Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year, and a new look for the Quadrant Universe!

2018 is wrapping up. With 2019 around the corner, it was time to up the look of the Quadrant Universe. With that in mind, meet the logo that will adorn all the new releases as they drop starting in just two short days with the publication of Quadrant 6 on Patreon!

Be prepared to see a lot of this in the days and weeks ahead, folks, as there's a ton of new super powered fiction heading your way!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Great Art: Magnus, Robot Fighter by Craig Rousseau

Magnus is one of those weird characters that has fascinated me since his days at Valiant. He's not exactly a superhero in a traditional sense, yet he is a super powered being in the distant future fighting the all encompassing threat of a robotic horde. Or at least he is, when he's not appearing in a Steampunk variant of his original appearances, as in this variant cover art by the always amazing Craig Rousseau.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Christmas Eve! Enjoy Claus vs. Kong for free!

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Kong attacked the North Pole? You haven't? Why not? It's only the best holiday tale ever!

And did I mention I'm sharing it with you, dear readers, free?

You can head over to Wattpad and check the story out for your own bit of holiday cheer! As the savage beast rampages across the factories of Santa and company, everything falls to one brave elf with a plan to save the day! I hope you enjoy it and be sure to let me know what you thought of it when you're finished!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Cosplay Friday: Harley and Ivy, Christmas style

I mentioned it in last week's Great Art, but I decided this year would be a Harley and Ivy themed Christmas. The holiday themed versions of our favorite Gotham City Sirens are portrayed here by Uncanny Megan and Emi Smile. Fine work from both as well as Emotive Lite Photo!

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 from yours truly this week!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Young DC heroes in prose - thoughts on Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Catwoman: Soulstealer

Just over a year ago, DC and Random House teamed up to produce the DC Icons series, novels telling the tales of young DC characters. The titles don't seem to have any particular connection other than that theme and a rogue's gallery of well known young adult writers providing the stories. With two books of the released three now under my belt, I thought I'd share some thoughts on both.

The Batman book remains on my to-be-read pile! 
Wonder Woman: Warbringer twists the back story of Diana and gives her an adventure in Man's World years before Steve Trevor arrives. Instead, she rescues a young girl named Alia when she washes up on Themyscira's shores. Unfortunately for Diana, she soon learns Alia isn't just a normal girl, but a Warbringer, a living trigger for war in the world.

The plot quickly expands to introduce Alia's friends and her brother Jason, even as forces beyond her control seem to attack Alia and Diana from every corner. Much of the story is spent hopping from Alia and Diana's point of views as they get to know each other, but Diana is far less a fish out of water than in most tellings of her origin. A major twist hits two-thirds through the book to reveal the true villain and the tale rushes to a speedy finish there.

Leigh Bardugo is a fantasist in her regular work and perhaps that explains some of the slog her character interactions often seem to be. The time between leaving Themyscira and reaching the site of the final battle often feels disjointed and with little clear path. Because of this, the middle really weighs the rest of the story down. The conclusion makes up for a lot of those issues, but it just doesn't feel like Bardugo had enough to fill three hundred plus pages in an entertaining way.

The same cannot be said for Sarah J. Maas' Catwoman: Soulstealer. The roughest part of the tale is an extended introduction set a few years before the main action as teenage Selina is taking care of her ailing sister Maggie while earning a living as part of the girl gang of fighters known as the Leopards. This portion ends badly for Selina as she's arrested and about to be locked away for a long time before Talia Al Ghul intercedes and invites her into the League of Assassins. And while this section feels overly long, every page of it is essential in defining Selina and her motivations for the rest of the novel.

Fast forward two years and Selina returns to Gotham as Holly Vanderhees, a wealthy socialite. She's graduated from the League, but has betrayed them in coming to Gotham with a prize she's looking to sell far greater than anyone could imagine. She quickly sets up her work as Catwoman which brings her into conflict with Batwing. With Batman out of the city, Luke Fox is in charge of defending it and one of the best parts of the book is how compelling Maas makes both Selina and Luke as their narratives bounce back and forth.

I expected the cast to be limited mostly to those two figures, but Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn end up playing significant roles, with a bevy of other Gotham regulars making cameos at least. The tale races along with two characters that stay compelling and a plot that's always moving forward.

Maas knows the lore of these characters well and embraces it rather than ignores it. Dozens of Gotham locations used previously appear as do several well known elements related to the characters I've mentioned already and a few more. Maas revels in crafting her own take on these ideas and the result is an epic novel that makes me wish she would write more contemporary heroic fiction.

Both Warbringer and Soulstealer bring new ideas to old characters, but it's only Maas's Catwoman tale that truly excels at it. Both books are available pretty much anywhere books are sold, so check them out if you haven't already and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A December to dismember! (WIP Wednesday)

Blame Extreme Championship Wrestling for that punderful title, as they gave us the original event of the same name in 1995. WWE pretty much destroyed the relaunched ECW with a pay-per-view of the same name a decade later. (It was a whole lot of not good.)

It's been a tough few weeks. Health issues kicked my depressive tendencies into high gear and familial situations ramped up my own need to retreat from a lot of the world. I've focused a bit more time into a few games instead of putting a lot of it into writing, either here on the blog or on books.

But I am continuing progress on Lightweight. I hoped to finish the last two chapters before the end of the month so that the first drafts would all be prepped for the January launch of all new stories on the Patreon. While I still have months and months to get them done before they would actually debut, that doesn't mean I don't want to make sure readers can know they will see everything come out in a timely manner with work done months in advance.

My plans for the final two weeks of the month consist mostly of getting the last few rewards for December sent out on Patreon, then to make sure everything is up and ready for January and February on the Patreon. From there, I plan to wrap up the fourth book of Lightweight, then move on to completing the first full year of Quadrant and Shockwave. After that, I'm in the free and clear to start on 2020's slate of stories for the site!

Not much news otherwise as I ramp up for the Christmas holidays. Next week's posts will likely be light on content, so you can expect to see your next WIP Wednesday after the first of the year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A few thoughts on Wonder Woman (Tuesday Throwback)

With Aquaman out soon, it seemed  a good time to take a look back at another DC gem of the last few years!

Big props to the film for just making sure they stopped to
have this photo actually taken mid-film. 
The DCEU's Wonder Woman is the first modern DC movie to do what Iron Man and Avengers did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Patty Jenkins, writer Allen Heinberg and star Gal Gadot created a Wonder Woman far superior to her comic counterpart.

I suspect Heinberg can take a lot of credit for that. A noted television writer, he took a story by Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs (with some reported input by Geoff Johns) and crafted a great film script that stayed true to the character while keeping the storyline fresh. While this was his first movie script, he does have a history with comics, writing the excellent Young Avengers for Marvel and the six issue Who is Wonder Woman? run for DC.

Patty Jenkins also has a bit of comic to movie pedigree. While she hasn't directed a movie since the critically acclaimed Monster way back in 2003, she was at one point attached to Thor: The Dark World. She left that movie due to differences with the MCU's creative staff. With this film in her repertoire and The Dark World still sitting as one of the worst MCU movies, it seems she might have taken a wise career path.

But Gal Gadot really brings the film home. An ensemble player up to this point, she shined as the centerpiece of the film. She brought Diana to life in a way no one has quite captured before (with all due respect to Lynda Carter.) She made the character her own, while embodying so many of the best parts of her history.

Clearly the creators (with comic enthusiast Heinberg at the fore front) drew from dozens of DC Comics runs to make this Wonder Woman. From the earliest issues of the character (where Doctor Poison is drawn), to the Perez run (where this version of Ares and the Amazons have their origins) to the New 52's Azzerello / Chiang run (where her secret origin as Zeus' daughter originated). And while all those runs had moments of triumph, the film somehow combines those elements into a whole better than its parts. It's a true achievement by the team guiding the DCEU and hopefully, the first sign of a better future for the Extended Universe.

If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend Wonder Woman to any super-fan. It's the kind of film it is hard to be disappointed in. You can check it out through digital streaming now or pick it up on Blu-Ray September 19th.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The secret origin of the Living Legends!

I have made no secret of my interest in playing with public domain characters to form a foundation for the Quadrant Universe. This was a purposeful choice on my part, but it vastly predates the era of convenient wikia sites for such characters. When I first started to develop Living Legends it was all from a very cool book called the Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes by Jeff Rovin. Published in the early eighties, it attempted to be a comprehensive list of every superhero created up until that point. It also featured dozens of public domain figures I started to cobble together into a story idea.

From that the Living Legends concept was born, as eighteen of those characters are lost in time only to resurface seventy years after their disappearance. The foundation predated comic projects like Project: Superpowers and The Twelve by a few years, even if my final released volume came far later.

Old Soldiers was supposed to serve as the first novel of a trilogy. It stands on its own but leaves plot threads dangling for future installments for that reason. But as I set out to work on the second volume of the series, I quickly realized at the time I wasn't quite ready to bring it to life just yet. It was a complicated concept to begin with, and I found that I wasn't able to pull together the disparate threads as well as I would like for the ongoing series.

That makes it one of several projects I hope to finish over the next two to three years. I have any number of works set to expand the Quadrant Universe as a whole, and the next two Living Legends volumes are a significant part of that.

Don't let their delay though make you avoid reading the second book in the ongoing Quadrant Universe saga though. Living Legends: Old Soldiers introduces a plethora of new characters, many of which will eventually surface in other corners of the universe. And I don't want anyone to miss the origins of Lady Foulplay or The Coward, or the dark secrets of The Dart and Ace. There's a ton of adventure waiting ahead in these pages!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Great Art: Holidays with Harley and Ivy by Bill Walko

Bill Walko is a super-talented artist that has kind of become the go-to-guy for fun character art online. He's since branched into his own comic series with The Hero Business which features page after page of his fun visuals. But as a holiday treat here on the blog, I thought I'd share his amazing rendition of the holidays for Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

This is part one of a two week holiday celebration with the coolest couple in Gotham, so stay tuned for a special Cosplay Friday next week as well!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

That's My Jam 4: Somewhere Over the Rainbow by IZ

Sometimes I think it's pure emotion that makes covers work far better than the originals. Perhaps it might be sacrilege for the Judy Garland fans out there, but her rendition has nothing on the power of Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, the late Hawaiian singer known colloquially as IZ. A powerful singer often with just his ukulele accompanying, he's a singular talent known these days as "the voice of Hawaii." He brings a new meaning to the song in his performance of it. If you haven't heard it before, you might just be a bit surprised.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Life's derailments, or a migraine a day... (WIP Wednesday)

It's been a tough week framed with the return of an old enemy: migraines. This has slowed my process quite a bit. 

Most of the work I've accomplished over the week has been on lunches and short stretches away from home and a computer, writing in a notebook. I've worked on much of Lightweight this way over the last few months. 

Outside of this, my focus has been mostly on trying to keep the headaches from derailing me completely. This has slowed my writing down a bit, but shouldn't impact the full roll out of the Patreon at the beginning of January. 

Beyond that, I've been playing quiet games and mostly just working to stay distracted from the pain as much as possible. It's been an up and down process, but usually my bouts with headaches leave me within a week or two arrival. 

While I'm busy recovering though, you can bring a bit of joy to my day. If you've been reading my work please head over to Amazon or Goodreads and give it a review! Every single review helps more readers find the work, and you will earn my unending gratitude and brighten my day just a bit more.

Today's image is a much more elegantly photographed image of a headache than I could ever produce, all thanks to the talented Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Casting the MCU's Fantastic Four! (Tuesday Throwback)

I originally posted this article almost a year ago and we are still waiting for the Disney / Fox deal to close once and for all. With the MCU debut of Fantastic Four somewhere in our future, here's my choices again for the perfect FF cast. 

As I write this, the announcement was just made a few minutes ago. Disney is buying Fox and the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties will soon return to Marvel Studios. While a few folks are talking about what this means for the X-Men franchise, I'm personally far more interested in how it would effect the one property Marvel Studios desperately needs to handle, just to save it from the mediocrity it has suffered in three films so far.
    It is time for a great Fantastic Four film. 

    All they need is some matching spandex.
    Let's keep the premise simple and as close to the classic origin as possible. They fly into space, get exposed to some kind of galactic space goo / Negative Zone force / Dormammu spit / whatever and get super powers. They crash back on Earth and learn they have gained freakish abilities. Reed decides to use this in the best way his capitalist mind can think: by turning them into a business. 

    As they reach their first levels of success and fame, Reed's old rival Victor Von Doom resurfaces. The Eastern European aristocrat (hell, make him overlord of the remains Sokovia instead of Latveria now) has used his genius to replicate the technology of Tony Stark, but his time training under the Ancient One gives him a different perspective on the world of tech. He's still got a major hate on for Reed, who seems to have lucked into all the success Doom struggled to get. So he sets up to fight the heroes. He brings in one big MCU guest star as a dupe to ground and pound the team before the final battle between the heroes and him. 

    An end credit scene shows the impending arrival of the Silver Surfer and quite frankly set up a whole new phase of Marvel films. 

    It's far more simple a story than any other attempt to modernize the team for modern movies while delivering some room for laughs and character development. 

    Let's take a look at my cast, in the order I would expect to see them in the credits: 

    Eddie Redmayne as Victor Von Doom: Eddie may be swamped under by the next four Fantastic Beasts films, but he is spot on the guy that can play Doom to a tee. He can play down to earth, pathos and isn't unwilling to transform himself for a role. And if Jupiter Ascending proved anything, it is that he can go over the top as a villain with ease. 

    Saoirse Ronan as Susan Storm: Ronan is young, blonde and an infinitely better actress than the two women she replaces. While she's avoided blockbusters for the most part, she would be a spot on choice to build a more full fledged Invisible Woman than we've been given in the past. She's easily the most powerful member of the FF and it's time we're giving an actor and a movie that can show it.

    Armie Hammer as Ben Grimm: I'm not sure if Armie has given up on the "I need to be a thing" thing yet, but he'll probably never make it as a major leading man. But Hammer is a great player in his previous blockbuster attempts. He could make a great giant rock monster, whether or not the movie wants to go full CGI or use makeup effects. 

    Ross Lynch as Johnny Storm: The hothead of the Fantastic Four goes to a man most famous now for playing a serial killer in My Friend Dahmer. But as a veteran to the Disney Channel, Lynch is pretty much built to play a slightly smarmy but great looking guy that loves the spotlight. Kids love him and with about twenty pounds of muscle packed on, he could be Marvel's next hot young thing. 

    Zac Oyama as Reed Richards: The most unknown of the actors in my list, but the College Humor regular has acting chops plus the comedy talent to make the inherent silliness of stretching powers really work. Zac has played super smart and socially inept before during shorts, and that makes me think he's got what it takes to make a young Reed come to life. And if Kelly Marie Tran can make the leap from CH to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Zac could do the same for the Marvel Universe.

    Matt Smith as the Silver Surfer: The only former Doctor (at the moment) not yet cast in a Marvel movie or show would be the perfect man to bring a quirky alien fascinated by humanity to life. While Surfer in many ways is an ultra-powerful version of the good Doctor, I suspect Smith could bring some interesting differences between the two and hopefully set himself up for an eventual spinoff film. 

    Introducing: ? as Alicia Masters: I have to cast an unknown as Alicia Masters, as I think it might be a great time for Disney/Fox/Marvel to show off their diversity creds by hiring an actually blind actress for the role. It might add a few headaches to the filming process, but would be worth it just for authenticity's sake. 

    Featuring: Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk: Oh, come on! We all want to see The Thing fight The Hulk on the silver screen. Doom could easily use the big guy as a tool in his plot setting up a big fight between the two while the rest of the FF have to deal with Doom himself. It could make for a great climax and set up another "puny god" style moment. 

    What do you think of this cast and plot? Who do you want to see in a MCU Fantastic Four? Let me know in the comments! 

    Monday, December 10, 2018

    The Spirit of America reborn! A few words on the star of 'A Dangerous Place to Live'

    Despite starring in the very first book released in the saga of the Quadrant Universe, Freedom Patton's origins actually come much later than many of my characters.

    I grew up in the 80s and 90s, but by the time I started to really start writing it was a post-9/11 world. I don't think those that were still young or not born yet on that day understand exactly how that shaped so many people's lives whether they were personally affected by the tragedy or not. By the time the attacks happened, I already started to develop the concept of what a modern day American hero might look like. Most patriotic heroes have their basis in the 40s. Even as much as I love Mark Gruenwald's work on Captain America, his attempts at 90s patriots in Jack Flag and Free Spirit were... limited. So I set out to create a disillusioned hero for a disillusioned America.

    After 9/11, the origins of the character came into perspective. The Quadrant Universe has a long line of patriotic heroes behind it, but Freedom is unique among them. He isn't a costumed superstar living on his family's legacy. He's an average American from a broken time and a broken world.

    By the time A Dangerous Place to Live starts, he's years into his story. He's suffered from betrayal, both his own and others. He's seen the country, both the best and the worst. But he always has the mission. Always has the voices of the people guiding him forward.

    If the Spirit of America is broken? What would it look like? That is the tale of Freedom Patton in a nutshell. It's heady stuff, but it all is wrapped in an action-packed tale filled with monsters and super-beings and a quest to carve out a kingdom in the heart of America. It's prescience only seems to have grown since I wrote the first draft over a decade ago.

    You can get a copy on Amazon or half a dozen other online retailers. Subscribers to the Super Powered newsletter also can get a copy for a bit lower price. (Free counts as a lower price right?) And if you do read it, please consider giving it even the briefest ranking or review on Amazon or Goodreads. Every review helps bring more readers to the work!

    Today's image is from Josh Johnson on Unsplash.

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    Cosplay Friday: Spider-Gwen

    Along with Miles Morales, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham, Gwen Stacy a.k.a. Spider-Gwen a.k.a. Ghost Spider will soon make her motion picture debut. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to feature the character on this week's Cosplay Friday. Gwensday Addams does an amazing job bringing her to life here. Feel free to check out more of her stuff at her Facebook.

    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 from yours truly this week!

    Thursday, December 6, 2018

    Neil Gaiman on Impostor Syndrome

    Sometimes as an independent writer in a vast ocean of independent writers, often isolated from anyone else interested in writing the kind of stories I want to write, it's easy to feel like I'm just faking it really well. This isn't a unique feeling by any means, nor is it really unusual. Most human beings have self-doubts and for people with a lot of them like yours truly, it often feels like you're just waiting for everyone to realize you're an awful fallible human being. I've read several great works that discuss what is called impostor syndrome, but perhaps the most compelling argument of all was shared by Neil Gaiman on his blog:

    I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things.  And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things. 
    On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
    And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.” 
    And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

    That right there gives me a lot of strength whenever I read it. Because even two great Neils, one the first to do something no one before him could do, and the other one of the finest writers of his time.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    The First, but not the last! (WIP Wednesday)

    It's mostly been a weekend of relaxing here at Super Powered Fiction Central! This has been on purpose as I cool off from spitting out 50,000 words in thirty days as part of NaNoWriMo. The First: Hero's Dawn isn't quite finished yet, but it will rest for a bit as I make sure I've got the first three months of stories set for the huge roll-out of twice monthly (or more) new fiction on Patreon.

    I'm also getting things prepped for the roll-out of another top ten wrestlers for the year ending 2018 over at the Wrestling Deep End, as well as writing about recent independent shows I've attended.

    Next up on my docket is the wrap of Lightweight Book Four, more Shockwave and then finishing up The First: Hero's Dawn. From there, I'll then wrap Quadrant Book Two before pulling out a couple older works to finally bring to an end.

    So I have lots of plans ahead... but not much to talk about for them right now! I'm sure I'll have more in the near future however, as things get ready to launch for the next wave of Lightweight tales in just a few short weeks!

    Today's image is of D'Compose, a great villain from the classic cartoon Inhumanoids, by artist Kelly Williams. I've had giant monsters from beneath the ground in my head for awhile lately, so it seemed fitting to share this one here!

    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    Tuesday Throwback - Enter the mind of Enigma in Quadrant: 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

    Monday, December 3, 2018

    A quick site note

    I'm just checking in to let everyone know that things are going well, but I'm still in full recovery mode from NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for a Throwback post tomorrow followed by a return to the regular schedule after.

    Bonus Typhoid Mary cosplay by Florencia Sofen just because I recently bought the new action figure. Thankfully for toy aisles, she was not wearing this exact costume...

    See you in a couple days everyone!

    Thursday, November 29, 2018

    Great Art: Shi by Amanda Conner

    Following her work on Gargoyles, some of Amanda Conner's earliest comics work came on Tomoe, the spinoff of the original Shi: Way of the Warrior series. So it's great to see her still drawing the character time to time like in the sample here!

    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    Great Art: Justice Society by Mike Allred

    We continue the week of Great Art with Madman and Batman 66 artist Mike Allred drawing another retro-inspired team, the Justice Society of America!

    Tuesday, November 27, 2018

    Great Art: X-23 by Ray-Anthony Height

    There's always some amazing work out there, by some amazing talents. One of the things I like to do, especially on weeks like this where I just share great art, is bring out some names that I don't think get enough recognition. Ray-Anthony Height is definitely a guy that fits that bill. So check out his amazing rendition he calls Weapon X-23 below!

    Monday, November 26, 2018

    Great Art: Hawkeye by Steve Epting

    The final week of NaNoWriMo is when the pressure is on, so instead of regular updates you're getting an entire week of Great Art! Today, we kick things off with an amazing Hawkeye by Steve Epting!

    Friday, November 23, 2018

    Cosplay Friday: Black Panther

    It's Black Friday, so let's celebrate with a little... Black Panther! In the comics, Shuri of course spent several months as the Black Panther. Until recently she bared little resemblance to her movie alter ego. CutiePieSensei has combined the best of comic and film to make the absolute best Shuri as Black Panther imaginable.

    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 from yours truly this week!

    Thursday, November 22, 2018

    Happy Thanksgiving! Spend it with "The Pilgrim!"

    Much less cool pilgrims than the one I'm talking about. 
    I first debuted "The Pilgrim" near the end of my 52 stories in 2014. It served as the final part of the Short Shots series that also saw "The Editor" released.

    It remains the only tale I have only release on Wattpad where you can still read it now.

    This is a short beat of a story, a weird little tale with a bit of existential horror mixed within a cosmic set piece. Perhaps it offers as many questions as it offers solutions. It also introduces an enigmatic being to the Quadrant Universe, one that will continue to play a role, whether directly or indirectly, in future tales.

    Please judge for yourself. And if you like it, leave a review wherever you've read it. And if you really enjoy it and haven't done so already, please consider joining my Patreon, where you will see a ton of new content just like it!

    Wednesday, November 21, 2018

    Progress. Progress. Progress. (How I Nano My Wrimo 6)

    Image copyright some combination of Nickelodeon, Archie Comics and various characters' creators. 
    I'm nearing the 35,000 mark as The First: Hero's Dawn continues along. The novel is finally forming into a strong narrative as I've started to define the villains for the heroes I've introduced in the last three updates. Overall, this has proven to be a strong National Novel Writing Month for yours truly. My hope is to work towards a regular writing level comparable to NaNoWriMo every month as I continue to work towards a bigger badder Quadrant Universe.

    My plans are to wrap up The First in December, although I will also be putting work in on the final touches for the stories debuting on Patreon starting next month. With more Quadrant and Lightweight ahead, I've still got a lot on my plate. But for the first time in several months, it feels like I'm actually moving along with a relative smoothness. 

    Today's image is the triptych cover for Archie Comics' three part Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Universe Sourcebook. It and similar handbooks from Marvel and DC had a profound impact on my universe building.

    This will be the last update for NaNoWriMo progress here on the site. Thanksgiving brings its own messiness and with it comes a need to divert myself from the internet more than I might normally do. With that in mind, the next WIP update won't show up until the first week of December.

    Don't worry though, as I have articles prepped for the entire rest of this week and next, so stay tuned for a free book, great cosplay and an entire week of stupendous art!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    To master a universe... (Tuesday Throwback)

    On Tuesdays we flashback to a great post of yesteryear on this site. Today we take a look back on my thoughts on Masters of the Universe.

    I love the Masters of the Universe film. It is far from a great movie, but I will never quite understand why fans of genre features hate on it so much. It’s a solid adaptation of the cartoon property that grows it up while also introducing some new ideas.

    Part of it might be the budget. Director Gary Goddard did tons with the reported $22 million he had with the film, but it still seemed stretched to its limits at certain points. Or perhaps it’s the lack of some regular cartoon characters like Battle-Cat, Orko, Merman or Trapjaw. Whatever it is, I would argue that Masters of the Universe is one of the forgotten classics of the 1980s.

    Monday, November 19, 2018

    Staying on Target! (How I Nano My Wrimo 5)

    Two and a half weeks in and the mid-month doldrums are in full swing for National Novel Writing Month. I think this is the phase that derails most people as they work on their early projects. It's the thing that convinces people they just don't have what it takes to write a novel. Because when it gets into the meat of your novel, it's really easy to question everything you're doing and whether it is the right story or if it's even slightly well done.

    Which is another reason I embrace the power of NaNoWriMo. It pushes people to move through that mid-month lull. As I'm writing this, I passed the middle of my fifty thousand words five days ago. I've lost a bit of my head start so I'm not quite as a head of pace as I would like to be. But I am pushing along with new words everyday, even if some of them are proving harder than others.

    When I start a story with multiple points of view, that can often be the hardest part of the storytelling. I have to make sure I give each character something compelling to do as the story progresses. The loose plotting I do doesn't always give this beat by beat. Even when it does, I often quickly find one character less interesting than the others. I seek to remedy that as I continue my work though, trying to lock on to the key of each character's narrative.

    Kent Morgan is that character for The First: Hero's Dawn. He is the first of the heroes to put on the mask and start the fight against crime. A child of  wealth, he left home years ago to travel the world in search of some kind of enlightenment. But that all ends when an old acquaintance shows up at the door of the remote monastery where he lives and informs him his entire family is now dead. He comes back to civilization to find the people behind his family's deaths. In doing so, he makes himself a target, a name he embraces as he dons a mask to fight criminals.

    Making that story compelling in unique ways doesn't prove as easy as my other heroes. Though each hero plays with a heroic archetype, the masked vigilante is perhaps the most used trope in comics. Differentiating him from that trope makes his tale a bit more difficult to expand upon than those of Hero and Sea Sorceress. Yet it's a challenge I'm enjoying the effort to overcome.

    Today's target image is an Unsplash photograph from Artur Matosyan.

    Friday, November 16, 2018

    Great Art: Scott Pilgrim by Drake Tsui

    Thanksgiving is on the way, so what better feature for Great Art than a Pilgrim... Scott Pilgrim! While I will never get enough of Bryan Lee O'Malley's great work, this time around the focus is on this amazing piece of fan art by Drake Tsui.

    As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

    Thursday, November 15, 2018

    The Legend of Legaia! (How I NaNo My Wrimo 4)

    Sure, it's only been a day since my last work in progress update for National Novel Writing Month. But as I strive to keep up with this blog five days a week every week, it's a lot easier to talk about my writing project than developing a ton of new articles, so expect me to talk about The First: Hero's Dawn more this month than I do many projects.

    It wasn't until I was well into developing the story and writing the first few thousand words of it that I realized the name I picked for the story's main heroine also featured in a PlayStation video game series. The RPG series Legend of Legaia has little to do with my character, but I thought it would make an apt title for this blog as I present my second character focus.

    Legaia gets her name from a Greek siren (sometimes spelled Ligeia or Ligaia as well.) This fits perfectly as she belongs to an ancient race of warrior women living deep beneath the ocean. Her origins and powers give her the name Sea Sorceress. When she rescues a young businessman named Peter Colan from the cold Pacific waters, she breaks the laws of her own land. This results in her exile and the beginning of her long journey into superherodom.

    A few of you might recognize the name Sea Sorceress. This is not her first appearance, thought it is her first significant one. She previously appeared in one of several short stories of the past I published a few years ago as ebooks.

    "Summer of Love" focuses on 1967 and the country's premiere super-team of the time: the Defenders of Democracy. Presented as one episode in their ongoing story, it focuses on the arrival of the goddess Aphrodite on Earth as she starts to wreak havoc on the lives of the team's members. Characters make momentous life choices because of this. Sea Sorceress plays only a small role in the full tale, but it does mark her first appearance five full years before The First: Hero's Dawn.

    Don't worry though, as this is far from the last time Sea Sorceress will appear. I hope she will prove a character with a long tale to tell, not just in history, but in the future as well.

    It is back to writing for me now, but I encourage everyone to check out "Summer of Love" for the low low price of just 99 cents. Or if you're a supporter of the Patreon, you might just see it appear over on that site for backers very, very soon.

    Today's image from Unsplash is by photographer Houcine Ncib.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2018

    Finding a Hero (How I Nano My Wrimo 3)

    As I write this, I've reached the half way point of National Novel Writing Month. The First: Hero's Dawn continue just a little ahead of pace for the NaNoWriMo goal.

    Art by Steven Butler. 
    The main story revolves around three main heroes and a private detective character that brings them together. I thought I'd expand on each of those characters over the next couple work in progress posts here on the site.

    We will start things off with the character whose name appears in the title: Hero. The key figure in the earliest days of the costumed heroes of the Quadrant Universe, much of the tale will revolve around his path to wearing that costume. As the story begins, his legend already exists though. Over the last several years, Henry Carson has wandered Depression era America in search of answers about his own origins. In the process, he's quietly helped thousands in a multitude of ways, from stopping armed robbers to diverting waterways to pulling lost kittens from trees. But as the story progresses, Henry Carson comes to embrace that name more and more.

    At the same time, he will struggle to keep parts of his life secret from mankind, even as he learns the frightening truths about his origins!

    Henry proves to be the character most different from my original sketches of him as I've developed him over the course of the novel. His journey should be a grand one as I continue to work my way through the novel!

    Today's image features Barry Gregory and Steven Butler's John Aman, Amazing Man. While A-Man has nothing to do with my story, I thought it would be great to share another amazing independently produced golden age super-story!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2018

    Jaime Hernandez's Catwoman! (Tuesday Throwback)

    Tuesdays are all about classic posts here on Super Powered Fiction! Let's flash back to last November and an amazing piece of art by one of the best talents in comics! 

    Jaime Hernandez's Maggie and Hopey are in my head as I work on my current project, so I thought I'd pull out one of his somewhat rare super-images for this week's art. Jaime is an amazing artist and he shows it with one of the best Catwoman images around.

    As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And while you are admiring some great art there, feel free to check out my progress at my NaNoWriMo page.

    Monday, November 12, 2018

    The heart of the matter (How I NaNo my WriMo 2)

    As week two of National Novel Writing Month nears an end, I find my productivity slowing a bit. Part of this certainly comes to my day job in retail where increasing business definitely means I want to spend more time relaxing and less time focused on a few more hours of writing each day.

    This doesn't mean I'm not keeping pace with The First: Hero's Dawn. So far I've stayed above par for the NaNoWriMo count day by day, helped along by those strong days at the beginning of the month. With more vacation days ahead for me as November continues, I expect I will use some of that time to play catch up.

    As the four sub-plots that make up the over-arcing story continues, I find one more of a challenge than the other three. Interestingly, the hardest one proves to be the most traditional super-tale of the bunch, as I introduce the first costume of the novel, that of the vigilante The Target. (No relation to the public domain Novelty Press superhero of the same name.) While designing a thirties style pulp superhero lets me have fun subverting those tropes in a modern setting, it doesn't compare to the exploration of the outsider status of that era.

    Against the backdrop of the waning days of the Great Depression, social upheaval was the name of the game for most of the decade. Yet for the common American, a baseline was in place that simply seems almost backwards by today's standards. Homosexuality. Non-monogamy. Even interracial relationships. Just one would push a person to the fringes of society. All of them might present a world radically different from the sanitized version of the thirties and forties we see and hear far too much about far too often.

    I didn't want to simply present super powers as a metaphor in those times however. This is a story about real people in a real time that won't accept them. Ultimately, it may only be their powers that mark them as part of a rational society. Because their powers are the only way they can truly connect to the "norm" as it was seen.

    This is just a sampling of the themes I build upon as I work my way through The First: Hero's Dawn. Yet pushing these limits is exactly what I wanted to do here, especially in what I hope will be my first full length novel in the Times Past series. How well will I make it work? I certainly still don't know: I still have tens of thousands of words still ahead of me!

    Today's image is of former White Collar star Matt Bomer. His handsome good looks certainly make him one of the actors clearly starring in The First feature film currently playing inside my head.

    Friday, November 9, 2018

    Cosplay Friday: Mera

    The first feature film for Aquaman is only a few weeks away, but I figured I'd start celebrating a little early since I may be writing my own princess of the sea right now! Amber Heard's Mera is pretty great, but she doesn't look half as fierce as Kira Kelly's version of the Queen of Atlantis!

    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 from yours truly this week!

    Thursday, November 8, 2018

    Learn the secret of... "The Editor"!

    When I published fifty-two works over fifty-two weeks back in 2014, one of the things I set out to do was to experiment with things like flash fiction and ultra-shorts. I found keeping tales under a thousand words often a bit hard, but I did create some fun little narratives to introduce weird and wonderful characters to the world.

    One such tale is "The Editor." The tale starts out in a dark place and doesn't really get much lighter. I don't want to spoil the details of the story, but I do want to talk about our lead for a moment.

    Her name is is Marie. She can best be described as a walking contradiction. Of course, we all really are, aren't we? Hers become accentuated by circumstance, as she walks a path darker than you or I will likely ever know.

    This is a tale designed by me to share. I've done just that over at Wattpad, free of charge forever.

    It's one of several smaller works I will release under Creative Commons licenses over the next few months. One of my favorite parts about the release of this tale as a Creative Commons work is that it makes The Editor available for anyone to use and remix in anyway they would like. Marie is such an intriguing concept, one open to all kinds of paths in her future and past. I have yet to map any of them. But Marie is open for anyone to use and share as they see fit, just as long as their own works are released under the same license. If you, dear reader, are also a writer, I would love to see your own tales of Marie down the line.

    Read the entire short story "The Editor" over at Wattpad now. If you enjoy it, be sure to leave your comments here or on Wattpad, or share it with a friend!

    Photo by Mean Shadows on Unsplash.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    It all starts with The First! (How I NaNo my WriMo 1)

    I set out to write something different than anything I've written before as I started Project TEAM. As I write this, I'm now a quarter of the way towards the goal for the novel as part of NaNoWriMo. And it's started to take shape as a pretty solid character piece as much as it is a key moment in the history of the Quadrant Universe.

    Photographed by John Austin. DC Bombshells characters owned by DC Comics.
    Character is important to me in all my writing, but as I worked on this story I wanted to truly write a tale about people that have felt like outsiders all their lives, even as they come together to stop a threat to the world. Kent, Abel and Legaia are far from the only players in the novel, but they are all figures far beyond the basic archetypes I initially built them from.

    Those that have followed along with me on my NaNoWriMo page know that Project TEAM now has a working title as well. The First: Hero's Dawn currently looks like it might clock in as one of my longest novels to date at my current pace. But I'm sure I will be able to talk a bit more about that as the novel continues towards its final shape as I continue to NaNo my WriMo!

    Today's image is a bonus Cosplay of the DC Bombshells, photographed by John Austin. I won't even pretend that Ant Lucia's alternate thirties and forties era designs for these characters isn't something of an inspiration for me as I continue to develop the earliest costumed heroes of the Quadrant Universe.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2018

    Best Character Ever: Hunter Rose (Tuesday Throwback)

    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, November 5, 2018

    Number 600

    What better way to show a 600 off than
    with art by John Byrne AND George Perez!
    Man, it's crazy when I realize I come up on these huge even numbers for the posts I've produced on this page. Imagine how high it would be if I managed to keep my updates five days a week over the last year or two! But no matter how long it took us to get here, let's look back at some of the highlights from the site over the last few years! These are some of my personal favorites and a few of the ones that you, dear readers, have visited more than others, all complete with a bit of commentary from yours truly!

    • Halloween Review: Stories From the Grave: I reviewed Cynthia Celeste Miller's super-innovative RPG designed to emulate a EC Comics horror story two Halloweens ago. It's a great little game designed to make innovative shocks a real possibility. Designed around a usual two person structure, it seems like the ideal way to scare a few friends on a chilly autumn night! If this sounds intriguing, you can buy the book at DriveThruRPG.
    • The war with the fraud police never ends: When I read Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking, I realized I really needed to be more honest both with myself and with my readers. As I have started to reignite the engine of Super Powered Fiction, I wanted to look at the struggles of an indie author trying to eke his way towards a safe living wage with his writing. And a major component of that is the feeling that it's never good enough. She talks about the Fraud Police, as did the late Mark Gruenwald in a Marvel Age column I shared in the post. Be sure to check this one out if you've ever doubted your creative self. 
    • Great Art: Cloak & Dagger by Adam Hughes: By a fair margin my highest ranked Friday image on the site goes to this gorgeous piece by Adam Hughes. I mean, it is Adam Hughes, folks. Dude can draw. Why haven't you clicked already? 
    • A few thoughts on a good Fantastic Four cast: When Disney started their discussions with Fox, everyone couldn't wait until the FF returned to the House of Ideas. With a new comic launched and the deal slowed by months of red tape, we still aren't there yet. But I do hope someone out there sees some of my suggestions for actors that could make a great FF cast. I even kept the budget in mind by selecting mostly stars without a huge price tag, so you're welcome, penny pinchers at Disney. 
    • Unsung greats - Superman: Panic in the Sky: I will argue a hundred times over that Panic in the Sky is one of the best crossover events ever. Sure it didn't bring in any books but the four main Superman titles, but it did bring in numerous DC heroes to write a really amazing story where a bunch of disparate figures have to work together before Warworld destroys Earth. It's even got Superman going to Deathstroke of all people for help! Where else can you see that? 
    I feel vaguely bad for not featuring anything about my work outside one tangentially related to the production of said stories. But I do think these five posts that you and I have selected are some of the best examples of what makes this site so great. Go have a look at them all, let me know what you think in the comments section and stick around as we start the road towards a thousand posts on Super Powered Fiction! 

    Friday, November 2, 2018

    Great art: Invaders vs. Justice Society by Stephen Sadowski

    I'm going to spend a lot of time in the 1940s in the month ahead, so with that in mind, it's time to focus on some golden age heroes for this Great art!

    Stephen Sadowski is one of only a handful of people that can say they worked on both modern Marvel and DC comics based on Golden Age characters. Someone out there clearly noted this however, as they commissioned this amazing piece pitting DC's Justice Society of American against Marvel's Invaders. With inks by Andy Lanning, this one is truly impressive!

    As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art over on the Tumblr. And after you're done admiring some great art here, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

    Thursday, November 1, 2018

    The basics of Project TEAM

    The Quadrant Universe has featured several books that have defined many corners of the shared world. But I think its key to eventually explore the very cornerstones of why my universe of adventure exists in its current form. With that in mind, I planned a cycle of novels called "Times Past" which will show vital moments in the history of metahumans from the beginning of time to the modern day.

    One central conceit of the Quadrant Universe is that metahumanity existed since the very dawn of mankind. Yet costumed heroes only started to rise in the 1940s, even as war built in Europe. Though they've had ups and downs in public acceptance and popularity in the following eighty years, most metahumans put on a costume at one point of time or another in their careers. 

    But why?

    TEAM seeks to answer that question as it focuses on the first costumed heroes as they fight against a startling foe that beings with super powers are the only hope to defeat. Built around heroism and the tragedy of impending war, the book builds on classic comics archetypes to tell the stories of flawed men and women fighting for the very future of mankind.

    I kick off the work on the series today and for much of this month, I will fight to bring the novel close to completion. As part of NaNoWriMo, the goal is only fifty thousand words, but I'm striving to surpass that and get this one completely finished in that time.

    If all goes well, you should start to see the roll out of the first "Times Past" stories in the second half of 2019. More are in the works, including one already announced project, the completion of another novel long in the works. Of course, this won't slow the release of the planned Patreon serials either. Lightweight, Quadrant and Shockwave are still on their way next year!

    So stay tuned for more on TEAM as the next few weeks progress. Until then, folks. 

    Wednesday, October 31, 2018

    Read Dracula: Half-Life for free!

    I've featured more than one article about the young woman known as Dracula, a tragic yet heroic figure named after the dark vampire of yesteryear. Now I'm making her origin, originally seen as part of Horror Heroes free to read over at Wattpad.


    Really, it just serves as a thank you to all the dear readers that have followed this blog and my work through thick and thin. I've been honest about my difficulties over the last couple years and as I finally put things together, I just want to offer a chance for everyone to read my work.

    And if you like it, please consider supporting the Patreon. Even the lowest tier gets new stories from yours truly, plus exclusive content.

    But first head over to Wattpad, read the new story and be sure to let me know what you think!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    The Halloween Job (Tuesday Throwback)

    Back in 2014, my goal was 52 stories, basically one per week for the entire year. I wanted to deliver these in a variety of different avenues, and such avenue was the twitter story. Hence, The Halloween Job was born. It's a very simple narrative, probably best described as flash fiction. But it has sat hidden from much of the world since it first appeared on Halloween 2014, so I decided I would share it with you, dear reader, again today. 
    Enjoy, and keep your eye out. You might just recognize a familiar character I've talked about on the blog in the last few weeks...
    It was supposed to be an easy gig. The kind everyone walked away rich from. Jules had it all figured.

    1st National had 10 million in bonds coming out on a Brinks truck. We were just going to withdraw it on the way out. Smash, grab, run.

    And it wasn’t like I was one of the guys inside. I was the wheels, man. I just had to drive us away. I’m no killer.

    It was an evening job. Just after dark. Only a few folks would be at the bank. It was supposed to be easy.

    Jules, Marie and Terrence went inside. They didn’t play either. Jules got AKs off some Russian & they were ready to shoot.

    I waited in the car. When they came out, it was clear something went really wrong. Terrence wasn’t with Jules & Marie.

    Jules & Marie were both covered in blood. They looked like they took a bath in it. It didn’t make sense at all.

    They threw themselves in the back of the car. They both yelled, “Drive! Drive!” So I drove. I was up to ninety in seconds.

    But that wasn’t the end of it. One look out the rearview and I saw it. Or should I say her.

    A dark haired girl. She didn’t look like more than a teenager. But she seemed to be floating on some kind of bat wings.

    I yelled a dozen curses, but Jules and Marie just kept telling me to drive. The flying woman gained on us though.

    A second later, I heard a slam on the hood of the car. I saw her face in the back window just before the glass shattered.

    Jules disappeared out the back. I didn’t see him hit the ground. I was already swerving around the road, but she held fast.

    Marie jumped from out her window, trying to escape. I heard her body hit the ground. It wasn’t pretty.

    The woman was in the car with me. “You shouldn’t have done that,” she said. Then she opened her mouth.

    I saw her fangs. Terrible gigantic teeth. I saw her mouth open like a snake’s—too wide. And that was the last thing I saw.

    That’s how I got here. What is this place anyway? What’s with all the fire? What are you doing with that pitchfork? Noooo!