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.