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!