Friday, May 18, 2012

Meet The Shadow Legion Part Two: The Nightbreaker

It's time to look at another one of Michelle Scuito's excellent character designs, and learn a little more about the heroes of the first book in The Shadow Legion series, New Roads To Hell.

This week we're going to look at this bust of The Striker From The Shadows, The Nightbreaker!
The Nightbreaker is one of two characters whose origin we'll experience in the pages of this novel....and he starts out as a fictitious character! The Nightbreaker is the hero of Nocturne, fighting crime and inspiring children once a week on WDSK...and Isaiah Copper, the actor who portrays The Daredevil In Darkness, knows a thing or two about hiding behind masks. But on a fateful Halloween night, Isaiah and the hero he portrays will merge into one...and Isaiah will find himself fighting to be the man he always hid from the public.

The Nightbreaker on the radio is a talented athlete and fighter with a number of high-tech gadgets. The Nightbreaker who haunts the streets of Nocturne isn't just so quick he looks like he appears and disappears at will--he literally seems to melt into the shadows to strike out at his enemies from nowhere. He is a man who dwells in the space between days, allowing him to move silently through our world to get the job done. As we'll see, Isaiah becomes The Nightbreaker and uses his fame as this character to re-assert his existence in a world that has forgotten him...and ends up becoming the protector of a world he tried to forget.

The other thing that's interesting about The Nightbreaker is that he's going to be the hero of a short story for an upcoming volume of Mystery Men and Women, an anthology series from Airship 27.  I'm using that story, called 'The Tick Tock Men,' as a way to bridge between Books One and Two.  While I'm writing it as a stand-alone, the goal is to show how Isaiah (and the city of Nocturne itself) goes from where it is in 1941 to where it is in 1966, when The Devil's Toybox takes place. I'll be writing stories featuring individual Shadow Legion characters as a way to filling in the details between the larger novels.

Feel free to ask any questions about this dashing hero--or the dastardly baddie you met last week. And come back soon to see another of the Defenders of The City That Lives By Night!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Meet The Shadow Legion Part One: Rose Red

I'm presently finishing up the final polish/rewrite to The Shadow Legion: New Roads To Hell before handing it over to Captain Ron Fortier at Airship 27 (and also working on 'The Tick Tock Men,' a short story featuring The Nightbreaker that will serve as a linking story between this novel and the next one, The Shadow Legion: The Devil's Toybox). As I'm doing this, I'm going to start sharing with you some of the excellent character designs my partner on this project, Michelle Scuito, came up with. It'll also be an excuse to tell you a little about the people you're about to meet...

Yep, it's teaser time.

We're going to begin with Michelle's favorite character...who happens to be the biggest, baddest (she) wolf in this woods....Rose Red.

And the fairy tale references is very much intended. After all, our sexy lil' Red Killing Hood wished upon an evil star--and got her wish. Unfortunately, her wish was to rise above her terminal illness and live forever as a princess who can draw the eyes of every man in the room. And the inhuman creature who grants her wish does so by giving her a mystical incentive to murder.

Our little Rose lives on the blood of others. She feeds on death, converting her victim's life force into her own...and not only can she use it to exist forever, she can channel it to enhance her own phyiscal abilities. Utilizing that surplus energy makes her faster, or stronger, or nigh invulnerable. Is it any wonder that Rose Red thirsts for the kind of grand gesture of gore that will turn the streets of Nocturne crimson?

Why with that sort of massive event, a girl could live forever, couldn't she?

Rose is front and center in New Roads To Hell, as we follow her rise from a sickly, wallflower wasting away from the inside to the leader of a veritable army, ready to tear apart Nocturne's underworld in an effort to make The City That Lives By Night her own private slaughterhouse.

It's fortunate that Nocturne its own band of protectors to stop her...and we'll learn about them in the coming months.

Be sure to check out more of Michelle's art at her deviant art page!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Article On The Wild Pig Super Show

I mentioned in an earlier post that Michelle and I were interviewed by journalist Don Smith at The Wild Pig Super Show.  The article has been posted and can be checked out here

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the people who swung by Michelle's booth at The Wild Pig Super Show this Saturday to say hello, buy some of her art, check out the character designs for The Nightbreaker, Dreamcatcher, Rose Red and pick up the first promotional advert for The Shadow Legion.

Perhaps the biggest surprises were the visits we got from legendary peciller of E-Man and Green Lantern Joe Staton and equally legendary 70's horror artist Rudy Nebres (who gave Michelle a great compliment!), and the interview we gave for an upcoming article on the show--we even got our picture taken!

If you're visiting the Travel Agency for the first time thanks to meeting us on Saturday, welcome!  I hope you enjoy learning about Nocturne and The Chimera Falls Universe in general.

There's a chance some new goodies will be springing up thanks to some of the people we've met, and we'll begin showing the above-referenced character designs right here starting next week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This Must Be The Place You Were Meant To Be

Okay, today I'm going to start letting you in on some of the differences between The Chimera Falls Universe and the average fictitious universe.

When you get your hands on the more recent stories tied into this world, you'll notice that there are no 'real' cities (I put the real in quotes because even when a fictitious universe utilizes a real city like New York or L.A., the presence of fictional characters--in the case of a pulp or super hero story like most of the CF Universe stories are, fictional characters with abilities above and beyond the norm--removes them from being realistic settings) here. I like to think that a reader who pays attention will be able to figure out which of these CF cities is analogous to which real life cities in the United States. Hell, I'll freely admit that Nocturne, the city where The Shadow Legion operates, is analogous to New Orleans...even if the place was built over the swamplands of Florida.

The reason for this may be a little odd, but I like to think it's logical. Since the history of the heroes and heroines of the Chimera Falls Universe are supposed to be a reflection of the history of comic books, it stands to reason all the cities they operate in are fictional ones. In the Golden Age (the first book in the Shadow Legion series takes place in the fall of 1941, a month or two before Pearl Harbor prompts America to enter World War Two),it was standard for super-heroes to operate in fictional cities based on real ones. Hell, both Gotham and Metropolis are just reflections of two aspects of my home town--Gotham being the dark, dangerous New York, while Metropolis was New York as the bright burning beacon of hope and opportunity.

Thus, early on the writing of New Roads To Hell, I decided to acknowledge something I had played around with ever since I wrote the first story in the cycle and made all the cities ones that exist only on that universe's maps. Looking back on everything I've written about the denizens of the Chimera Falls Universe, real cities are mentioned only in passing. Elsa Dawn is from Chicago, and a flashback explaining her origin is set there in Onyx Revolver. Doc Thunder makes a very vague reference to Tulsa in 'Thunder Pursued.' But other than that, the stories in the CFU take place in unknown places like Hunter's Notch, Vahalla, the Falls itself...and now Nocturne.

The reason I enjoy fictional cities is because you can pretty much tailor them to your needs. In the case of Nocturne, I wanted something akin to New Orleans (you'll find out why at a later date), but with a central business district that would grow and evolve as we wander down the decades of its history, and a history of being amenable to tech firms so I could play off of the interface between magic and science at times, most particularly in what is going to be the second book in The Shadow Legion series, The Devil's Toybox. For some reason, I had a gut feeling that this new city would have been built over Florida swampland, partially by recently freed slaves. I already had in my mind that there would be a sharp economic and racial demarcation in the city's population--and the history I had in mind fused with this desire to create some of the neighborhoods that in turn influenced the origins and backgrounds of my characters. The Nightbreaker, in particular, changed as I developed the neighborhood of Lincoln that plays a major role in New Roads To Hell.

Could I have done a similar story by setting it in the actual New Orleans? Sure. Would it have been the same story? I don't think I could have enacted my main villain's plan without creating that specific neighborhood that, in turn, inspired some of the background of one of my main characters.

Now sharp readers who pick up New Roads To Hell when it becomes available some months from now might speculate whether some of the cities namechecked within are stand-ins for actual cities. Yes, they are...and I promise anyone who asks me privately about those cities will get my confirmation or denial.

I'll continue pulling back the curtain on the CFU soon...and will also start revealing some secrets about the quartet in that promotional image as well!