RIP Stan Lee. Humans entertain, gods bore.

A bright light has gone out in the world. I was but a kid when Spider-Man and Fantastic Four were first published. Compared to DC Comics at the time, Stan’s characters were more flawed, more human, more fun. Super Holly Hansson is the Superman of my writing world, but she is not a perfect boy scout. She is a geek girl with a short fuse. Lesson learned.

John Trumbull ran an article a while ago that showcased Lee’s dialog when some of the jerkier fanboys would say it was ALL Kirby and ALL Ditko and Stan just took all the credit. In the article, John showed a panel from Fantastic Four, Lee’s writing and Kirby’s art.

And one from New Gods, Kirby’s writing and art.

Have I mentioned that one way to have Super Holly Hansson give you a fat lip is to call her a goddess? Putting “Gods” in a title puts me off. Fellow writers tell me that they like how Holly is “very human.”

On Stan Lee’s Fresh Air interview, he asked Terry Gross to imagine a monster: 12-feet tall, purple skin, breathing fire, two heads. In the 1960s, a typical superhero would have said, “A creature from another world – I’d better capture him before he destroys the city.” Spider-Man might say, “Who’s the nut in the Halloween costume?” Stan said he tried to do dialogue that represented the way real, flesh and blood, three-dimensional people would talk. What better writing advice can I get?

Stan loved making original sound effect words: “btkooom” (the third O is, of course, silent) and “PFZZAKT” (a bullet going through a wall). I have been a little lax with crazy original sound words lately, but I admit that I still love Harry Headbutt punching Super Holly and then she clobbers him with five: THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW!!! THOOM! POW POW POW POW POW!!!

Stan said he used those fun alliterative names (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Sue Storm) because he had a bad memory. I use them too, I like their sound: Holly Hansson, Katsuko Kimura, Cal Critbert, and my favorite: Harry Headbutt! (Nice when the name says a bit about the character.)

P.S. I was going to have a Stan Lee type character in my stories: Dan Mann. But I already have three older men in Super Holly’s life: her Uncle Pops, Bennie the rubber cop, and Lash the barber. So I am gender-flipping Dan Mann into Fran Lee. When I FINALLY finish The Comic Book Code, Fran will be the head of a Marvel-type company who publishes Holly’s graphic novel, The Last Super. She will know comic book history. She’ll be Jewish. And she will have some of HERstorian and writer Trina Robbins in her soul.

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Justice League review: it’s humor and humanity, stupid.

I saw Justice League. Alone. I did not want to inflict it on anyone else. My expectations were low, like they were when my friend Brian “Mondo” called me up and wanted to see Dude, Where’s My Car? But I liked it. It was funny! (“We are hot babes.”)

I liked Justice League too. Sure, it grated on my writer brain. Some scenes felt glued together with library paste, I believe there was a payoff without setup, and too much dialog was blabby moody exposition. (Alfred Hitchcock said that exposition is a pill that must be sugar-coated.) Plenty of room for improvement. But this movie had two story elements that Man of Steel and Batman v Superman lacked: humor and humanity.

The Flash’s geeky, gawky enthusiasm and Aquaman’s heroic beer-chugging macho were especially fun. (The original Aquaman and Barry Allen Flash in DC Comics had the personalities of Macys mannequins, so this movie was right to revamp that.) Wonder Woman was again the fearless, ferocious fighter with a heart (although some of her fellow Amazons should not bare their bellies when going into battle). Batman showed his after-battle ouchie bruises and he stated his true superpower: “I’m rich.” When Superman stepped up to the villain, his voice was purehearted Christopher Reeve (it made my heart sing). Cyborg got to say his favorite line from Teen Titans Go (starts with a “B”). This movie gave the DC supers humanity to build upon. (Except Wonder Woman, she and her most excellent movie were slopping over with humanity to start with, even considering the goddess thing.) And its photography avoided a lot of the black bleak depressing sad angsty moody sepia dark tones of M of S and B v S.

Speaking of gods, a YouTube video that I saw (and lost) said it best: In the Marvel movies, the supers are human. In Man of Steel and Bats v Supes, they are gods above men. YUCK! My advice for DC movie makers: keep losing the Ayn Rand crap and you’ll keep improving.

In a super-fight, who wins?

Which super-strong superheroes would win in a fight with Super Holly? Superheroes fight a lot when they first meet. I am assuming that neither Holly or her fighting partner is under evil mind control, else the one not under control wins.

 

Wonder Woman: WW wins. Diana has many decades of warrior training, she HAS to win!

Supergirl: Probably Holly, provided that incarnation of kryptonians does not have them pushing planets out of their orbits. Holly is a better hand-to-hand fighter, and she is older and tougher, but she would feel awful about fighting a young girl.

Superman: Superman wins. Why? Because he’s Superman.

Power Girl: They would fight, but verbally.

Power Girl (pointing to Holly’s chest): “Copycat!”

Super Holly (pointing to Power Girl’s chest): “Get a logo!”

Thor: Thor would call it a draw once Holly picks up the hammer. She is worthy, although she does not think so. She would give it right back to Thor, of course. She has issues with being called a goddess: them’s fightin’ words, and that would likely be the cause of the fight in the first place.

The Hulk (Bruce Banner / Hulk Smash version): The fight would go like this:

“HULK SMASH YELLOW HAIR!” Big green fists hit Holly: THOOM BAM BOOOOOM!!!

Holly staggers. “OUCH! Oh yeah? Well, Holly smash you in the schnoz!” Super boxing fists belt Hulk’s nose: POW POW POW POW POW!!!

The Hulk staggers. “OW! YELLOW HAIR HIT HARD! LIKE STUPID ARMY GUNS FROM STUPID ARMY MEN THAT ALWAYS HOUND HULK! MAKE HULK MAD!!!” The Hulk raises his fist.

Holly grabs that big green fist with her super-strong blue telekinetic fist. “Tell me about it! Stupid paparazzi hound me! They zoom stupid telephoto lenses on my chest, and when that gets on the six o’clock news, supervillains laugh at me for days! I HATE THAT!!!”

The Hulk lowers his fists. “YELLOW HAIR HOUNDED TOO?”

Super Holly lowers her fists. “Yeah.”

The Hulk says, “HULK NOT MAD ANYMORE. YELLOW HAIR KNOW HOW HULK FEEL.”

Holly smiles and holds his hand. “Poor thing. Wanna talk about it over coffee?” Holly flies the Hulk to the nearest coffee shop, where they quaff gallons of iced mochas and talk and laugh and Tony Stark pays the bill because the Hulk does not have a wallet, and because Super Holly’s cash, not being from the Marvel Universe, would not be legal tender.

Fault Zone Uplift: My latest published Super Holly story

My short story, What Goes Up, is published in Fault Zone, a publication of the SF Peninsula branch of the California Writers Club. Super Holly Hansson saves the day several times in one day, but finds something she cannot save. I give many thanks to Laurel Anne Hill, who worked super-hard to put together this anthology, and who edited my writing into a story worthy of Fault Zone. Writers, editors are your friends.

Here is the start of “What Goes Up.”

The six-foot-tall, apricot-shaped computer on the auditorium stage glowed brighter. Was the thing about to go KA-BOOM, like old sci-fi mechanical brains computing love to the last digit? Super Holly Hansson gritted her teeth harder, tapped the console’s keyboard, and motioned toward Chris Jobz, the Apricot Computer CEO.

“Would you please hand me your tablet,” Holly said, “and get your butt behind the blast shields with your employees?” Too bad she couldn’t pitch that big yellow- orangish monster into the ocean. Too dangerous, according to Chris. “You’re not bomb- proof. I am.” So far… She swallowed hard.

Chris glanced in the direction of his staff, yet made no move to give Holly his tablet, as if he thought his lint-free black turtleneck was a supersuit. Arrogant but brave. He acted as if she could still channel superpowers into others, like she’d done to those comic book geeks months ago. She couldn’t do that anymore. Not even for a fellow geek.

“Miss Hansson, you need both hands and my help.” Chris shoved his Apricot tablet closer to Holly’s face. “You’re not an engineer.”

“I was a technical writer,” Holly said, “and this geek girl can read code.” But could she get through this in one piece? All those kids in the hospital would be so sad if she didn’t show up today. She typed faster, restraining her super-strength. Last year she’d

pulverized her favorite wireless keyboard. The shining apricot’s timer taunted her: 01:29, 01:28, 01:27…

“I know women can code. Forty percent of Apricot engineers are female,” Chris said. His eyes shot virtual daggers toward the smiling teen boy his employees restrained. “But if you don’t finish writing this Swoop code before that timer reaches zero, this Apricot will destroy the Internet.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Holly hissed as her fingertips tingled. “I suppose it was that kid’s bright idea to build a doomsday Apricot with a super-scalding keyboard.”

“Yes. Me. Crestley Smusher, to you.” The teen’s voice was nerdy, gleeful, and dripping with condescension. “It was a science project to put my highly intelligent, brightly smiling face upon every display on the planet. Upon the exact second of my eighteenth birthday, less than a minute from now. Except my superior code merged with inferior code from lesser engineers to form a nasty virus—”

“Shut up, Crestley,” Holly and Chris shouted. Holly tapped out the last line of code and turned. Behind thick, clear, plastic bomb shields, several angry Apricot geeks held Crestley’s arms. A six-foot-six and rather wide engineer got a stranglehold on the techie, whose smug smirk vanished. Speaking of vanishing, how much time had elapsed?

…00:03, 00:02, 00:01… The timer stopped. Just like on Stellar Trek, where the countdown always stopped at one. Whew! She’d done it.

Chris examined the Apricot’s display. “The Internet is saved.” He shook Holly’s hand. “Thank you.”

Such firm fingers he had, like a writer. “You’re welcome.”

“Auto destruct in fifteen seconds,” the monster Apricot voiced in a monotone. “Fourteen. Thirteen.”

“What the hell?” Chris sputtered. He and Holly whirled to face Crestley. Crestley smirked again. “All doomsday devices need a failsafe.”
“Nine. Eight.”
A failsafe? Time for Holly’s own brand of mind over matter. Crap. This was

gonna hurt. She reached out. A telekinetic hand—big, blue and transparent—shot from her own flesh-and-blood hand and engulfed the Apricot monster.

“Seven. Six.”

She punched her free fist upward. A telekinetic fist cannonballed out of it and bashed a hole in the ceiling.

“Five. Four.”
She flew through the roof and into the bright blue sky.
“Three.”
The Apricot campus shrank below her.
“Two.”
She held the doomsday Apricot in her telekinetic hand.
“One.”
Damn all arrogant nerds. Well, not all.
“Zero.”
KA-BOOOOOOM!

TO BE CONTINUED!

A rubber cop beats me to the punch.

I watched The Flash tonight. They introduced Ralph Dibny, The Elongated Man. Ralph has super-stretching powers. And he’s a cop.

My character, Bennie the Rubber Cop (based on Lennie Briscoe of Law & Order) also has super-stretching powers. (Long arm of the law, get it? Wink wink, nudge nudge?) I have not even published his short story yet (The Criminal Cupid, click to read an excerpt). Bennie does show up at the very end of my little Kindle book Super Bad Hair Day. He helps Holly deal with her… um… twin physical adjustments when her superpowers manifest.

Oh, well. My Bennie will stay rubbery. There is room for more than one stretchy cop in the world. Bennie is older. Wiser. World-weary-er. I just hope I can write more former-homicide cop wisecracks.

Holly and the Bear! (Or, it never hurts to ask.)

super-hero-bear-with-hollyLast Saturday at Alternative Press Expo, I met Bob Scott: animator, cartoonist, and creator of Molly and the Bear webcomics (click here to read them at GoComics). His artwork reminded me of Dennis the Menace with a touch of Pogo. I told him I’d had artists draw my Super Holly character. He said he’d consider that. I bought his comic book, took it home, and read it.

And loved it. Witty, playful, retro family humor. Expressive faces and body language. Clean, sharp, deceptively simple art. And a big, lovable, scaredy cat of a bear. Joe Pesci said of Herman Munster, “It’s not simple to play the goof.” To paraphrase movie critic Leonard Maltin’s line about Goldfinger and Oddjob, Bob Scott’s Bear is a goof in the classic sense of the word.

On Sunday, I told Bob how I loved that comic book, and how Bear might tell Super Holly Hansson that he could be a superhero. And I again asked about a sketch. Consider this: Bob Scott has worked on Pixar’s Toy Story 3, WALL-E, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. He is what I would call an ARTIST.

I bought his hardcover book (click here to see it on Amazon). He drew the art for me. I am happy.

Mary Jane Watson and one little drop.

Mary Jane Watson can’t be a non-redhead (translation: black), whines a little subset of white fanboys about actress Zendaya. (Even though she’s light-skinned, I hate that stupid one drop rule. Why doesn’t it work for us Swedes, we got wimpy DNA or something?)

That bugs this 60 year old white fart, I mean fanboy. I didn’t hear those drips, I mean fanboys, whine about Iris West being black in The Flash TV series. Maybe because I was bouncing off the ceiling in ecstatic fanboygasms because Law & Order’s Ed Green was her dad and I still bounce whenever he’s onscreen! In a totally hetero way, of course.

They didn’t whine much about Halle Barry playing Catwoman. I whined a lot about that movie in my first online review. It wasn’t about race, I just HATE when movies use zero percent of the source material!

They didn’t whine about Khan Noonien Singh being white in the Star Trek reboot (making Ricardo Montalbon thrash wildly in his grave). I noticed that whitewash. Khan was from Asia. He ruled over a big chunk of Asia. He was NOT a British colonizer, his dictatorship was home-grown!

Stan Lee is fine with Zendaya. So stop whining, you one drop drips!

By the power vested in me by over half a century of fanboyism, I hereby declare that any fanboy who whines about Zendaya is Scrappy-Doo screwy! Get a load of one of her super-selfies!

Zendaya-Spider-Man-Homecoming-826x620

To the guy who will play Spidey: Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot!

P.S. Provided Mary is written and played to be the strong, independent, edgy girl she is in the comics. We’ll see.

P.P.S. My sister-in-law’s mom told me that my superheroine Holly Hansson should be a redhead because of Holly’s hot temper. I admit I’d like to see red hair on Mary Jane. No problem. Dye it! Kristen Durst did.