Thursday, February 26, 2015

Influential: Starman

Welcome to Influential, a new column where I look at some of the books, comics, games, movies and other media that have influenced aspects of my work.

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Setting has become a vastly important part of my work as I write. There’s a grand tradition in super powered fiction to introduce cities that are like the real world but that are pulled away so that the insanity of super-action doesn’t bleed too close to reality. But for decades, those cities were just pale imitations of real-life towns. Gotham and Metropolis were both somehow New York City. Central City was Chicago. Coast City was San Francisco. You know the routine.

That view of the fictional city changed for me with Starman.

James Robinson and Tony Harris wrote an epic tale of the everyman hero Jack Knight. They introduced the new DC town of Opal City in the process. But unlike so many previous cities, Robinson made Opal a city with history. He introduced a large supporting cast, many of which connected to the city for decades, some even centuries.

He created a living, breathing city with more than just one heroic legacy tying it all together. It was genius and it made the city itself a true star of the book. So much so that when Jack left for a year long excursion in space, as a reader you could feel the longing for Opal. Robinson gave a couple issues during the stellar excursion to show the happenings in Opal, but it still felt like we were all away from home with Jack.

This influence can be seen in many of my works, but it is probably most prevalent in the pages of Walking Shadows. I have given River City a long storied history, some of which is covered in the River City history posts that will start to appear more regularly in the near future. But those bits of history, those hints of a River City past will come to play much larger roles as Book Three starts to get going in a few weeks. I want River City to have a long, connected history, just as Opal did in Starman.

Stay tuned for more on River City and its history over at the Walking Shadows page. Starman is now available in a series of omnibus editions. Click a link below to pick up a copy at Amazon.



For more on Starman and Opal City check out the following articles from around the web:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are you following the 'Walking Shadows'?

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Just about every single day over at Metahuman Press, I bring a new page in the ongoing saga of Walking Shadows. The tale is set in my Quadrant Universe and it focuses on a group of six metahumans brought together by a mysterious organization. Unlike some other stories, they just want to live their life, not fight crime or right wrongs. But they find themselves pulled into exceptional situations by their powers whether they like it or not.

We just kicked off Book Two yesterday on the site and it will run in its new format for the next couple months before we start Book Three back up. Once Book Three kicks off, the site will return to a Tuesday-Thursday format, but until then, content will go up every single day.

Head over there to check out the ongoing adventures of Ian, Cyrus, Stomp, Alli, Marilyn and Rosa as they try to figure out where they stand in life—and perhaps in death as well.

Or if you would prefer to read them in an ebook format, you can buy Book One and Book Two complete now. But even as we introduce the ebooks, the entire series will stay online in perpetuity, as long as the series continues its serialization. Consider it my gift to those who support this site and my work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kickstart the Week 5: Rigel Raine



We are kicking off this week a little late due to a few random problems with the site and outside it, but I am more than happy to present a great looking Iowa-originated project here on the site. Rigel Raine is a science fiction adventure comic with some great concepts and some great art, it looks to be a decent launch, but only if it gets another thousand dollars of funding in the next couple days. So go give it a look and some support already!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Best Character Ever 2: Matt Trakker

Art owned by Izzy Medrano.

Before Mask was a bad Cher movie or a Dark Horse comic-based movie starring Jim Carrey, it was something significantly cooler. It was the coolest 80s cartoon available. Well, okay, it was actually M.A.S.K.—the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand because kids don’t need to know how to spell.

The greatest hero on the show was the lead, Matt Trakker. Let’s be honest, at least half of his coolness was the fact that he regularly drove a Delorean. And while that Delorean didn’t travel through time, it did fly. The Thunderhawk was the car that literally every child ever wanted to own. And Matt Trakker got to drive it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Praise for "Lightweight: Senior Year"!




The collected edition of the first five chapters of Lightweight has proven to be the best selling book in my writing career and now it is finally starting to see some reviews on Amazon.com. Now sitting at two reviews on the site, M. Robare was kind enough to give the tale some glowing praise.

About the book, he said, “Loved it...I want more! I'm not sure if the other Lightweight entries available are prose or graphic, but let me be clear: I'd love more prose novels!”.

Well, M., the books are all prose in nature and they will continue for some time to come! The sixth through tenth chapters are now available in individual editions while a collected edition, Lightweight: Black Death, should be out in March!

I am glad you enjoyed it!

If you have reviewed one of my works, feel free to shoot me a line in the comments or by emailing nick {at} superpoweredfiction {dot} com.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writer's Update for February 17, 2015

Work continues apace on Lightweight chapter 11. The new format of the series will feature three chapters per book on a quarterly pace, so it will be awhile for the next book to be ready. Plans are still in place to fund this year’s worth of books on Kickstarter starting around April. But first I plan to finish chapter 11 and at least a major part of chapter 12 before that happens.

Much of the rest of my time has been spent setting up Pulpsploitation.com and readying that book for publication. I will have more Pulpsploitation in the works as well, but I have a few stories I owe Airship 27 to finish up before I start on those.

Plans for this week are to put more work into Lightweight followed by my long in gestation wrestling story for Airship 27. Once those wrap, I will probably head into a couple other short stories, but more on those later.

Beyond that, I have a Quadrant chapter on the edit table. It will head out in just a few weeks.

Today’s image is 1930s era wrestler Charley Fox, Cleveland’s wrestling cop, grappling an unnamed opponent. Sadly, I don’t go far enough afield in my upcoming tale to include him.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kickstart the Week 4: Madam Satan



I am a sucker for golden age character revivals, so when Shelby Robertson and Elizabeth Wheeler decide to revive Madame Satan, one of the many obscure public domain MLJ characters from before the days of Archie, I pay attention. With art by Robertson (an alumni of Extreme Studios), it looks to be a crazed and rather dark adventure tale explaining how a demon-possessed woman can also be a bringer of justice. Check it out on Kickstarter.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New fiction for 2015 kicks off with Pulpsploitation!



The announcement already went out on Metahuman Press and the newly launched Pulpsploitation.com, but I am proud to announce here that Pulpsploitation is now available in print and digital at Amazon as well as digitally at Smashwords and most leading ebook publishers.

While I am joined by the likes of Teel James Glenn, Caine Dorr, Frank Byrns and Steven Gepp on the inside, it is my tale of Airboy that I am talking about today. While many fans might remember the character from his previous 80s era revamp by Chuck Dixon, my new take on the character flashes the young hero forward thirty years after being left in suspended animation for thirty years! In the present, he meets the daughter of an old friend and the legacy of a great villain, all of which culminates in a massive battle outside Tokyo! It is a rip-roaring adventure that will be just the first shot of Airboy adventure from yours truly! Stay tuned for more news on the character in the coming months!

What's up for February 15, 2015

I have moved on to a new piece of super powered prosed, started to revisit early chapters I have never read from a favorite series and subjected to anthropomorphic pony-things again and again. Here is my week in links for your reading, viewing and listening pleasure!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Welcome to the Medium with Jupiter Ascending

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I have an itch for journalistic feature writing. It’s been there since my teenage years and I have scratched it since that time with reviews, Examiner articles and random posts here or there. But in the last year or so, a great new social resource has developed for longer form journalistic writing over at Medium.

I have long searched for a way to use Medium for my own writing and I am glad to say I finally have started with an article about Jupiter Ascending and its importance to science fiction fans.

I will continue to post a new article to the site once or twice a month. I have plans for a few long form interviews to appear there, as well as a few other longer pieces on movies and television. We will see how I get to them in between other writing and work, but I suspect a few will pop up in the near future.

Be sure to let me know what you think about “Why every science fiction fan should see ‘Jupiter Ascending’” here, at Medium or on social media.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Out For Vengeance" and the Golden Age Hero Part II: History

Vengeance’s original incarnation in my teenage years was simply a dark vigilante with a group of other heroes around him. But when I realized I wanted to do much more with the character and build a legacy for him in Out For Vengeance, it dawned on me that I didn’t need to design everything from whole cloth.

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The Black Terror is a character synonymous with public domain Golden Age heroes. Bob Benton used a mysterious pharmaceutical combination to give himself super-powers. He used those powers to fight crime alongside his young sidekick. He honestly felt like Superman with Batman’s origins and allies. He initialy seemed too powerful though. I wanted a street level vigilante.

Of course, in all the research I did for Living Legends: Old Soldiers, I knew a lot of other vigilantes existed. And one of those characters offered another alternative.

The Black Fury is a far less known Golden Age character. He wore a costume very similar to Black Terror’s, but the Fury didn’t have any powers. He also didn’t have the same depth of back story or cast. I could develop that though, so the Fury became my starting point.

I hated the name though, so Vengeance stuck around. I explained the Fury name away easily as I started to build the history of the character.

Then it dawned on me that I could actually fit the Black Terror mythos into our hero’s backstory as well. Readers of the first novella know how I integrated Mike and the Terror’s powers. I don’t want to give that away here, but it was a clever way to add the Terror’s legacy into Vengeance’s cohesive history. It’s also only the starting point.

The next book will have a few appearances by Golden Age Black Terror villains. It will also delve into the deeper tragedy of the last twenty years of Vengeance’s life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Praise for my Armless O'Neil tale!



My tale for the Armless O’Neil anthology Blood-Price of the Missionary's Gold was one of my favorites of the Pulp Obscura line. O’Neil is just such an odd character, he almost breeds fascinating stories. I put him through the paces in “The Palladium” in a story that features a whole bunch of trouble for the one-handed adventurer.

The always awesome reviewer Raven gave some glowing praise for my tale (as well as several others in the anthology) saying, “Ahlhelm does a wonderful job of keeping the action fast paced, the mystery subtle, and the solution to it all a fitting wrap-up. I give him five out of five stars for his originality!”. That is generous praise indeed! Thank you, sir.

Of course, my tale isn’t alone. The anthology is filled with some great pulp tales of a truly unique character well worth checking out. The book is now available from Amazon or through special order at many other retailers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pulpsploitation launches February 15!

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I am proud to announce that my last Kickstarter project Pulpsploitation will finally make its debut the day after Valentine’s! And what better way to kick off your post-Valentine excitement than with all the sex, violence and action you can ask for featuring classic pulp and comic characters!

Featuring stories by yours truly, Teel James Glenn, Frank Byrns, Steven Gepp and Caine Dorr, the book is packed to the gills with great tales of the Black Bat, Airboy, the Gunmaster, Tabu and E.A.G.L.E. It can be preordered digitally now at Smashwords or stay tuned to Sunday when we will have links to it from Amazon in print and digital formats!

Stay tuned for a world of pulp adventure opening up very, very soon!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kickstart the Week 3: Science is Magic



Ben Dunn has been a favorite creator of yours truly for years from his work on Ninja High School and Warrior Nun Areala to more recent projects like Airboy. Now he is back with a new series Science is Magic which he is looking for extra production funds through Kickstarter. The new book looks like a lot of fun and like so many of Ben’s Kickstarters before it, he offers some great prices on sketches and commission to go along with it. Go give it a look at Kickstarter.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

What's Up for February 8, 2015

I finished a nice bit of reading this week, polishing off a couple comic trades and the rest of Chris Jericho’s third book. You can as always check out my ratings over at Goodreads.

I slipped into a couple new books this week, watched a weird foreign film and listened to a heck of a lot of Sia. Check them all out below.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Reminder: get your cosplay fix over on the Tumblr!


For those showing up this Friday, remember to head over to SuperPoweredFiction.tumblr.com Once you get over there, you can see new cosplays on a nearly daily basis as part or our regularly queued content of great art and cosplay.

For your convenience, we also have a handy link at the top of the page as well so you can go straight to all the great cosplays there. And of course, we will continue to regularly feature some awesome content right here on the site!

The featured cosplayer is Twee Nee appearing as the Green Lantern Arisia.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Out For Vengeance" and the Golden Age Hero Part I: Inspiration

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Out For Vengeance started out with the vision of creating my own vigilante character. Vengeance’s origins dated back to my teenage years, but unlike a character like Lightweight, he was never really developed past a simple vigilante character. I did design a universe of characters around him, but most were little more than names and a few notes.

The new novella came together when I started to brainstorm a tale built around the massive legacy of comic book style heroes. With seventy years of history behind them, many comic characters have as interesting as real world history as they do a fictional one. With that in mind, I crafted a not-quite unique concept: what if I melded the real world timeline with a massive back story of a long term comic character?

I say not quite unique because at least one creator hit on the idea. John Byrne created the excellent Superman & Batman: Generations series in the late 90s. He followed it up with two more limited series, all of which I highly recommend. But the format of those series limited them to showing snippets of the characters’ extended history. I wanted to really dig into what it would mean for a vigilante to live a ninety year career.

The first major problem was building a starting point for the series. I could have just covered his history year by year, but I wanted more of a narrative to Vengeance’s life than just a linear series of adventures. As I developed the series, it made sense to wipe the character’s mind as the story begins. This revelation helped unlock much of the back story, including the major revelation that ends Out For Vengeance.

In the end, I hoped I crafted an interesting narrative in the twelve chapters I’ve written so far while also exploring the past of an unique new character. A unique new character built on the background of others, but that is a topic for another post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Green Lama gets reviewed!




I am quite proud of my work on the Airship 27 anthology Green Lama: Mystic Warrior. Ron Fortier and his team assembled a great book featuring a combination of old and new stories. Now a couple awesome folks have written some great reviews of the book over at Amazon.

Reviewer Stephen A. Bennett gave the first compliment to the book, as he praised the reprinted stories of Kevin Noel Olsen and W. Peter Miller. About Robert Craig and my own story he said we were “both continuing the excellence I’ve come to expect from Airship 27”.

His fellow reviewer Raven (not sure if this is the Teen Titan or not, but I would like to think so) went into even more detail in his praise. After a description of my tale Menace of the Black Ring, he says about it, “From old warehouses and back alleys to the den of giant Komodo Dragons, the Lama and his companions battle the evil Black Ring. The reveal here is so wonderful that I dare not even hint lest I spoil your reading. Suffice to say, Mr. Ahlhelm has created a perfect five stars out of five tale to make the pickiest Green Lama aficionado drool! Bravo!”.

Thanks Stephen and Raven! Here’s hoping you check out Lightweight: Senior Year and some of the otehr great work I have now available on Amazon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Writer's Update for February 3, 2015

I have spent the last couple weeks in between trying to get sites online working on the first story in a new series called The Second Life of D.B. Cooper. I finished the second draft on it just yesterday and it is off to the publisher now. It should pop up in just a few weeks as part of the Pen and Cape Society’s The Good Fight 2: Villains anthology. I missed out on the first volume of the series, but this one was a can’t miss for me, but I will talk more about that in the future.

The new story kicks off a tale that blends my work on Pulpsploitation with the Quadrant Universe and introduces D.B. Cooper in 1982 Key West, Florida. It also touches on psychic mind experiments, mystic esoterica and a few other oddball figures out of weird history.

I suspect Mr. Cooper will see a return appearance before the end of 2015, but I will have to wait on that announcement for awhile.

Now I am hard at work on kicking off the second year of Lightweight stories. Anyone that read the end of Lightweight: Graduation knows exactly how far away from the first year the new story will be. It should offer some interesting conundrums in the life of Kevin Mathis.

A Kickstarter will be on its way for year two in a couple more months, but I plan to finalize all orders on the first year of Lightweight first.

Today’s image is DB Cooper by Brian Churilla. Check out his The Secret History of D.B. Cooper for another oddball take on the mysterious hijacker well worth a read.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kickstart the Week: A Walk Through Dinosaurland



Jim Lawson is one of the legendary artists of the original Mirage Studios run of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As I really started to fall in love with the characters, he took over as primary artist. I still have fond memories of his work on the “City at War” arc as well as his follow-up color series. Over the years, he became the premiere artist on the Turtles, drawing more issues featuring them than anyone else.

Now he is on Kickstarter with his second project and it focuses on one of his great loves: dinosaurs. Featuring gorgeous art and tons of thunder lizards, A Walk Through Dinosaurland looks like tons of fun while even being (gasp) a bit educational. As a nice added bonus, backers at $35 can also get his other dinosaur series Paleo in its entirety.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What's Up for the week of February 1, 2015

It's been a week mostly spent on the writing side of things, so I've mostly spent my normal entertainment time focused on the first tale of The Second Life of D.B. Cooper. I did take time to watch some of the oddball superhero film Zoom with my kids. And all the writing has given me time to fine tune my Pandora playlist and it has decided I need a lot more Ja Rule in my life. Isn’t he about due for a comeback?

I will have more on my projects later this week, but why not check out some quality entertainment I've been enjoying?