see if they've cultivated a more generalized adaptation.

Reno Nevada made the following conclusions about Lectroid culture, based on his study of notes (as described in the TABB press kit) left behind in Lizardo/Whorfin's room at the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane:

"The typical Lectroid is above all in awe of power. Power for its own sake is his raison d'etre, and he is obsessed with its attainment and exercise. To his underlings he is devoid of mercy, indeed has no sense of such a concept, whereas to his superiors, i.e., those holding power above him, he is obeisant and servile to the point of eagerly sacrificing his own life, as we have seen. The Lectroid does not thirst for knowledge or beauty, has no record of intellectual attainment, has never produced a single notable figure in any area of endeavour, save one: the field of battle. His attitude toward such things as history and culture, even his own, which he does not bother chronicling, is one of the utmost indifference. All that matters in his scheme is lust for power, his single-minded will to possess a thing by destroying it.

"Insofar as his personal habits are concerned, the Lectroid is filthy by preference, it being common for him to bathe but twice in a lifetime, viz. at birth and after his wedding night. It is evidently a belief of theirs that washing shortens one's life and is 'unmanly,' and having encountered many of them in close combat, I can vouch from firsthand experience that both as a tenet of faith and as a practical matter there is much to be said in favor of their squalid appearance. With a heavy coat of decorative grease paint on top of layer upon layer of encrusted dirt thick enough to be spooned out of their palms, added to their already thick hides, they are able to withstand all but the most powerful blows and projectiles.

"They have apparently but a single fear, and that is the fear of ridicule. They lack the most elementary sense of humour and are, unless of a mood to fight, quite reserved, even somnolent. For this latter trait, I am most grateful; otherwise, having not caught many of them napping, the scales of our engagement might not have tipped so propitiously in our favor.

"By and large carnivourous, they are wont to supplement their intake of smoked meat with large doses of electrical current, although the years on our planet have seen them grow to rely increasingly on what is called 'junk food,' many of them foregoing their traditional diet entirely in favor of sweet cakes and candy bars in bright cellophane. As a result, they were by this time mired in lethargy which, compounded by the gravity problem, had caused their normally robust physiques to deteriorate to an appalling degree, although in this also we were fortunate."

It is worth noting that Reno's mention of "the gravity problem" suggests that Planet 10 has somewhat less mass than Earth. The interior shots we see of the Lectroid mothership, with its tall, spiraling furniture, may corroborate this.


From the novel: "... some Lectroids carried regular last names taken at random from a Manhattan telephone book, whereas others ... were evidently translations of Lectroid pictographs ... Lectroids and Adders alike, for the purpose of this book, have the first name 'John,' although it is to them less a name than a form of greeting, comparable to the use of 'che' in the Argentine or, to a lesser extent, our own 'hey.' "

From the TABB press kit: "All the inhabitants of Planet 10 took the earthly first name 'John,' which, according to Reno, "sounds like a form of greeting they commonly use, comparable to the use of 'che' in the Argentine or, to a lesser extent, our own 'hey.' ... Their surnames are either phonetic approximations of their real names or common Earth names chosen at random from the pages of the phonebook found in the Grover's Mill, New Jersey social security office."

BEHIND THE SCENES: Concept design, make-up, etc.

According to W. D. Richter, "We based the Lectroids' alien form on a Canadian anthropologist's extrapolation of what the dinosaurs may have evolved into, had they survived [but] modified the scientist's concept into a design that assured the actors greater freedom of movement and expression. "The outfits we wound up with are scary-looking," Richter continues, "but the Lectroids aren't purely fright figures; they should also amuse you. In many ways, Buckaroo Banzai is a funny film."

The latex masks worn by the actors were particularly thin and multisegmented to allow a wide range of facial expression. Unfortunately, this quality also rendered them highly fragile. They often tore after a single day's use, necessitating the manufacture of hundreds each day. This delicate lifespan is also makes them relatively scarce today, contributing to their status as a coveted collectible.

Richter also discusses Lectroid costuming selections: "At the least, we wanted to make sure that they weren't just guys in jumpsuits from outer space. The Lectroids' clothing, while disguised as humans, is actually a bit more normal than their surroundings, since they've had to blend in with society. John Parker and the 'good' Lectroids have a warrior-like demeanor, but in an elegant, not fierce, fashion. Part of their costumes were derived from African tribal markings. Michael [Riva, production designer] consulted Russian histories for the Lectroids at Yoyodyne, to give them a baggy-suited, Moscow bureaucrat sort of image. Our goal was to have the Lectroids' 'everyday' appearance reinforce the film's intended aura of reality. You've *seen* people like John Bigbooté on line at the bank, or getting the tires on their cars changed."

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