Fans have a great time attending big cons like San Diego Comic Con but often what goes on behind the scenes is as interesting as what is being presented to the public.
Take writer and geek mom Jackie Kessler, who ended up writing a Buffy: The Vampire Slayer story after going to a con.
“I’d met Dark Horse editor Scott Allie at Dragon*Con, and I’d offered to give him one of my books to read. He wanted something dark and not superhero, so I gave him Hell’s Belles, (sex, strippers and demons–what’s not to like?). A month later, I received author copies of the second book in that series, The Road to Hell, and I did a Twitter giveaway to the first ten people who retweeted. Scott was number two. When I emailed to confirm his address, he asked if I’d like to write a Buffyverse short comic for MySpace Dark Horse Presents. After a moment of pinching myself, I said sure. So there you go: I got the offer because Scott liked what he’d read of Hell’s Belles.”
You can’t find “Carpe Noctem” online any long but Kessler said it will be re-printed in an upcoming “Dark Horse Presents” trade paperback collection.
When I heard this story via a mutual friend, I asked Kessler if I could also check out her books. Since I’m more of a superhero reader than a demon reader, I picked Black & White and Shades of Grey, which are co-written by Caitlin Kittredge. The books feature two young woman as the main characters so I also hoped they might appeal to the eldest daughter.
Superheroes are such a visual medium that they’re hard to translate to prose so I was a skeptic before I started reading the books. But by chapter three of the first book, I was hooked, and I stayed up late to finish the second novel.
It struck me that Kessler and Kittredge have written the story that Heroes should have been.
They’ve created a world that not only deals with how the arrival of superheroes would affect everyone but how those heroes were created. The two main characters are former best friends now on opposite sides of the law. Well, sorta.
There’s a huge cast and a number of great action sequences but what sealed the deal for me is the in-depth characterization and the descriptions of how these people feel when they use their powers.
I asked Kessler if she’d always been interested in superheroes and science fiction/fantasy stories
“I started reading comics when I was about eight. My dad and I would go to the comic book shop every Saturday, pick out the week’s stash, then spend that afternoon reading comics and talking about them. (My bat mitzvah present was X-Men numbers 94 – 100 in mint condition. Best present ever!”
Aside from me: Kessler has an awesome Geek Dad.
“They also took me on a tour of Marvel Comics when I was a teen, and one summer I got to meet Louise Simonson and show her a picture of Illyana Rasputin/Magik I’d drawn.
“I stopped reading avidly when I went to college — damn, comics got expensive — but when I was a junior, my suite mate plunked down a copy of Sandman #23 and said I had to read it. I did, and thank God, because that introduced me to Neil Gaiman. Another friend got me into MAGE, and from there I discovered Grendel.
“At one point, I had about 9,000 comics. But between time and, argh, a basement flood, I lost quite a lot of them. Now, when I buy comic books — say, Irredeemable and Incorruptible— I tend to go for the trade paperback versions.
“As for other pursuits…well, I’m finally watching all of Angel — the only Joss show that I hadn’t seen in full previously — and am thinking about starting DR. WHO. (I know, I’ve never watched an episode of Dr. Who. Pity me!)”
Kessler said her children–nine and seven–have followed in her footsteps. Somewhat.
“They’re more into superheroes a la cartoons (Teen Titans, Batman: The Brave and the Bold…who am I kidding? They’re all about Pokemon and Bakugon, damn it). But a mom can hope!”