Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Influential 8: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures

The heroes and villains of the Adventures Universe illustrated by A.C. Farley.
There’s no doubt about it: some of my most influential years as an adolescent were spent as a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The cartoon debuted in 1987, but didn’t really expand to all markets until 1989. I distinctly remember discovering it during its first experimental week of daily syndication over the summer of that year, right after moving from my home of the first ten years in my life to a school district I absolutely hated. In sixth and seventh grade, the Ninja Turtles quickly became my refuge from the shit that threatened to overwhelm my young life.

But I already was gravitating to comics. I already knew G.I. Joe and Transformers were far better comics than cartoons. I also knew the Ninja Turtles came from comics as I had read the first, third and fourth volumes of the First Comics color collections of the twelve issues that launched the Mirage series. I quickly got a hold of a couple Mirage comics but living in a town of a hundred in the middle of nowhere, Iowa, did not make access to comic specialty shops easy. Thankfully, Archie Comics came to my rescue.

Ninjara is awesome.
Art by Chris Allan.
After an initial three issue limited series in 1988 (probably my first exposure to the characters outside toys), the series started bimonthly in 1989. I bought a few issues but it was shortly after the arrival of the amazing artist Chris Allan that I became hooked. I started with the “Midnight Sun” arc, which introduced The Warrior Dragon, Chien Khan and the Turtles’ soon-to-be-ally Ninjara. The mix of international culture, cool characters and crazed action was everything I wanted in a comic. Allan’s clean line art in the era of a billion hatch lines drew my eye and I was irrevocably a fan of the series.

Mirage veteran Stephen Murphy wrote the series pretty much throughout. And while he often let the series get preachy (though with no depth given to his causes), he wasn’t particularly out of line with the messages of that era’s Archie Comics. The series rarely spent much time in New York either, instead often feeling like a travelogue as the Turtles made their way across the country, the universe and even up and down the timeline.

They met a plethora of allies that would become the Mighty Mutanimals and encountered a bunch of badass threats not seen on the cartoon: Null, Armaggon, Maligna and the like. Krang was barely an afterthought, Bebop and Rocksteady rarely appeared and every time Shredder resurfaced, he was a terribly deadly threat. It was a far cry from the comically inept villains from the cartoon.

When I first started to write novels and short stories set in the Quadrant Universe, I was a bit all over the place. A lot focused around the city of Federation, the so-called Champion City, but as I introduced new locales in Epsilon, A Dangerous Place to Live and various soon to be re-edited and released projects like Mean Streets, Out For Vengeance and Long Hot Summer, I realized that I would never be able to cover every individual story I wanted to write. Many of the heroes whose stories I wanted to tell were quickly consolidated into one super-team: F.O.R.C.E. But that book could never travel to every corner of the universe I wanted.

So I looked back at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures as a resource. I created the four brothers of the Quadrant as a tribute to my already named universe, but also as a celebration of the importance of the number FOUR to comics. And when I looked back at foursomes far and away from Marvel’s classic set, I started to take on the nature of how I wanted the team of Quadrant to interact with the Quadrant Universe. They would see all of it as their adventures continued and TMNT Adventures was definitely the main source of that idea.

Nowadays, IDW Publishing is releasing a pair of monthly Ninja Turtles titles that combine the very best of the Archie and Mirage runs with some great new ideas. I recommend them to everyone. But those books will never be even a quarter as inspirational to me as the classic days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.

If you're interested in the series, the first limited series and 50 issues are now collected in trade by IDW with more to come. Pick them up here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Great Art: Kamen Rider

I've been on quite the Kamen Rider kick as of late. I have a fondness for the visual style of the series, although my connection to it is really only a few bootleg episodes on the early days of streaming internet video and the action sequences from the often otherwise nauseating Saban show Masked Rider. But lately, I've been revisiting the character, perhaps because I'm revisiting an anime and tokakatsu-inspired novel of late while also developing a motorcycle riding superhero of the 1970s. Whatever the reason, I've been looking at some great Kamen Rider art. This piece appears to be by a Chinese artist who apparently goes by the name Tú Bì (according to Google Translate), which in English means Painted Wall. While I literally have no other information about this individual, this piece below is one of several featuring the character in multiple iterations. (If you've got any additional information on the artist, please share it in the comments section. I would love to learn more about them! )

Click for the full-sized version.
Anyone interested in more on the series should check out this handy web resource or check out the first volume of the original comic that inspired it all on Comixology.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kickstart the Week 43: Purge

I like to look at quality Kickstarter projects on Monday mornings on a semi-regular basis. These are projects I think look cool, though I rarely have any extended knowledge of the work beyond the basics of the Kickstarter and its creators.

Purge art by Larry Stroman.
I first talked about Purge nearly a year ago when creator Roosevelt Pitt Jr failed to fund the first issue of his series, a revival of a 90s independent comic character. Pitt spent the year since that time working to get the first issue completed on his own dime, especially impressive considering the art by industry veteran Larry Stroman inside the issue. The new Kickstarter seeks to fund the printing of the first 1000 copies of the comic and features a far more reasonable goal for a relatively unknown name in the comic field.

Just as before, this book looks absolutely gorgeous from top to bottom with art by Larry Stroman, Mshindo Kuumba and the Xong Bros. Check out the full video below or head over to Kickstarter for more details.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Kaneda

The idea of a Kaneda cosplay is awesome enough, but this unnamed cosplayer makes me think an American made version might not be so bad.

As always, 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 on this week!

What's Up for August 26, 2016

What's Up is a simple post where I give you links to the books, comics, movies, games and/or music I have been enjoying as of late. Feel free to check them out if you would like to enjoy them as well or give your opinions of these works in the comments below (though do try to keep it spoiler free.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

F.O.R.C.E. Files 5: Ferret

The Ferret was a Golden Age character without a lot going for him. A hodge-podge of other heroic concepts, he had any powers the writer decided a ferret might have. Then he also had super strength, was bulletproof and strangely could fly. He wore a mess of a costume: blue shirt and leggings, black trunks, red belt, yellow cape and a brown ferret mask.

He isn't exactly the caliber of the Living Legends.

In the early 90s, he was updated by the folks at Malibu Comics along with a bunch of other Centaur characters for their superteam called The Protectors. They kept his name, his secret identity and literally threw out everything else. He was a rockstar figure with the attitude of Wolverine and powers along the same lines.

I came at my version of The Ferret with the same noble savage concept in mind. But I didn't want to throw away his history as the police commissioner turned terribly costumed vigilante. As the former Cal Denton takes the lead, hints drop of a mental break somewhere in his past.

Even as he faces those problems, he's summoned by Legend to work on a team tracking savage killers across the Southwest United States. His ferret abilities serve him well in the battle when the enemies stand revealed, but even they might not be enough to prevent certain tragedy.

To learn more about The Ferret, check out F.O.R.C.E. 5: Ferret, available today at Amazon! You'll be glad you did, as this book sends repercussions throughout the entire F.O.R.C.E. saga.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This guy gets an update tomorrow...

Though he's had an update from a comic company in the past, this golden age character is one I haven't touched until the pages of F.O.R.C.E. Tomorrow he takes the lead as a new story debuts. Stay tuned for details...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Great Art: X by Dean Zachary

Blame this one on final edits of the new chapter of F.O.R.C.E. With my own version of the classic Centaur hero Ferret nearing his first lead story, I started to look back at the work of the guys most famous for working on him as part of Malibu's Protectors. That gave me last week's Tom Derenick art. It also gives me this week's Dean Zachary art.

I absolutely loved the art Zachary provided for The Ferret in a short lived solo series. He went on to work on an issue or two of Night Man, the Hawk & Dove miniseries that introduced the Hawk and Dove no one wanted, the short lived and much missed by yours truly Stargods with the late Scott Clark, and most recently, the reboot of Atlas Comics' Phoenix. But I found this piece he did for Dark Horse's X on his website and it may be one of my favorite pieces of art I've seen from Mr. Zachary. Enjoy, and stay tuned for the debut of the Ferret in the next chapter of F.O.R.C.E. in just a few days.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Teel James Glenn's road from comic hero to pulp writer

Twenty years ago, he dressed like this for a certain comic publisher.

Now he is one of my favorite writers, and I guy I am proud to publish in many of Metahuman Press anthologies. He is also the first person I interview as part of a new series of long form discussions.

Check out my extensive interview with the urban swashbuckler himself, Teel James Glenn, over at Medium.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Reiko Hinomoto

As I sit here and contemplate a new work featuring female wrestlers as the leads, I cannot help but think about the PlayStation 2 game Rumble Roses. Reiko Hinomoto is the star and cover girl of the franchise as well as probably the cleanest cut of all their characters, despite how much skin is on display. She is cosplayed here by Minami Tachibana. Characters owned by Konami.

As always, 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 on this week! Look below to see her alternate identity after the jump and don't forget to check out NXT Brooklyn and WWE Summer Slam this weekend, more about which you can read at The Wrestling Weekday.

See her evil alter ego after the jump!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

F.O.R.C.E. Files 4: Cyber

Like many of my characters, Cyber's existence dates back to my teenage years. His origins lie in several different manga characters that were popular at the time, all of which featured human beings bonded with alien symbiotes with a more armored tone. Or at least, characters whose origins I thought were that, as most were just pictures I would see in various geek magazines, as my actual manga purchases in those days were rather limited by my budget.

He started as a teen hero, but as I crafted a heroic universe with several years of history, I think he became more interesting. John Sprouse was basically a total screw-up with little future. He was a punk that failed at school and, outside some limited skills as a mechanic, was never going to amount to much. He knocked up his girlfriend while still in high school and was pretty much set up for a dead end.

But as a super powered hero, he started to find some success, even as it basically turned him into a deadbeat dad. Eventually he started to reconnect with his lost girlfriend and child, even as his alter ego of Cyber became more widely known. He becomes one of the initial members of F.O.R.C.E. and one of a few heroes that uses the new compound for the team as a home for himself and his family. 

That is the situation as F.O.R.C.E.'s base comes under attack in F.O.R.C.E. 4: Cyber. Check out the full story now on Amazon and Smashwords! It's only 99 cents so give it and the entire F.O.R.C.E. saga a read.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Great Art: Nightside by Tom Derenick

Sometimes I think Robert Weinberg is the one writer to most get the shaft from the transition of Marvel editorial from Bob Harras to Joe Quesada. He wrote an absolutely amazing run of Cable that really redefined the character, only to have it thrown in the garbage in favor of a high military angle that forgot everything Weinberg set up. (Though years later, someone remembered he brought Rachel Summers back to life.)

Fans loved him though and Marvel gave him a new book, Nightside. A creator owned book even, something unheard of in early 2000s Marvel. But that book was destined for an even shorter lifespan as they put basically no effort in supporting Weinberg's work at all.

Still the book featured some of the finest comic art by Tom Derenick, a creator I've known since his early days drawing Malibu's Protectors. He would go on to gain fame as an early Ebay artist, before picking up many a gig at Marvel and DC. I believe he still works for DC now, even if he rarely does any regular series work.

Above is his cover to Nightside issue 2, sans color. It's a great piece, even if the series and character it features are long gone.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Support Super Powered Fiction on Patreon!

Patreon may be the most important platform of our time. It allows for immediate support of creative minds. Usually it comes with exclusive content by said creator. A number of great creators survive through Patreon: whether they be comic creators, musicians, photographers or some kind of multimedia pioneer.

Others are like me, and seek out patrons that might help Super Powered Fiction become a full time reality as a writer. I want to continue to have the time to produce all the great stories I currently have in various states of reality. Many will start appearing in just a few weeks, but I would love to devote more and more time to this site and my writing in 2017 and beyond. 

I am serious about this. I have grand plans to expand Walking Shadows and Lightweight should the fund-raising become more successful. I have eleven goals listed on the site should monthly funds continue to rise. They range from a dedicated domain name for Walking Shadows to paid spot art to the debut of a book tentatively titled Cosmic! as a second web serial. Higher tiers would turn Lightweight into an online for everyone serial as well, gain Walking Shadows a devoted server and beyond. I've actually crafted several more goals should I ever reach that elusive final mark. 

I'm a long way from there at Patreon.

I've got exclusive content over there though. As I'll talk about when the newsletter hits in a couple days, I plan to expand a ton of creative force in the next few months on creating new and interesting ideas, even as I expand upon Walking Shadows, Lightweight and F.O.R.C.E. 

You can help. As little as a dollar a month will get you access to the hidden blog which contains hidden content related to Walking Shadows as well as behind the scene details of the book's corner of the Quadrant Universe. Higher pledges can get you ebooks, website links and advertisements on site. 

If you have ever enjoyed any of my work, the Patreon is now the first and best place to access more of it. Give it a look and please if you can, consider a patronage. Only with your help can creatives like mine move onto the next level of great work in the year's ahead. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Celebrating Jenny Everywhere Day and looking back at my Jenny-related work

It's Saturday and I'm posting? What's going on here?

Turn out today's a very special day. It's Jenny Everywhere Day, folks!

Jenny Everywhere has long been a character that fascinated me. Designed as an open source character available for anyone to use, I found the dimension traveling young lady an interesting heroine that I always wanted to do more with. I already have two short stories featuring the character in my publishing repertoire, though I suspect more will appear as I continue the saga of my personal Jenny.

Diana Nock's great Jenny illustration is featured on
both ebook releases. Find more from her at Jinxville.
“Past Prologue” introduced my version of Jenny Everywhere to the world and gives her something of an origin point. She starts out in the real world (more or less) but she will quickly start on adventures that will push the boundaries of what I have already established in the Quadrant Universe. The new tale creates some plot point hints that will come to play in future chapters.

“Troll-Hunted”, first published in 2014, continued Jenny's journey as she first stumbled upon the multiverse's nexus Anywhere. It also reveals a threat still hunting Jenny. Who is that mysterious threat? Well that is still to be revealed!

A third Jenny Everywhere story is now in the planning stages for release, as previous stories were, on August 13 of next year. It should be the longest Jenny story so far as I start to connect the short pieces already released with a few new revelations about our friend Jenny.

In the meantime, make sure to check the Jenny Everywhere Day site all day long as it brings new art and stories featuring this unique and entertaining character.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Christie Monteiro

Hey, it turns out the Olympics are going on right now. And it just so happens they are in Brazil. So why not celebrate with the greatest Brazilian athlete in video games not named Pele or Blanka! Tekken's Christie Monteiro is brought to glorious life here by the gorgeous model and Suicide Girl Kurosune.

As always, 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 on this week!

What's Up: August 12, 2016

What's Up is a simple post where I give you links to the books, comics, movies, games and/or music I have been enjoying as of late. Feel free to check them out if you would like to enjoy them as well or give your opinions of these works in the comments below (though do try to keep it spoiler free.)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Melinoe fights for her life in a new chapter of Walking Shadows!

Melinoe isn't anyone's favorite person. But her list of enemies stretches back long into the history of the Quadrant Universe. In today's Walking Shadows, some of of those enemies have sent assassins after the goddess of nightmares. And while Keith's duty as a River City police officer turned him into her erstwhile defender, that doesn't mean he has a shot in hell of surviving an encounter with Pleasure and Pain.

The start of a new chapter of the ongoing online super powered serial Walking Shadows continues this month's focus on Melinoe. Tuesday also brought a new Casting Call featuring the character and a lesser known actress with a role on one of my favorite modern series.

If you know this face already, you watch
some good historical adventure.
Remember the entire Walking Shadows saga, over 150 pages of super-drama remain free at the Walking Shadows website. New readers can start from the beginning, while longtime readers are ready to learn Melinoe's future today!

Read the beginning of Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 26, featuring Melinoe.

The mystery of "The Pilgrim"

I created The Pilgrim as a short story near the end of my fifty-two stories in fifty-two weeks back in 2014. Released on Thanksgiving Day, it was a web only tale, a conscious choice at the time to play with publishing avenues. Of course, that version of Super Powered Fiction died in a fire thanks to the abominable web host Arvixe and since that time the tale sat out of print.

Until today.

The Pilgrim has now joined Claus Vs. Kong, The Scavenger and The Editor at Wattpad.

While I have only hinted at the larger corners of the Quadrant Universe, I certainly have introduced figures of great power. Doctor Cosmic and The Grand Magister certainly fit that bill as important figures from beyond Earth, but I didn't really have a force-of-nature type character with a mystical bent. Heck, I've barely explored the mystic end of the universe at all.

And while The Pilgrim is a short work (under a thousand words), it hints at a greater figure, a spirit bent on righting wrongs of a more personal nature. This is his first appearance, but he will be back in other tales, as he comes face to face with the heroes of the Quadrant Universe, heroes that might not be as keen on his personal brand of vengeance.

Read The Pilgrim at Wattpad. Or check out the handy embedded version below.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Great Art: Batman and Ninja Turtles by Mike Allred

Two franchises that definitely enter my mind regularly are Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And while I found the recent crossover comic between the two someone so-so, I cannot rave enough about the covers it provided. As I contemplate my own team of four heroes today, I thought it would be great to pull out art by one of my favorite creative minds in the world: Mike Allred.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Number 300

Neither the comic nor film have anything to do with
this post, but what picture goes better with that title?
Once upon a time, comics had high numbers. I remember distinctly seeing several titles hit the three hundred mark as a kid: books like Daredevil and Uncanny X-Men and Avengers.

And while Marvel and DC stopped caring about high numbers (outside Action Comics and Detective Comics 900+ issue recent renumbering), I still love to see anniversaries of high numbers. While Lightweight is presented in three books, for me its fifteen chapters in with five more planned for next spring. If I ever produce an omnibus of Lightweight volumes, I plan to include the classic numbering throughout.

This is a long way of announcing this is the 300th post on this version of Super Powered Fiction. To celebrate, I'm going to look back at some of my personal favorite posts as well as posts that drew you, the fans, in.
  • Designing a Hero 1: Lightweight: My look at the work I went through with the ever-talented Brent Sprecher on designing the trademark look of Lightweight. Nothing quite lives up to the experience of seeing a character brought to life. Brent made the alter ego of Kevin Mathis look even better than I could imagine.
  • Great Art: Big Jim's P.A.C.K. vs. Hydra: MC Wyman drew an amazing piece for me, featuring Lightweight, which I somehow still haven't shared here. (Sounds like a future post.) But check out this amazing piece featuring a 70s Kirby-designed military unit against Marvel's evilest organization.
  • Best Character Ever: The Straight Edge Society: I don't pretend to not be a wrestling fan as readers of The Wrestling Weekday can attest, but I also have a fascination with cult mentality. The Straight Edge Society may be the most unique cult ever presented in fiction, right down to leader CM Punk's declaration he was trying to be Satan in his role. I look at the greatness of the faction, even as I ready a massive cult that will change the shape of the Quadrant Universe over the years ahead. (How's that for a tease?)
  • I Watch Almighty Thor so you don't have to!: As Sinister Squad hits DVD, it seems best to share one of my favorite Asylum mockbusters: Almighty Thor. In a film no one will ever confuse with Chris Hemsworth's take on the character, the filmmakers certainly took some interesting "creative" choices. Learn about them and be amused. 

Those are far from the only posts on the site, as I talk about my characters, my storytelling and my own favorites on the regular. But Those four posts are a great place to start seeing the awesome of Super Powered Fiction.

And those same kind of awesome posts, continue tomorrow!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Introducing Super Powered: the newsletter

The one thing I've been missing out with for a very long time is an email newsletter. I wanted an easy way to send curated content to my followers on a monthly(-ish) basis. More importantly I wanted to give my readers a quick and easy way to learn about new work both by me and other great super powered fiction authors.

So I am proud to introduce Super Powered, now available for easy signup through Tiny Letter.

The plan is to provide updates on works in progress and upcoming releases. But I also plan to run a short interview in each newsletter. I'll also give a few thoughts on great books I've read of late, or comics, or movies, or shows, or whatever. Finally, it will also have an open email address that serves as another forum for fans to discuss each newsletter, some of which will be reprinted and responded to in future newsletters.

The backers of the Kickstarter projects I ran in the past three years are already signed up (if they expressed the desire to be). But anyone can sign up, simply by heading over to the newsletter landing page and entering your email address. Or you can just look below and enter your email address into that handy little box below. How convenient is that?

Jump on board today. The first newsletter will launch late this week.

powered by TinyLetter

Friday, August 5, 2016

Cosplay Friday: Daphne

I will never make a secret of the fact I am more of a Velma guy, but I cannot deny that this cosplayer (whose name I sadly cannot locate) makes one fine Daphne. She makes me want to go back and marathon Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated right now.

As always, 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 on this week!

What's Up: August 5, 2016

What's Up is a simple post where I give you links to the books, comics, movies, games and/or music I have been enjoying as of late. Feel free to check them out if you would like to enjoy them as well or give your opinions of these works in the comments below (though do try to keep it spoiler free.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

An overview of the Quadrant releases so far

Quadrant has been a regularly series of connected short stories for two years now. The final two releases are planned for later this year, but I wanted to make sure I pointed out the amazing four stories in the series so far.

"Attack of the Demon" introduces the four metahuman brothers at the core of the book—Jigsaw, Cinder, Engima and Kodiak—as well as their father and their fully human ally Emma Briscoe, They battle a group of enhanced ninjas known as the Hidden Demon, but only begin to open the mystery of their creation.

"Life in the Big City" focuses on Cinder, the flame powered brother and leader of the team, as he heads to New York to track down a lead on the brothers' origins. He ends up embroiled in a super powered murder mystery and meets the carrier of a legendary weapon from the past.

"The Creeping Horror from South of the Border" gives Kodiak a chance to shine on his own. The fun-loving brother learns personal secrets about his past as he teams with the famed hero Jaguar Maximo and his luchador squad of investigators to uncover an infestation of seas monsters in the Rio Grande.

"The Future Shock" I have written about when it released last year. Enigma takes the lead in the new story as the brother addled by his omniscience finds himself suddenly cut off from time and his mind empty. He also meets the only love interest a character as confused as he is could ever have. This tale also introduces Tempus Dux, a major future threat to the team and the entire Quadrant Universe.

The next chapter of the story is entitled "The Fight to Survive." Scheduled for publication in September, it will turn the focus to the final brother Jigsaw as many of the plot threads running through the series finally start to come together. Stay tuned for more details on that story very soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

You Should Read This 1: COPRA

Three years ago, I first posted my thoughts on Michel Fiffe's excellent COPRA series. Since that time, trade paperbacks became available easily through Diamond Distribution and digital copies have went on sale from Comixology. I've continued to buy the book in trade in the years since, and it remains one of the best reads on the market today. Here's my original thoughts on the title.

For nearly a year now it seemed like no matter what comic site I frequented, I heard nothing but how great Michel Fiffe’s COPRA is. It has been reviewed several times over and its basic premise was enough to make me instantly interested. Fiffe set out to flesh out his love for the classic Ostrander/Yale/McDonnell Suicide Squad. He did so by creating his own team with basic analogues of the classic team: Amanda Waller, Duchess, Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Vixen and even Shade the Changing Man. But he goes beyond that with homages. One of the leads is a teenage boy that clearly looks like Michael Fleischer and Vince Giarrano’s Haywire. In an early issue they go see a man with an uncanny resemblance to Doctor Strange.

In other words, it’s all great fun inspired by a comic I really, really liked already.

It took me awhile to take the plunge on this book. I don’t buy that many print comics today. Fiffe told me on Twitter months ago that a digital edition was not in the works in any way. So when he started to produce COPRA Compendium collections of the issues with Bergen Street Productions, I was finally convinced to take the plunge.

He's not Deadshot, but he's better written than the actual modern Deadshot.
And I couldn’t be more pleased. Each book is 72 packed pages of glorious full color art and compelling layouts. The story expands from the beginning of the first issue in the first book to its conclusion in the sixth issue that closes book two. And in the middle, the story goes from a simple “team on the run” story to a compelling tale of a dozen men and women, most of them just looking for a place in a very strange world. It reminds me a lot of Casey and Scioli’s Gødland, albeit slightly more grounded. Considering Gødland is one of my favorite comics of the last decade that is far from faint praise.

I would read a Rebirth Haywire comic, but
this is the closest I will ever come.
More impressively, Michel Fiffe literally does everything in this book. He pencils, inks, colors and letters the entire thing. He hasn’t covered his process in high detail, but it appears all that work is impressively done by hand. Only Erik Larsen has ever tried to do anything close and his lettering was not strong. Fiffe proves to be an impressive talent just by his range of skills on display here.

Single issues of COPRA go for five bucks plus shipping and the two Compendium editions go for 12 each, so these are not cheap comics. I dropped thirty dollars with shipping for these two copies, but I will say with little doubt that I will keep buying Fiffe’s work after this. He’s the kind of guy that is worth supporting in his endeavors.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A look at the mock-up for 1812: The Secret War

Above is the cover mockup I designed for my 1812: The Secret War (working title) novel project. I finished over 50,000 words of the novel as part of National Novel Writing Month in November 2013, where I originally used this cover as a placeholder on the project page. It went through multiple revisions since then and gained a new ending, but it remains one of the my favorite—and most unique—works I have ever created.

The book is set to be published in June 2017, exactly 205 years after the original War of 1812 began.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Comics aren't for kids anymore... and maybe not for me either

As my writing schedule picks up more and more on a daily basis, I find myself reading less and less of what was once my primary source for superheroes in action: comic books.

My family's financial issues brought my comic purchases to a halt and I used that time to severely prune my pull list from my local comic shop. I went from a few dozen titles to about half of that, with several more cuts coming when limited series or current storylines come to an end.


As the song says, the thrill is gone.

Marvel has become little more than a sales scheme disguised as a publisher. DC has a never-ending identity crisis. Image continues to launch a ton of titles with limited or no interest to me. Even the independents don't feel like they have much interest in unique and thrilling visions of heroic fiction.

My habit isn't gone completely. I can still call out a few comics I won't give up. IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is probably the best action comic on the stand, while the out there antics of Fred Perry's Gold Digger the most fun (and the subject of a future Influential.) Ninjak at Valiant and Dept. H at Dark Horse prove Matt Kindt to be one of the few unique new voices of comics. Future Quest brings heroes I've wanted to see interpreted seriously for decades. Mark Waid's Archie, Marguerite Bennett's Insexts and Joe Casey's Sex remain compelling every month and will keep me aboard for the foreseeable future.

But beyond those titles, my pull list is mostly titles I'm curious enough to try or runs I know will be done within a year. It saddens me how little even DC Rebirth really thrills me. I want to love these books, but I just can't seem to care about anymore big revelations or character changes that mean little in the long run. The illusion of change isn't something I want anymore.

Maybe I'm just getting old. Or maybe it's time comics try to truly expand their audience instead of focusing on aging heroes and hipster trends. I'll leave that one up to you.

Reminder: Get your Super Powered Fiction Bundle today!

Just a reminder that the Super Powered Fiction Bundle remains available until August 31st. While the finances of the Ahlhelm family are in better shape than they were in late June and July, we still have a long way to go. Fans can now pick up over two dozen novels and short stories at a low price with ease as we continue to make an effort to raise more money to keep things on the upswing.

All you have to do to pick up a copy is donate at least $20 to the GoFundMe. I'll send a link to the books within a day. Click the button below to donate.