Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Complete Epic

Okay, here's my first, very rough, draft of my epic:

Stop the End - a tale of Eagle-Man by Lance Christian Johnson

It's got pretty much everything you'd want in a story - superheroes, two versions of Jesus, Greek gods, a Slavic forest witch, the Rapture, Armageddon, time travel, zombies, and angels having violences inflicted upon them.

I don't know when I'm going to get around to a second draft. Right now, I've started to write Eagle-Man's origin story. (The epic is potentially his final adventure - kinda hard to find a bigger threat than God.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Runaway story

Book I
Book II

There ya have it - the first two chapters of the epic that I've been mulling about in my mind for some time now. The thing is, this story is really getting away with itself. My original intention was for The Rapture to occur within the first few pages, and then the rest of the story would start from there.

I then decided to start the story in the middle and then flash back, just like The Odyssey and a lot of film noir do. That shouldn't have changed things too much, but I realized that I needed some sort of a dramatic hook to the whole thing. There had to be something personally at stake for Eagle-Man if he was going to try and turn the tide of the Apocalypse.

I figured out what that thing was, but then I had to set all of that up. So, by the time you get to the end of Book II, you'll discover that The Rapture still hasn't happened yet. I haven't started the third chapter just yet, but it's safe to say that it's finally going to happen there.

That's okay though, as I like what I have so far. The first one sets up many of the issues that the whole epic will deal with, and the second, while seemingly a bit of a diversion, sets up even more things that will play out by the end of the story. I was going for a mini-story within a larger one with Book II, and I was borrowing heavily from fairy tale traditions. Hopefully it works in the larger context of what I'm trying to do.

I think that's enough writing for today though. I need to ruminate on whether St. George gets raptured or not. Hmmm...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

PDF Goodness

The short story I wrote a little while back is now in PDF. Check it out.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Eagle-Epic

First off, just want to let you know that I fixed the link on the last post. That story should pop right up in MS Word.

Secondly, it probably looks like I haven't been doing much as far as Eagle-Man is concerned. That couldn't be further from the truth, as I've been doing a lot of ruminating - mostly in my head, but I've been making notes and I have the first few pages of a story going.

This one, if I manage to pull it off, is going to be big. It's going to be my The Odyssey. I don't want to write too much about it on this blog, but here's a little:

I start off with the general concept of the Left Behind books. In case you don't know what those are, they're a series of books that deal with "the rapture" and the prophecies from the Book of Revelation. They deal with those who were "left behind" after the rapture, the rise of the anti-Christ, the seven-year tribulation, etc. They're pretty popular amongst fundamentalist Christians, and while they're supposed to be action/adventure, a lot of Christians take them quite seriously and seriously believe that they're laying out a scenario that's actually going to happen.

Of course, I haven't actually read this crap. I did see the movie that was based on the first book. Don't bother with it. I thought it would be funny bad, but it's boring bad. Still, there are so many patently absurd things in there, and it is an interesting setup, that I want to do my own riff on it. So, I've been scouring the summaries on Wikipedia and making notes based on that. Also, I've been looking into the actual Book of Revelation and the Gospels for further inspiration.

So, it's basically Eagle-Man versus the fundamentalist end times. It will also involve time travel, zombies, an army of archaic gods, and many angels getting their heads smashed in. If I can pull this one off, it should be pretty fun. My plan is to work on it this summer (since I won't be working).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Who dares Eagle-Man?

One thing I've always struggled with my Eagle-Man stories is coming up with a decent villain for him to go up against. I've had a few who were okay, but with the ideas that I currently have in my head, they really don't work. The only one whom I'd keep is a fella named The Harbinger, who basically is part of a race that inhabited Earth before the coming of the human race (he's humanlike in appearance - perhaps in the new version, he'd be a former angel or something along those lines.) He wants this current age to pass, and he tries to bring on the destruction of the planet by awakening a dragon. Not a bad idea, and I'll probably tweak it and add it to the current mythology.

Without a doubt, the two superheroes with the best rogues galleries are Spider-Man and Batman. All their villains are so perfectly suited to battling their respective heroes. The Joker represents the chaos that's in conflict with Batman's order. The Green Goblin represents the corrupted man who battles against the idealistic youth of Spider-Man. Great stuff, and I want mine to be just as good.

I figure that everyone he fights needs to have some kind of an animal theme in some way or another. I want to bring in other elements as well that keep a slight, satircal bent. I'm currently thinking of an evangelist who's secretly a vampire (the animal theme, of course, being that of a bat.) I also want to make fun of pundits - but what animal best corresponds with the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh? Leeches? I'm not sure, but I'll come up with something.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Where is Eagle-Man?

All of my post-high school Eagle-Man stories had him in a place called Suburbia City. One thing that I always liked about the DC superheroes was the fictional cities (Gotham, Metropolis, Central City, Coast City, etc.) where the heroes lived. I'm thinking of keeping this idea, and most of the ideas from those stories the same, but once again, I want to get away from such an obvious jokey name. Too bad Cloverfield was taken (by a monster, but it sounds like a city). I want something with a name like that.

Suburbia City (as I'll refer to it until I come up with a better name) is a sprawling, mostly nondescript city with no agreed upon downtown. It has about five million people, and it's a lot like the L.A. suburbs where it just bleeds on and on without any significant change in geography. There are a few notable places though, mainly for the upperclass communities. Also, it's divided up into a lot of "towns" that are designated by ethnicity. There's a Mexico Town, for instance (although I think it would be funny if most of the people there are from some other Latin descent, and it was given its name by ignorant white people who can't be bothered to learn the difference.) I plan on keeping everything deliberately vague, that way I can make up neighborhoods as necessary.

The fun thing about Eagle-Man himself is that since he's so inhuman in appearance, he's able to go from one neighborhood to the next without standing out any more than he would in another. This also reminds me that one of his powers is the power of languages, as he can speak and understand every language that has ever been spoken. It's a fun power for him to have, and I might keep the joke that the only language that he can't understand is Swedish.

The one big difference is that Eagle-Man can't stay in Suburbia City. He's going to grow up there, and he might even need to return. However, Superman didn't stay in Smallville and Luke Skywalker didn't stay on Tatooine. He's going to go someplace a little more fancy, which brings me to Ilium.

I might actually keep this name. I'm still undecided as to a few things, as I've made it a part of the United States and I've made it its own country. I've had it be an island and I've had it on the coast of the United States (which coast? I deliberately leave that vague.) Perhaps I'll make it part of an acquisition from the U.S. after it lost its independence, ala Hawaii.

One thing that will definitely remain the same is that the city has a large tower that overlooks the ocean. Also, it will be a tourist destination and be rich in culture. Essentially, it will be the opposite of Suburbia City in every way. Too bad it has a name that hints at a certain doom.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Who is Eagle-Man - Part III

Okay, so what powers does Eagle-Man have?

As Macarthur, he's just a regular guy and he ages the same as everybody else. When he changes into Eagle-Man, the transformation is instantaneous. There is no American Werewolf in London type of violent transformation. While it won't get explained in the story, he actually has two bodies and only uses one at a time. While he's Macarthur, the Eagle-Man body rests in a parallel dimension. When he makes the change, the bodies swap places but his consciousness moves to the body that he's currently using. I might explore this in another story sometime later.

As Eagle-Man, he's 6'7", muscular and with the face of a bird. The beak is more malleable than an actual bird's though, allowing for a greater variety of expression. His feathers swirl forward into what could best be described as a pompadour. (Sudden interruption of thought here - a cooper's hawk just swooped down and rested on the fance post outside my window. He stood there for about thirty seconds before he took off again. Too bad Hawkman is an already well-established superhero in the DC Universe!) He wears blue jeans and a white shirt - like a 50s street punk. Later in his adventures, he'll move to all black - black jeans, black T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. He wears gloves, as his taloned-hands freak him out, and he hates the idea of clawing a person's face off.

He possesses superhuman strength - the exact limits of which will never be measured, but he will have limits.

He can't fly. At least, not for a long time. It's not until he realizes his full potential that he'll be able to fly, and along with that will come a new form - one that's more bird than man.

He's fast - able to run about 100 miles per hour. (Hardly The Flash, but pretty damned fast.)

He also posseses the enhanced eyesight of a bird of prey, enabling him to make out fine details at great distances.

His greatest strength is a near-invulneralbility to magic-based attacks. This includes being able to go toe-to-toe with enemies who have heightend strength due to magical means. Also, if he gets bitten by a vampire/werewolf/zombie, there is no effect, so long as those creatures are magic-based. His power never gets spelled out to him, so it takes some time for him to discover this, but he gets a real sense of it when he is able to resist the charms of the anti-Christ and pound him into hamburger.

His weakness is his ignorance. Since he doesn't know the near-limitless range of his capabilities, he isn't able to use them to his maximum potential. He avoids things like gunfights since he's not confident that he can take a bullet. Over time, this weakness becomes less of a problem. Still, he's hesitant to take action, and his near Hamletesque uncertainty can lead to disaster.

Who is Eagle-Man - Part II

Okay, the last blog dealt with who Eagle-Man was in terms of his origins. What I'm going to explore this time is who he is as a person, and exactly what his powers are.

In every incarnation of Eagle-Man his real name was Mac Truck. I later revealed that "Mac" was short for Macarthur. I want to get away from the jokey sorts of names, so I need to make some changes. Still, I like the fact that his first name is Macarthur, as it's an allusion to an American hero, and a controversial one at that. That last name has got to go though, and as of right now, I haven't a clue. Macarthur Macgregor? Too Scottish. Macarthur Smith? Macarthur Johnson? Hmmm...I'll get back to this instead of wasting my time on it now.

How old is he? Well, I figure that he first becomes Eagle-Man when he's nineteen and he has his many adventures through his early twenties. Beyond that, I'm not so sure, but I have vague ideas of who he is in his thirties and his "twilight" years.

As for who he is as a person, he basically has my personality, or at least, my voice. When he makes his change into his Eagle-Man persona, his inner voice tends to become his actual voice, as the shield of anonymity makes him feel less self-conscious about saying and doing what he really feels. This, of course, reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of his character.

He grew up in a middle-class environment and he's worked a number of jobs - jobs which happen to correspond with jobs that I've had. I'm not sure if he's going to eventually wind up as a teacher, but that idea seems to work for me, especially considering that part of his whole saga is that Eagle-Man "disappears" for some time, and a double life as a teacher would account for that.

As for his love life, the old stories gave him a girlfriend named Mopey. Again, getting away from the jokey names, she's now called Monica, which is quite fitting as a possible origin of the name is Latin for "to advise." She often acts as his moral compass. I'll write more about her later, but for now let's just say that she's a composite of various women that I've known throughout my life. Kirsti came into my life when Mopey/Monica was well established already, so her influence will be minimal, but it will be there.

For the new stories, I want to give him more women problems. This is where his personal life will take a detour from my own. As I mentioned before, I'm happily married, and while I like living that, I don't really want to write about a happily married hero. I'll base his problems loosely on ones that I've had, but I'll also take some cues from various friends of mine and whatever happens to pop into my head.

The old stories had him growing up with his mother and his stepfather. I'm probably going to keep this one. This is very different from what my own life was like, and his stepfather is in no way based on my own dad. It's just important that his real dad remains a mystery, but those who know their heroic cycle can pretty much figure out who/what his real father must be. As for his mother, I haven't written enough about her, so I'm not so sure about her just yet.

Who is Eagle-Man?

Lately, I've become a big fan of George Romero's zombie movies. One of the things that I like the best about them is that he very deliberately never gives an explanation as to why the zombie plague is taking place. Roger Ebert, in a review of one of his movies, asked, "What sort of explanation could explain this?" It's a good point, and while movies like 28 Days Later do a variation of the zombie idea with an explanation as to why it's happening, I think it works better when the audience can make up their own minds. Personally, I think of the zombie plague as God's way of destroying humanity like he did with the Biblical flood. I don't know if that's what Romero intended, but I have the feeling that his intention was to let us figure it out for ourselves.

Which brings me to Eagle-Man. I've had many false-starts with writing his origin story. I can never come up with an explanation as to how he got his powers that I found satisfactory. In fact, I wrote several stories with him before I ever even got around to attempting his origin. Those were fun to write, and I'd only drop hints as to what caused everything. True, people would ask me how he got his powers in the first place, but I now realize that maybe it's not such a bad thing to leave them wondering.

From here on out, I'll just know what it was that changed him, but I will let it be a mystery to him. That way, any reader will find it easier to accept. After all, if the main character doesn't know, how is he even supposed to inform the reader?

Shall I reveal it here though? I'll just say this, Eagle-Man's transformations from human to half-bird/half-man did not come about through some sort of scientific process. His powers were granted to him from a higher power. Which higher power was that? Was it the Christian God? Well, probably not, considering that animal imagery isn't that big in Christianity, and it's more befitting a pagan deity. Eagles have been venerated by various cultures throughout history, so there are a lot of possibilities. Basically, it's an old god who gave it to him, and this isn't a warm and fuzzy god. This is an old school power who wants his time in the limelight back. Bestowing a human with powers to fight in his name is just the beginning. How will Eagle-Man take to being a pawn in a larger scheme to shift the balance of heavenly powers? Not too flippin' well.