Monday, September 24, 2018

Ember Rewarded (Kickstart the Week 1A)

I've made dozens of posts about various Kickstarters over the year. But I feel it's time to look at some of the wild and weird projects I recommended over the years. That's what the Rewarded posts will be all about. (They will always be marked with an A after the original post number. )So let's head way back to the first title I featured on this iteration of Super Powered Fiction over three and a half years ago!

The Ember 0 Art Nouveau cover is the best to show off her *ahem* costume.
Character published by Boundless Comics. 
I expected adult themes and luscious art when I first introduced Ember on this site many moons ago. I never expected Boundless Comics to take things in a much more adult direction with their titles though. Don't get me wrong, as I expected some nudity. Christian Zanier has made a career on naked bodies ever since his runs on Buffy and Rising Stars ended many moons ago. So his creation of a new superhero seemed ripe for his kind of good girl art. And come on, that costume was a dead giveaway.

So Ember turned out to be a whole lot of crazy. And that crazy was just intensified by the "Beautified" edition released two years after the original Ember 0. This was meant to lead in to the characters return, as she teamed up with the Lookers, a pair of ultra-hot bounty hunters. The new edition took the adult content from the original edition and ramped it up to be closer to the standard fare of the Boundless line.

The book opens with a bit of back story, as our heroine wants to become a model. Her plane is destroyed mid-flight but she survives thanks to the emergence of her flame powers. We flash forward to a battle between the costumed hero, now an idol of millions, and a gigantic woman bent on killing her. Both have taken beatings from the other which means a broken costume on Ember's part and a burnt to nothing costume on the giantess part. This book is nothing if not gratuitous.

The book continues its time jumps by going back to earlier in the same day as the attack and getting even more gratuitous, with a two page spread of  Ember showing herself some love. She sets off the sprinklers when she gets a little too hot. We learn that this is part of her new found fame, that she's become a modern celebutante with millions of followers and a need to show some skin. She's filming herself in the build to her plans for a sex tape, but the conversation quickly turns to worries about normal life. She costumes up and her friend Beth and her head to a premiere.

Unfortunately, they're immediately attacked on arrival by a more clothed version of the giant from our opening. The villainess reveals she was on the same destroyed flight that gave Ember her powers, only she sees hers as a curse and not a gift. Ember tries to talk her into rehabilitation, but the villain continues the fight, only to be crushed under the weight of a building destroyed in their battle.

These first two panels of their fight are literally the only ones I can feature that don't go into R rated or higher territory.
Only she's too powerful for that. She breaks free and attacks the shocked Ember. The two beat on each other, with Ember turning the ground molten and the giantess attacking with all her strength. All hope seems lost for our hero when an attack helicopter appears to gun down her foe and save the day.

In the end, the girl is forced to stand down, but is still not beaten. As both women are flown away from the destruction, the attacker breaks down and admits she shouldn't have let her rage consume her.

The 0 issue ends with a promise to continue in Lookers: Ember, a follow up crossover limited series.

It's a pretty simple introductory piece, mostly designed to let you know what you've got to look forward to in later adventures. Unfortunately, I've yet to read the follow up series, so for now it's just a simple one and done with lots of good girl and bad girl art taking to an extreme. But if nothing else Ember stands as a fun character to show off the problems of fire powers with real world clothes. And for that, I can at least rank it as a lot of fun.

The book is now available from Boundless / Avatar in print or digital at Comic Cavalcade.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Great Art: Mantis and Mantis by Darryl Banks

Darryl Banks was a great talent that didn't get nearly enough work after his Green Lantern run. But he still does commissions now and then. This one that features, Marvel's Mantis teaming with the  superhero (played by Carl "Martian Manhunter" Lumbly) from the failed early 90s FOX series MANTIS.

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, September 20, 2018

Influential 9: Future Imperfect

It's hard to believe it's been two years since I posted the last new Influential column. But today it's time to take a look back at a great work and how it helped shape my mindset of my writing.

Today, I'm talking about Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect.

Maestro by George Perez. All images owned by Marvel. 
Originally published as two prestige format issues outside the regular continuity of the current Hulk title, it was still written by then current Hulk scribe Peter David with art by George Perez. The two previously worked together on Sachs & Violens at Epic and this was a chance for the two to pair up for a second time.

The book featured the Pantheon era Hulk, one with the mind of Bruce Banner, the edge of Joe Fixit and the body of the classic jade giant. Because this Hulk was so similar to the current comic Hulk, after Future Imperfect's success it proved little trouble for David to integrate it into the mainstream character's history. But really that's all a lot of background material. The focus here is on those two great over-sized issues.

The entire saga takes place in the distance future, where the Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war  and only a few city-states still remain on the planet. The most powerful is ruled by the Maestro and the rebels know only one hero of the past has a chance to stop him. The book starts with the arrival of that hero, none other than Hulk. He quickly learns about the destruction that caused this future and agrees to help the heroes fight the villain, because only he can understand the villain.

For the Maestro is the Hulk himself.

The radiation released into the atmosphere fed the Hulk's strength but also drove him mad. The Maestro rejected his humanity, instead subjugating the people beneath him and declaring himself absolute ruler of all he could see.

What comes next plays with the typical tropes of time travel in comics as the hero confronts his own future and the nature of fate. Ultimately, Hulk realizes the Maestro is a threat he cannot let live. In the end, he uses the time travel to deliver Maestro to the one point in time and space that can end his threat.

Perez is always at his best when he gets to design, such as he does for Rick Jones' collection of heroic relics.
Future Imperfect is a concise tale that gives a peak at a potential future while also working to define the character as we know him. Perez's luscious art brings the future to evocative life while David loads the tale with twists and turns.

Ultimately, the book serves for me as an example of how to do a time lost hero story to its maximum effect. As I continue to craft new tales of the Quadrant Universe, the importance of time will come into more and more clarity in the weeks and months ahead. Time travel will play an essential part in that expansion, though it might be saying too much to tell exactly where and when.

Future Imperfect stands as one of the best Hulk stories ever told. It's been almost perpetually in print since its original collection in the mid-1990s. If you haven't checked this one out, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A little more Lightweight and a whole lot of Werewolf! (WIP Wednesday)

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
My goal of 30,000 words for September is well in grasp as I type this. I've wrapped another chapter of the ongoing saga of Lightweight. Book Four takes him to several locations as he makes his way back to Earth in a big way. I'm so excited to share these stories with everyone starting in January.

Atomic Werewolf continues at a healthy pace. I've got a rough outline I'm working from here, as I develop some different ideas into this one. It's been a fun ride and I hope it makes for a unique book in my repertoire.

I'm moving right into my next chapter of the super secret local hero story, one that I hope to share more details on fairly soon. I'm also working towards developing the two books I've mentioned before as possible side projects, even as I plan a third concept to be my focus for NaNoWriMo in November. Much like previous National Novel Writing Months, I suspect I'll have one main novel and a secondary project going towards my total, but I've got to iron out how those things will flow in the next few weeks.

I've already mapped much of November and December for my writing plans, but we will see where things fall for October. But for now, I'll keep writing and I hope you'll keep reading. Don't forget to check out the Patreon where this week Lightweight 2: Ronin, will drop.

Now leave me be! I've got writing to do!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Looking back at Lulubelle Rose Jensen and Big Top Tales

Every Tuesday we look back at a great post from the previous years of this blog. This time around we go back to a character not quite in my regular wheelhouse, yet the star of one of my favorite stories. 

I am incredibly proud of the work I did as part of Flinch Books' Big Top Talesnow available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats.

Co-editor Jim Beard developed basic characters based around the various occupations of the Henderson & Ross Royal Circus, and based on choices and the time people joined the project, assignments were made. While I had ideas in my head for both the Human Skeleton (scored by the amazing Rocko Jerome) and the Knife Thrower (written by the always great Frank Schildiner), it was my third and final pick that Jim assigned to me. I got to write the Trapeze Artist.

Part of me suspects I might have received my writing assignment because no one else wanted to spend the amount of time I spent researching the trapeze before I started to write. I must have visited a half dozen websites and watched a couple dozen Youtube videos, before I stumbled upon a biography that helped me really get into the head of a trapeze artist in the days before television regularly brought amazing performances to the screen. Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean Jensen helped get me into the mind of the strange mix of isolation and adulation being a star of the trapeze might bring. The true story of Lillian Leitzel isn't exactly a happy one, but it was one that could help me get inside the head of my own Jensen: Lulabelle Rose Jensen.

From Jim's two paragraph description and Leitzel's story, I created a far more modern woman than one might expect from a story set in the mid-1950s. Rose is a woman more than willing to take what she wants, including a man to bed for a one night stand. But it is just that action that embroils her in a murder mystery from the very first page of my tale “Deadly Triangle”. As the story continues, she must balance the fine line of her circus career, her own wants and desires, and a serial murderer that may just want her as his next victim!

And while I think Rose's tale is more than worth the $12.99 print price and the $3.99 Kindle price, the best part of Big Top Tales is it is not alone. In addition to the talented Mr. Jerome and Mr. Shildiner, it also features tales from Ralph Angelo, Jr., John A. McColley and Sam Gafford. Together it makes one complete collection telling the tale of one amazing summer for the Henderson & Ross Royal Circus that cannot and should not be missed.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Jon Sable! Madman! Dragon! Nexus! A new line of Amazing Heroes! (Kickstart the Week 66)

It's been awhile since I focused on a Kickstarter over in these parts. I've cooled a bit on the platform as I've forced myself into a bit more financial frugality over the last year or so. But when I see something that's just really cool, I still want to share it with you.

I supported the previous incarnation of Amazing Heroes, where they produced several figures in the style of the old school Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. They were fun figures, but they were limited with few joints and with a majority of the figures being classic public domain characters.

A swath of characters are available for the new line.
This time around, they're taking the opposite route. Proper 1/18 scale (a la G.I. Joe and classic Star Wars) figures featuring a variety of licensed properties with names like Savage Dragon, Madman, Jon Sable, Nexus, E-Man and Stray in the initial wave. If the Kickstarter proves wildly successful, they have several additional figures planned as stretch goals including the Red Hook, Jack Staff, Flaming Carrot and the Destroyer himself, Remo Williams. It's an impressive array of figures.

Unfortunately, it's currently in danger of missing its funding goal. This is a superb line of toys featuring a ton of indie favorites, so if you've ever loved superhero toys, now is the time to show some support with a few shekels. Check out the Kickstarter for full details on how to back.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Cosplay Friday: She-Hulk

She-Hulk is one of those characters that takes a lot of dedication to cosplay. AZPowerGirl did not play making this look work for her!

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, September 13, 2018

Obscure Heroes 4: Wildstreak

The original trading card art.
All art owned by Marvel. 
Back in 1993, both Marvel and DC built their Annual around a gimmick of new characters. While DC used this to give us the Bloodlines crossover, Marvel stopped crossing over their annuals for the first time in years to let each book tell its own tale. Most of the characters introduced were not destined for greatness (see the Battling Bantam and Khaos, literally someone's over-powered D&D character), while a few had decent lifespans as characters (Genis-Vell then known as Legacy, Adam-X the X-Treme.) But one character I really liked and thought had a lot of potential went literally nowhere.

Her name was Wildstreak.

Tamika Bowden was a promising gymnast with a huge future ahead of her. But her engineer father refused to work for New York mobster Big John Buscelli. The crime boss arranged for an "accident" that would cost Tamika the use of her legs. Dennis Bowden would throw himself into helping his injured daughter. He created an exoskeleton that when activated increased her strength, speed and agility beyond human levels. Coupled with the skills she learned before her injury, she took to helping others as the vigilante Wildstreak.

Herb Trimpe wasn't afraid to go maximum Liefeld.
It's a solid basic street level vigilante origin, right? The thing is, it came in the middle of Fantastic Four Annual 26. Written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Herb Trimpe in his 90s style, things come to a head when she traces Big John's money to Florida. There the mobster had his own problems with a symbiotic monster known as Dreadface. Wildstreak barely escaped her first encounter with the villain, all thanks to the intervention of the then-masked Thing. Alongside Ben Grimm and Psi-Lord (the fully grown Franklin Richards from the future), she fought back Dreadface and saved the day.

She would make one other appearance, nearly a year later, in the pages of DeFalco's Thunderstrike (another criminally under-rated title.) She teamed with the title hero to face down a gunrunner that was also her former classmate. Her exoskeleton's batteries ran low as the gunrunner recognized her. Only the appearance of the murderous Sangre saved her identity from being exposed.

Keith Pollard's Wildstreak in action!
Wildstreak wouldn't surface for over a decade, again in the pages of Fantastic Four. As a captured rogue hero during "Civil War" she's used by Mister Fantastic to test out a prototype cell. But Invisible Woman uses her own abilities to help free Wildstreak and cause her to break free. Why a character whose powers are all technologically based even needed a special cell, I cannot explain. Nor do I suspect J. Michael Straczynski and Mike McKone did the research to explain why such an appearance made little sense.

After her escape, Tamika disappeared from comics forever. Or at least for over another ten years.

Like so many creations of the 90s, it feels like Wildstreak gets shorted because of her origins in an insanely drawn special event annual complete with trading card. But at her core, she's a solid character with an interesting background and a power set designed for high energy comic stories.

I was taken enough to throw her into a Hawkeye series pitch I designed many years ago. Though most of the story is lost to the sands of time, it revolved around Hawkeye coming to terms with his independence from various super-teams, even as he started a new relationship with Wildstreak as crime-fighting partners.

Wildstreak by Mike McKone. The FF issue
was a mess, but he drew the heck out of her costume.

Look, even now, Marvel has a severe lack of strong female and strong black characters (though it does better than DC at the second at least.) Wildstreak fits both those bills and has a fun simple design as well. She's a character waiting for someone to dust off and bring to the forefront.

But until then, she'll just be that obscure character with appearances I can count on one hand.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Atomic adventures of Lightweight! (WIP Wednesday)

Most of my first week of my 30,000 word September was actually spent building upcoming posts for this blog. As part of my commitment to regular writing, I also plan to do some regular blog posting as well, although perhaps a bit more esoteric than in the past. I will add a few more personal anecdotes here and there or sometimes just talk about something I'm really enjoying. But I want to have this blog and Newer Gods with a regular recurring number of posts, while The Wrestling Deep End will continue to show new posts two or three times a month.

While I'm also looking at a few long form non-fiction ideas, my focus outside of many, many blogs has been on the two projects I've been working on for several weeks now: the eighteenth chapter of the ongoing Lightweight saga and my new Atomic Werewolf tale. I'm nearing the wrap on this chapter of Lightweight which will continue to alternate with the local hero concept I'm currently developing the first years worth of stories on.

If I can continue at my increased pace, I hope to have both near completion by November. That will leave time in that month for my focus to be on NaNoWriMo and one of several new projects I'm developing. I still haven't decided which project I will focus on in November, but I've been doing research on all three, waiting to see how the muse strikes.

The new Atomic Werewolf tale is a jumble of ideas all flowing out right now. It started as a conglomeration of a couple ideas and I expect to weave in a half dozen more before the book ends. While I originally thought of this one as a novella, I have a sneaking suspicion it will be much larger than that when I finish.

Alright, enough blogging. I have more words to write and more wolves to were!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Influential: Locas

Every Tuesday we look back at a great post from the previous years of this blog. This time around, we look at a not as obvious influence.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Pulpsploitation returns with The Gunmaster: Fear of the Reaper!

Over at Metahuman Press, I made the announcement a few days ago. But the good news is that October 26th will see the launch of the first new title I've published in a year. The Gunmaster: Fear of the Reaper by Teel James Glenn continues the Pulpsploitation series of books with an all new full length adventure of the Buddhist monk sent out to stop the misuse of guns by the world at large!

The tale takes the Gunmaster around the world as he seeks the mysterious Reaper, an enigmatic figure murdering his way through a loose conglomerate of arms manufacturers and dealers. The figure has evil intentions, but his desires go far past simple business! The new adventure brings Darian Poe to wonderful life, plus it introduces the character find of 2018, Majesty Blayde!

T.J. outdid himself with this one, but as a bonus to this and every upcoming Pulpsploitation solo novel, it will also come with a bonus short story. In this case, you will find in the back pages my very first story in The Second Life of DB Cooper, "Back in Business." For anyone that hasn't collected his appearances in the second and fourth The Good Fight collections from the Pen & Cape Society and in Legends of New Pulp Fiction, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor with the character. When I first set his earliest adventures in the dawn of the 80s, I always planned for Coop to have a relationship with the Pulpsploitation line. Now you can start to see the connections build after you've read the amazing new adventure of the Gunmaster.

The book launches October 26th, but head over to Amazon to pre-order your copy ASAP!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Great art: Daredevil by Charles Forsman

One of these days, I will write a much longer treatise about why D.G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel's "Fall From Grace" is one of the three or four top Daredevil stories of all time. With smart changes, clever guest stars and just a dang cool new costume, I can sing its praises regularly. But until I do that, I will happily share art based on that era, such as this piece by Charles Forsman. The art is owned by the equally talented Michel Fiffe, and you should check out both men's work.

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, September 6, 2018

Writing at not-nearly-pulp speed

Dean Wesley Smith has made a name for himself by producing interesting new content at a fast pace, often in huge chunks. He's taken that idea into the concept of Pulp Speed levels, not unlike Warp Speed levels in Star Trek. Pulp Speed Level One is 1,000,000 words a year or about 83,000 a month.

Starting on the 9th, he plans to start work on his next non-fiction work, Living at Pulp Speed Five, where he will chronicle his quest to write ten novels and that non-fiction book over the course of 100 days, for a grand total of about half a million words in less than four months. It's a lofty goal, but Smith has produced crazy large amounts of work on a monthly basis for years, so if anyone can do it, is certainly him. He helps himself along by including the count for every blog post he writes as well, several of which will then be the content of the book.

I look at that challenge and have to say it intrigues the hell out of me. Now, I know that with a full time job and a family, I'm not getting close to his 150,000 words a month. But my current output is somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 words in a good month by the same standards. I want to push that to 30,000 in September, 40,000 in October and 50,000 (of course) in time for that regular goal for NaNoWriMo in November. If I can succeed I'll have written the equivalent of about two full length books.

Can I do it? Heck if I know. But we don't grow if we don't challenge ourselves. So wish me luck as I start down the path of increased content creation. I'll keep updates coming every couple weeks right here on the site, much as I have always done with my WIP Wednesday updates. I'll also talk a bit more about my plans and goals over at the Patreon. So stay tuned as the writing gets crazy as I look to go above and beyond anything I've done in the last few years. First up: a whole heck of a lot of Lightweight!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Take a deep dive with Deischer!

Jeff Deischer is one of the most prolific writers of super powered fiction I know. So it's no surprise when I chose him for my next Medium interview, we dove deep into his writing, superheroes and the creative process. You can read the whole thing at Medium. Here's some highlights:

Your love of golden age and public domain heroes seems apparent in your work. What drew you to those classic figures?

I actually don’t have a great love of “public domain characters” — superheroes, I mean. I have a great love for certain characters or groups of characters, and superheroes in general. The golden age superheroes I used in my The Golden Age series, I chose for specific practical reasons, not for any particular love of them. I do have a great affection of classical public domain characters. I think this is due to their fame in some cases, and otherwise because of my fondness for them from my childhood. This would include the Invisible Man and Frankenstein, for example, but not Captain Nemo or Sherlock Holmes, both of whom I discovered later, in my late teens. How can you read a series like John Carter (and love it) and not want to write a Carter novel? The stories and characters are so inspirational. The same is true of certain superheroes, public domain or not. What is there sparks ideas that were not used for these characters, unlike pantheons I create wholly from my own imagination. These obviously take more work to develop, although there’s greater satisfaction, I think, in those types of projects.

If it wasn’t love, what was your motivation for choosing the characters in The Golden Age?

Practicality. I felt there would be a built-in audience for public domain superheroes. The response to my first superhero book (The Overman Paradigm, written under the Kim Williamson pen name) was discouraging (though those who read it liked it, it didn’t sell many copies), so I wanted to give my next superhero book the best chance I could. That meant using characters that readers already knew. I chose Standard/Better/Nedor — not knowing that Alan Moore had done the same for his Terra Obscura — because there were so many characters to use. There was something like 22 in the first book in the series (also named The Golden Age), all the SBN characters who were superheroes, and a few who weren’t.

Your take on the characters is decidedly different than the one by Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse and Yanick Paquette. Did you ever read Terra Obscura after writing your novel to see how it compares? What did you think of it?

No. Once I learned of it while I was more than halfway through with writing The Golden Age, I glanced at a timeline of it I found online to make sure my ideas weren’t close to Moore’s, but I never read any of it.

What comics do you regularly read then? You said nothing too modern, but are there runs you love to read again and again?

I stopped collecting comics years ago. The last series I collected — I couldn’t tell you what it was — was 2007, probably, and there were only a handful of titles. Comic books went off the rails in the ’90s when it became about money and changing things for the sake of change rather than character and continuity. All I read these days are old comics. My favorites, the ones that I re-read over and over are Stan Lee and Steve Englehart comics. I re-read other comics sometimes, I have favorite series like Haywire, Marshall Law, and Watchmen (to name just three) that I go back to every so often, but when I’m in a comic mood, it’s usually Stan and Romita’s Spider-Man, Stan and Jack’s Fantastic Four, or Steve’s Captain America or The Avengers. Those are my standbys.

Haywire is an interesting pick. Not a lot of people know the series as it came and went in under two years at DC, an out of continuity (maybe) superhero book about a guy in a giant suit of armor with some questions about his actual identity. Can you give a brief rundown of the series and tell what draws you back to it after all these years?

I bought it new at the comics shop every month. The series is about a loser who has blackouts, and this giant armored being who fights the Combine (mob). It’s unclear for most of the series what’s going on. Who is the armored guy? Why is he fighting the mob? Why doesn’t he talk? Why is the loser the main character? Lots and lots of interesting questions. Okay, so SPOILER ALERT. It turns out that the main character is able to summon a sophisticated suit of armor, subconsciously, and become this unstoppable juggernaut. He doesn’t know that he’s able to do this. He has these blackouts — during which he’s the armored character, it turns out — that he goes to a therapist to find understanding. Eventually pieces start falling into place. I’ll resist revealing the loser’s actual identity and his motives for fighting the mob. The story would make a great movie if they could keep the tone of the series, and not Hollywoodize it. What I like about the series is the not “polished” superhero art, the intriguing characters, and the mystery of what’s going on. It was so well wrapped up that I didn’t realize it was supposed to be an ongoing series until much later. It seemed like a limited series to me.

We talk about a whole lot more, from role-playing to "pantsing" to the merits of DC's Millennium. Read it all over at Medium.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Welcome to the new era of the Quadrant Universe!

I'm proud to have launched the Quadrant Universe over ten years ago now. I have stated time and again that 2018 is a rebuilding year for me. As part of that re-building, I decided I needed to make sure I had an infrastructure to deliver serialized super powered fiction to everyone through some kind of easy subscription format.

The easiest answer is Patreon.

A preview of what you will see at Patreon.
If you're unfamiliar with Patreon, the service is designed to allow fans of creators to directly support their work. Usually this comes in exchange for some kind of exclusive content. This will definitely be true for me as I go forward with my work. Starting in 2019, I plan to launch the new chapters of Lightweight and Quadrant as regular monthly releases to Patreon subscribers. Additionally, I'll debut new stories, such as a third series featuring a new continuing super-character I've developed over the last year. I plan to drop some short stories and novellas featuring other characters in there as well.

Of course, that launches in January. I'd personally love to see you sign up today however. You see, my plan for the rest of the year is to serialize every already published chapter of Lightweight and Quadrant over the next four months. Backers at higher levels will also see other bonus stories.

So if you love great super powered fiction or just want to support my work, this will be the direct line to do so and get all of my work faster than anyone else. Even if you don't have any interest in deep early content from yours truly, you can get exclusive thoughts, ideas and interviews over at the Patreon as well. Later this month, I will debut the first installment of BLOGGO, THE BLOG THAT WALKS LIKE A MAN! This feature will bring exclusive content from yours truly, sometimes in the form of articles like you see here (such as Influential, Best Character Ever, etc.) or as new content choices, such as deep dives into various things I just really, really love.

Learn more about all of this over at Patreon.

With the success of this project, I can guarantee years of content to come. Let's make new super powered fiction happen!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Obscure Heroes: Shadowdragon

I've decided that Tuesday will be the official re-post day here on the blog. I'm going to kick it off with the very first installment of Obscure Heroes I ever posted. Let's look back at a classic post about a DC character I would love to see make his own rebirth.

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

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

Friday, August 24, 2018

Great art: Rom by Tom Scioli and Sal Buscema

I've been bouncing between cosmic ideas and more down to earth ones of late, so when I saw this great piece of Rom by the always amazing Tom Scioli and former Rom artist Sal Buscema, I knew I had the perfect pick for this week's great art!

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!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A new day is coming! (WIP Wednesday)

Took over two days work, but the result was my
best individually designed cover ever. 
In just a few days, I plan to introduce my new publication plan for 2019. I have big plans for what I want to accomplish in the months and years ahead, but I also need to make sure I have everything in place for a highly successful launch. I will say newsletter subscribers will get the first shot at things late in the month before the news expands everywhere in September.

I finished Project Independence near the end of my Camp Nanowrimo time last month. Since then, I've resisted the urge to sign up for any other projects from any other publishers. My focus is on developing all the content I have planned for 2019 and beyond. I've already banked three new chapters of Quadrant (a title that will get much more coverage here starting in a few weeks) and am currently working on the third new Lightweight chapter I've written in the last months. Those two titles are going to be a core focus for me going forward. Both will serve as the cornerstones of the Quadrant Universe in the years ahead. That doesn't mean they will be the only projects however.

Back in my mad dash to create a bunch of interesting new things in 2014, I released a short story called Atomic Werewolf. On top of some of the finest Photoshop work I've ever done, it introduced the world to a literal atomic werewolf, a powerful, giant wolfman created and fueled by radiation. Told from the viewpoint of his teen sidekick forties years removed, it's a simple tale designed to fill in a few points of history in the Quadrant Universe. But unlike several of the "Timeline" stories I released that year, it wasn't designed to support a plot line I planned for a future novel. It was built around a cool name, one I liked but didn't feel an immediate need to develop beyond a simple origin.

The events of the last few weeks have made me change that stance. The Atomic Werewolf feels like a character whose tale I need to develop. I've already started putting word to screen on a much longer tale. The plot is currently only a rough, but I suspect by the time it finishes, it will be a full length novel.

As always though, I'm keeping two projects in the fire. Lightweight 18 will wrap in a few short weeks. From there I'll move onto the third chapter of another project still in development, but more on that when the announcement hits in two short weeks. (Or just one for those in the know. Subscribe to the newsletter already!)

Until then, have a great day and keep writing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Best Character Ever 24: Thanos

Art by Ron Lim. All characters featured in images for this column are owned by Marvel.
As Avengers: Infinity War is now available to everyone to own, it seems Marvel's Dark Titan is a rather unsurprising choice for the first new Best Character Ever in nearly two years. But my connection with the character dates back way farther than that.

More specifically it dates back to the late 1980s when I first stumbled upon a copy of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition 20: Book of the Dead (Stick to Zuras). I distinctly remember having to convince my mother the cover shot of characters' spirits rising from their graves was merely symbolic. But when I got it for the glorious cover price of $1.50, I knew I held gold in my hand.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cosplay Friday: Gamora

Let's close out a somber week with a character from a surprisingly somber film, now on DVD, Avengers: Infinity War. Sara Moni brings the comic version of Gamora to beautiful life here.

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, August 16, 2018

Life is but a dream - the terrifying kind

Julie and Maxx by Dustin Weaver, because sometime I
feel like my life is split between reality and the Dreamtime.
Next week, I hope to be back to updating on projects previous, current and upcoming. I have a lot in the pipeline I need to write about, but it all feels secondary right now.

I mentioned the death of a family friend last week. I'm still reeling from the shock of everything, even as our own life has been consumed with car problems and unexpected bills. It's left a mess in the family budget and a hole in my life.

If anything, a sudden death brings into perspective the hollowness of one's own life. We get so caught up in the ephemeral, we fail to realize everything we truly have on this world. It's a shock to the system that we need to take care of the relationships we have around us, because we never know when they might end.

Honestly, I've been pretty terrible about maintaining friendships over the years. I've let friend after friend slip by the wayside as I focused on my career, my writing, my family or a billion other things. I realize now that may have been the greatest mistake of my adult life, but one not easily remedied. It's the fate of us all to live with some level of regret, but sometimes it's something that can be fixed, sometimes it is not. We will see.

And of course, I'm left with the questions of every solitary artist. Am I wasting my life? Is anything I do actually good? Would anyone even care if I stopped writing tomorrow?

I honestly don't know the answers to those questions, but I've talked about Amanda Palmer's concept of the fraud police before. I've got enough problems in my life without my own self-doubt pulling away the outlet I have to spew my own thoughts and ideas into the world.

I think it's important to remind you and everyone else, Dear Reader, that I like you, am simple a human being. We are all flawed and we all must make do with what God gave us. So be good to one another. Remember those that love you. And live your fullest life.

Even when it seems hard.

I'd love to hear about your hard times and how the creative process helped get you through.

Normal operations resume tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Great art: Hulk by Ryan Ottley

It's been a hard week. I've alluded to it a bit on social media, but we've all lost a family friend this week. My grief doesn't compare to that of his family, but it makes it no less true. It's a hard truth that when we lose someone, especially someone far too young, we are left with so many questions and so many what-could-have-beens.

His favorite comic characters was the Hulk. One of the best modern superhero artists is Ryan Ottley. Enjoy, and make sure to look at the people in your life and let them know you love them, because you never quite know when you won't be able to do so again.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The conundrum: which story do you want to read?

Right now I'm developing two new novel projects along with the three series I've been talking about rather regularly on this page. My problem right now is to decide which one to move forward on as my next novel project. So I'm asking you, dear readers, which one you think will work best as the next entry in the wide world of the Quadrant Universe. Here's a short tease for both books. Let me know which one tickles your fancy more!

1. The Horror Universe

Monsters have lurked in the corners of mankind for decades. But as the thirties draws the world together in an impending war, the creatures that lurk in the corners start to awaken to threaten mankind. As two such creatures rise and war looms over Europe, can an intrepid young secret agent hope to save the world from not just the Axis war machine but blood-sucking creatures of the night and shambling corpses?

This Bruce Timm tribute piece to Hammer may feature a few hints at where I'd go with
The Horror Universe.
2. Manticore

He grew up on the streets, but he never was like anyone else. Born with a genius level I.Q. and a deadly super-power, his only choice to succeed were the gangs. But if he was going to commit crime, he planned to make sure he did it in ways smarter than anyone could ever imagine. He rose to power throughout the city... and when he saw his chance to take it all, he struck. This is the life story of his rise and fall as the most powerful crime boss in modern America.
I promise this Manticore will be much cooler than the highly
expendable Suicide Squad villain. (Image copyright: DC Comics.)
Both promise to be fun projects, but only one will get off the ground before the end of the year. So which one should it be? Let me know in the comments below or on any social media?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Cosplay Friday: BloodRayne

Because of stories in development, vampires have been on my mind a bit lately. So when I stumbled upon this BloodRayne cosplay by Magma Ichios, I figured I had a Cosplay Friday in place. She really brings the character of Rayne to life, all without the awful storyline or poor gameplay seemingly inherent in the franchise. But man, that design is sharp, right?

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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Superior writing: plotting and planning

Steve Ditko's final issue of Dr. Strange is also the
character's first time taking the cover spot alone.
Like his other work with Stan & company,
it was produced using the "Marvel style."
I've never been one to deal a ton with the concept of process in writing. It's probably because I spent so much time second guessing my own writing style for years. Every book on the subject of writing I read for the first 25 years of my life insisted full outlines and clear step by step plotting ahead of time was the only way to work.

I was pushing thirty by the time I said "screw it" and started to just write.

Over the years, I've bounced between plotting as I write and working from a (very) rough outline. I've joked before that I regularly write prose in the "Marvel style."

When Stan Lee wrote eight Marvel titles a month, he didn't have time to do the full scripts most comics worked on at the time (and these days as well). Instead he trusted his talented artists to do some of the heavy lifting. So he would write just a couple paragraphs that described the events he wanted to have happen in the story. His artists produced ten or twenty pages out of those paragraphs. Then Stan would come back and add dialogue to the pages.

Obviously I don't add all my dialogue at the very end, but I often build stories from just a starting point and a finish. This allows me to add and subtracts bits and pieces, flesh out subplots and throw in interesting bits and pieces as I go. Every chapter of Lightweight has been built with this system, though I sometimes pull out tighter plots for the end chapters of each story.

That's not the only comic concept I've used in my writing however. I'm also quite a fan of the Levitz Paradigm.

Paul Levitz designed the structure for his work writing Legion of Super-Heroes for years and years. Dennis O'Neil might have named it though as he covered it in the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics. Here's his synopsis:
Basically, the procedure is this: The writer has two, three, or even four plots going at once. The main plot – call it Plot A – occupies most of the pages and the characters’ energies. The secondary plot – Plot B – functions as a subplot. Plot C and Plot D, if any, are given minimum space and attention – a few panels. As Plot A concludes, Plot B is “promoted”; it becomes Plot A, and Plot C becomes Plot B, and so forth. Thus, there is a constant upward plot progression; each plot develops in interest and complexity as the year’s issues appear.
So each issue (or chapter) would cover three to four plots generally. One dominates the chapter, one gets a few pages of space and the last one or two rarely take up more than a page or half page. Here's a sample of Levitz's paradigm from his run.

I used the Levitz Paradigm to design every individual chapter of Epsilon. If (more like when) I return to those characters, I will bring the Paradigm back to work. It found its way into F.O.R.C.E. as well and will likely influence upcoming Quadrant stories as well. So never let it be in doubt that it isn't a useful tool in prose as well, especially when you're building on multiple characters to juggle.

So there's a few hints on how I build on what I write from month to month and story to story. Feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Great art: X-Men and Fantastic Four by Mike Mignola

I'm fairly sure this is related to the Days of Future Present stories through the Marvel Annuals in the early 90s, but I'm not sure where exactly this piece of art by Mike Mignola was ever published. But dang, it's some fine work on characters he rarely drew.

And did I mention everyone has pouches! Woo!

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!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Cosplay Friday: Freakazoid

Didn't have a lot of time to do a bunch of thinking about a cosplay this week. So I decided to choose a hero that doesn't seem like he's always thinking either! LaydiexSkull brings Freakazoid to glorious life here!

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 Super Powered Fiction this week!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Summer writing boot camp

Sorry that it's been a bit quiet here. Been a bit busy working on projects. Here's a little bit on why: 

I'm a big advocate for the entire concept behind NaNoWriMo, so it should come as no surprise that I'm also a fan of its twice annual spinoff campaign Camp NaNoWriMo. While the original in November is set for a distinct 50,000 word novel, the camp version is far more freeform. Writers choose their project type, from novel to short stories to poetry to scripts. Additionally, they can pick from a variety of goals. The most basic is the return of the word goal, but that goal can be altered up and down by the project creator. But words aren't the only goal option. Writers can also choose to measure hours, minutes, lines or pages. It opens up a wide variety of projects to anyone that wants to participate.

Just like the last camp in April, my focus is on short stories. I wrapped Project Independence early in the month. I'm now splitting my time between another chapter of Lightweight and Quadrant. They will be the main focus of my writing for the rest of the year, as in 2019 I plan a large push for both. That doesn't mean I won't continue to produce side projects over the next couple years however. I still have Walking Shadows to finish, the local hero project I plan to launch sometime next year, three or four other projects in various states of completion and the final edits and production of two books before the end of the year.

I've been having a lot of fun with both tales as they take both my solo hero and my premiere team into new settings and introducing new villains and heroes. I don't plan on slowing down either. My current plans are to focus most of my work on both projects for the rest of the summer and early fall, but I'll cover more on that in early August in a new WIP Wednesday.

For now, I just want to encourage everyone to check out and support both NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo. Both are great nonprofit projects with a worthy creative cause.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Great Art: Warrior Nun Areala and Glory by Ben Dunn

We close out the week with art by the supremely talented Ben Dunn, founder of Antarctic Comics and creator of Ninja High School and... Warrior Nun Areala! Here's a great patriotic picture from the cover of Areala's crossover with Rob Liefeld's Glory! Can't think of a better way to close off this Independence Day week.

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 on the site this week!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Quadrant Handbook 5: The American Arsenal

Art by John Davies.

Real Name: Simon Carter

Occupation: Crime Destroyer

Marital Status: Unknown

Known Relatives: None

Group Affiliation: None

Base of Operations: Mobile in the continental United States

History: Simon Carter was a young American that always dreamed of being a patriot. His parents assisted he finish high school before enlisting in the United States Army. Unfortunately, just weeks before his enlistment he came down with a meningitis infection. After nearly dying from the disease, he was left with long term muscle damage in his arm. The Army refused his enlistment on medical grounds. 

He felt like his dream was dead. He worked one dead end job after another, but found some solace in body-building. By his twentieth birthday, he put over fifty pounds of muscle onto his frame. While many of his fellow body builders in the late seventies used anabolic steroids, he avoided the drugs out of fear it could do more damage to his body.

A CIA black box operation took notice of his renewed strength and his patriotic fervor. They recruited Carter out of the gym he regularly worked and offered him a chance to become the military man he always wished to be.

What followed remains cloaked in shadows. It is known Carter received intensive military training as well as an experimental medical procedure to activate his latent metagene. It also involved hundreds of hours of psychological work, as the military programmed him into a focused war machine. This included a backdoor into his mind, his handlers called a reboot, which would wipe much of his short term memory to restore him to a battle ready state.

How he became known as the American Arsenal remains unknown. He worked across much of the United States during the 1980s, frequently battling gunrunners, drug dealers and domestic terrorists. As he continued into the last few years of the decade, he faced far more superhuman threats. These threats tested his abilities to the limits. His government handlers kept close tabs on him, often using the reboot function in stressful situations.

The handlers didn't take into account the stress the reboot put on the Arsenal's brain. Over time he became more and more detached from reality, often shouting incoherent statements as he fought. During an encounter with the druglord known as The Second Coming, his mind finally fractured completely. The Second Coming had connections inside the CIA and used them to uncover the true identity of The American Arsenal. When he confronted Arsenal with his true identity, he hoped it would cripple the government agent once and for all. Instead it focused him even more on his mission to destroy the corruption inside the United States. He killed Second Coming before disappearing into the Memphis night. His mental connection with his handlers gone, he added the men that used him for their own purpose to his list and promised they would soon feel his wrath.

The whereabouts of American Arsenal post-1989 remain unknown.

Height: 6' 3"

Weight: 247 lbs.

Eyes: Hazel

Hair: Blonde

Strength level: His enhanced physique allows the American Arsenal to life well above any normal man. His super-dense musculature allows him to lift (bench) up to two tons.

Known superhuman abilities: The American Arsenal possesses the ability to transform his limbs into multiple forms. While the full extent of this ability has never been revealed, he has never used this ability to form anything but offensive weapons or defensive shields.

A regular configuration is a rifle like weapon. He hurls projectiles made from his own hardened bones. While his body naturally regenerates the bullets, frequent use of the weapon can leave him feeling weakened and depleted.

His ability extends far enough to develop a working flamethrower as well, transmuting his blood into propellant for the weapon.

His entire body possesses some natural level of malleability as well. He can absorb far more damage than a baseline human. His body also rapidly heals. Major flesh wounds will seal in a matter of minutes. It is unknown whether this enhanced regeneration can restore limbs should they be destroyed.

Other abilities: The American Arsenal possesses advanced military personal combat training. He is trained to fight and kill in close combat as well as with ranged weapons.

Read the stories in: 

American Arsenal

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day from the King of Comics!

I'm not sure when Jack Kirby drew this great picture (I assume it's somewhere in his 70s Cap run), but it seems a fitting way to ring in the Fourth of July this year.

Speaking of the King, remember to check out his creations over at the Newer Gods blog, as this week we conclude our look at Secret Society of Super-Villains! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Getting ready for the 4th with American Arsenal!

Cover art by John Davies.
One of the characters I might talk about the least on this blog is American Arsenal. I have created a few different patriotic heroes over my time, most notably Freedom Patton, but the American Arsenal is easily the most explosive of them!

He's a character that had his origins in the early 2000s, fostered by a re-watch of old WWE tapes. I saw the Ultimate Warrior run to the ring and rant and rave. And my mind went to, "what if a superhero was this crazy?"

The idea existed as a couple paragraphs about mixing the lost sense of Rambo in First Blood with the ranting, manic energy of Warrior. When Warrior passed in April of 2014, my mind returned to the American Arsenal. I knew I had to bring the character to life and form.

The short story was published late in 2014 and I immediately dedicated half of its profits to Connor's Cure, a charity created by WWE and supported by the Warrior's widow Dana. Connor's Cure is named after the late wrestling fan Connor Michalek who died of pediatric cancer. The charity continues to raise money to help treat pediatric cancer, a cause no right minded human could ever be against.

As Independence Day looms, I wanted to remind everyone of the existence of American Arsenal. The story is still only 99 cents on Amazon and Smashwords, a steal by any stretch of the imagination. I want to get more readers to check it out and more people to raise money for Connor's Cure. To make this happen I pledge 100% of all profits for the book in the month of July to the charity, foregoing any profit I might make for this push. For every person that adds a review after reading it in the next two months, I'll also match their contribution.

If you feel like giving directly to the charity, that's cool too. Email me a copy of your receipt to nick{at}superpoweredfiction{dot}com and I'll make sure you get a copy of the book.

So let's all have a great Fourth of July tomorrow, and let's celebrate by reading a fun story and supporting a great cause!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Cosplay Friday: Morrigan and Lilith

I've featured Kassandra Leigh's Morrigan before on Cosplay Friday, but she does some equally impressive work here with Nana Valtiel as her little sister Lilith! Double the Darkstalkers delights for everyone!

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 Super Powered Fiction this week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The 10 authors Super Powered Fiction writers should read

Everyone loves Top 10 lists, right? And as I slowly reveal the Top 10 Wrestlers of 2015 over at The Wrestling Weekday, I thought it would be fun to pull out an old list I wrote. It was over a year ago that I spent some time brainstorming the ten authors I thought writers of super powered fiction should read, but the list still holds strong for me as 2016 dawns.

Not everyone on the list regularly writes super powered beings, but don’t let that scare you away from some great fiction. Some are just great at simple things like dialogue or the combination of amazing wonder with a real world setting. All of them can be great inspirations for any writer of super powered fiction and come with the highest recommendation from this author. Here they are presented in no particular order.

  1. Madeline L’Engle – L’Engle had an amazing ability to ground the most insane idea in reality. A Wrinkle in Time is built around crazy ideas presented with an air of the normal.
  2. Adam Troy Castro – His Sinister Six novels that came at the end of the 90s Marvel novels showed how to juggle a ton of characters in super powered prose, a trait shared by…
  3. Van Allen Plexico – Van’s Sentinels series juggles a huge cast in compelling tales about a unit somewhere between the Avengers and the Defenders. One of the first true independent creators of super powered fiction, Van in many ways built the archetype for how to create a super powered prose universe and I learn from his work every time I read it. 
  4. Stephen King – Several of King’s earliest works very much fall into the super powered fiction category: Carrie, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, etc.
  5. Robert Parker – No one does dialogue as well as Parker. Anyone can learn from reading his stories.
  6. Orson Scott Card – Card has an ability to build big ideas around human stories, both in his solid Ender series and his far stronger Alvin Maker fantasy tales.. I argue it is a tact he learned from…
  7. Robert Heinlein – Heinlein is a master of the art of interweaving his ideas into a human narrative, even if it is one of the future. He’s also great for challenging social contracts decades before the present day.
  8. Diane Duane – Duane’s Spider-Man and Venom trilogy taught me that a superhero like Spider-Man could be a compelling lead in prose at a time when such things weren’t really done. Her trilogy also shows exactly how to use Mary Jane as Peter’s wife and make her compelling, something Marvel Comics writers and editors found so hard they used a demon to end their marriage.
  9. George R. R. Martin & the Wild Card Trust – For obvious reasons, the creatives behind the Wild Cards series all deserve every ounce of praise they receive. Some of the best minds in super powered prose ever.
  10. Octavia Butler – Butler deserves to be on the top of this list for Wild Seed alone, but every novel she wrote is a master class on short, tight narrative. Wild Seed is a major inspiration for the historical metahuman stories still developing in the Quadrant Universe while its sequels build an interesting narrative of secret super powered beings among us.

I still routinely pull out books by all these writers when I need a bit of inspiration. I highly recommend any lovers of great fiction to do the same.