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.