Pieces Of A Superhero

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I’ve been reviewing THE HERO NEXT DOOR so I can get the fine details right for future books in that series. Haven’t set a date for it to happen but it will, and in the coming years. Nick Stavros has a big role to play in the DreadVerse.

Here’s some of the stuff I looked up for him when I put the visuals together for him in 2017.

1971 Dodge Demon

Nick’s has the hood scoops, and an all-black paint job.

Padded motorcycle shirt

Troy Lee Designs Kids UPL7855HW LS Padded Shirt at MXstore

Hard knuckle motorcycle gloves

Best Motorcycle Gloves 2021 - Reviews & Buyer's Guide | JohnBurrCycles

Ballistic pants

Obermeyer Synthetic Ballistic Pants in Black for Men - Lyst

Hard-toe side-zip boots

Black Composite Toe Side Zipper military boot - Thorogood 804-6191

Parabolic microphone

Hearing Aids, Parabolic & Shotgun Mics

Rapelling hook

New Stainless Steel Rock Climbing Hooks Outdoor Mountaineering Climbing Claw Grapple Hook Travel ...

Hardest image to find was the mask, I basically had to make that up, but you can see it in the illustrations.

Anyway, that’s all, I had fun doing it.

Doing Just Enough To Be Good

I’ve been rewatching Beast Wars with my boys, remembering what it was like to get into it as a kid, even though I was one of maybe three kids I knew who cared what it was.

Like any kids show, each episode is elaborate 22-minute commercial to sell toys. Companies figured that out in the 80s once Star Wars figures started selling like hotcakes. (T0 date, Star Wars toys have grossed roughly double the amount of money that the movies have at the box office. Think about that.)

Since I was in the business of buying those toys when the show was on, the show worked on me exactly as it was supposed to. Now I have twenty-plus years of writing under my belt and I can see the story for the mess that it is.

That’s fine though. It’s still cool to check out clips of the ‘bots and let my imagination run with it. That’s what good toys do. You shouldn’t be restricted to what it was “made for,” you should be able to goof off in your mind and do whatever you want. That was why I ended up becoming a writer.

At the end of the day the show was good enough to sell me toys, and great enough to entertain me when I was sitting in math class, refusing to pay attention.

Good stuff.

GEA Cover Progress

Been chipping at this when time permits, here are the first three phases. What comes next is just gonna take a while because rendering is a slow process.

First I do all the poses and stuff in rough underlines.

Then I finalize and refine that stuff with inks. I changed one pose (top left) and made the two middle figures a little bigger.

And then I get the flat colors in place.

Who’s in the Guild?

Got a piece of reader mail that I’ll answer on the pod, but here’s a glimpse for you who check out the site. The ongoing audio story on the DreadPennies Adventure Hour is THE GUILD OF ELDRITCH ADVENTURERS. It’s basically The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with American literary protags instead of European ones.

Chapters 1 and 2 are available on the podcast, which you can subscribe to with the following links:

Google

Apple

Spotify

The characters from chapter one were pretty much all from THE WIZARD OF OZ, with a late appearance by Hester Prynne from THE SCARLET LETTER. Chapter two takes us to Lake George in New York, which was the site of a battle in the French and Indian War. That’s where we meet two new characters, Natty Bumpo and Chingachgook. They’re from James Fenimore Cooper’s THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.

The movie from the 90s with Russell Means and Daniel Day-Lewis was a really good adaptation of the book. (They played Chingachgook and Natty, respectively.)

I considered adding in Uncas, but I felt like that would crowd the roster, so I only brought Chingachgook and the Hawk.

I’ll reveal more really cool characters as the story unfolds.

It’s time for the superhero genre to take itself seriously in literature.

There’s a reason why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best superhero movie: it stays close to the ground, it’s got a realistic story, and the superhero elements are basically window dressings to make it a little sexier.

This movie is basically a spy thriller that has the trappings of the MCU in it. The characters are excellent and the actors play it straight.

With mainstream comic book sales dying and the MCU committing suicide at the corporate level, the time is ripe for good superhero novels to fill the vacuum.

I’m still trying to find them. Tough search. Which I guess I why I have to write them.

I’m listening to this one, and it’s fine, but hot damn is the plot stale, the twists predictable, the characters way too damn cliche. There is nothing here you haven’t seen before–and there’s a nice pseudo-Latino villain in cockroach-themed power armor (La Cucracha!) to boot.

Give us better superhero stories.

The way to do this is by doing a better story *period.*

Bison Bros!

Summer of 2001 was 20 years ago at this point, and now I feel really old. Then again, I’m now married with three kids, a mortgage, a career, and all that stuff, so I haven’t exactly been sitting on my hands.

That particular summer was a year of transformation for me, as I spent months practicing on the varsity Cheer squad at my high school. I had visible six-pack abs for the first time in my life.

Anyway, since I’m trying to teach my sons that they can physically level up if they keep trying something, we’re doing a workout program this summer of my own invention. It’ll be tough, but that’s the point. They’ll go into the fall with the confidence of someone who can run and do pushups and all that with ease. We call it “Bison Bros” because the bison is the official animal of America, and we’re Americans. #legit.

We just finished our first week. It wasn’t easy, because hey, that’s life these days, but we got it done.

Are you getting in shape this summer?

Pay attention to what you feed your brain

Once upon a time there was a huge dude in Kenya who played rugby for their national team, and ended up getting signed to a linebacker position by the Indianapolis Colts for half a million dollars.

He never really dialed into the position, but he was pretty cool to watch during the offseason when I had nothing better to do, kind of like now. Anyway, several years ago when I was still hype on the Grigson-era Colts (mistake), Daniel Adongo said the above stuff in an interview, and he’s right.

The bad music you listen to, the snacks you allow yourself to have, the nonsense you read on the Internet, all of it matters when you’re trying to make yourself improve. Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot.

Inversely if you listen to good music and read good books and follow good people online and I dunno back Graham’s Patreon so you can access his more gooderly things, you’ll do better. You’ll probably even look jacked like Adongo up there. Worth a shot.