This was for the book signing we did at the Grove Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles last night. More signings coming up. Enjoy this as much as we enjoyed making it.
Fallen Superhero: Nimrod the Hunter
Model: Louis Moncivias
Louis Moncivias is the man. If you are in Austin, Texas and want to find film crew, stunt people, musicians, good food, cool bars or just feel the need to ride a horse and eat organic veggies from a private garden then Louis Moncivias is the man you need to meet.
I first met Louis on the set of Pastor Shepherd, a little indie flick that Ponce and I were in a few years ago. Louis was about to be Danny Trejo’s stunt double for a scene in Machete where he kicks his way out of a burning car. He was funny, nice, and he could gut a deer in 15 minutes. Ponce loved him and I too was a bit smitten.
We stayed in touch and as the road trip from Los Angeles to Louisiana approached I knew a drive through Austin was definitely in the cards. I talked to Eric about having a Native American superhero, he could speak to the animals, control the flow of rivers and summon the rain and sun gods. Of course, being fallen, maybe he could talk to the animals but couldn’t understand them. Maybe they thought he was an asshole? Maybe the rain and sun gods were busy 98% of the times he summoned them. Whatever it ended up being there was definitely a cool superhero about to be born.
I ransacked my mother’s costume storage and found a staff with deer antlers on the end of it and an amazing coat that was mesh-like and golden with red jewels on it. She also had some wicked tiger print stretchy material that would make killer superhero pants. Then I found a hooded cape, some cool purple/red fur and a leather multi-belt.
I did some quick sketch work and handed it off to my mom. We decided to combine the coat and the hooded cape into one coat-cape. I found some deck boots and with a little spray paint and mom’s fur trimming skills our hero had some nice superhero footwear. Something was still missing though. I talked with Eric and came up with the idea to make a Medallion with a Native American/Superhero symbol on it, like the belt buckle in the sketch I did, but have it on a chain around his neck, and then let the multi-belt just shine in its own glory. We also needed to come up with some gloves. Here is where we get a good taste of superhero recycling. I had a pair of Batman gloves lying around. I cut them off at the wrists and spray painted them gold. They worked perfectly with the rest of the costume. So what to do with the rest of the gloves I had severed? I through them in the box o’ goodies and forgot about them…. until I needed to make some cool gloves on the spot for Manorexic. But more on that when we get to him.
So Nimrod’s costume was done and packed for the roadtrip. By the time we drove to Austin Louis and Nancy Rankin, amazing hairstylist/yin to Louis’ yang, had lined up the pimpest of locations for us. We had the horse and wilderness, a cool little cafe called Snackbar, a salon where he would be getting his hair dresser certification (superheroes gotta pay the bills yo), a bar and the coolest bachelor pad I’ve seen outside of invading Mr. Roper’s dreams…. you know, the landlord from Three’s Company.
Mike Fenner had the pimp crib. The big rooster pic, that’s his work. The giant eggs on the table, his. Also, when I was talking to Louis about locations that would be cool to find I said, “Do you know any place that has wall to wall carpeting? That was a big fad in the 60s and 70s.” To which Louis replied, “No, I don’t know any places like that…. I do have a friend who has a fur room.”
…. a FUR room???….
Again, it was Fenner’s place. He had made this amazing room that was covered in this crazy gun-metal silver fake fur, wall to wall, ceiling to floor. Sold!
The only hitch we had with any of the locations was one of those many hitches we had during this book making adventure where we ended up getting a better location that played into the story better than originally imagined. We waited outside our original bar location for an hour or so with all of our extras we had for that day. The bar was closed and whoever the contact was had an all nighter and wasn’t answering his phone. We ate lunch, waited, left messages, then Louis told us he was going to find us a new location. 15 minutes later Louis returned to say he’d found a new location that was a mile away and they were totally cool with us shooting there. Pete’s Eastside Bar. They got worked into the storyline too, just because the location was such a great looking place that screamed story.
And the shot of Louis with his horse/best friend was a celebrity cameo of sorts. The horse, Jojo, was in the remake of Conan that came out last year. I say “of sorts” because nobody actually saw that movie because it sucked harder than a 20 dollar Thai whore trying to save up for a boob job.
The killer shot, literally, was of Nimrod standing in his “Kill Zone” where deer parts hang from chains and blood drips from tubes and just an odd assortment of creepy yet cool items abound. Nancy and Louis had all the fake blood we could possibly need and then some. We spent a great deal of time setting the shot up, making smoke shoot from the chiminea in the distance, wetting the place down. It’s indeed one of my favorite shots in the book and had Ponce and I not been cast in Pastor Shepherd it most likely would not exist. Nimrod would most likely not exist. It’s pretty cool when you connect the dots that life has laid out for you. Just wish it was as easy to see the dots that are ahead of you as it is to trace the ones that got you where you are.
I’ll let Adam Mock close out with his thoughts on our mighty Nimrod.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged . . .” has got to be one of the most famous openers in fiction. With my wife being a Jane Austen fan, I couldn’t help but pay homage to Ms. Austen’s opening line in Pride and Prejudice. And no, the plural of Draculas is NOT a typo. It’s a funny. Purposely calling vampires “Draculas” is funny every time.In season 8 episode 5 of Project Runway, a designer named Casanova had one of the best meltdown moments I’ve seen in a while. After getting fed up with the judges feedback on his designs he says, “I’m making clothes for old ladies, sluts, and flamenco dancers . . . And I’m getting fat!” I had to put this in the book somewhere and Nimrod was just the place.“The horse is his friend, it would be an insult to ride him.” is verbatim from an email Scott sent to me. Scott had written a rough paragraph of ideas that I used to flesh out the final pages of Nimrod, but the one that stood out was that simple line. It was stated so matter of factly that it had to be in the book. I believe anyone who reads it is instantly transported to that last photo, sitting across from Nimrod at that table as he speaks those sage words, and we are powerless to disagree.– Adam Mock
Fallen Superhero: Stress Bitch
Model: Helen Rosburg
The genesis of Stress Bitch was a spiral of odd little connections. We were almost done shooting all of our fallen superheroes when we discovered Helen, CEO of Medallion Press, our publisher, wanted to be a fallen superhero too. She’d seen a lot of the images we’d been churning out and had also been photographed by the talented Mr. Eric Curtis before and wanted to be part of the party. Also, knowing that my mother Connie was going to be making the costume I designed made the whole situation a no brainer. My mother has designed dresses and costumes for Helen for years so cranking out a superhero costume was just another point on the chalkboard for them.
Medallion had recently expanded to include movie and music development arms of their company. One of the first artists they signed to Medallion Music was Dirty Jenny, aka Jen Leigh, the most badass guitarist in the universe. Jen is also a Fallen Superhero, Spiral. Helen loves Jen’s music, especially the song Stress Bitch, which I also wrote with Jen. See that “spiral” of odd little connections I was talking about….
Thus, Stress Bitch, the song, was the impetus for Stress Bitch the fallen superhero. And Helen’s personal life had some elements that we could tweak to satisfy a couple of superhero story points we had not gotten to dig into up to that point. We wanted a Tony Stark type character, heavily armed and eccentric. Having that character be a woman took it to an even cooler level. And maybe the idea of her not wanting to waste ammo could come into play…. you know, she didn’t get rich by wasting money and goods. So she’s conservative on the use of her weapons arsenal and also in her political views. We were ready to knock this one out of the park.
I loved the idea of fashion camouflage and my mother actually found the most incredible metallic blue and silver camo material. I originally drew her belt with the big SB on the buckle but my mom found a wicked hand grenade belt buckle that rocked. And we discovered the pink machine gun belts at Ozzie Dots, again, can’t rave enough about that store.
Now the big bonus happened out of nowhere. When we went to shoot Helen on her property in Odessa, Florida my mother and father went along for the trip. That way she could tweak Helen’s costume if it needed any last minute adjustments. Helen said she would love it if her daughter, Ali, could be a superhero too. I thought that having her being forced into the superhero life, to follow in mama’s footsteps, was a great angle. Fortunately for us my mother had brought along all the extra material she had made Helen’s costume out of and within a couple of hours cranked out a costume for Ali. When Adam Mock was writing the story segments for Stress Bitch he dubbed Ali’s character Ann Xiety, again playing into the pressures of having to do what mommie says, especially when that mommie is a superhero. And there we were, Stress bitch and her sidekick/superhero in training, Ann Xiety.
Homerun all around. And the 2nd to last superhero of our shoot. All the animals in the Stress Bitch shots, all the locations, guns and other cool items are all Helen’s personal property we appropriated for the shoot. It really added a ton of production value to the book and we also got to shoot shotguns and assault rifles when we wanted to blow off steam.
I’ll let Adam close out with some of his thoughts on the writing of Stress Bitch and Helen and her work she does aside from her roll as CEO of Medallion Press.
“In real life Helen Rosburg and Ali DeGray are dear friends. They’re also the great granddaughter and great great granddaughter of William Wrigley. Yep, that William Wrigley. Wrigley Field and Wrigley Gum, staples of Americana. Helen also happens to be my boss, the CEO of Medallion Press and the woman who published Fallen Superheroes. Ali is a world champion horse rider. And by world champ I mean we should call her Muhammad Ali because she’s that good. Together in real life they are two of the most wonderfully interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
The “Ted Nugent “likes” this.” line originally said “Adam Mock “likes” this.” It was my nod to Helen that I understand her. Scott understood that, but felt that it was much stronger if we change it to resonate with a wider audience. In a phone conversation with him about it he simply said, “How about Ted Nugent “likes” this?” and he gave a subtle chuckle as he always does when a spark of brilliance warms over him. I felt my insides start to giggle into full blown laughter and the change was made. Ted Nugent does indeed “like” this.
One of my favorite opening lines in the entire book is “A widow by trade . . .” so much is said in those four words that push the imagery even further. It speaks of history, violence, mystery, and murder. It begs all sorts of questions that you need answers to, but the prose doesn’t allow time for it. Instead, we quickly fill you in on Stress Bitch’s distain for men, and that her mission to raise Ann up properly allows her to live on past death. Essentially making her undead, and leaving Ann no hope of breaking free.” – Adam Mock
NEXT UP: Nimrod the Hunter, modeled by Louis Moncivias
Fallen Superhero: Fast Food
Model: Matthew Ison (aka Ice-man)
So here’s a lil’ gem that fell from the heavens. Creating Fast Food was one of the most exciting, spirit crushing, then exciting again experiences of the whole shoot.
Eric and I were in Louisiana shooting superheroes. One night while indulging in Caffe Cottage’s $2 Crown special, we met a guy we’ll call Mr. X. The X is for Xtra Large. Fun guy, jolly, and a dream come true for our lil’ project.
We toyed with the idea of a superhero made out of old computer parts, from the 80s. We called him Commodore 640…. as in 640 pounds of Fallen Superhero badassnessness.
He would have a virtual reality visor, the VR 360, so he could fight crime while he played World of Warcraft. Of course, he would always suffer because of his slow internet connection…. he still uses a dial up modem. How awesome would that look, a big dial up modem with an actual old phone plugged into it. And Mr. X had access to all the old computer gear we needed. Winning! It was a great idea but it all fell apart so fast it felt like we’d woken up roofied and raped, and not in the good way.
It seems that Mr. X failed to tell us, or any of his friends, that he had to go to court for a DUI. He thought he would just go in, pay a fine, then go back to business as usual. Instead, he went back to business as UNusual. They locked his ass up for 30 days. and we didn’t find out until 5 days into his incarceration because he didn’t have our phone number on him. We learned of his misfortune through one of his friends and, as you are probably feeling in your stomachs as you read this, our hearts were broken. Our dreams of an obese superhero made of the ultimate computer geek components fighting crime poorly because 98% of his attention was focused on his online avatar were dashed in an instant.
He had already tried on the XXXL lycra bodysuit we bought for him that we were going to build off of, AND broken the zipper trying to get it on. What to do? Then we met the Ice-man. Matthew Ison, a big fan of me and the Ponceman, had been chatting with us on blogTV and really wanted to meet us. He lived in Lake Charles, a little over an hour away from Lafayette where we were stationed as we cranked out our superhero shots. He and his wife Kristen came out to meet us and hang out the day we shot my superhero, VAGABOND, cooking eggs with his Power Thumbs™ out at Lake Martin. When we saw him the lightbulbs went off. He was definitely large money, but had an extra cool quality working for him. He had this crazy curly mullet of a hairdo and the most nifty goatee…. he’d died the tips of it red…. the same red that the lycra bodysuit was. He also really dug photography so it was a natural fit.
At this point, the character Fast Food had been in my brain. A character that was faster than The Flash, but people would prefer to wait the extra few seconds for him to save them because he was just so much more attractive by American magazine cover standards. The Twinkie and Mini Diet Coke Utility belt with the giant asthma inhaler was an inspiration that worked out even better than I’d imagined it. And Matt was down to step into the superboots. The ripped zipper played into an earlier idea I had for a superhero who started as a child but never upgraded his costume. Basically you end up with a grown man in a stretchy suit made for a 10 year old.
Matt was really perfect for Fast Food. He told me he had always been “the fat guy” and this was a way he could show people that he was actually okay with being the fat guy. He was going to channel some sexy into the character. If you’ve seen the pics you know, mission accomplished.
Other serendipitous happenings that came about because of Matt fill the finished book. Conehands’ monster truck, Southern Sunshine, and the trash can graveyard, the retro office pic of Fast Food that became the cover of the book, and the Fast Food mobile all came from Matt hooking us up. That’s one of the beautiful intangibles that pepper the entire project, little connections that turn into big connections that end up making the art you are creating bigger and better than it would have been had you not met “the fat guy” that landed on the cover of said art piece. That’s why this project is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever been a part of.
In writing Fast Food’s story, Adam totally felt the character. He took everything we had created, the backstory, the locations, even the asthma inhaler on his costume, and took it to 11. He tapped into another one of those human qualities that everyone can either relate to personally or has had to deal with through family or friends.
Adam wrote this about Fast Food, and I think it really speaks volumes about the character and the reason he is such a beloved Fallen Superhero:
“With incredible speed, a love for the Bee Gees, and a nod to The Fonz, Fast Food is an image of brokenness, shame, and addiction, that reminds us all how quickly our vices can catch up to us.” – Adam Mock
NEXT UP: Stress Bitch
Fallen Superhero: Shock Mama
Model: Amanda Lyon
What can I say about Amanda other than she was birthed to be a superhero. Just look at her. The face, the hair, the curvy goodness. She is a rock goddess.
I met Amanda at Caffe Cottage. She was bartending and she also happened to be Ainnsley’s roommate at the time. We became friends instantly. She’s the kind of person you just want to hug all the time.
So, one night whilst sucking back cocktails at Caffe I asked her what kind of superhero she would want to be. She said she wanted to be electric and Shock Mama was born. I grabbed a napkin and sketched out the basic look. Satellite dish skirt and wrist guards, the sexy boots, and that hair. Her excitement was…. well…. electric.
When it came time to fabricate her costume my mother went balls to the wall crazy with joy. She had a corset that was perfect for Amanda and she pimped it out Shock Mama style. It totally made the costume go from cool to muthafuckin’ badass!
A lil’ inside scoop about my mother. She designs and creates Mardis Gras costumes, ballgowns, gothic vampire fashion and other goodies for a living. She’s very glittery and glamorous in her work and it was a perfect fit for this project. She has a room full of material. Tons of it is metallic or holographic or whatever else you would want
Mom had this metal wire, 6 gauge wire, sitting on a shelf and I went nut with it. I made Shock Mama’s pimpin’ satellite collar with that and this crazy cool metallic paper she had lying around. That stuff plus a glue gun and a tiny pair of pliers made the collar come to life.
As far as Shock Mama’s backstory goes, Amanda said she wanted to be crazy. I thought, how about a mental patient superhero. Then the idea of her getting her powers from the mental care facility struck me. She was getting shock therapy and the technician stepped out to take a call…. and never came back. There was a power surge and our poor little schizophrenic sweetheart was transformed into Shock Mama. The down side was it made her agoraphobic. Then, with the Reagan cutbacks, her mental hospital was shut down. So how do you kick a superhero out? You don’t. So now you have Shock Mama, the most powerful superhero in the universe, wandering around day to day in an abandoned mental facility. If any crime or super villain happened to do their bad business in that mental facility, Shock Mama would dispatch them with little to no effort. But, she’s stuck, trapped by her own fears, unable to help anyone despite her limitless powers.
Location Location Location – Amanda happened to be in the theatre department and said, “I think I have the perfect place to shoot.” And because of that we basically found the ultimate place to double as a mental hospital that was shut down in the 80s. The theatre department at UL. Everything you see is as it exists. The place is still in use, all the time, but hasn’t had a facelift since the early 80s. The creepy locker room with the metal cubbies, the bathroom with the nuclear radiation showers, all of it was perfect. Combined with Amanda’s amazing looks and ability to appear crazy, we cranked out yet another homerun of a Fallen Superhero.
And the bonus was, we shot everything in 5 hours. I’ve never moved so fast on a shoot. It was just me and Eric. we had streamlined the gear and our method of loading and unloading to a fine art. We rigged lights to the ceiling, lit an entire gymnasium, and found every shot faster than we’ve ever done. It helps when you have Eric’s insanely tuned eye. He sees a location and instantly knows if there’s a shot there or not. And with a model like Amanda moving as quickly and professionally as she did we barely broke a sweat.
NEXT UP: Fast Food modeled by Matthew Ison
Fallen Superhero: The Mighty Maven
Model: Peggy Grigsby (aka Mema)
The Senior Citizen Superhero. She’s badass, stylish and she’s gettin’ too old for this shit. The Mighty Maven is another favorite, mostly because she’s played by my grandmother, Mema.
I wanted to do a superhero that suffered from chauvinism, but chauvinism that was widely accepted as the way things should be. America has a huge history of wrong ideas accepted as the norm. From slavery to lead paint the fruit was ripe for the picking. The fact that women, until very recently, were supposed to stay in the kitchen and have babies became the basis for the Mighty Maven’s backstory. She could stop a bus from going off a cliff with her little finger, but the US military didn’t want that kind of publicity. They would kindly say “thanks,” followed by a “now get back in the kitchen, we’ll take credit for this.”
The design was a classy, elegant superhero. My mother had the dress and cape already made. We modified them slightly to add that superhero zing. My sister stepped up and designed and fabricated her symbol. We went with the classic, long ballroom gown gloves and gauntlets that were more like fancy gold bracelets. Tights and psychedelic boots rounded everything out with the finishing touch of the classic ’50s era thin superhero mask. And sticking to the militant minded 1050s we made her a Bazooka Blaster Quad Cane, for the superhero that needs some walking support.
I grew up with Mema, she was VERY present in my childhood. In many ways she was more of an influence on me than my parents were. I lived with her from the time I was 14 till I moved away to Austin when I was 19. She has a very dry, biting wit. She’s also someone that doesn’t take any crap from anyone.
The shooting was pretty painless. The kitchen and the Gazelle shots were both done at my parents house in Lafayette. We actually shot them around midnight so that beautiful daylight you see streaming in from outside is all the brilliance of Eric Curtis’ lighting. The night shot in the garage is also at my parents’ home. The drooping fan blades and all the other “props” are all really there, all actual items found on location. The park shots were done at Chargois Park in Lafayette. The water-tower shot has one of the only photoshopped photos in the book. We added the smoldering squirrel to the image, only because it was too difficult finding an actual smoldering squirrel for the shot. And if you look on the swingset you will see my sister, Stacey, her daughter Mya, who is also in the “Passing the torch” shot, and Josh “the Ponceman” Perry swinging on the monkey bars.
So, the Mighty Maven was cranked out in a few hours. 4 shots from 11PM to 1AM, and 2 shots about 3 months later from noon to 2PM. Pretty efficient shooting. And the generations from Mema to Mya captured is an extra sweet personal bonus for me.
NEXT UP: Shock Mama modelled by Amanda Lyon