Friday, July 31, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Loki

I am not sure who the cosplayer is here (let me know in the comments below if you do), but she does make quite an amazing version of the female Loki. Big ups to anyone that can pull off bilgesnipe horns that well.

Remember, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff here on!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Influential 5: Locas

While I have mentioned Noir and Starman as primary influences of the first book of Walking Shadows, they aren't the only one. Far from it really. As the series continues, I cannot help but think my strongest influence is Jaime Hernandez’s Locas.

The series started way back in 1982 by one half of the anthology series Love & Rockets. Started by two brothers (with the help of a third) in Southern California, over the course of over thirty years, the project has grown to be one of the most critically acclaimed comic books in the history of ever. And rightfully so. Gilbert’s Palomar is multigenerational fiction at its finest while Jaime’s stories are more personal tales focused around the adventures and misadventures of five young women and their growing cast of friends and family. Each have been collected into a series of wonderful books. Locas opens with the collectiong Maggie the Mechanic before continuing in a series of four more trades. (Two subsequent trades continue the story but are not officially listed as part of the Locas arc.

Maggie and Hopey are the perennial leads of the stories, but are far from the only focal point characters. Still it is their relationship that forms the most compelling fiction. Maggie is in love with Hopey but in constant denial of just how much. Hopey is a soul astray, never able to remain faithful to anyone for too long. Often their tales seem to be the stories of one bad decision after another, always mixed with a bit of strangeness around it. Other characters come in and out of their lives, most notably Ray, Maggie's other love, but none really are able to find any lasting happiness. In the world of Locas, much like the real world often does, lasting happiness feels like an illusion or a dream.

Ghosts and demons exist in the world of Locas, though they rarely appear. Superheroes also abound and even star in their own comics within the comics, though they only recently made a major appearance in the follow up God & Science, the first post-Locas collection for Maggie. This creates a world that very much harkens to what I aim for in Walking Shadows, a story of real people in a world with super powers.

In the end, I doubt I will ever design a masterpiece even close to as impressive as Locas, but it doesn’t matter. Jaime’s work will always be amazing and I think its influence can only strengthen the compelling tale of my young “walking shadows”.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Secret History of Lightweight

Lightweight_SeniorYearSmallLightweight was first introduced to the world in September 2013 when I launched the Kickstarter for the first year worth of stories. But for me, the history of Lightweight dates back over two decades.

Flashback to the early 1990s. Parachute pants and fluorescent clothing was cool. George H.W. Bush was saying all the wrong things to get reelected. I was a fourteen year old kid coming into my own for the first time. I created heroes for years before then. I distinctly remember my brother Russ and I taking our G.I. Joe, Star Wars, He-Man, M.A.S.K. and dozens of other figures and turning all of them into a massive universe of superheroes. Literally hundreds of characters came out of these sessions and they in turn inspired the creation of dozens more with the classic TSR Marvel Super Heroes and Mayfair DC Heroes role playing games. But so many of those creations were rather stereotypical superheroes. I realized that I wanted to create a hero with unique abilities, with a set structure to those powers, and with a back story I could craft over years.

The first part was connecting with the power of gravity manipulation. Though a villain or two possessed the ability over the years, it was a relatively unused ability in comics. At the time, I could find neither a Marvel nor a DC hero that used the ability. Even now, only the obscure Marvel character uncreatively named Gravity does.

[caption id="attachment_553" align="alignleft" width="180"]Lightweight-COLOR-STUDY-2-A Brent Sprecher's character design for Lightweight.[/caption]

From there, I started to develop the character of Kevin Mathis. In many ways, his earliest incarnation was something of a Mary Sue. He had all my best traits and none of my teenage excesses. His supporting cast initially consisted of all the other heroes and villains we created, but I realized that I wanted to do more with Lightweight. So I set out to create a universe for him.

Initially I wrote his earliest adventures as comic book plots. I had a copy of a two or three paragraph Marvel plot and I used that as the basic structure to lay out my story. I developed literally hundreds of Lightweight plots this way, although my plots grew shorter and shorter as I added on, until they were only a sentence or two. At the same time, I started to develop other characters around him. Many of these figures have found or will find their way into the Quadrant Universe over the next few months and years.

Back then, Lightweight was something of the premiere hero of the line, alongside another figure named Legend (who has been reborn as the leader of another current project, F.O.R.C.E.). But he was also just a fairly typical solo teen hero. Millie, Andy, George and Howl were all in place back then, although a few have went through name changes—and in one case a major personality change—since then. Millie actually went by Winnie back then and in hindsight I not only stole her name from Danica McKellar’s character in The Wonder Years, but I also stole much of Kevin’s initial relationship from that show. (Oddly, the name Kevin didn’t come from that show though. I initially called the lead Nathan Anderson, an obvious fictionalized version of my name. It wasn’t until my high school years that I renamed him Kevin Mathis, after two friends growing up.)

The majority of the villains of this book were also in place with only Hammer and Anvil being recent creations. All have went through some major renovations since their first incarnation. Titan was once basically a Sentinel. Ronin was an eight foot tall cyborg. Hellfire’s powers and origins were the same, but George was one dimensional at best.

In the early 2000s, I set out to turn my dreams of being a comic and prose writer into a dream of selling super powered prose fiction. Lightweight was the first character I turned to. I renovated much of the concept then. In the original storyline, Lightweight was basically a mutant. The new version created the mystery behind his power’s origins and the two organizations that wanted to control them. The Eloi and Morlock element came from there. I always liked the names as literary allusions and I could integrate the history of those names into the greater mythos of the Quadrant Universe.

Most of what you see on the pages of Lightweight: Senior Year came out of that brainstorming session. I designed the plot as twenty adventures then, but I realized the structure of Lightweight’s final school year worked better overall. The change also came with a change to how I wanted to present the story. My original plan was to run the universe as happening in one-half real time: every twenty-four months would equal one year. When I was younger, Savage Dragon was a major inspiration for the timeline, and I felt this was just bringing things closer in line to that vision of real time storytelling.

I ultimately decided against leading off my writing career with Lightweight though. In that time period, the industry just didn’t offer the proper publishing structure to allow me to release Lightweight in the manner it deserved. Digital books existed, but the entry level wasn’t where it is today, nor did they really sell to anyone but the deepest techie. More importantly though, I didn’t feel my writing skills at the time were enough to truly bring Lightweight to life in the way it deserved. So I shelved it again while I worked on other projects, some of which remain unpublished to this day.

Lightweight_Black_DeathLightweight: Black Death changed direction from that early 2000s plan. I meandered a lot in those twenty chapters and the second half is really about focusing the stories with a keener eye on the Eloi/Morlock story that underlines the first year of adventures. The Parker King secondary plot remained in simply because of how much it interlinks with the main plot. Others were left by the wayside, though they will most likely return in later volumes as Lightweight continues.

I started work towards finally realizing Lightweight as fiction in late 2012. I went back to work on framing the basic plot structure of what would become Senior Year. It took months before I thought I had it structured well enough to put it in front of readers. I wanted a great piece of cover art for the book as well, but knew that didn’t come cheap. Brent Sprecher came to my attention as my artist of choice. The need to pay for cover art upfront t brought me to Kickstarter where I raised the funds needed to pay for Brent and the initial print run.

And that brings me to today and the upcoming Kickstarter to fund three more volumes of Lightweight’s adventures.. I wanted to give my previous Kickstarter backers that supported me a look into the history of Lightweight and hopefully introduce potential new readers to the character. I hope you have enjoyed this look into the creative process behind Lightweight and company. Here’s hoping that the long winding road that got us here will be dwarfed by the years of adventure ahead.


For more information on Lightweight: Senior Year and Lightweight: Black Death visit The Books page.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The adventures of Quadrant continue in "The Future Shock"!

I talked in detail last week about the importance of the Quadrant series to my writing. I even penned a brief introduction to the four members that make up the team. But that was last week. This week brings the fourth volume in their ongoing adventures, now ready for your digital purchase!

"The Future Shock" brings Enigma to the forefront as he finds himself trapped in a single moment of time. It also introduces one of the team to one of their greatest threats, Tempus Dux, the dark lord of the future. Dux has a vast hatred for the heroes of Quadrant, a hatred they don't yet understand. But without the voices in his head for the first time in his life, the young omnipath must use his wits and his telekinesis to stop a threat beyond anything he's faced before!

All this plus the return of a strange force that offers more mysteries into the nature of the Quadrant Universe!

Quadrant: The Future Shock is now available at

Walking Shadows Book 3 is here!

It is my birthday today and I am happy to bring a present to all the readers of Super Powered Fiction.

Walking Shadows Book Three has finally launched. The new story takes the extended cast of characters in new directions as they search for a lost friend, stumble in and out of relationships and face the hardest challenge a millennial can face: finding a job.

Ian, Cyrus, Alli, Marilyn and Rosa all make their returns as we get under way, but the new book will also feature some new major players in the cast. Melinoe and Phoebe make their return and we also introduce the new character, Kaihime, a very different character that sends our other young leads in a startling new direction. Plus the return of the mysterious organization that tried to capture our heroes in Book One. And answers to the mysteries that have brewed for two books now! Plus, the first connections to the greater Quadrant Universe will be revealed!

Book Three is ready for your reading pleasure starting today and continuing every Tuesday and Thursday at Walking Shadows. Remember every ounce of the story continues to be available on the site for your reading pleasure.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What's Up for July 27, 2015

It has been a long week stuck at home, but with a decent bit of writing done, I have also been pulling out a few different things to do in my free time. While I continue on the same novel as last week, I went through several comics and graphic novels, watched a few favorites and broke out some old games for a fun time.

So without any more rambling, here is what I was up to for the last seven days while not writing or posting to this fine site.

Kickstart the Week 22: Steve Rude's Nexus

Very few comics are as influential as Nexus was in the 1980s. The story of an intergalactic hitman trying to be a superhero and have a normal life was quite compelling when it first came out from Capitol and First Comics. Mike Baron wrote interesting stories with depth while Steve Rude drew and continues to draw some of the best visuals in modern comics storytelling.

And now they're back.

Through his Rude Dude comic imprint, Steve Rude is reviving both of his creator owned series, Nexus & The Moth, as weekly comic strips. The pages will be inspired by the huge design of old school comics like Prince Valiant where half or a full page would go to one strip.

Rude's plan is to run one Nexus and one Moth story every year using this format, but if he can't pay some of his costs upfront he will have to continue on his more lucrative fine arts career. And while I respect his ad work and great paintings, we all know that more Nexus is what we want, right?

This is a chance to make a known property return in a new light, so no risks of bad product as a result. So go check out the Kickstarter today.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Phantom Lady

Riddle is one of the best cosplayers out there, so it should be no surprise she does such great work bringing one of my favorite superhero costumes to life. While I slightly prefer the golden age version of Phantom Lady, Riddle definitely makes the modern version her own.

Remember, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff here on!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The American Arsenal charges into action!

The American Arsenal was an idea I first had in the early 2000s. He always was at least superficially linked in my head to the Ultimate Warrior, as I always saw the Arsenal’s speech patterns to be a bit unfocused and rambling. And when I design a character so thoroughly rooted in the 1980s, it just seemed right in the months after Warrior’s death to show off my Rambo-meets-Warrior construct in a short story.

As I worked through my 52 stories over the course of the year 2014, the American Arsenal consumed much of last April as I felt almost compelled to put the story of a United States veteran altered by his own government to carry out their wishes even though he doesn’t know it.

Using his power to morph parts of his body into weapons, Arsenal blasts through three encounters with a criminal gang he is tracking, even as his programming begins to fail. Can he hope to overcome his enemy when his own mind is rebelling?

As part of the memorial to Jim “Ultimate Warrior” Hellwig (legally Warrior in later life) that inspired the writing of the book in the first place, I have decided that I will also donate 50% of all earnings to Conner's Cure, the WWE’s cancer research for children non-profit. It is both a charity well worth anyone's support and it is a chosen charity of Dana Warrior, Jim’s widow.

The American Arsenal is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Best Character Ever 6: Ultimate Warrior

Image credit:
When I originally wrote this post, Wrestlemania XXX was just days away with a future for Ultimate Warrior and WWE that looked bright. He was back working with Vince, a new DVD reliving his legacy was out and I was watching clips left and right on the very new WWE Network. I hadn't paid this much attention to the Ultimate Warrior in a decade.

Sadly, less than 48 hours after his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, the Ultimate Warrior was dead. But this article isn’t about Jim Hellwig, Jim Warrior or whatever name he used outside the ring. He was just a man. But the Ultimate Warrior was a legend. This is an article about the character he created inside the squared circle.

The Ultimate Warrior is all about character. Or more accurately for this column, being the best character ever.

He started out much in the same way as current NXT star Mojo Rawley, a guy that blasts to the ring and never stops for a second in his victories. And the then-WWF used television for months to make it clear why we should love him. He ran to the ring for months to completely destroy jobbers in ultrashort matches that made him look like a million bucks.

By the time he got his first loss to Rick Rude, it didn’t matter. He started to cut long winded promos about his ability and power, often adding new and interesting words that didn’t exist until that moment.

But it was his victory over the Honky Tonk Man, the wrestler that had held a stranglehold over the Intercontinental title for 14 months, longer than any star before or since. The Warrior made short work of HTM.

This happened to Rick Rude a lot.
The title win was the start of Ultimate Warrior’s rise to the top of the card. His impressive victories, great look and amazing—albeit crazed—promos cemented him as a fan favorite of the WWF’s young fans. Discussions over who the greatest WWF star began among young fans. Was it WWF champion Hulk Hogan or the new Intercontinental champion?

That answer came in 1990 at WrestleMania VI. In the main event of that show it was title versus title. The Intercontinental champion beat the World champ and Ultimate Warrior rose to the top of the heap.

Unfortunately, the Warrior’s story didn’t really work once he was the king of the heap. He always worked best in weird psychological battles with the likes of Rick Rude and Jake the Snake. Standing at the top of the heap as the guy with the belt only exposed his weaknesses as a talent. After nine months as the top guy, he lost the title to the turncoat Sgt. Slaughter.

In the year after his loss, he once again entered some great feuds, starting with a battle with Randy Savage that gave him his finest match at Wrestlemania VII. But after his exposure as the champ, the Warrior’s shine had faded. And with steroids becoming an issue for WWF, the most obvious roid user on the roster became more of a liability than a moneymaker.

The Warrior left in late 1991 and outside brief runs in ‘92, ‘96 and ‘98, his career was basically at an end.

Of course, those long absences were sometimes just fine with me. Post-1992, he dropped the Ultimate from his name and started writing in an insane but great comic series starring himself simply called Warrior.

The comic is probably best remembered for the issue he tortured Santa Claus. Yes, really.

Looking back now, it is clear that the Ultimate Warrior was all about personality and look without the needed skills to truly work as a great wrestler. But not even Hulk Hogan was able to so aptly and easily catch the young wrestling fan’s joy. Everything about the Warrior is worthy of study, simply to show the ability of great booking and an amazing personality to make a star. And because of that he truly is the best character of that era of pro wrestling.

The Warrior is one of the few characters out there that directly inspired a work of fiction by me. I will talk a bit more about American Arsenal later today, but his pattern of speech is based directly on the Ultimate Warrior’s often strange promos.

Rob Schamberger's Warrior painting.
Image credit:
For more on Ultimate Warrior, check out the pair of DVDs WWE put out before his death and a few months after: Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection and Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe.

And remember, always believe.

For more on the Warrior check out my Figured Out post, over at The Wrestling Deep End!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The heroes of Quadrant

Quadrant is the story of four distinctly different adopted brothers. Raised by an alien inside a spaceship buried beneath the Mississippi River, they are acclimated to society only by their love of television and video games. But they were trained to do what was right even as they are forced out of hiding once and for all. This column gives a brief overview of each of these great heroes ready for your reading pleasure!

Cinder is the leader of the team. Prometheus Morgan is the most serious member of the team, calm and collected compared to his brothers. He can cause all or parts of his body to burst into flame, literally burning his own skin and flesh away when doing so. It heals back as the flame fades, but while active the fire only leaves his skeleton visible beneath the burning. He wears skull face paint into combat.

Jigsaw is a hothead, quick to anger but also quick to care. Damocles Morgan has the heart of the artist, but it is hidden behind his scarred flesh. African American by birth, he would prefer to create but his powers are designed only for battle. He can summon spikes and blades of pure bone from his flesh, far sharper than anything natural. While he can pull aways his organic weaponry, the scars of their appearance never quite heal, leaving him criss-crossed with marks. In battle, he wears black and white face paint that connect like a puzzle piece down the bridge of his nose.

Enigma doesn’t talk much and when he does it doesn’t always make sense. A natural omnipath, Horus Morgan is never free of the voices all around him. He can detect all thought within a mile of him, but it sometimes takes time to sift through it to find his intended target. He sleeps little and keeps to himself, unwilling to share his burden often. He is also a gifted telekine and often serves as transportation for his brothers and their allies. In his rare combat appearances, his face is covered with a large question mark.

Kodiak is literally a bear. Standing about eight feet tall, Samson Morgan is for all intensive purposes a mid-sized version of his namesake outside of hands that take almost perfect human shape. He wears a special rebreather most of the time as his lungs are poor at filtering oxygen from the air, though he possesses gills for sustainable travel underwater. He is stronger than the average bear, able to heft at least three tons of weight. He is the least serious of the team, preferring to spend his time playing games or watching television than training or fighting evil. He is the only member of the team not to wear face paint due to his obviously distinctive appearance.

You can check out all of Quadrant’s adventures in the first three books in their ongoing series. Quadrant 1 introduces the team as a whole. Quadrant 2 revolves around Cinder while Quadrant 3 focuses on a solo adventure of Kodiak. Subsequent chapters will bring the focus to Enigma and Jigsaw before the first volume of the series comes to an end with a group adventure.

Head out and pick up all three current volumes before the next book launches in just a few short days!

Walking into the Quadrant

I call my shared universe of metahumans the Quadrant Universe for a couple reasons. Four is an important number to the universe as I have four major locations for my adventures (only two of which I have regularly featured so far: Federation and the New Salam-Valhalla metroplex), each with one of four mysterious figures connecting it to the rest of the universe. These figures are a secret right now, but one of them should be revealed fairly soon in an upcoming historical novel set during the War of 1812.

But Quadrant isn’t just named after those factors, it also shares its name with one of my super-teams. The team of Quadrant was designed to give me a place where I could expand the universe without necessarily writing a bunch of novels with a bunch of different characters. The adventures of Quadrant allow me to show off a new team of metahumans as they travel the glob—and the universe—to unlock mysteries and discover more about their own origins.

I chose Quadrant because some of the greatest super-powered teams in publishing history come in fours. Marvel’s Fantastic Four are easily the most famous, but other units like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the comic version of KISS have much more influence over the design of my team. I embraced the strange weirdness with an occult tinge from the Dark Horse era KISS comic while the old Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures helped inspire how I would write the four brothers raised in seclusion. It also served as a bit of a guidepost in showing me how to write a story of young heroes without major resources as they spanned the world on their adventures.

Currently, I am publishing Quadrant as standalone volumes each with a full adventure. The first three of five volumes are currently available and volume 4 will launch just next week. You can catch up with their adventures as they fight a ninja cult, uncover a shadowy killer and battle fishmen in the Rio Grande. Each is only 99 cents now. Check out the links below to try them out.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What's up for July 20, 2015

It's been a strange week at home, stuck in a collar and unable to get out as much due to the whole "not able to drive" thing. So I have had plenty of reading time, writing time and even actually cracked open a video game for the first time in quite awhile. And hey, I chose a modern classic featuring one of video gaming’s oldest characters! So here is what I was up to for the last week!

Kickstart the Week 21: Kros: Hallowed Ground

Kros: Hallowed Ground is a new book by arguably one of the greatest creative teams of the last three decades: John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. They first teamed on Grimjack and have worked together on titles like Firestorm, Martian Manhunter and a defining run on The Spectre. Now they are back with a book that introduces a new vampire hunter character and drops him in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg. He must stop vampires from raising the numerous dead as monsters, a tall task for just one man.

The art and writing on this will be top notch with these two talented creators at the helm, but it needs help to be funded. Go give it a look on Kickstarter.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Superboy?

German cosplay Schpog does an amazing genderbent version of the 90s era Superboy costume. She calls the look Kon-Elle and it is nothing short of stupendous.

Remember, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff here on!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Influential 4: Wild Cards

Brian Bolland drew the best of many Wild Cards covers over the years.
It is hard to talk about super powered prose fiction in the United States without bringing up the Wild Cards franchise. Conceived by George R.R. Martin in the late eighties and based on a Superworld campaign by some of the original authors, it was the first major work to put original superheroes into prose form.

Now decades old, in many ways the series defined superhero prose fiction. It also proved that a cohesive universe shared by multiple authors was not only feasible but could also be incredibly compelling.

While the first volume in the series was published in 1987, I didn’t discover the series until the very early 1990s however through six hardcover reprints produced by the Science Fiction Book Club and available at my local library.

When I read that first volume, now renamed Wild Cards I, a major revelation hit me. I could combine my love for superheroes and prose into something wholly original. My terrible artistic attempts pretty much ended when I finished that first book and reveled in the adventures of Jetboy, Tachyon, The Great & Powerful Turtle, Golden Boy, The Sleeper, Fortunato and more. They weren’t like the characters in comics. They were far more adult, far more violent and far more real.

The books decision to never hide sex and violence from its pages is a major influence on Walking Shadows. If I wanted to tell the real lives of these young people, I knew I needed to never shy away from their real lives. With that in mind, I set out to make this a series aimed at younger readers with a mature bent while still having some of the high drama of superhero stories.

At the same time, Wild Cards I also did much to encourage the history of the Quadrant Universe. The book stretched across four decades of the twentieth century, interwoven through a subtly altered history. It was a concept I embraced when designing the thousands of years worth of history that make up the backstory of my world, much of which still waits to be revealed.

But if you have never read Wild Cards, go give the first book a chance. The new edition first book even has some new tales by modern authors in it for long time readers. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you gave it a try.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Welcome to the Glyos System 2: Kabuto Mushi

I cannot say I have met many folks that make toys for a living, but I was very excited to meet Marty “The Godbeast” Hansen at Wizard World Des Moines. (Mystic Warriors of the Ring creator Mark Vasquez was also in attendance, but more on his work in future columns.) The creator of the Kabuto Mushi line of figures, he showed off his then-upcoming Shogun Warriors inspired figures at the show, and I personally picked up a couple with strong resemblances to Skeletor and Hordak. I instantly was drawn into the looks of the Kabuto Mushi Mark II line, as it featured tons of detail and often more detailed paint schemes than other Glyos toys.

To me, this is the toy that best shows off just how much you can do with one figure mold. Through various paint and plastic layouts, one toy can look drastically different than the next despite using the same parts and design. The backpack of the standard mushi also can serve as a second head for figures promoted as Instar Warriors.

Some of the other Glyos-linked toys from Onell Design or Toyfinity have detailed back stories, the Mushis have very little so far (though their creator has ensured me a lot more is to come). I think that might draw me to Kabuto Mushi a bit more because he (or is it she?) is a character I could totally wrap a compelling narrative around. I can see this strange figure coming to Earth to right some wrong or defeat some evil. That is one of the things I enjoy most about the strange and wild world of independent toys: embracing the oddities and letting them inspire me.

For more on Kabuto Mushi, visit The Godbeast’s site or pick up some great figures at the Kabuto Mushi store.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Great Art Extra: Greg Horn's Thanos

You can check out some great art posts everyday over at the Super Powered Fiction Tumblr, but sometimes I like featuring some of the great prints and art I have picked up over my time as a fan.

I first came across Greg Horn as the artist of James Hudnall’s ESPers, an amazing comic that delved into super powered beings in a world built on conspiracy theories. (And as mentioned before, an inspiration behind my own Second Life of D.B. Cooper stories) Horn drew the last two volumes of the book at Halloween Comics and Image Comics. While sadly none of his work on them are in print, I highly recommend anyone pick them up if you find them. They feature a great combination of story and art.

I met Greg at Wizard World Des Moines earlier this year. He seems to have tons of fun at his booth, aided by a couple other folks to keep the long lines constantly moving. While some of his art gets a bit too far into cheesecake territory for me, I could not resist a couple great pieces of cosmic Marvel by Mr. Horn.

Thanos combines the great visual style of Horn with a bit of the sex appeal, albeit it with Death of all folks. For more great work by Horn, go check out his official website.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What's Up for July 13, 2015

Well, a week ago I was trying to figure out where my health was going and stuck on a healthy dose of pain pills and muscle relaxers. And while the medicine continues in the wake of my neck surgery, I am certainly in better shape than I was a week ago. I'm way more coherent, but I am still stuck with tons of downtime and not a lot to fill it. So I have been using that time to catch up on some reading and some watching. Here is what I have been up to in the last week.

Kickstart the Week 20: Molly Danger

Jamal Igle is back with more Molly Danger on Kickstarter. While his previous attempt to fund the project met some problems due to (IMHO) bad planning and didn't fund, his current push for an ongoing series is already about two-thirds of its way to a $30000 goal.

But it still needs your help and Molly Danger is a book worth supporting. The world doesn't have many great all ages books that anyone can truly enjoy. But the already released adventure of super-powered youngster Molly Danger was more than impressive. Igle is a stupendous artist and though unseasoned as a scripter, seems to hae the chops to pull off being a writer-artist.

So don't miss out on a chance to get a great new ongoing series. Go back Molly Danger at Kickstarter.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Wonder Girl

This great Wonder Girl is by the cosplayer known as Gillykins.

Remember, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff here on!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

More 'Second Life of D.B. Cooper' now underway!

I debuted my series of short stories, “The Second Life of D.B. Cooper” in the pages of The Good Fight 2: Villains, a charity book in benefit of James Hudnall put together alongside the fine folks at the Pen & Cape Society.

I am proud to say that I am returning to the saga of the escaped plane hijacker turned psychic beach bum for an upcoming project from Airship 27. This volume will also be for the benefit of charity, but I will leave more details to be shared at a later time.

I am more than glad to return to Coop’s adventures. I have a lot of stories I want to tell with him, and I think this one will be a ton of fun. It might just have a few surprise appearances by some other well known folks in it.

[caption id="attachment_465" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson is a spitting image of DB Cooper. Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson is a spitting image of DB Cooper. Can anyone say time travel episode of Agents of SHIELD?[/caption]

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Writing and life

Image copyright Suicide Girls.
Sometimes life just gets in the way of good writing. We have all faced that problem. Family events, illnesses of loved ones, physical injuries. I've covered the first two quite well in the first six months of 2015 and this month I get to experience the third.

I have been dealing with extreme back pain for over a week now and was finally diagnosed today with a herniated disc between my sixth and seventh vertebra. With the level of damage it has sustained, my best bet is for its removal and fusion. If all goes as planned, I will be in surgery before this weekend, then have a day or two of recovery at the hospital before a long stay (a minimum of a month) at home.

Thankfully my day job does have a short term disability plan that will keep me covered for the weeks I am away from work. It doesn't offer my full pay, but it will provide enough to get buy on our bills and keep our family afloat.

It will also give me plenty of time to write, albeit in a neck brace, but still a lot of time. I am going to try my best to complete a few projects during that time off my feet and on limited movement, but who knows what complications will come with it.

I write this not for pity, but to show a bit of the struggles that a less-than-full-time writer deals with it on a daily or monthly basis. And maybe to tell everyone out there to take good care of your neck. You never know when it will just give out on you.

Today's image is of the Suicide Girl named Revenge. Because if I'm going to talk about the harshness of being a writer at times, I can at least show this super-idealized image of the life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Best Character Ever 5: Hunter Rose

Hunter Rose by Matt Wagner. Image credit: Matt Wagner. 
No villain offers quite the air of menace that Hunter Rose does. Created by Matt Wagner, the original Grendel was little more than a man, albeit one at the peak of physical intelligence and agility. But his story fleshed out over the years is nothing short of amazing.

I actually came to Grendel from the last major run of its original series: Grendel: Warchild. By that point Hunter Rose was long dead and the series was set in the distant future. Grendel Prime was a vastly different character, though one awesome in his own right.

Bisley rocked this cover, even if it didn't feature Hunter Rose.
It would be another year before a friend and I found the two issue Batman/Grendel series, I knew I was instantly hooked. Here was the true Anti-Batman, a character as equally driven to run his own criminal enterprise as Batman is to stop it. The dichotomy between the two created an intense rivalry over two 48 page issues. I knew I needed to see more of this character.

Grendel: Black, White & Red was next and with it I got some of the first major looks into the mind of Hunter Rose. Little did I know it was actually some of Wagner’s first development of the inner workings of his brain as well.

By the time I found a copy of Devil By the Deed and the follow-up Red, White & Black limited series, I was a lifelong Grendel fan. And Hunter Rose was at the center of it. I even picked up the awesome Grendel figure Graphitti Designs put out a few years back.

The unpictured skull also makes him the best
Shakespearean toy I own.
I think the character sits in my mind so well because he's the perfect example of the villain as the protagonist. We root for Grendel even though we know how awful a person Hunter Rose is. He works so well as the antithesis to anything heroic he almost becomes a heroic figure in his quest. And even though we know from his very first story, he dies in the end at the hands of Argent, that doesn't mean we don't always want to learn more about him.

Every couple years Matt Wagner returns to his seminal creation, most recently in a great crossover with The Shadow in 2014. Ultimately the character will always remain as strong as his creator’s consistent work, so I rest assured I will enjoy as many Hunter Rose stories as Wagner has left to tell.

Monday, July 6, 2015

What's Up for July 6, 2015

I have had a lot of time to read over the past week as it turns out narcotics and muscle relaxers do not always make for the most coherent story writing. (Go figure.) But I have got a lot of reading time in and some watching time as well, so I have a few things for you to look at that I have been consuming.

Remember these are not recommendations, just a showing of what I have been up to for the last several days.

Full disclosure: These are presented in Amazon link form and every purchase through a click does give a few shekels to the site. (And is appreciated.)

Kickstart the Week 19: Elflord Reborn!

I have talked about Elflord with the property’s current owner Mat Nastos more than once. Originally created in the 80s by the late Barry Blair, it was a groundbreaking fantasy tale by a master hand. Mat and I have discussed a future for the property more than once and I am glad to say that through Kickstarter, he is making that happen. In partnership with Outland Entertainment, Mat will be writing the all new Elflord series.

But don't take my word for it. Check out the video and the rewards over at Kickstarter. Outland is offering tons of comics as part of the deal, both digitally and in print. Give Elflord a try.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Cosplay Friday: X-23

Today we have LadyDevann as X-23 as our featured Cosplay photo.

Remember, you can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great cosplay here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff here on!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Books I would write: Big Jim's P.A.C.K.

When I was a kid, I loved getting weird back issues whenever I had the rare chance to go to the comic shop. It was through those back issues that I was first exposed to Big Jim’s P.A.C.K.

Big Jim was Mattel’s answer to G.I. Joe and when Joe gained his Adventure Team, Jim gained his Professional Agents — Crime Killers. (Toy acronyms didn’t require much thought in those days.) I was about negative three when the toyline came out though, so unlike some of my friends online, cannot say I ever experienced them first hand in a store. But, the ad. The ad drew me in.

I cannot remember where I saw an ad for the group first, or even if it was a Marvel or DC book. But that glorious G.I. Joe-like team drawn by Jack Kirby instantly caught my attention. I wanted to know more about Warpath, Dr. Steel, The Whip and their much less interesting leader. I remember crafting narratives in my mind as a preteen with these weird characters, even designing a villainous unit for them to fight. (It would be a few more years before I learned about Zorak or the later 004 villains.)

Ultimately like so many great olden toylines, Big Jim is trapped under the ownership of a company that probably will never revive him (though he did get a memorial of sorts in an early 2000s episode of Max Steel.) But the P.A.C.K. is one of those teams that just deserves to have a good adventure series built around them. I doubt it will ever happen but you never know.

And Mattel, my email address is right there on the contact page if you're interested.