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Superpowers Go Haywire

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Ah, superpowers! You know how it was when you were a kid—and if you’re a young person reading this article, you probably still have it—feeling on top of the world, pretending to have some sort of superpower, that gives you the ability to smack those evil monsters’ shiny white teeth straight out of their mouth with your little toe or allows you to raise of the ground, defying gravity and heading straight for the clouds amid a blue summer sky. Ah, superpowers. Didn’t—or do—we all want to have them at some point?

So does Owen Bryce, the star of Viper Comics’ upcoming graphic novel A Bit Haywire. All goes well with young Owen until he discovers that he’s got superpowers. How can that be a bad thing? Well, it’s not, it’s just darned pesky that he can only fly with his eyes closed or run at super speed with his mouth locked tight. What happens then? That’s what BF turned to writer Scott Zirkel and artist Courtney Huddleston for to find out…

BROKEN FRONTIER: A Bit Haywire centers on Owen Bryce, a 10 year-old who discovers he’s got powers—how do they manifest?

SCOTT ZIRKEL: I suppose he matures into them. One day he needs them and they are there, more or less.

BF: What kind of a kid is Owen? As far as his ‘back story’ goes, is he experiencing an unencumbered childhood in a warm family?

COURTNEY HUDDLESTON: Owen, as far as the back story goes, was always intended to be a typical kid. The main reason for this was because that status would be forced to change once he discovered his super powers.

SCOTT: Yeah, he’s had a pretty spoiled life. His parents are always working long hours and are gone a lot, so they compensate by giving him stuff. We don’t really touch on it in the book, but you’ll notice he’s got a pretty sweet flat screen TV in his room.

BF: Did Owen always dream of becoming a superhero or having powers, like many kids out in the real world do?

COURTNEY: Yeah, but only in the imaginary sense. He never thought it to be an actual possibility.

SCOTT: Owen idolizes the Noble 7, the super team in his home town; I think most of his days in school are spent dreaming about being a superhero.

BF: I asked the previous question because, as a kid, I always wanted to be able to fly. Did you guys experience something similar?

COURTNEY: I’m still experiencing it. I’ve been watching Heroes on television lately, and it has me thinking that it may yet again be a possibility.

SCOTT: I used to be able to fly. Unfortunately I flew too low one dove season and that put an end to that.

BF: Now that he’s got powers, even though they don’t work as they should, how is he going to put them to use?

COURTNEY: He’s going to do the best that he can with what he has. His capabilities are just as effective as any standard hero. It’s just that they don’t operate in the same traditional manner.

SCOTT: I’d say it’s not so much how he’s going to put them to use, but when.

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BF: This book is aimed at younger readers, and older ones who’re still young at heart. Are all-ages stories the ones you two prefer telling? Courtney’s work on Li’l Red Stich seems to indicate that, at least…

COURTNEY: I have a seven year-old daughter who loves to read. But when I take her to some of the local comic book shops, I find that it’s sometimes difficult to find good material for her age. There are some really good all-ages comics out there, but I figure a few more couldn’t hurt.

SCOTT: I prefer all ages to the gritty real life stuff, both in writing and reading. What I really dislike is when writers feel the need to pander down to the younger readers. Chuck Jones always said they made Looney Tunes for themselves, not for kids and not for adults. They just tried to make each other laugh. That’s really what we did, we just tried to make a story that we both liked.

BF: Your publisher is Viper Comics, a company known around the industry for its qualitative and non-genre bound output. Did the search for a publishing company go haywire at first, or was the match with Viper made rather quickly?

COURTNEY: The match with Viper was rather quick. With a company as versatile as Viper, we figured pitching to them would be worth a shot. What we didn’t expect was for them to be so receptive. I think we were just at the right place at the right time.

SCOTT: Courtney and I had the first two chapters written and drawn in 2005. Getting a publisher was on the radar, but at the time, we just wanted to tell a story. So we printed up a few copies and took them to San Diego. Courtney’s friend Ryan Woodward let us man his booth in his absence along with Mike Garcia. We sold a few, gave away a few more and in the end Viper told us they wanted to print it.

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BF: Depending on sales, is Viper open to more Haywire stories if you guys come up with any?

COURTNEY: Getting a book out on the shelf is one of the most time-consuming efforts in comics. Our focus has been so much on that chore that further publishing by Viper hasn’t even come up. But if it were to, Scott and I have plenty of adventures to tell.

SCOTT: I’m definitely up for it!

A Bit Haywire is scheduled to arrive in stores November 29. The 112-page graphic novel retails for $11.95.

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