Many of you Geekscapists will remember the first time Super Action Man graced us with his presence. He was loud, scantily clad and super pro-U.S.A. He appeared at Comic Con, on the Geekscape podcast and even the American Gladiator try outs. He interrogated cos-players, weekend warriors, Felicia Day and numerous comic book fans and professionals. Hopefully, you also remember SAM as being pretty funny. It’s your reactions to the character that made me want to do a series of internet shorts based on his secret exploits.
For the uninitiated. SAM’s a throwback to the 80s one man army style of movies like Commando and Rambo but super with an even more severe pro-America bend. When I worked at Blockbuster in high school there was a section for Action movies and then a separate section (an elite section) titled “Super Action” for movies like Commando and Rambo and anything with Lorenzo Lamas, Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren or Stephen Seagal. These are movies that would become mainstays on Sunday after noon cable TV. Super Action Man got his name there, in that video section filled with solo missions and over the top violence, because that’s where he belonged. You look back at those movies and they’re mostly comedies, which is what we love about them. They’re ridiculously over the top and unapologetic AND American, like Howard Stern and pro wrestling.
Because of the Geekscape audience’s enthusiasm, I wanted to do a series of short films with SAM but if I was going to make them in proper Super Action fashion and ridiculously loud, they’d be way too expensive. When Geekscapist and comic creator Stephen Lindsay introduced me to Andrew DelQuadro at 215 Ink and I saw how creator friendly he was, the immediate idea was to turn these short scripts into a Super Action Man comic. Finally I give you guys all of these stories without any restrictions. Looking at the artwork that penciler Ace Continuado and color artist Peebo Mondia delivered, I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I was excited for all of you to read the book (and I still am)! But on Sunday, United States enemy Osama Bin Laden was killed by a covert team of U.S. soldiers and the book’s perception immediately changed.
This face to face meeting was long overdue!
As I told IGN. com, “The first issue was always going to be Super Action Man fighting Osama Bin Laden. I think a lot of Americans feel a helplessness and frustration with U.S. foreign policy that goes back decades and it doesn’t really matter what party you’re a member of. You feel it. It’s just so complicated and has so many moving parts with results stretching over such long periods of time that we can’t help it. We feel so removed from the process that you can’t help but be frustrated. So writing SAM stories is kind of cathartic to me, like watching 80s action movies. What if everything was this simple and black and white? What if the bad guys were this obvious and one man could solve everything? I think there’s a lot of room for that with fiction and comic books have always played a cathartic role in American pop culture. Superman is an immigrant created during a period when the U.S. took on a ton of immigrants. The X-Men resonated Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. My character doesn’t hold a light to those (and is actually pretty deficient when put in context to them) but it’s still cathartic for me to write.”
Super Action Man really started out of frustration I’ve felt for years. I was frustrated at the African embassy bombings because we knew who these guys were and couldn’t get them. Then the U.S. Cole happened and it got worse. I was sad when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban. And I was living in New York City a few weeks later when 9/11 happened and the shock and helplessness frustrated the hell out of me. How could this guy still be running around doing this? I know I was in the majority of Americans feeling this way. The only thing I could do was write a story about it. Obviously, SAM is a gross oversimplification and fictionalization of real events but I think there’s a place for that in pop culture. I even think that the commentary that it can provide has an important place in easing our collective frustrations. Comic books have done this for decades. The first issue of Captain America had Cap punching Hitler in the face at the height of World War 2! Why would we move away from using stories to reflect our national sentiment? People can do radio shows, write articles and songs and organize poltical rallies. Why not express these things in comic books? Especially now that comics are finding their larger place in the mass media, I think it’s a good voice to begin using. These stories are being paid attention to by a wider cross section than the regular comic book buyer.
Not one of Super Action Man’s favorite programs…
We’ve recently had Superman disown his U.S. citizenship and ten years ago Lex Luthor became president. But why not integrate real events into comics? Movies ranging from Black Hawk Down to Team America take a liberties with factual events. Does it erode the importance of the real events? Super Action Man #1 had been lettered and done for weeks when the news broke that Bin Laden had finally been killed. Look at the blurb in May’s Previews catalogue. It reveals “In the months following 9/11″… the original time and setting for the book! I absolutely went back and had a handful of captions re-lettered to update things in light of Sunday’s events. Why not? Commentary, even as overblown and exaggerated as Super Action Man, is best when it dovetails with our current sentiments and remains topical. Just look at Captain America #1!
SAM was always designed as a love letter to our armed forces and America. I think it’d be wrong to pull the book just because my rendition is cartoonish and exaggerated when we are now beginning to know what the real events were. I want the book to always continue in this vein and meditate a little bit on the strengths and the flaws of our young nation as seen through a hilarious lens. That’s what I need it to be because otherwise it’s not really about America or anything. It’s just about some dude running around crazy in his undies and he might as well be Canadian at that point.
This book going to make fun of the facts and mess with things a bit. At times it’s going to feel like the Jesse Ventura conspiracy theory of hilarious comic books. If you really want the hard facts in the first place, you probably shouldn’t be looking for them in a comic book. There are history books, experts and Wikipedia (shiver) for that! But this first book is done. Bin Laden is dead. And the contents of this first issue are so much about free speech (almost to the point of being annoying) that it would be disrespectful to scrap it just because it’s a comedy book based around real events. The first amendment was established and protected to uphold our ability to publish silly books just like this one. Every step of the way, I sent the artwork to my friends in the armed forces to get them pumped and they couldn’t be more excited for this book. The reaction from soldiers at WonderCon was awesome and so positive. Just look at Tone Rodriguez’s cover! I asked him to give me a current events version of that first Captain America cover and he killed it on his first try! Ace Continuado’s pencils were enough to catch Marvel’s attention and Peebo Mondia’s color art makes the action pop. From Ed Brisson’s lettering to the rest of the book, everyone busted their butts to make this comic.
Just like S.A.M., this book packs serious heat.
All in all, the ongoing series is going to be pretty damn awesome, and I thank the Geekscapists in part for inspiring the book into creation. A guy running around in his underwear, beating up our nation’s enemies while singing the praises of McDonald’s, NASCAR, hot babes and a free economy? That’s about as All American as you can get and I’m excited for you guys to read it. I would love to write SAM forever but need your help.
The book is very much an indie title with no guarantee that your comic book store will order a copy without you telling them to. Call or visit your local comic shop as soon as you can and ask them to order you a copy of Super Action Man #1. They can find the book on page 332 with a special Spotlight in the May’s Previews and they can order it with order code “MAY111224″. You’ll receive your copy in July. Mail it to me and I’ll sign it and send it back to you. SAM may even sign it. But you’ll want to hurry. We’re racing against history here and you’d hate for world events to come and go before SAM gets a chance to kill Kim Jong-il or Muammar Gaddafi!