Kickstart the Week with Super! Returns from the Grave!

By: Nicole D’Andria

The ongoing superhero series Super! returns—this time with a horde of zombies along for the action-packed, comedy-fueled ride! I spoke with several key members of the creative team about their superpowered comic.

In the superhero world of Super!, superpowers and costumed crimefighters are commonplace, and the gritty “realism” you may see in DC’s Blockbusters is replaced with lighthearted jokes about common superhero tropes and real reactions to a world backed to the brim with supers. Now on their seventh issue, this superhero team has risen from the living dead; and they’ve been thrust into a zombie cataclysm!

The project is published by Unlikely Hero Studios, an indie comic company with team members located throughout America. Their creative team includes writer/penciler Zack Dolan, inker/editor Laurie Foster, colorist Eve Orozco, and “Swiss Army Knife” Erek Foster who helps with lettering, video projects, sound design, and Kickstarter campaigns.

The Kickstarter has already raised past its $7,500 goal and is now aiming for stretch goals. The project will end on November 7, 2018 at 2:05 PM EST. Rewards include digital copies of the first seven issues ($5) as well as a print copy of their latest issue ($10), art prints/pins ($25) and even some Black Atom socks ($50)! Learn about the rest of the reward tiers on their Kickstarter page.

I spoke with Zack Dolan, Laurie Foster and Eve Orozco about the world of Super!

Zack Dolan
Me: For people who have never read an issue of Super! before, what would you tell them about the series to get them up to speed?

Dolan: Super! is kind of hard to define. It’s an action comedy satire that both mocks and tributes pretty much the entire length and breadth of superhero fiction from all over the world all the way back from the Golden Age to what’s happening in comics right now. It is an irreverent parody, but not so much that it forgets to have genuine superhero action and drama. We always like to say it’s sort of like Astro City meets the Venture Brothers. The story takes place in a world just packed to the brim with superhumans, sort of like if all of Marvel or DC’s roster existed in one book with everything happening simultaneously, and follows a group of D-list heroes hoping to stand out from the crowd in a world where you can’t sneeze without hitting at least three other

They’re an absurdly mismatched group of misfits who can’t even decide on a team name and argue about it like a high school band. Standing out as the strongest—or at least the LEAST unqualified—among them, Blitz is the daughter of two of the most beloved heroes of all time and struggles to find a way to live up to her parent’s names without riding their coat tails. And that’s just one of the many characters we follow in this crazy ride where we see that some heroes are not as glamorous as they are cracked up to be and sometimes villains can be regular people just like us. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll gasp. You might feel a mild tingling sensation in your brain. It’s a good time. Check it out.

Super! #7 Page 1

Me: What initially inspired the idea to create your own superhero team, and how do they differ from other superpowered teams?

Dolan: Well, I’ve been a lifelong fan of superheroes and nerdy comic book-related stuff, and I’ve always wanted to work on something like that. Though having been exposed to it for decades, as much as I love it, you can’t help but notice how silly all of it can be sometimes and I saw a chance to sort of really lampshade the idea of people putting on neon underpants outside their regular pants and making epic speeches at each other while they throw cars and telephone poles around.

With few notable exceptions, it’s like no one in the actual superhero comics notice how insane it all is and we thought it would be fun to have a world of supers where people actually react like real people would. And that works out, because you can not only get comedy from that, but also find the drama in the insanity of what it would REALLY be like to be a superhero or villain and how that would make life really difficult and strange in some really unexpected and mundane ways you never see explored in a lot of comics.

This is a world where supers star in reality shows and have Twitter feuds and a place so full of superhumans that being super isn’t even really special anymore; a world where you’re just as likely to see a window washer who can fly or a super strong construction worker as you are a costumed maniac with a ray gun.

Me: Can you describe each member of the ragtag team of amateur heroes?

Dolan: First there’s Blitz, the de facto field leader and generally most qualified to call herself a “hero” in the bunch. She’s a second generation hero and daughter of two of the most prominent members of “The People’s Champions,” a Justice League/Avengers-level super group. They have both since died heroically in battle before our story opens. Super strong, nigh invulnerable, and able to generate and control electricity, Blitz shares a combination of her illustrious parents’ power sets and hides within her massive untapped potential; if only she could catch a break and maybe work on those anger management issues.

The Furious Fire-Ant: What would happen if Iron Man, the Blue Beetle, and Spider-Man were all the same person… and that person was also a rude, irresponsible drunk? While he’s egotistical, sarcastic, and probably should get help for his drinking problem, The Fire Ant can always be counted on to use his hi-tech ant-themed battle suit and scathing wit to help save the day… as long as you catch him before he knocks off to the bars.

Silhouette: Shadowy avenger of the night and actual demon-fighting wizard. Silhouette stands apart from the rest of the crew in that their membership is only a small part of a much larger destiny that the shadowy sorcerer is not too keen to chat about. Stoic, cold,
short-tempered, and frankly downright grumpy, Silhouette is always lurking just out of sight, waiting for the bug-eyed, toothy eldritch forces of evil to show their slimy tentacles, ready to send them back to whatever Hell they came from.

The Streak: This aging party boy man-child is also the son of a famous Silver Age hero, “The Rush,” and as such has been gifted with the ability to run at supersonic speeds…but only when he’s nude, due to a friction resistance chemical he exudes from his pores. He is the polar opposite of Blitz, and unlike her, is fine with trading on his father’s name for fame and adoration and more or less is only in the hero business at all because he can’t hold down a job anywhere else. He is a childish, womanizing coward, but even the wormiest of jerks may just turn out to have something special about him after all.

The Unquenchable Lush: Forced to experiment on himself facing the cancellation of his superpower research, Dr. Michael Norton accidentally turned himself into a raging beast of incalculable strength whenever he consumes alcohol. The Ultimate Mean Drunk of all time, Mike has to struggle to contain the red-faced monster inside him, until of course the avatar of beer muscles made flesh is the only thing between them and certain destruction.

Blood-Death: A gun-toting barely functioning lunatic who, while having no actual powers, definitely possesses a superhuman amount of rage and draws no distinction between jaywalking and murder. Crime is crime, and they all get the same punishment: Pain. He’s a mumbling, hulking brute of a man with a surplus of toys in the attic, but his rigid sense of justice, along with some close-eyed babysitting from the rest of the team, manages to keep him just barely on the right side of the thin line between vigilante and pants-on-your-head maniac.

Adventure Man Zero: A highly advanced, yet criminally stupid size-changing super robot who is completely unaware that his life is not an actual anime from the 70’s. His origins unknown even to himself, he has imprinted on the team—particularly The Fire-Ant and Max—like a newborn baby duck, and has sworn he will use his towering strength to
protect all mankind from whatever evil that may threaten it.

Prof. Max Archer: Genius inventor, scientist, and feckless billionaire bankrolling the team. He’s more or less all the worst traits of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Dr. Quest from Jonny Quest all rolled into one. Despite having revolutionized the energy industry and changing the entire technological landscape of the world, Max still chases his mad dream to be just like the superheroes of his childhood, and has used his vast resources to assemble a team of extraordinary individuals who he believes can save the world… unfortunately, these goobers showed up to answer the call instead.

Super! #7 Page 2
Me: If you could live in the body of one member of Super! for a day, whose would you choose and what would you do?

Dolan: Wow, that’s a hard question. I want to say Blitz because she definitely has the best balance of cool powers. Being super strong, bulletproof, able to fly and shoot lightning bolts is pretty close to as good as it gets, but I also confess to how fun I think it would be to grow to Kaiju size like Adventure Man Zero and wrestle giant monsters. It’s a real tough call.

Me: This issue of Super! includes some perfect elements for Halloween, including hordes of zombies. What inspired you to put the characters up against zombies in particular?

Dolan: Well, zombies seem to be the universal bridge between so many genres. You find them in horror, but also sci-fi, fantasy, and of course, superhero fiction. They can be their own threat or be henchmen to another threat and for some reason you can smash them all day and no one seems to mind. They are the Doritos of monsters. Crunch all you want; they’ll make more. I’ve also been a huge Romero/zombie fan since I was a kid and I’ve been dying to get in a ton of jokes I’ve been sitting on. Though, and I don’t want to spoil anything, zombies aren’t the only things our heroes will be facing in the upcoming issue that is perfect for Halloween. It’s going to be quite the Monster Mash.

Super! #7 Page 3
Me: You’re pulling double duty on this project by being both the writer and penciler. Why did you decide to pencil the story yourself in addition to writing?

Dolan: Honestly, I consider myself an artist first and a writer second so I always write from that visual perspective, and it helps me plan out the issue better if I can see in my head how it is going to look on the page as I make the script. It’s just a great way to bridge the gap between what’s in the writer’s mind and what the artist can produce, because I am both ends of the process.

Me: One of the rewards for the Kickstarter includes a custom pencil sketch. What has been your favorite sketch that you’ve ever done?

Dolan: That’s another hard question, but I’d have to say the Icons of Horror piece is the best, since that one was so beloved it spawned two more pieces in the same series and has turned into a whole Generations of Horror tribute, so that probably puts it at the top. Though I have to give an honorable mention to “Mad Mickey Beyond Epcot Center,” which features Disney icons merged with Mad Max. That was hilarious.

Icons of Horror pieces by Zack Dolan

Me: What is the number one reason why you think people should pledge money to your project?

Dolan: Well, I would say if you are a fan of literally any superhero fiction, we have something in here for you. It’s loaded with an insane amount of distinct, colorful characters and it never forgets to be fun and exciting. We’ve developed a pretty loyal fan base and never received a bad review of the book in its entire run, sometimes topping big-time lists like the Buy Pile’s MUST BUY category several times. Plus, we just recently hit our project’s goal, and if you were to jump in today, you are guaranteed your rewards. Basically, it’s just a really fun time, and we can pretty much guarantee you won’t be disappointed, so check it out.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers and artists?

Dolan: Basically the best advice I can give is never, ever give up, but that doesn’t mean don’t listen to advice or criticism. You’re never going to be the best if you think you already are, so please listen to those who tell you how to improve your skills or your product. Never take no for an answer, but understand that doing that comes with improving yourself and getting better and better until you earn your way in.

Laurie Foster
Me: How did you become part of the Super! creative team?

Foster: They initially found me via DeviantArt! They hired me to ink some samples, and apparently I did the best job with Zack’s insanely detailed work! We’ve been a team ever since!

Me: The last Kickstarter for Super! launched a couple of years ago. Can you tell us a bit about the delay between issues and what do you have planned for the future of the series past issue 7?

Foster: We did have a small restructuring of Unlikely Heroes Studios in 2016, and during that time we actually acquired and started working on a second comic book series with writer John Pence called The Surgeon. We are now working on both series simultaneously and alternating the issue fundings on Kickstarter, as well as planning an anthology for next year. Super! will continue at what we hope will be a more regular pace, with at least one issue per year for the foreseeable future.

Me: Out of all the issues of Super! that you’ve inked so far, what has been your favorite page to ink and why was it your favorite?

Super! #7 Page 4

Foster: There is a two-page spread in the middle of SUPER! issue 3, where Blitz is rescuing Max Archer and flying him off while Plague devours Cosmopolis behind them… it’s my favorite because of the insane level of detail involved, but ALSO because of the typical gender role reversal. 😉

Me: If you could live in the body of one member of Super! for a day, whose would you choose and what would you do?

Foster: Probably Silhouette. I would teleport all over the place and visit Mr. Malefic.

Me: What is the number one reason why you think people should pledge money to your project?

Foster: We take the time and effort to meticulously produce some of the highest-quality comics out there, and we want to share them with the world and continue to make more! Pledge and we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Eve Orozco

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book inkers?

Orozco: Practice and study and build your portfolio. I spent hundreds of hours just scouring books and the internet and inking samples I found all over the place. It’s hard work to break into the comic book industry, but if you really want to and you persist, you can do it!

Me: What additional inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book editors?

Orozco: Being an editor is a special kind of wonderful hell reserved for people who enjoy picking media to bits and finding all of the problems with it. If you drive your friends crazy noticing errors in films or uneven lettering in comics, plot holes, correcting spelling, etc., you will probably thrive in the industry. 😉

Me: How did you become part of the Super! creative team?

Orozco: The team contacted me through DeviantArt, then I did a color test. They liked it and I was in!

Super! #7 Page 5
Me: What method did you use to determine what kind of color palette to use for the comic book?

Orozco: Well, it mostly depends on what Zack wants for the pages. He tells me the mood of the page or gives me lighting and FX notes and then I work according to that.

Me: Out of all the issues of Super! that you’ve colored so far, what has been your favorite page to color and why was it your favorite?

Orozco: I liked the cover from issue 6, but I like to color any dramatically-lit pages. It’s fun to do all the ambient light and reflections.

Me: If you could live in the body of one member of Super! for a day, whose would you choose and what would you do?

Orozco: I would choose El Fantasmo and beat up criminals; he is a really cool background character that will actually end up being developed in this new issue! I had started creating stories about him in my mind because I really liked him. XD

Issues from Super! Volume 1 are also available as rewards!

Me: What is the number one reason why you think people should pledge money to your Kickstarter?

Orozco: We do really high-quality stuff, but we don´t have a big company behind us, that’s why we depend 100% on our group of fans. For people who want to help but have no money, they can share our stuff on social media, which helps a lot.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book colorists?

Orozco: Well, I don’t really have any. Living from art is really, really, hard, but if you can’t live without creating, that’s a good start.

Me: Thank you all for taking the time to tell us about your Super! series. If you’re reading this and interested in learning more about the power of teamwork vs. the undead, check out the Super! Kickstarter here.

Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website.

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:

Heroes International – Ongoing Comic Book Series

The S Factor: A new reality for superhero detective comics

The Chimp With The Brown Hat Vol #1: The First Banana Western

Milky #1 (of 4) – a fresh comedy/sci-fi comic book

Like Father, Like Daughter Collected Edition TPB

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