Monday, July 22, 2019

Coming Continuing Comics 6: the 80s edition!

Every month I peruse the comic solicits to see what I want to add to my subscription list. Triple C takes a look at the superhero books that most stand out to me or I think are well worth a wider look by everyone. This time around I got my own order in a bit late, but here's the new stuff that I think looks pretty solid. And this new stuff... has some creative teams and settings that harken back to my earliest days as a comic reader!

It's not too often that two comic legends get back together for an amazing too issue. But as part of Marvel's 80th anniversary initiative to bring back classic creative teams for new tales, Marvel has reunited long time mutant mastermind Chris Claremont with the always amazing Bill Sienkiewicz (whose name I can impressively spell from memory) to bring the world New Mutants: War Children.

This one looks like it is set during their classic run which gave us stories like the Demon Bear and the origin of Warlock. The new story has a description that is fairly vague outside of a mention of Darkchylde, Magik's evil alter ego. But with a creative team this legendary, I expect a great read in a couple months.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Great Art: Rocketeer by Tom Grummett!

Since Diamond just debuted a huge array of merchandise for Cliff Secord at San Diego this year, it felt like a fitting time to share some truly great Rocketeer art. I still feel like the sky's the limit for this character's future if a publisher and a creative team really set out to write an entire series of grand adventures for him. Here's hoping someone makes that a reality. And when they do, it might be great to get Tom Grummett to draw the dang thing. Because as you see here, the man draws Dave Stevens's character with finesse and panache.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art in the Super Powered Fiction Facebook group!. 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, July 17, 2019

An important life lesson...

I shared this recently on Facebook and thought it best to share it more widely here. This is an important point for any consumer of art, from novels to comics to paintings to movies to whatever.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Life, writing and Camp NaNoWriMo

Sometimes things more important than steady writing schedules occur. Worse, sometimes they occur dead in the center of NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo. Thanksgiving is the prime example of this, but this July in came in the form of a wedding.

I'm the first to admit that the wedding of a family member takes precedence over any work. So I took some vacation jobs from the day job, worked ahead as best I could on the second of the three stories I'm working though for this month and disappeared off the grid for a few days.

Seriously though, I did get little work done as I went on the road to southern Iowa, saw my older brother marry a wonderful woman, and came back home with two beautiful step-nieces along for the ride.

And while I still have several days of adventures planned with them around my work week, I'm furiously working to also play catch up on my writing. My goal is three stories at around 25,000 words for the month, just above my usual 20,000 I average on a given month. I would like it to be the start of a push towards more writing month in and month out as I seek to expand the Quadrant Universe into the next few years.

So onward and upward and a reminder that even when the ups and downs of daily life derail yo for a few days, you cannot let them derail you forever. See you soon and keep reading!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Gallur-y: Mars Attacks!

Over the last few years, Mexican artist Rafael Gallur has become a go to painter for action. A regular painter of amazing lucha libre magazine covers, he channels the energy of Frazetta into modern cover art, something very lacking on this side of the border. And since his art doesn't quite fit into the usual comic-oriented Great Art feature, I thought it was time to give him his own feature here at Super Powered Fiction. Few painters can match the power he brings.

The classic Topps card line Mars Attacks has become an icon of weird alien invasion stories, and has transitioned into comics, novels, games and a hilarious Tim Burton film. But when Topps decided they wanted to produce an updated line of cards, Rafael Gallur was one of the talents they tapped for the new cards. Here's an example of his work on a better known licensed property, and it is clear he brings the same craftsmanship he does to his lucha work to the Martian invaders and the human resistance!

Be sure to head over to Gallur's DeviantArt to check out more work by him and order some of his amazing work as prints. After you're done admiring his work, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Influential 11: The Nova Posse

This article originally appeared in slightly different form back in March as part of my Patreon's biweekly blog feature Bloggo. 

In previous Influential columns, I regularly focused on books or characters that have a prominent role in comics history. But sometimes, there's characters with far less history that can prove just as important to the development of my characters, universe or storytelling. One such unit is a little known team of characters known as the Nova Posse.

The Nova Posse were a group of intergalactic adventures in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures' Dimension X (which is another galaxy in that continuity.) The team didn't exactly have a lot of appearances. They arrived on the scene in issue 48 and teamed with the Turtles for the next two issues of galactic adventure.

The characters were built with broad strokes and limited personalities, but the visuals and the Starjammers-esque personalities always stuck with me. I've long been a fan of the star-spanning super-team concept and the Nova Posse connected that concept with a small military unit surprisingly well.

It's an impressive feat that the creative team of the book managed to establish the characters so quickly.

Here's their simple introduction from the pages of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures 48. Chris Allan did an amazing job presenting characters with limited line work in an era where ultra-detail was the norm. He made the team look fascinating even if he kept their personalities fairly simple.

In my latest Quadrant release "Star Quadrant" we meet a new crew of space mercenaries in Vreexel, Quay, Big and Mort, the crew of the Dwarf Star. The unit owe much to the simple designs of the Nova Posse, built with broad strokes but with bits and pieces of history and characterization to make them real figures. And while one of them doesn't make it through "Star Quadrant", I hope to bring more of their adventures to the world in time.

Because unlike the Nova Posse, the Dwarf Star wasn't built for a single appearance.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Cosplay Friday: Mary Jane

Spider-Man: Far From Home is hitting theaters on this long holiday weekend, so it seemed an apt time to pull out an MJ cosplay. But in the spirit of Zendaya playing a very different take on that character (complete with new name), I thought it would be a perfect time to pull out one of my favorite looks at the character. This one is from one of the most beautiful cosplayers out there, Lua Stardust, and is maybe my favorite take on Mary Jane Watson anywhere!

You can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on my Twitter. 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 2, 2019

Star Quadrant is now available!

The final chapter of the initial arc of Quadrant is now finally available to everyone! It took years to make Quadrant 6: Star Quadrant a reality, but it drops today on Smashwords!

And if you haven't been reading the hottest team book in super powered fiction today, make sure you check out the rest of the series so far. Quadrant 1 can even be read for free!

So if you've been waiting for months or just now are catching up, get out there and pick up the final chapter in the first story for the brothers Morgan. And if you cannot wait for the follow ups, they can be pre-ordered at Smashwords or you can read them all right now by becoming a Patreon supporter at the $4 level.

Thanks for reading and make sure to leave your review at Smashwords and Goodreads!

Monday, July 1, 2019

It's Camp NaNoWriMo time again!

The fine folks at Camp NaNoWriMo hold their event twice a year, in April and again in July. With that in mind, I've decided to focus myself on pushing out more words of fiction this month. I'm not changing up any of my writing plans however. These next few weeks will be spent building towards more chapters of Quadrant, Shockwave and Doctor Cosmic Presents. I've started towards a solid buffer on my release schedule, but I'm still not up to the 6 months to a year ahead I would like to be. This month will be spent building closer towards that as I head forward into the second half of 2019 and 2020.

As usual with Camp NaNoWriMo, I'll try to keep updates coming your way as I work my way through the month, but no guarantees, as if I fall behind on my daily writing goals, this blog is usually the first thing to fall by the wayside.

Wish me luck and keep watching this space for more updates!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Great Art: Moon Knight by John K. Snyder III

I've spent a lot of time thinking about vigilantes and heroes of the mystic of late, although it is for a project I will not say too much about just yet. But with that in mind, I've been perusing some moodier art of dark vigilantes. That's when I stumbled upon this piece by John K. Snyder III.

Snyder has been around for a long time. He was drawing Grendel comics over three decades ago and has worked his way through pretty much every publisher over the years, though much of his work has been for DC. Just in the last year, he drew an issue or two of Bloodshot for Valiant and doesn't seem to show any signs of changing his eclectic release of cool art.

As far as I can tell, this piece is the only time he drew Moon Knight, for a commission. The piece perfectly encapsulates what makes the character pop so well off the panel, with his silver-white costume up against a dark background. Flanked by his enemies and the visage of Khonshu, source of his abilities, it's a super-cool piece that makes the character just look plain awesome.

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art in the Super Powered Fiction Facebook group!. 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, June 26, 2019

That's My Jam 5: "Dangerous Days" by Perturbator

Straight up, I have no recollection of who first mentioned the name Perturbator to me. I could guess it might have been Warren Ellis' newsletter but I cannot really say for sure. But I can say that I absolutely love things cyberpunk.

And man, Perturbator is so cyberpunk.

Perturbator is just one guy, an amazingly talented French individual with the very un-French real name James Kent. He's been working in the synthwave genre of music for the better part of the decade. Synthwave seems like a genre designed for me, with a heavy focus on 80s film and video games as inspiration. But a lot of artists of the field don't click with me.

But when I stumbled upon the album Dangerous Days I was insta-hooked. It has a powerful continued beat through all its songs, like some kind of rave out of a never made Neuromancer film. It's that push to move forward coupled with the rareness of lyrics that helps make it such a great album to play while writing.

Perturbator also has some great album covers.
Dangerous Days is by Ariel Zucker-Brull. 

Once the slow rise of the opening track "Welcome Back" melds into the driving beat of "Perturbator's Theme" my mind is hyper-focused and ready to get rocking on some words. I'm listening to the album right now as I write about it and it has become so ingrained in my creative process that I just want to go back to the latest Shockwave story.

The entire album is available to listen to on Bandcamp. Perturbator even has a pay-what-you-want model set up for downloads. I'm pretty sure I actually downloaded the album for free many moons ago, but I've certainly given Mister Kent my money with every subsequent Perturbator album he's released. Or you can just listen to on this handy Spotify list...

So it's a win-win to go give this album a chance. If you like eighties movies, synth music or just a driving beat, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Monday, June 24, 2019

A chance to get the first book in the Lightweight series... free!

Lightweight: Senior Year has been on Amazon for a few years, but the one challenge I've had with the book over the years was getting reviews from the fine folks that have read it. I'm immensely proud of the work I've done on the series but I want to make sure more people get a chance to see it. On Amazon, that means it desperately needs reviews, as books with higher review numbers get higher entry points on their algorithm. I'm not a huge fan of that system, but it's what we have to work with, and my hope is that you will help me accomplish that.

Cover art by Brent Sprecher. 
With that in mind, I have free ebook copies of the book to give out to anyone willing to read it in the next month and post their review on Amazon and Goodreads. I have no limit on the copies I'm giving out, but you must review it in the next month.

But I want to sweeten the deal for this. I want to make the effort to increase the reviews on all three Lightweight titles. With that in mind, I want to tell you that I'm planning to make this same offer on the next two books in the series as well, but that offer will be exclusive to those folks that accept this one and post their reviews!

If you're interested in getting your free copy of Lightweight: Senior Year for review, contact me at my email address nick {at} superpoweredfiction {dot} com. Let me know your preferred ebook format as well. And I hope to see your reviews roll in very, very soon!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Cosplay Friday: Meggan

One of the books I cut my teeth on as a comics fan was Excalibur by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis. The two men created a really solid team book that wasn't worried about being funny here and there. It's heyday was its first year and a half or so of issues, and they still hold up as some of the reasons I will challenge anyone that lumps the 80s and 90s in comics into some generic summation.

Meggan was one of the breakout characters of the series, a faerie girl in love with Captain Britain and with a bevy of powers including shape-changing, flight, super strength and empathy. She spent much of the first year of the series basically just wearing athletic wear as a "costume" until she finally received this number during the Cross-Time Caper story. Cosplayer Sara Moni brings the Davis design to life perfectly, an impressive feat considering all the character traits that come together for the character.

You can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on my Twitter. 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!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Newest novel in the books! (WIP Wednesday)

Patrons can read the fifth chapter of the
Ragnarok arc right now! 
Though the final chapters gave me a bit of trouble, I have now completed the last words of Lightweight: Ragnarok. Composed of chapters sixteen through twenty-one of the ongoing Lightweight series (now available on Smashwords), the series re-ignited my love for the character after too much time spent away from Kevin, Millie and the city of Federation.

As of yesterday, my patrons on Patreon can read the first five chapters of Ragnarok while everyone else can pre-order them at Smashwords right now. The collected edition of the novel is planned for a summer 2020 release. It will kick off a series of releases in full novel format starting then, as all the hard work I'm currently putting in for my fans on Patreon will be released to the world.

Over the next couple months, I have plans to release new slightly revised editions of the first three Lightweight novels as well, correcting a few minor errors and adding a new afterword. That afterword will come along with a major push for my newsletter and the Patreon, which will both get bonus stories as well. It's all part of a greater plan to increase the discoverability of my work. 

That being said, I don't want anyone out there already reading my work to think I will overlook them. While I plan to release several exclusives, I will make sure they are available to all my current subscribers as well as the new readers.

My focus now is on another Doctor Cosmic Presents story as well as the remainder of Quadrant and Shockwave. Then late this year, I will return to work on book five of Lightweight. If my writing schedule remains on track, I will have it complete before the collected edition of book four is ever released.

Wish me luck and keep reading!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Kickstart the Week 75: The stupendous art edition!

I am a nut for cool art in a variety of formats, ranging from comics to book covers to fine art for its own sake. This time around I'll look at three features that just go above and beyond with superb art!

I'll kick things off with a return as Karl Kesel and David Hahn have returned to make their failed Impossible Jones comic a reality now as an original graphic novel.

Described as "grin and gritty" by its creators, Impossible Jones follows the misadventures of a thief that after getting super-stretching powers is mistaken for a hero. She rolls with it and an all new hero(-ish) is born. Hahn draws with a clean animation-esque style that is perfect for this kind of grand super-adventure! Check it out at Kickstarter!


I was not familiar with the work of Kristof Spaey before I stumbled upon his Kickstarter, but the gentleman knows what I like. He's creating hundreds of pieces of art in the style of classic adventure and mystery pulp paperbacks. You know the type: they all feature an attractive woman and a cool title.
The Kickstarter's slipcase featuring Spaey's art.
Spaey has already produced four art books in this series and he's now out to fund his fifth and final one plus a slipcase for all the books. These all look just amazing, but the Belgium-based artist sadly offers no digital editions for those of us not able to pay three times the book's cost for shipping. Sadly that means I can only recommend these to my readers in the European Union, but everyone should at least head over to the Kickstarter and check out his art!


We wrap this edition with a collection of stories from Helios Quarterly. The Best of Helios Quarterly features stories from the first three years of what they describe as a magazine of diverse speculative fiction. And while I'm not particularly familiar with the magazine, its writers or editor Zelda Knight, I can certainly say they have a knack for great covers on the three years of issues this collection draws from. We will close out this Kickstart the Week with the George C. Cotronis cover of this book as a final encouragement to go take a look at the book on Kickstarter.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Great Art: Ninjak by Michel Fiffe

Michel Fiffe draws one of my favorite comics right now in Copra, but he doesn't do non-creator owned characters all that often. But this variant to the Valiant Ninjak book was totally worth the price of admission!

As always, you can check out a lot more Great Art in the Super Powered Fiction Facebook group!. 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, June 12, 2019

Influential 10: Batman Role-Playing Game

Sometimes I forget how important RPGs were to my foundation as a writer. While I haven't been in an active game for almost twenty years now, I still will use them now and then as a means to generate interesting and unique characters for my stories. This Influential, previously exclusive in slightly different form to my Patrons, looks back at those formative years of gaming, with one game in particular taking the lead.

From a childhood filled with toys and grand superhero adventures, I moved in to role playing games as a way to express my storytelling. My brother started me down this road with the Marvel Super Heroes role playing game. This was the TSR produced game better known these  days as FASERIP. While I found the game fun, my access was always limited to when I could borrow it from my brother. With that in mind, I set out to find my own game to own.

I started with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Anyone that's played a Palladium system knows exactly how old school they are, even in comparison to the mid-80s design of Jeff Grubb with the Marvel game. I loved a lot about it (and it helped cement my already supreme fandom for TMNT) but it didn't allow me to create the full range of superheroes brimming in my young skull.

That came with the Batman Role-Playing Game. The standalone book came out in 1989 just in time for the film, but it is 100% pure old school Batman (and other 80s era DC vigilantes like Ragman and The Question.) Though the cover can best be described as boring, when I found it a year or two after release, I immediately wanted it. Considering we were in a Ben Franklin (remember those?) for maybe 5 bucks, it proved an easy get.

It's a shock it sold so poorly with
such an amazing cover, right?
The Batman RPG can best be described as the DC Heroes Basic Game. Built around a 9 stat system now called MEGS, every action in the game runs off a single action table. Built on an exponential system where each rank doubles the last, it has become a favorite of math-oriented gamers for decades. But I loved just how well the mechanics worked for building anything from a world-class detective to a man of steel. (I also found bemusement in that it was the only licensed game I read that outright said someone playing it should be Batman.)

This was the first book that I discovered a point buy system for character building, something my previous two game experiences left by the wayside for random character generation. Never had I felt so empowered to generate a hero from the ground up. Though the math was a bit complicated (though nothing in comparison to some other point-buy games like Champions I would eventually learn) I worked my way through it and started to really build characters.

And it was with MEGS that I started building my own super-universe. Initially I built it upon a plethora of comic books, pretty traditional DC and TMNT characters, but often adapting many a Marvel hero from a What If story. (I distinctly remember building the entire X-Men corner of the universe from What if Wolverine was Lord of Vampires?) Soon, I started to let that slip away as I developed into my own narratives however.

Things started with the Crusader, a name I sometimes used when we also turned our toys into superheroes. He would develop over the years to become a character I'm still developing for his own book, but back then he was pretty much just a badass knight with a magic sword. Simple and none too original for an early 90s comic fan.

The true foundation that really started the founding of my own original comic universe was built around trying to come up with a new power set for a young hero. I went through both the Marvel game and the DC game searching for something not used by many heroes in either universe. The answer was gravity manipulation.

Twenty plus years later, Lightweight is still the cornerstone of the Quadrant Universe. While he's a dramatically different character than his earliest RPG incarnations, so much of his character was developed in those fledgling days of character creation and excitement for a universe of heroes.
Yet that universe has grown from quite different routes than either comic book universe from which my gaming days started. But the true formation of the Quadrant Universe is a story for the next installment!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Coming Continuing Comics 5: the one with a serial killer and a nun

Every month I peruse the comic solicits to see what I want to add to my subscription list. Triple C takes a look at the superhero books that most stand out to me or I think are well worth a wider look by everyone.

Of course, the first entry this month is pretty much guaranteed to get a ridiculously wide look. Absolute Carnage is the latest Marvel event. (Remember a year ago when they promised we wouldn't have endless events at the company? They lied.) But unlike so many other events currently running at the publisher, Absolute Carnage is a spinoff of one of the company's two best books, Venom. (If you're wondering, the finest title from them right now though is Immortal Hulk.) Venom took the symbiote concept to a cosmic backdrop and this new series continues in that vein as a powered up Carnage now seeks to kill everyone ever touched by an oozy sentient costume. With the same team that launched the current Venom, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, this one will likely be both mind-bending and gorgeous.

I will stand by Warrior Nun Araela as a solid, well written superhero narrative of the mid-nineties that subverted the bad girl trend to tell some great stories. Ben Dunn started it and current YA author Barry Lyga developed the character over the years into a great character with an expansive universe. But the Warrior Nun concept was eventually sold to Avatar where it wallowed for years until the announcement the property was picked up as a new series on Netflix. Now Grimm Fairy Tales veteran (and longtime novel tie in writer) Pat Shand is launching a new era of the series with Warrior Nun Dora. Aided by Uber: Invasion artist Daniel Gete (which might not be a good sign for that series finishing anytime soon ever), it looks like a darker take on the concept set deep in the 90s.

The final pick of this month is a dollar reprint, but one with a strange hybrid. Michel Fiffe has self-published Copra for several years now. A couple months back, he reprinted the trades for the series through Image. Now on the heels of the announcement that Image is the book's new home, it also gets the Image Firsts treatment. Copra #1 reprinted for only a dollar has me intrigued, especially to see how the format works with Fiffe's creative process, one that he's used a lot of matte non-glossy paper to publish. It's an intriguing proposal as the new series looms, and it will only take a dollar to find out the answer!

Over all, it's a sparse August. The month rarely has a ton of launches, as September and October are the dates when you can start debuting all your big San Diego announcements. But these three books at least are worth a read. Stop by your local comic shop or favorite online retailer and make sure you give them a pre-order!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Gallur-y: Super-Nenas!

Over the last few years, Mexican artist Rafael Gallur has become a go to painter for action. A regular painter of amazing lucha libre magazine covers, he channels the energy of Frazetta into modern cover art, something very lacking on this side of the border. And since his art doesn't quite fit into the usual comic-oriented Great Art feature, I thought it was time to give him his own feature here at Super Powered Fiction. Few painters can match the power he brings.

Unlike a lot of his work, Super Nena (or Supernena, as I've seen it written both ways) isn't an actual star of lucha libre. Created for the fiction magazine Sensacional Del Luchas, she allowed some female led stories with a whole lot of T and A. But because of her original nature, it sure looks like she was set up to be a bit more super than some of the other luchadors in the book. She definitely has a Catwoman vibe with her whip as a weapon. This cover seems to pit her against evil duplicates of herself, ones willing to use automatic weapons and murder wantonly. There's a great story there I suspect!

Be sure to head over to Gallur's DeviantArt to check out more work by him and order some of his amazing work as prints. After you're done admiring his work, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Have you joined The Good Fight yet?

I'm going to get real here. I talked about my story in The Good Fight 5: The Golden Age already, but apparently that's not brought quite enough readers to our amazing anthology. Our classic era super-heroics aren't attracting the level of readership for our previous four volumes of the Pen & Cape Society's premiere superhero anthology. Each volume features new stories from a variety of authors and superheroic worlds, and I'm proud to make this my fourth appearance in one of these books.

I could conjecture a hundred reasons as to why the book hasn't found success, but I know one thing that's definitely hurting it: lack of reviews! After just over a month out, it still only has one review on Amazon and none on Smashwords. The digital edition is $3.99, a steal for a book featuring twelve new stories by yours truly and a host of talented authors including the late great James Hudnall.

In order to encourage more reviews and in return, I have five digital copies available for reading and review. If you receive a copy, you must be willing to read it and give it a starred Amazon review within one month of receipt. I will give these away to the first five people that respond to this post here, on social media or by emailing me at nick {at} superpoweredfiction {dot} com.

If you have even a fraction of the love for super powered fiction that I have, I know this is a deal too good to pass up! And even if you don't get a free copy, please buy the book and review it when you're done. Every single review helps immensely. I know you see that a lot, but it is incredibly true.

The Good Fight 5: The Golden Age is now available on AmazonSmashwords and pretty much everywhere you buy books.

Monday, June 3, 2019

June Patreon Preview: Paradox revealed to Shockwave! Lightweight battles a group of old foes!

June on Patreon brings two new chapters of two of my ongoing serial novels! Here's the scoop on both issues!

Shockwave III: The City Above takes Noah Logan off of Earth for the first time to the strange world of Paradox and the Floating City. Tia meets a strange woman at the hospital while Sarah and Eighty-Six encounter The Hound. Answers are revealed, but they may just complicate things even more for our hero!

This story drops June 4th for all $5 and up Patrons!

Lightweight 20: Eye of the Beholder brings Kevin and Zia back to Federation, but it is anything but a homecoming for Kevin! With a sense of deja vu, he comes under attack at the airport and its battle designed with all his strengths and weaknesses in mind! Someone that knows him all too well wants him dead! Is it Ragnarok? Or is something more going on?

This story drops June 18 for all $2 and over Patrons.

Shockwave and Lightweight are two great heroes and I want to encourage everyone to go check them out. Everyone that supports on Patreon gets not only these two chapters when they launch but the entire back catalog of both series as well as Quadrant and Doctor Cosmic Presents. It's the cheapest, easiest way to support great new super powered fiction by yours truly. Check it all out at Patreon.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Cosplay Friday: Starfire

I will make no secrets that I sometimes play favorites here on Cosplay Friday. But it's been nearly two years since I last featured my favorite Titan on a cosplay post. That worked out wonderfully for TatumTotCosplay as I get to feature her absolutely amazing Starfire cosplay today! She knocked it out of the park with her modern take on the character here!

You can check out a lot more great Cosplay pictures over on my Twitter. 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!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The strange journeys of the writer (WIP Wednesday)

I've made no secret that I like to bounce from project to project as I write. I'm furiously working to get the final touches on the current volume of Lightweight wrapped before I move on to the concluding chapters of both Quadrant and Shockwave. But along with the super-secret stories that will take the place of Lightweight on the Patreon schedule in the second half of the year, I'm also hard at work on a new book in a new corner of the Quadrant Universe.

Image by Aziz Acharki via Unsplash. 

It's time I take a deep dive into the mystic side of the universe. 

It will involve ancient artifacts, secret societies and a lineage of heroes, so if you're enjoying the things I'm currently writing, I suspect this new project will intrigue as well. I'm actually working through some of the different bits and pieces of comic and historical lore that have inspired it right now. I've got works from Michael Scott, Sharon Scott (no relation), J.M. DeMatteis, Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis on the table as I try to gather my thoughts on how best to bring my new hero to life.

Since this one is still in the development stages, it's probably about a year out at least from publication. But I'm sure I'll talk about it a lot more when its underway.

As that develops and even as I put the finishing touches on the current Lightweight story arc, I've already started to outline the next chapter of Kevin's life. I've been working to develop a full schedule for my releases on Patreon over the next year or so. The releases on other platforms will continue to follow around six months after each issue's release with collected editions out six months after the final chapter of each arc. That means Lightweight: Ragnarok won't be released as a collected edition until sometime next summer, for those keeping track, but after that, I should have a new print collection out about once every four to six months going forward.

With Lightweight being the Quadrant Universe's flagship book, I'm hoping to have a setup in place that after the next hiatus, it should have a minimum of seven to nine new issues out every year. I have a lot more adventures of Kevin to share with all of you in the months and years ahead!

Remember if Patreon isn't your jam, pre-orders for first four chapters of the current Patreon run of Lightweight stories are now up at Smashwords. Starting with "Earthbound," the current series takes him all over the globe on a path to a deadly confrontation with the villain known as Ragnarok! It's a can't-miss new chapter in the life of our hero!

To stay up to date on the release schedule and all things Quadrant Universe, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Great Art: Storm by Ken Steacy

Canadian great Ken Steacy isn't a name mentioned nearly enough in the annuls of great comic artists, but he did some truly great work from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. Here's an excellent Storm pin-up from a classic issue of Marvel Fanfare as a shining example.

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, May 22, 2019

New Heroics 1: a look at new super powered fiction!

I've been quietly whiling away with my own works for years now, but with my focus on the Quadrant Universe, I've lost a lot of the places where I crossover with the other creators out there with superheroes in their fiction. To remedy that, I introduce New Heroics, a recurring column where I look at books coming in the wide world of stories out there. These are not meant as an endorsement of any writer's work, but a way to share new stuff from compatriots in the writing trenches.

Knightwatch: Invictus X is the first book in veteran scribe Mark Ellis's new superhero fiction series. With characters culled from the public domain, he uses the DC generational concept to form his own takes on several characters with familiar names. This one is actually on my Kindle right now and I can vouch that the adventures of Scarab, Magno, Lynx, Samson and Kismet get better with each page.

Friend of the site and all around swell guy Jeff Deischer is a writing machine. His latest novel is New World Order: Hero U.N.I.O.N. which focuses on a United Nations program to develop superhuman agents. With fifty years of history behind it, this looks like an interesting take on the classic THUNDER Agents concept, one which always needs more love.

I've known David Kachel for years, as the man helped me make the classic Metahuman Press site in the mid-aughts. He's since honed his craft and has released a collected edition of his Legacy: The Tale of the American Eagle. I can vouch for the quality of this one, so be sure to get out there and check it out.

Derek Borne is a name I've not yet read but he's been quickly releasing new works in his Ultimate Agent series over the last couple years. He's released a couple of shorts over the last few months featuring the Agent on the hunt for cryptids. His most recent is The Mothman Files, where if you haven't guessed, the Agent goes up against the legendary mothman.

Borne has been at it a couple years, but Yuri Jean-Baptiste just debuted his first book in January. He's got the right style down for modern publishing though, as five months later he's already got a prequel and a second book out in his Metamorphs series. The latest is the prequel, Legion's Gambit. The pull quote is a bit light on details but looks like it might set up the story of superhero students in the first volume of the series. It is free however, so anyone interested in checking out Yuri's work have no excuse not to do so.

The third book in the Chronicles of Fid series and David Reiss continues his story of the supervillain Doctor Fid in Starfall. Villains going to the light has been used as a story trope for years, but it remains a highly untapped concept for a long term superhero story. It should be interesting to see how Reiss plays it out in his series.

Michael C. Bailey is a name I've seen on the superhero fiction pages for years on Facebook. His Action Figures series has become a strong seller over the years. The eight book in the series shares a title with a fantastic Doom Patrol collection: Crawling From the Wreckage. The story picks up with our lead Carrie Hauser returning from eight months in space to find her life... a wreck. She's got to rebuild her purpose from the ground up. But two opposing teams of super-villains will make it a lot less easy in what sounds like an action packed continuance of this series!

That wraps up the first installment of New Heroics! If you're a superhero fiction writer that wants your book featured here drop me a line at nick{at}superpoweredfiction{dot}com with your new work and it just might appear in our next column!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Souls, slayers and tap dances? (Kickstart the Week 74)

It's been a bit too long since I perused the halls of Kickstarter to find some of the best super powered projects to share with you here on the blog. But this time around, I've got three books that continue series while also allowing new readers to hop on with ease.

Big Dog Ink was an indie that pumped out some superb comics over a couple year period. Finances eventually derailed it though and it seemed like its titles might be gone. But creator and writer Tom Hutchison has been bringing the material back slowly through Kickstarter over the last couple years. He's already funded a return of Critter, and now he's bringing out a new storyline that looks to move his Penny For Your Soul series forward.

I never read as much Penny as I did Critter, but it's a very solid supernatural thriller set against the backdrop of Las Vegas. This volume looks to move the series on in some major ways, but it also has levels designed for easy entry for those that haven't read the previous three volumes of this run or the first five issues of this one!

Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer was a fun, unique project by an enthusiastic creator that now looks to bring his first arc to a conclusion. With some great artists onboard, David Crownson has made a compelling series here that looks great. It doesn't shy away from the hard facts of the Underground Railroad while also bringing in a decidedly different element with the demons Harriet faces. If history and monsters are in your wheelhouse, give this one a chance.

Ted Sikora created one of the most fascinating modern comics in my humble opinion with Apama the Undiscovered Animal. I've been a proud supporter of that title since it was an early Comixology indie title, through two successful Kickstarters and now as a bimonthly series. But his Hero Tomorrow line has a second title, Tap Dance Killer. It stars the same universe's top villain, a clown princess of crime, if you will. Sikora works with artist Nikolaus Harrison on this series. He's a stellar though relatively unknown artist. The collection of the first five issues of the series is now on tap and the Kickstarter is out to fund the publication of the book.

Go give those Kickstarters a look and I hope you'll give them some love as well! And if you have a project that you think should be featured in Kickstart the Week, be sure to shoot me an email or leave a comment below!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Cosplay Friday: Emma Frost

I wasn't much a fan of AVX at Marvel, but the one great thing to come out of it was the Phoenix Force imbued Emma Frost and her costume. It was simply an amazing character design.

The immensely talented costume designer RuffleButt made her own suit here and it's nothing short of amazing work. Go over to her DeviantArt and make sure to check out all her amazing work there.

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!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Influential: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Patreon subscribers have now read the first two-thirds of Lightweight's return to Earth. Let's go back and look at a Saturday morning cartoon that influenced my style of superheroics. 

I freely admit that Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is not the best piece of Saturday morning television ever produced. Even by early 80s standards it was a so-so venture, but when you’re three and four and just falling in love with superheroes, it doesn’t really matter.

But even now, I can sit back and enjoy old episodes of the series when I find them on television or online. Because Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends made me understand that a superhero universe offers more than the simple adventures I saw on the earlier Spider-Man series or the contemporary Incredible Hulk. While Spider-Man, Firestar and Iceman could have simple adventures based around their everyday lives, they could also have bigger adventures alongside amazing guest stars, many which were completely new to me. Captain America, Sunfire, Shanna, the X-Men and a dozen other Marvel characters were shown to me for the first time in the series. I learned that Spider-Man didn’t have to be contained to local tales, but could be as big or as small scale a hero as a given adventure entailed.

A particular favorite episode with an awesome group of heroes.
It was an important lesson that I never really embraced until I started to write Lightweight and Quadrant. With both, I set out to create down to earth heroes whose adventures could span the world and the universe. Quadrant started to expand its boundaries almost immediately, but for Lightweight, it really starts in a big way with the upcoming installment, Lightweight: Beyond. The new tale takes him into the wider Quadrant Universe and will reveal much of the inner workings of the galaxy that surrounds our tiny blue word.

Lightweight: Beyond offers one other big advantage over Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends: it will never convince a single young fan that Iceman and Firestar are way more important heroes than they actually are.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Coming Continuing Comics 4: the League gets Hammered!

I like to peruse upcoming comic solicits in order to find new and interesting titles in the wings. This month's solicits are for comics coming in July and can be ordered by all reputable comic shops.

Jeff Lemire has been producing Black Hammer for a few years now and the series deserves all the acclaim it receives. But Lemire has also become an industry veteran at Valiant, Marvel and DC. Yet it still seems impressive that DC would let him run a crossover with their top tier heroes. Yet Black Hammer / Justice League is a reality. The story involves a stranger on Black Hammer farm and the coming of Starro to both realities, but details beyond that are vague.

Dark Horse is also smartly releasing the World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia the same month for anyone that is new to the characters before the crossover hits.

 I grew up on comics in the late 80s and 90s, so when I get to see new work appear from legendary creators of that era, I'm always intrigued. But when it is two of my absolute favorite of such creators doing so on one of my favorite teams, it becomes a must by. Now I freely admit I would like to see more of the Invaders on the cover to Captain America and the Invaders: The Bahamas Triangle, but when the creative team for the period piece is Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway, I'm sold. Thomas created the 40s super-team decades ago, just as he and Ordway did similar work at DC on the All-Star Squadron. Both books are favorites, so I'm excited to see the team come back to work on an Invaders title where all Invaders titles should be: World War II. Sadly it's only a one-shot, but I hope Marvel continues with some of these anniversary stories going ahead.

Believe it or not this cover is the most tame of
the five variants for Vampirella 1.
Vampirella has some great runs as a comic character. Her early appearances are gorgeously rendered by a ton of amazing Filipino artists. Tom Sniegoski created a legendary run with the character in his Vengeance of Vampirella series, but it ended before it felt like he was ready. The same can be said about Grant Morrison and Mark Millar's run a few years later. Nancy A. Collins also did some great things with the character at her new home of Dynamite. But as she debuts with yet another new series, I haven't been this excited about this character in years. That's because of the writing talents of Christopher J. Priest aboard. His plug is to take a more real world take on the character as she has to live in a world that fetishizes her. It promises to have some meta commentary on media today, I suspect, but Priest has proven an able hand with such material many times over. I know nothing of artist Ergün Gündüz, but his sample pages are impressive.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Great Art: Ultraverse by Jerome K. Moore

I don't often share my love for several of the comic book universes that were created in the 1990s that sadly didn't manage to survive into the new millennium. Milestone. Defiant. Lightning. All offered some unique ideas to the comic medium. But none resonated with me quite as strongly as the Ultraverse.

With a bit of money behind it and a team of writers impressive by any standards, Malibu pulled out a lot of stops to make their universe shine. They used a lot of big name creators to design their characters, but one of the talents that often seems most linked with their style is the incredibly talented Jerome K. Moore. Probably known these days mostly for his photorealistic Star Trek comic covers. He did a ton of design and advertising work for the Ultraverse and recently he shared this promotional piece he drew featuring the second wave of characters for the universe. Barry Windsor Smith's Rune is probably the best remembered, but Wrath and Warstrike would both have several issues of their own series over the next couple years. I'm not sure if Masquerade ever appeared in Ultraverse Premiere as promised here though. I remember seeing the character once or twice, but only in promotions like this or the trading cards. If anyone remembers her from anywhere else in Ultraverse history, please let me know.

Jerome K. Moore continues to work, though mostly in character design work for animation and such. Check out his DeviantArt for more of his 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, May 8, 2019

The past brings a new Second Life! The Good Fight 5: The Golden Age is here!

The Good Fight 5: The Golden Age came out last week. The book features stories with a pulp twist and set in the time period between the 1930s and 1950s. I was happy to be back for this one, though the nature of the book meant much like the third volume of the series, it didn't exactly work for a new story of The Second Life of D.B. Cooper, a character I always like to go back to in these volumes.

This time around though, it seemed like a great time to give a prequel to that series. Thus was born my story "The Second Life of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin."

I thought about putting Mignola's Rasputin here,
but he looks nothing like the real thing. So here's
Riley Rossmo's version from an equally oddball
take on the character. 
Grigori popped up in the first of Coop's story back in The Good Fight 2: Villains. His connection to Coop has never really been made clear, but the legendary Mad Monk now gets to live his own second life in a story set in the late 30s.

Though he's probably best known these days as a character in Hellboy, Rasputin's place in Russian history is the stuff of legend. The stories of his powers are all over the place and the insanity surrounding his death makes it clear he's just the kind of guy to have another life after the Bolshevik Revolution. Now he's in America, on the trail of a mysterious threat in a small Washington town.

I've always loved the legend of Rasputin. Much like D.B. Cooper, his legend is larger than reality and that makes him a perfect figure for super powered fiction. Yet more often than not, he's played usually as a villain or at best, an enigmatic meddler. Yet history showed him to have some history in Russian democracy, which certainly seems a noble cause to any American. I built my take on Rasputin with that in mind. After twenty years traveling the world, he's a very different individual, a man with a noble heart but a willingness to do bad things for the good of all.

The story serves as a prequel to the three existing Coop stories, but it will also have ties to an upcoming project as well. But I'll talk more about that in a future column.

The story's appearance in this volume will now serve as something of a bittersweet point in my career. The volume features the first Pen & Cape Society story by James Hudnall, a true inspiration to me as a writer. Sadly, it will also be his last as he passed away last month at the far too young age of 61. I knew James only through a few brief encounters online, but his work on ESPers directly inspired the idea of a psychic D.B. Cooper. I will talk about the meaning of his work more in a future column, but his death leaves me heartbroken for what could have been.

You'll be missed, Hud.

Monday, May 6, 2019

May Patreon Preview! Will Cinder burn down ancient Egypt? Doctor Cosmic makes his debut!

May is shaping up to be a month where things get a bit different over at Patreon!

First up, the time traveling adventures of the Quadrant brothers kicks off with a tale of Cinder as he finds himself stuck in ancient Egypt, with the threat of unending war ahead of him! Gods and men walk together as he becomes embroiled in an important point in Quadrant Universe history!

Then the first installment of Doctor Cosmic Presents brings the first of many journeys into  new corners of the Quadrant Universe. But our first tale actually takes us into the near future and the first ever meeting between Lightweight and the Morgan brothers! It's Lightweight and Quadrant together in a crossover event, all brought to us by one of the most enigmatic figures in the galaxy! This is a can't miss piece of Quadrant Universe history.

The excitement keeps rolling in the months ahead at the Patreon. Remember that all previous chapters remain available to Patreon subscribers for at least one year, so you will never have to worry about hopping into a story midstream!

Head over to Patreon and help keep new stories flowing for many months to come! 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Gallur-y: KISS!

Over the last few years, Mexican artist Rafael Gallur has become a go to painter for action. A regular painter of amazing lucha libre magazine covers, he channels the energy of Frazetta into modern cover art, something very lacking on this side of the border. And since his art doesn't quite fit into the usual comic-oriented Great Art feature, I thought it was time to give him his own feature here at Super Powered Fiction. Few painters can match the power he brings.

The comic appearances of KISS have long been an inspiration in my writing as the mix of rock band and superheroes just hits the right notes for me. And while recent KISS comics have left me disappointed, this cover Gallur did for a study of KISS comics published in Mexico deserves a wider look from fans of both the band and painted superhero art in general!

Be sure to head over to Gallur's DeviantArt to check out more work by him and order some of his amazing work as prints. After you're done admiring his work, don’t forget to check out some of the other great stuff from me this week!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Goals achieved and worlds destroyed! My 7th Camp Nanowrimo is in the books!

Image by Javier Estaban via Unsplash.
Over the weekend, I hit my goal for my seventh Camp Nanowrimo event. The twice annual free-form writing event has always been a fun one for me, and while I developed some issues with my pacing midway through the month, it's been all engines forward for the last week or so.

The main focus was playing catch up on Quadrant and I managed that quite well. I'm fast working through the latter half of volume two, otherwise known as the time travel arc. I don't want to give away much on this one, but I will reassure everyone that it continues to prove how much fun developing new tales of the Morgan brothers is for me.

I'll have more on the future of Quadrant in updates very soon. Over the next year, I hope to make the brothers' saga as important as Lightweight currently is in my publishing schedule. With that in mind, I have big plans for the characters in the weeks and months ahead!

Before I wrap this blog up I wanted to remind everyone that The Good Fight 5: The Golden Age will be available to read as of tomorrow. Go get your copies pre-ordered now!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Cosplay Friday: Nebula

I have absolutely no idea who the cosplayer is behind this rendition of the modern Nebula (based on the classic 90s design by Ron Lim.) It's some dang fine costuming work though and seems like the perfect fit as Avengers: Endgame debuts and will likely break some records this weekend.

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!

Monday, April 22, 2019

The first installment of Lightweight... free! Read "Dreams" right here, right now!

This story is already available for free from multiple sources. But I also wanted to make it free to everyone even a little curious about Lightweight. For an ebook edition, you can head over to Smashwords. To buy this story and the rest of Lightweight: Senior Year, head over to Amazon.

Lightweight: Senior Year
Nicholas Ahlhelm

I floated in the air. I was on my back, a pillow beneath me, but around me was the wide open sky. The wild blue yonder, my uncle in the Air Force used to talk about.
I knew it was a dream, but in some way that I can’t even begin to explain, I also knew it wasn’t. Like it was real and a dream all at the same time.
I could feel the cold air across my skin as I laid there, my eyes closed. My body was chilled like I was sitting in front of an air conditioner, but I knew I should be much colder. I wore only the boxers I normally stripped to before bed.  
I really didn’t want to, but I knew I needed to open my eyes. I knew this dream—or whatever it was—wouldn’t end until I did. I sat up gingerly. Even if this was a dream, I still couldn’t get over the fear of falling and like I said, I was on a cloud. I was a bit worried about that.
I slowly let my eyes crack open. The world rushed into my eyeballs with a blast of color. The sky was darkened and rusty colored, the kind of red sky that sailors apparently always go on about.
But it wasn’t the weird sky that really drew my attention in. It was the random objects floating around the cloud and me. A blender. A toaster oven. An old tire. A box of tattered Archie comics. A six pack of Mountain Dew. A ten speed bike. An M-16.
I looked over them with confusion as they slowly circled around me. I decided this had to be a dream. I couldn’t be flying and all these random things certainly couldn’t be making a slow rotation around my cloudy perch.
They were like a half dozen little moons all floating around me like a tiny planet.
Far below me, I could see the lights of Federation stretched out. Hundreds of them, tiny cars moving like tiny lighted insects. Five million men and women slept or did whatever people do in the middle of the night. Or they would be, if they were real.
I wanted down and out of there, but no matter how long I wished for the dream to end, it wasn’t going anywhere. Whoever said that dreams end when you tell yourself to wake up clearly never made it into this dream.
I tested the cloud again with my hands. It was soft, but supportive, not unlike the bed I wished I could reach from this dream.
Take me out of here, I thought. Just take me home.
The cloud suddenly shifted beneath me. It shot downwards. In seconds, I soared straight down, the darkened ground rushing towards me. I plummeted through the night sky, but I felt no fear. Somehow I knew I was safe. I was in control. This is what I was meant to do. It was as natural as walking. As breathing.
I was free.
“Kevin! Kevin! Are you awake?”
The pounding on his door forced Kevin Mathis to open his eyes. His mom’s voice echoed through his skull as he shook off the dream. He stared up at the ceiling of his room. Only it was far too close to him. He could reach out and touch it. But how—
Kevin dropped down out of the sky. He crashed back first on to the mattress of his bed. The sudden shock of pain took him by surprise, but it was nothing like the realization that he had been airborne.
It was just a dream, he thought. It could only be a dream.
His blankets were wrapped around him, almost knotted by his sudden—whatever that was. He worked them off his body and stumbled out of the bed.
His mother knocked again. “Kevin, are you all right in there? Do I need to get the key?”
“I’m fine, Mom. Just fell out of my bed.”
“You better hurry up and get ready. Your friends will be here in fifteen minutes.”
Kevin glanced at his clock. He cursed under his breath as he ran for the dresser.
Exactly thirteen minutes later he was showered (more or less), dressed and in the kitchen. As he grabbed a pop tart (always brown sugar and cinnamon) from the box, he heard the horn outside.
Mom sat at the kitchen table as he frantically put his breakfast together. She rolled her eyes as she sipped at her coffee. “You know you could tell your friends to stop in once in awhile. I don’t think I’ve seen Andy once since he got that Taurus.”
Kevin leaned down and planted a quick kiss on his mother’s cheek. “That’s because Andy doesn’t leave it unless someone makes him. He would take his classes in that thing if they would let him.”
He gave her a wave as he grabbed his bag and headed out the door. Andy was double-parked in front of the duplex. Millie was already walking down the street from the next house over.
“Hey, stranger,” she said. “Ready for one last year of this?”
“Ready for it to be over. Nine months and counting. Oh, I got one for you. What do high school and Lauryn Hill have in common?”
Millie rolled her eyes, even as she pushed her long black hair out of her eyes. “Fine, what?”
“Both will kill you softly.”
“Do you ever tell good jokes?”
“I only share the very finest humor.”
Andy honked again. Kevin and Millie both turned to see him waving them down towards the car.
“Let’s not keep our ride waiting,” Millie said. “He might leave us.”
“That would be less time in his precious. You and I both know he wouldn’t give that up.” Despite his words, Kevin joined Millie in the few short steps to Andy’s car. A moment later, they were on their way to their last first day of high school.