Superhero by Superhero: Infinity Girl

The harsh reality of dashed dreams

Fallen Superhero: Infinity Girl

Model: Ainnsley Begnaud

I’ve know Ainnsley since 2006. In fact, she and Michael, Vane, were in a book trailer I did back then for Helen Rosburg. She’s the CEO of Medallion Press and she’s also a Fallen Superhero…. Stress Bitch. A book trailer is like a movie trailer, but for a book. You can peep it here: CALL OF THE TRUMPET TRAILER

Ainnsley worked as a barista/bartender at Caffe Cottage in Lafayette, LA. It’s my favorite coffee spot/dive bar. One side is a cafe, the other is a dive bar. It’s also got the best drink specials in the country; cheap, big drinks, smoky dive bar with a pool table in the back. It’s the kind of place that would have given Bukowski a boner. I’ve known Lou, the owner, ever since they opened in 1993.

The inspiration was there. Superhero with a day/night job that was keeping her from getting out there and really superheroing it up proper. Something everyone can relate to, the gotta pay the bills job that wipes all your energy out so at the end of the day all you want to do is sleep. Then you gotta get up and do it all over again. I loved the duality aspect of Caffe as well. It’s a cafe/bar. She’s a barista/bartender. It’s a day/night job. No time for anything but work. Adam, my lovely co-writer, honed in  on this aspect of the character. I don’t even think we talked about it, it just came out of her character and the images. Shooting with backstory really deepens the impact of the images in the book, and Adam honed in on this without having any real conversation about it. He put it into an email where he listed what each Fallen Superhero we had represented to him, and everything he listed hit on a different level of being human that everyone can connect to either personally or through friends and family. Infinity Girl represented Dashed Dreams.

Designing infinity girl was pretty fast. I sat with Ainnsley and just talked about what was going on with her. Again the art ends up imitating life. She was trying to get a new job, finish school, get a boyfriend that wasn’t a douchebag. I instantly drew her behind the 8-ball. Then I looked at the 8 and thought, cool symbol, two loops that are locked together, damned to repeat the same course over and over again, to infinity and beyooooooooond! Infinity symbol, BINGO! and instead of it being on her chest as most superhero symbols tend to be placed, what if it was surrounding her, trapping her…. I drew it and handed it off to my mother. She took care of making it a functional physical thing. We used a pair of my sister’s old boots (yes she used to sport those pimp puppies) an old bathing suit, some gold leggings and some of my mother’s insanely cool holographic material to match the infinity symbol she made and Infinity Girl was born. Almost. I wanted something else to show that she just had bad luck, whether she brought it on herself or she was the punchline to some universal joke, we needed to see this was a person who had been traveling down a dark road. Eyepatch! We toyed with giving some backstory in the captions about how she lost the eye but figured it’s better that  we don’t know.

One of my favorite captions that Adam wrote went with a picture that didn’t make the cut when it came time to publish. The image was too similar to two of the other images we had, but I can add it here because it tickles my funny bone like a feather tickles a Turkish feather-fetishist’s rectal region.

“My cross your heart lemniscates bra gives me the support AND comfort I need to blast bad guys. Full bodied, ample support that goes on forever and ever.”

 

Writing with Adam is a gift. We share an off center sense of humor that keeps things fresh for both of us. We both seem to have just what the other one needs to add that cherry on top of whatever word sundae we’ve whipped up.

Here’s a little insight into the writing process from Adam.

“I believe Infinity Girl was the second hero I started writing narrative for.  I remember cracking myself up over the the dialog with Infinity Girl and her mom because it made Scott and I realize the power of being a voyeur into these candid conversations.  And even with a snapshot of dialog, it gives so much insight into dysfunctionality.   When her mom says that Infinity Girl had lied about being a boy for years, it forces you pause and ask the question, “Wait . . . SHE lied about being a boy?  Or her mom was that aloof that she didn’t know that Infinity Girl didn’t have a penis?

Scott and I had an interesting dialog about the photo of Infinity Girl with the plunger.  After some back and forth on funny narrative possibilities, we realized how crazy it was that there are actual instructions needed for how to properly wash your hands.  It was a revelation.   This image spoke less about what was in the toilet that clogged it, and more about how insane it is that any restaurant in America has to have a posted reminder to wash your hands, and even give instructions on how to do so.   The photo and caption shows just how asleep we can be as a culture.” – Adam Mock

Alternate plunger image

Shooting Infinity Girl was a blast. We basically hung out at Caffe one afternoon and drank and ate while we set up and shot most of what became Infinity Girl’s story. We left Caffe and drove out to my old neighborhood where there was a bunch of new homes, all of which look the same, being built in a once empty field. Then we drove back to my parents house and stopped as we came around a corner to find the sun setting in a magical, fairy tale fashion. We popped off that last shot and went back to Caffe to drink more. $2 Crown all night!

NEXT UP: 420BLNT

Superhero by Superhero: Vane

His ego is so super it renders him helpless

Fallen Superhero: Vane

Model: Michael Leblanc

I’ve known Michael since we were wee tots. Our families have been friends since they were kids. He’s currently producing a feature film I wrote and will direct and I’m sure there are dozens of other projects we will collaborate on down the line.

I thought of Michael instantly when Eric and I were thinking of people who would be good for the book. He looks like Superman, that classic Clark Kent bone structure. He’s also a good actor. I mentioned it to him and a few weeks went by, then he hit me with his idea.

Vane.

Vane?

Yes, Vane. I think there’s something there.

That something interesting he was talking about turned into one of my favorite characters, both in costume and in story. Vane’s character is basically a trust fund kid who’s never had to work for anything. We made him a child model, like a male JonBenét Ramsey. The accident that gave him his powers (read the book for that origin story) made him totally indestructible except for his one weak spot, his face; the one area no model wants to risk damaging.

In many ways Vane is the perfect Fallen Superhero. Eric’s original idea for the subjects was that they were metaphors for all the actors who come to Los Angeles thinking they are going to be the next Tom Cruise and end up on crack or waiting tables for eternity or ending up in any of the endless other horrible situations where they eventually land. The fact that Vane is one of the most powerful superheroes on the planet but refuses to use those powers for fear of hurting himself mirrors so many lives. I know “actors” who never act but have tremendous skill. They are rich, they never worked for their wealth and they have no drive, no ambition to ever do anything. Perhaps it’s a fear of failing even though they are extremely talented. Why risk failure when the bills are paid and food is on the table?

I also love the neglected rich kid angle. Michael loved it and fell into the character instantly. He did time in Los Angeles too and had more than his share of people crippled by their egos.

We shot the rooftop scenes at Tsunami in Baton Rouge. Gotta love the phallic symbols in those shots…. the water tower and the old capitol building. The nightclub shot was at a club called b.e.d. in Lafayette, LA and really showed the empty existence that on the surface seems like a full and wild life. Every girl has her eyes on him as he fills the air with vacuous anecdotes, his crotch glowing brightly.

Surrounded by women, incapable of connecting, penis illuminated

Then we move away from his public life and see Vane at home, picking up dog poop. We shot all those pics at Michael’s real parents’ home in Baton Rouge. The solo birthday celebration dinner, the ipad browsing by the pool, all of it lavish and comfortable yet totally isolated from any emotion. And of course, the final two shots, set up and payoff, where we see that even when there is some hope of emotional connection Vane is too deluded and self absorbed to notice. Pages 68-71 in the book, enjoy.

The idea of arrows pointing to his face set off the whole costume design. I sketched out what became an almost exact match of the finished costume. Instead of 3 arrows on the glove we went with one big one. As comical as it seemed the mirrors on the back of the hands and top of the shoes worked out great. Especially for the final shots in the book. The cape is the biggest difference in the sketch. It was just a simple, silver cape that ended at the ass. But my mother had this bevelled runner material she said was fro the base of a column. It was the perfect silver and had such an odd texture, and it was almost exactly shaped like a cape. She whipped the whole design out in a day and Vane was born.

UP NEXT: Infinity Girl

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Superhero by Superhero: Double Diamonds

The Ambiguity abounds in this Yin & Yang Duo

Fallen Superheroes: Double Diamonds

Models: Michelle Beyda-Scott & Veronika Olah

So this is one big ball of info for you Fallen Superhero Fans to swallow so I’ll ease it in on you.

Double Diamonds was our first shoot for the book. We drove out to Sunnyvale, CA where Michelle and Veronika were living. You see, Michelle is my daughter Rain’s mother. Veronika, or V-ron, is Rain’s other mother. We thought having a superhero duo was a great way to kickoff the book, and having them be entangled romantically just added layers of fun.

Agnes and Sadie, Tough yet Smooth.

We had a giant box of superhero odds and ends we had gotten from my mother and at the always life-saving Ozzie Dots in Los Feliz. We went to a costume shop in San Jose with the girls and found all the wonderful stuff that became their costumes. We wanted them to look like they were on the same team but having them both have a very strong sense of individuality at the same time.

We decided to go with different shades of metallic blue as the base, same style just different hues. I had the pink metallic shorts so we found a gold metallic skirt that would counter it. Michelle was the tough side and V-ron the smooth. We went silver vs gold and found same style capes but different colors and gave them matching gloves with different gauntlets. The goggles came from my mother. Add the headbands and we had an almost complete dynamic duo of dames. We just needed on las touch to unify them and also say superhero at the same time. The symbol…. what could we use as a symbol?

Then I saw them on the jewelry rack; a pair of red, shiny earrings. They looked somewhat vaginal. Perfect for our team. And if you stuck them in the right spot they’d look very superheroic. Thus the Double Diamond symbol was born, stuck proudly between the lady boobage.

Then it was off to the farm…. and luckily one of Michelle’s relatives had the perfect one, complete with horses, an RV and the most amazing pair of pigs I’ve ever seen.

We cranked out the shots. Eric called for forlorn looks, longing glances, looks of isolation, and the girls delivered the goods. We then trekked out to the oddest little place in Sunnyvale I had seen on my last visit with Rain. It was the strangest thing I’d seen in the middle of a suburb. An orchard. In the middle of a neighborhood. It was huge and beautiful and you’d never guess it was surrounded by minivans, baby boomers and a rec-center.

Now, when we shot these pics the whole Don’t ask, Don’t tell issue was kicking hard in the media so it definitely peppered the context of the photos. Also, Michelle and I had dated and a beautiful little girl came from that relationship. There was a built in feeling of failure and achievement, the yin and yang thing we were going for, and it really adds some magic to a lot of the shots.

And finally, the infamous horse tongue shot is 100% real. Eric happened to press the shutter at the right moment. And that moment happened to be when the horse looked directly into camera and stuck its tongue out. This is also even more serendipitous when you take into account that Eric does not just fire away willy nilly when he shoots. He shoots shots when he sees them. So the fact that he was at the ready when that tongue stuck out was extra momentous.

We started off with a bang. Oddly enough, we didn’t shoot another Fallen Superhero until 5 months later.

Next Up: Vane

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Superhero by Superhero: Plutonica

Plutonica, longs for domestic bliss in a crystal meth world

Fallen Superhero: Plutonica

Model: Madeline Zima

Madeline Zima is a friend of Eric Curtis. I met her at a party Eric was having at his place and we all became very excited about Madeline being one of our superheroes. This was early on, the larva stage, before we had figured out exactly how to tackle the creation and execution of the heroes that would eventually grace the pages of our lil’ book. Someone else took a pass at making Madeline’s costume and it was…. let’s just say she loked like a drag queen Carmen Miranda with a giant panty liner and shriveled shoulder pads. Not a good look, especially for someone as attractive as Madeline. Yes, they are fallen superheroes but that doesn’t mean they should look like a cracked out tropical tranny on a hot summer afternoon.

Cut to the day of the shoot. Eric and I show up at Madeline’s place ready to create something from nothing. Having Madeline as the base of your nothing is a great way to start. She’s a great actress, which helped immensely when it came time to snap the pics. She’s been in the business her whole life; she was the daughter on The Nanny, the daughter in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Mia in Californication, she’s on a new TV show and has done a ton of other work that flexes her acting muscles quite nicely.

We had a box full of odds and ends; a red metallic body suit, a few different boot choices and a mishmash of other things we had acquired while prepping the shoot. LUCK always plays a great part in everything we do. The body suit fit Madeline perfectly and the boots that actually fit on her feet were the perfect choice, the yellow ones you see pictured. We also had the tiny blue metallic shorts. Now where’s the character?

I sat by the pool with Madeline and we talked about things in her life she cared about, things she would do if she had super powers. We talked about her house. Nobody officially lived there. It held some no so pleasant memories so Madeline took a house hiatus for awhile and the lack of upkeep showed signs of what I refer to as domestic neglect. Madeline was also no stranger to failed romance. We connected on a pretty human level where we had both had people in our lives at some point that had problems with addiction, drugs, alcohol, take your pick. All these elements came into play just before the quick trip to Michael’s art supply for colored duct tape, metallic craft paper and double stick carpet tape.

Her powers would be hazardous, something that she couldn’t control completely if her mind wasn’t in the game. She would have a driving desire to belong, to fit in, to make things work, just like everybody does in their day to day jobs, friendships and romantic lives. Deciding she was from Pluto made everything fall into place. Pluto was a planet, now it’s been declassified…. what a cosmic dis! And love. Nothing says recipe for disaster more than dating an emotionally abusive male with a drug addiction. Combine that with buying a home in the suburbs and you have Plutonica; a superhero with incredible power that is rendered helpless when everything she cares about it lost. The end of her relationship paralyzes her emotionally and she spends her days sitting in her SUV by the park watching through tear-filled eyes while other soccer mom’s kids play.

I drew a quick stencil for her symbol and with a few quick snips of the scissors on the metallic paper it was done. It’s based on the hazardous waste icon but with a lil’ mo’ pizzaz. Some blue and yellow duct tape pinstriping, a nice goggle pick from mom’s bag o’ goodies and Plutonica was born. Shot entirely at Madeline’s crib one afternoon in Valencia. A surprise visit from her mom and sister got us the super-pooch in one shot, LUCK again stopped in to say “what up!”

Up next: Double Diamonds

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Superhero by Superhero: Vagabond

The hobo superhero with Power Thumbs™

Fallen Superhero: Vagabond

Model: Scott Allen Perry (aka Me)

For those of you who own the Fallen Superheroes book there is an introduction that describes the process of creating the superheroes. Basically we would either build the character off of the person playing them or find the perfect person to play that superhero we already had in mind. In my case, I drew from who I have been in the past and who I have started becoming in recent times.

I spent most of my adult life moving around a lot. All the while trying to have a successful career in some form of entertainment. In Austin it was music, in NYC it was on stage, and in Los Angeles it was Movies and TV. The notion of Vagabond being a superhero who is constantly on a quest to fight crime but not being very proactive felt good and identifiable. I love the idea of a character who is on a constant quest to fight crime but always arrives too late. Maybe he could’ve skipped that hooker pitstop and stopped the bank robbery…. but Superheroes have needs too.

As far as other personal connections to the character goes, I would definitely NOT have an issue with looking foolish or fat while flying because I had to make a double-chin and situate my body in an unflattering position to achieve flight. I’d be stoked to fly, Vagabond is definitely more concerned with his appearance. I have, however, become a bit of a Vagabond since returning to Louisiana at the beginning of 2011. I was on the road with Eric Curtis (Photographer/genius of Fallen Superheroes) shooting the book for 3 months and have spent a ton of time travelling back and froth between Lafayette, New Orleans, Austin and Los Angeles either working on my own stuff or travelling with my brother, the Ponceman, for movies he was working on. I am ready to settle in to a cozy place in New Orleans and continue my back and forth to the cities I love for work and pleasure.

Vagabond Sketch

Here is the original sketch of Vagabond. Very similar to the final costume. The differences in the color of the capes and the upper section of the costume were due to the availability of material. The goggles went from a whacky 80s style sunglasses homage to the steampunk style viser goggles, but the execution mostly stayed true to the sketch. We opted to go sleek silver retro suitcase to add to the secret agent/mystery vibe of the character and lost the extra “V” symbol under the neckline because it was too busy. And another little detail I love is that he has 2 capes. It’s totally a vanity thing, subconscious to Vagabond but definitely the onus for him deciding to have 2 separate capes instead of the standard single cape most superheroes have. And he is clearly thinner than I am. Hey, I drew it, I can shed a few pounds in sketch form if I want, right? He’s self conscious to the point that his “V” symbol is on a fat-burner belt. That way he’s always working out. And might I add, the amount of sweat that damn fat-burning belt created made the costume quite funky by the final day of shooting.

Giving Vagabond Power Thumbs™ came from the notion that since he would only use his power of flight as a last resort due to the ridiculous position he had to assume to fly, he would hitchhike. He’s a guy who wants to reduce his carbon footprint, mostly because he doesn’t want to pay for car insurance or gas. Giving him gigantic thumbs that were the source of his power was an added bonus to the hitchhiking side of the character. Definite inspiration from Uma Thurman’s character in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues in there too.

Vagabond is a character that we all know, the friend or relative who never seems to settle down in one place for too long, always following some new idea or scheme, hopping from bed to bed or couch to couch depending on the person he’s crashing with that night. And of course at the end of the day he means well. But don’t count on him showing up to the children’s cancer benefit on time if he gets into a conversation with a cute chick in the Kombucha section at the Whole Foods.

UP NEXT: Plutonica

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Fallen Superheroes: Intro to Superhero by Superhero

SAP here….

With Fallen Superheroes hitting bookshelves and comic book stores a notion has fallen into my brainhole; I should write a Hero by Hero breakdown of the characters in the book and the people who play them. This I shall do.

If you truly love this book as much as we do please pass the word on to your local book stores and especially the comic book stores to stock the books. And of course there’s the facebook liking and sharing and all that you should do as well. CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK PAGE

I will post a Hero by Hero breakdown here and also linked on the Facebook page that gives you, the true fans, an in depth look at the heroes and the people who play them. Here’s a list in the order they appear in the book and also the order in which I shall break them down…. I’m up first!

Vagabond: Scott Allen Perry

Plutonica: Madeline Zima

Double Diamonds: Michelle Beyda-Scott and Veronika Olah

Vane: Michael Leblanc

Infinity Girl: Ainnsley Begnaud

420BLNT: Cozmo Johnson

The Mighty Maven: Peggy Grigsby A.K.A. Mema

Shock Mama: Amanda Lyon

Fast Food: Matthew “EIICEMAN” Ison

Stress Bitch and Ann Xiety : Helen Rosburg and Ali DeGray

Nimrod the Hunter: Louis Moncivias

Chain Male: Josh “the Ponceman” Perry

Iron Meng: Mario Durant

Jupiter Boy and Captain Sensitivity: Andy Dick and Lucas Dick

Spiral: Jen Leigh, Spiral the dog

The American Angler: Joseph Zenner

Butter & Fly: Hanna Hall and Laura Peters

9 Juan Juan: Carlos Trujillo

City Badger: Derek “D-Bone” Reckley

Healing Feet: Doug Jones

Manorexic: Zach Bolden

Conehands: Nicole Landry

Yellow Fever: Adam Mock

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