Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Meet... Ape Lincoln!

One thing I enjoy about the setup of Amazon Kindle is the ability to write one shot and short character pieces as part of the Quadrant Universe. I can throw them out there for 99 cents and let the world get to know some of my stranger ideas.

One of those is certainly Ape Lincoln.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What's Up for the week of September 28, 2015

It's been an odd week with a push to get more writing in cutting into my time for tons of reading and viewing (outside a bit of wrestling.) So I haven't made tons of progress in much of anything, but I have moved on to a few different things than what I was doing last week. Here's the list in handy link format.

Kickstart the Week 30: Ninjas!

Who doesn't love ninjas? But when it comes to the world of awesome six inch figures, the number of ninjas available is surprisingly low. Well, the folks at the toy site Fwoosh want to fix that. In order to do so, they have created their first figure in their Articulated Icons series, the Ninja.

The new series is built around an awesome basic and deluxe pair of great looking toys with tons of accessories. Even the basic figure comes with six hands, two heads and three weapons. The Deluxe figure adds two extra heads, a dozen extra weapons and an amazing base designed to look like a Japanese roof top.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Elena

This impressive cosplay of Street Fighter III’s capoeira master is quite impressive. Too bad I have no idea of the identity of the cosplayer of this Capcom owned character. Source.

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 SuperPoweredFiction.com!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Obscure Heroes 1: Shadowdragon

I like the weird and the wild of superhero characters. Sometimes certain figures never quite get the due I think they deserve. Obscure Heroes is all about celebrating those characters and maybe even what could have been with them.

Shadowdragon Annual 1 copyright DC Comics.
Shadowdragon is a true exercise in obscurity. Primarily a Superman supporting cast member of the mid-nineties, he was essentially a high tech ninja. He remained something of a mystery throughout his supporting cast appearances in the four Superman titles at the time. I didn’t buy most of these as my Super-comics buying had faded by 1995. I was intrigued by Shadowdragon, don’t get me wrong, but his appearances in those books were usually relegated to 2 to 3 pages an issue. He managed to meander through seven issues of the main title and a team-up with Lady Shiva inShowcase. In between those appearances, he managed to get an annual, despite never appearing in a comic of his own.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sex and Violence in Super Powered Fiction

Today I wanted to write something on the two big subjects of modern genre literature. I am of course talking about sex and violence, two factors that play a weird twisted pattern in modern English writing.

Most people pretty much consider it impossible to write super powered fiction without the second half of that equation, although not impossible. Big powers often imply slugfests between two super powered beings. But characters with powers could just use those powers for the common good. Or even their own self interest. Even with two or more characters with powers, no one says they should have to get into great big fights. Walter Mosley’s Blue Light fits the bill perfectly for this. While the book does not shy away from uncomfortable situations (including murder) it is not built around the kind of battle one expects when they know a story has super-powers.

Sex on the other hand often seems taboo in modern super powered fiction. Obviously most modern Marvel & DC superhero comics run on a strange system where they aim for a PG-13 style rating scheme for their titles. Rarely do they feature more than the hint of sex. Prose super powered fiction often follows this lead. I certainly do with my Lightweight series of serialized stories. Numerous other tales both large and small press seem to aim for that same level. But the history of the super powered prose space makes that a strange choice.

So much of super powered prose stems from George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. From the first book, authors like Lewis Shiner and Stephen Leigh introduced sexually explicit content into their tales. In many ways Wild Cards is the godfather of all super powered prose, yet still so many titles shy away from its lead. Meanwhile the ever-growing urban fantasy field often dives head-long into explicit storytelling.

I am by no means saying that anyone writing super powered prose should immediately add an explicit sex scene to their stories. But I do think that if we are acceptable to extremes of violence, we should also not be afraid of writing sex as well.

My web serial Walking Shadows has shown several of its leads in sexual situations and will continue to do so. The series was built around the concept of following the lives of young men and women with powers that do not want to be heroes. And when you right about young adults, sex will come into play.

Let’s not be afraid of it.

Today’s image is from issue two of Peter David & George Perez’s Sachs & Violens, simply because I enjoy name puns.

Reblogged from the classic site.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Melinoe takes over Walking Shadows today!

Image copyright
Renato Caria.
The goddess of nightmares made her first appearance in Walking Shadows Book Two, but as Book Three got under way she was forced into a life among mortals. Today for the first time she takes center stage as one of the main cast members.

Melinoe is a fascinating figure from Roman mythology with incredibly little written about her. She appears in one text from one mysterious religion, but is the daughter of Persephone by her own father Zeus (because Greek/Roman gods are odd like that.) While her mother was cursed with damage to her flesh for the transgression of becoming pregnant, it is often Melinoe that is displayed as having half her skin corrupted or turned black, as in the amazing accompanying image by Renato Caria.

While my take on Melinoe has yet to display the visible duality of her nature, the mix of Olympus and Hades that is his birthright, she's certainly a character with light and dark sides. Her dark side was quite visible in Book Two, but how much light she shows in Book Three remains to be seen.

Check out the new chapter of Walking Shadows today for Melinoe’s solo debut.

Monday, September 21, 2015

What's Up for the week of September 21, 2015

As I continue work on both a new short story work (more of which I will talk about in the days ahead) and the next chapter of Lightweight: Beyond, I have also been busy reading through a pile of novels I have had for years and a whole bunch of graphic novels. I also checked out an odd action movie classic which instantly made me want to check out its sequel.

So here's what's up, all presented in the convenient form of Amazon links.

Kickstart the Week 29: Purge

Purge is a character that first came about in the mid-1990s, just as Milestone was also coming to reality. Independently produced, it was a decent comic that never quite had visuals that would ever get it far. The art was just too weak to ever get it much mainstream attention.

Fast forward two decades, and original creator Roosevelt Pitt is on Kickstarter hoping to revive the character in Past Unspoken. This time he's recruited two amazing artists to re-design the classic character, Larry Stroman and Mshindo Kuumba, two stellar talents that don't get nearly enough work from the big two. Stroman is most certainly best known for X-Factor and Tribe while Mshindo is a veteran indie artist I've loved since his days drawing Horseman.

Along with a pair of Indian artists, that team hopes to produce a new sixty page graphic novel. The sample pages look great no matter which of the four artists are involved. This truly looks like a beautiful re-invention of a character that never really got his attention twenty years ago.

The cry in the comic industry for black creators creating black characters seems louder now than it has been in years, yet Purge: Past Unspoken currently sits at less than a fifth of the way to goal with just two weeks left. With only a ten dollar buy-in, this seems to be the point where the comic industry needs to put their money where their mouths are.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Jinx

I have a great fondness for the Wolfman and Perez-era New Teen Titans, especially some of the more obscure designs George Perez created for the series. So when I saw that cosplayer Kitsunebaby brought Jinx to life, I couldn't be more happy. UPDATE: As pointed out by Mr. Perez himself in the comments of the old blog, Jinx is not his design but probably that of artist Chuck Patton.

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 SuperPoweredFiction.com!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Gallur Gallery Challenge 1 Results

Image copyright Rafael Gallur.

Last week, I shared the following picture of El Hijo Del Santo in battle and challenged the intrepid readers of this blog to write a paragraph summarizing the vents that caused this scene to occur. I had several fun and amusing responses to this challenge on social media, but sadly only one person followed the rules and posted to the site itself, one Mr. Jeff Deischer. I have read some of Jeff's fiction and he is no slouch at the writing game, so it is no surprise he gave such a great response:
The Son of the Saint, using his God-given ability to sense evil, arrives just in time to prevent the vampire lord Nocturno from killing a trespasser, the beautiful and buxom Misty Callahan, an amateur spelunker from north of the border who stumbled upon the sinister being’s lair while in search of a good cave.

Quick, simple and to the point with the action. I went a slightly different route, but you can see the crosslines in each of our tales, I suspect.
The masked criminal madman Dr. Furioso used his evil genius to kidnap students of the University of Mexico for his mad experiments in human genetic engineering. His actions do not go unnoticed as the heroic protector of the city, El Hijo Del Santo, uses his masterful detective and lucha skills to track down the mad criminal, but not before he kidnaps another young couple from the university. Isabel can only watch as her lover Marcelo is transformed by the mad doctor into a subhuman creature at the beck and call of only Furioso. Isabel tries to escape, but Marcelo is sent to catch her, only for the Son of the Saint to rush to the rescue!

If you want to get in on the next Gallery Challenge, stay tuned as we will launch another one near the end of the month.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Great Art: Storm by Jeremiah Lambert

I admit it: I am a sucker for Ororo Munroe, especially when she goes full mohawk. So earlier this year while I attended Wizard World Des Moines, I could not help but be drawn to this piece by Midwest artist Jeremiah Lambert. It is a stunning image of Ororo and well worth the money I put behind the print version of it. If you like what you see here, give Lambert a look at Facebook or DeviantArt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sick Day

I appear to have the flu weeks ahead of schedule, so I'll be offline for most of the day.

I will be back to regular programming as soon as I can sit up regularly.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kickstart the Week 28: Skeleton Warriors' Grimskull

Back in the mid-1990s, CBS had a 90 minute block in the middle of their Saturday mornings devoted to action adventure series. WildC.A.T.S. and the final animated seasons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were part of it, but my favorite contribution was Skeleton Warriors.

Created by the director of the Masters of the Universe film, the franchise definitely had influences in He-Man or The Visionaries. But in crafting a series around humans turned into evil skeleton soldiers and the super-powered humans framed to stop them, Landmark Entertainment created a unique property with tons of potential. Unfortunately the series never really built to anything nor was it renewed past the initial 13 episode run.

The Skeleton Warriors sat with no new material for nearly 20 years before George and Ayleen Gaspar of October Toys revived the property last year with the Kickstarter funded release of Baron Dark. With that toy released (and awesome), they have moved on to the second figure in the line, the amazing Grimskull.

Grimskull betrayed his brother to the people that became the Skeleton Warriors, only to have a change of heart at the last moment. But his loyalty to light and dark transformed him into something between the super-powered Legion of Light and the corrupted Skeleton Warriors. He became Grimskull.

Now Grimskull is the second release in the October Toys series and he's just as amazing as Baron Dark. With three accessories and a wolf companion, he also is far more ready for combat than his simply sword-wielding foe. About half way into its campaign, the toy is only about a third of the way funded though, cutting into my chances of getting this great figure next year.

So head over to Kickstarter and lend your support to make a great toy a reality.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Cosplay Friday: Venom

Venom is a great character to meld costume design and body paint, as shown here by cosplayer Teresa Tran. This certainly isn’t Eddie Brock, but it is definitely a good look for the character.

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 SuperPoweredFiction.com!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Learn more about the Walking Shadows through ICONS!

I am a big fan of the ICONS superhero role playing game. So when I set out to give biographies to the cast of Walking Shadows, I decided it was the system I used to present my characters to the world.

As I write this, all six of the initial cast members of Walking Shadows are now up at the site. Fans can learn about Rosa, Marilyn, Alli, Cyrus, Stomp and Ian at the ICONS Profile page. It also conveniently gives me an excuse to post public domain pictures of Marilyn’s namesake or to show the great shot of Rosa by Brian Middleton.

So if you have yet to give Walking Shadows a shot, get in on the ground floor by learning a bit more about its leads!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gallur Gallery Challenge 1: The Son of the Saint

I am a big fan of the art of Rafael Gallur, a Mexican artist famous for painted covers in the tradition of Frank Frazetta or Earl Norem. He creates some amazing pieces, many of them for a local lucha libre fiction magazine. Stunning art based on stories of luchador's adventures means I am in.

But like so many amazing covers I often like to come up with stories revolving around great art I know nothing about otherwise. So that is where the Gallur Gallery Challenge begins. I am going to take an image from the amazing Gallur Deviant Art Gallery, post it here and ask anyone interested to write a one paragraph synopsis of what they think is happening. While I will give the luchador or star's name if I know it, I want to challenge folks to not do any research on that figure, instead letting just the picture do the talking. In a week, I'll post my own synopsis before setting up another Gallur Gallery Challenge the next week.

Alright, here is our first image featuring the familiar mask of El Hijo Del Santo, the Son of the Saint. What's happening here? You tell me!

Image copyright Rafael Gallur.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Walking Shadows has a new home!

The sub-site I originally set up on Metahuman Press to run Walking Shadows on has given me more problems than any one page has any right to give. I have overhauled it twice in just a few weeks and the most recent wordpress updates have caused it to improperly load previous pages as the main Metahuman Press page for the umpteenth time. I could keep fixing it with every update, or I could just take the easier solution and set it up with its own blog.

You can now read Walking Shadows at blogspot.

I have reduced the size of previous chapters of Books One and Two down to just one file, which allows easier reading before things pick up with Book Three. Book Three continues in the 400-500 word installments that has been the hallmark of Walking Shadows.

The new home will continue to be updated regularly, but because of the format change will shift to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday format with bonus material inserted between each chapter whenever it ends. This will mean faster releases most of the time, so go ahead and get excited for more great super powered fiction in the weeks ahead!

I have also went back and updated previous links through out Super Powered Fiction in order to make sure every link connects to the new site as opposed to the old, so fans will have no worries getting to new fiction from yours truly!

And if you haven't read Walking Shadows yet, remember you can start from Book One Chapter One at any time!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Best Character Ever 11: Spider-Man

On this Labor Day, I figured there was no better time to talk about Spider-Man.

Romita's swinging Spidey is still one of the character's most iconic images.

Let's be honest, here's no greater working class hero than Spider-Man. Of course, Marvel dropped that element of him years ago to replace him with another super-amazing Marvel scientist, but his media appearances still understand the importance of his working class Queens background.

I grew up nowhere near New York, deep in the Midwest. I was raised in a tiny Iowa town, the kind of place books and movies would call sleepy. Smallville was a city compared to the 3000 person community I spent the first ten years of my life in. But despite that background, I had a love for superheroes from my earliest memories and a show called Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Iceman was my true favorite of the show because I thought ice slides were cool (pun intended). I am pretty sure I had my first crush on Firestar. But Spider-Man was the one with his name on the title card.

I really loved the Lobo brothers.
Art by Sal Buscema. Click for larger view.
By the time I was nine, my brother was regularly buying all three Marvel Spider-Man books at that time: Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man. All three books shared a narrative, but the second two were incredibly closely tied by sharing a writer in Gerry Conway. Along with his artists Sal Buscema and Alex Saviuk as well as the Amazing creative team of Dave Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, Spider-Man entered what I would call his last great renaissance in comics. Newly married to Mary Jane Watson, his wife and him found themselves at the mercy of a crazed businessman turned stalker that crippled their finances, evicted them from their home and got Mary Jane blackballed from her modeling career. Spidey was at his lowest point, only having a home because of the generosity of Harry and Liz Osborn.

I could understand it all perfectly at nine years old. I got being poor as my family never had much money. I could see how someone could be obsessed by Mary Jane and saw stories about corrupt businessmen seemingly daily on a dozen different TV shows. (Yes, it was a cliche even then.) I groked Peter's struggle because it was something I could relate to, even if I wasn't regularly fighting super-powered were-gangsters or helping my friend stay alive against an Albino hitman. I never wore an alien costume or had to fight to keep New York free from a citywide demonic possession. But I could always get Peter Parker.

I think that more than great power and great responsibility, more than his catching thieves just like flies, more than every variation of his origin, is what makes Spider-Man a truly special character. He was someone that no matter how hard life treated him, he always strove to do the right thing.

Alex Saviuk was always my Spider-artist,
making me the weird(er) kid.
Click for larger view
Spider-Man's influence on the superhero landscape cannot be under-estimated. Outside Superman, no one character did more to change the narrative of superheroes in the 21st century. Half the Marvel Universe is built around the storytelling cues first put together by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Even DC got in on the inspiration with books like Firestorm, Blue Devil and New Teen Titans. Comics became as much about the tribulations of everyday life as about the crazy super villain this month.

Even my own characters owe tons to Spider-Man. I always wanted to write characters with more depth than the comics I grew up upon. Even after that late 80s golden age of Spider-Man, I learned a lot about prose superheroics from Diane Duane's excellent Spider-Man: The Venom Factor. (They also served to show how easy it was to make Mary Jane useful, something modern Marvel might have took note of before any Mephisto based retcons.)

Of course, Spidey continues to be a frequently seen character in all Marvel media with his own TV series, two different movie franchises and a third on the way as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All for a kid from Queens with a sense of responsibility. Not too shabby.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Kickstart Lightweight 7: Funded and Successful!

The Lightweight: Beyond Kickstarter closed out just a few dollars over its goal, but a wave of great fans helped put it there and I could not be more grateful to them. Now the hard work of writing the rest of it gets underway. It's been a long journey to make the third book in the series happen, but with the support of fans, Lightweight should become at least an annual release.

On to writing!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kickstart Lightweight 6: time is running out!

I may be quoting Bavmorda there, but it is true about the Lightweight: Beyond Kickstarter. As of this morning, about a day and a half remains to the funding goal for Lightweight.

The project is over the $500 mark now and all backers will receive a free copy of F.O.R.C.E. Book 1 when the book reaches its goal.

With final funding within spitting distance, I just wanted to send out one more message encouraging every fan of super powered fiction to get out there and help make Lightweight happen. Without the support of the people that understand the greatness of superheroes in prose form, people like myself and the other writers of the Pen and Cape Society could not continue to make the great works we bring to life. Thanks for everything all of you do.

The Lightweight: Beyond Kickstarter finishes funding at 6:00 p.m. Central time on Friday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Best Character Ever 10: Hordak

The Masters of the Universe Classics version of Hordak.
Image by MWCToys.com.
I am a huge fan of 80s and 90s cartoons. But often when I am interested in a show with a tie-in toyline, it is the villains that prove as cool as the heroes to me. Never was that more so than with Hordak, leader of the Evil Horde.

I first came across the character through television ads introducing a whole new wave of villains to the Masters of the Universe toyline. The Evil Horde were villains even Skeletor feared. Heck, voiceover Optimus Prime was even warning us to be wary of these fiends. (An aside: it is fun with his current fame just waiting for Peter Cullen to pop up in odd roles in just about every 80s cartoon.)

Hordak re-designed by Stjepan
Sejic. Click for larger view.
Hordak was easily my favorite of the early figures, a menacing figure with a more menacing skull-head than Skeletor and some really cool accessories. But I remember being really angry that I never saw him or his allies on the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. This was actually a reason for me to give up regularly watching the cartoon, which was silly even in my seven year old mind. I still wanted the toys though, but with a heavier focus on M.A.S.K. and Transformers and a parent that did not like all those “demon looking things”, I never saw them.

I later learned that Hordak and the Horde did have their own animated series. She-Ra: Princess of Power needed more villains so they were moved over to menace Adora in a much more tightly written series than He-Man ever got. Hordak actually ruled the world of Etheria, a dark dictator with magical powers and deadly allies.

Of course, much like Skeletor, he would eventually be turned into a joke before the figure and toyline died. Still, I could not get over how visually cool he was. I was disappointed when He-Man was revived in the early 2000s without a new Hordak ever appearing, but the recent Masters of the Universe Classics line finally fixed that with new versions of Hordak, Hurricane Hordak and Buzzsaw Hordak figures.

Hordak promotional art by Alvin Lee.
Click for larger view.
The recent DC comic has made him one of the series’ major villains. It even gave him an origin that ties him to long-time character Zodac. But no media has ever turned him and his group into the super-menace that he always was in my head. While series material established the Horde as something of a malevolent force wiping across the galaxy destroying and pillaging whole planets, no show or material ever gave that to me the way I wanted to see it.

But something about that little plastic man always did. Hordak is a dangerous threat, the leader of a powerful universe spanning evil. It doesn’t hurt that he looks like a million bucks doing it.

In the end, I suspect my vision of Hordak as a child (as opposed to the more bumbling version from She-Ra) really did frame my mindset on what a cosmic scale villain should be like. He seemed like true evil personified, far more than his bright blue, skull-faced counterpart. That image of a galactic level threat certainly played an inspiration to me when I started to frame the Grand Magister in the pages of Lightweight: Beyond, though I'm certain even he won't be as massive a foe as the Hordak of my eight year old imagination.

For more on the modern version of Hordak check out the excellent He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 2: Origins of Eternia from DC Comics.

Keith Giffen's cover for the breathtaking Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Hordak
collected in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kickstart Lightweight 5: more news from around the web!

Over the past few days, Lightweight has made more appearances on three great sites. Over at the comic site Bleeding Cool I wrote a piece about super powered fiction and the Kickstarter. For the great super-fiction group, the Pen & Cape Society I wrote a piece called Lightweight, Kickstarter and series fiction. Finally, the fine folks at the Free Choice E-Zine were nice enough to interview me about Lightweight. All were great pieces and I'm extreme grateful for all the sites to let me have some time.

As I write this, we just went under the 5 day mark on the Kickstarter and we have $218 left until our funding goal. It is quite possible to make up that amount, but I will need all of your help to continue to spread the word about Lightweight. Point people to the free first chapter, let them give it a read and then encourage them to stop by here and help out. With all three books digitally for $10 and in print for $25, it's incredibly easy to get in on the project at the ground floor for anyone.

With only about 72 hours left, now is the time to get in on keeping the adventures of the greatest new hero in super powered prose alive!