Ordinary Lives Of Extraordinary People
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in his series of features on comic stories or series that never happened. This week it’s the turn of Lance Woods’ SuperHuman Times …
Lance Woods’ SuperHuman Times
There aren’t many people within the comics industry who have not seen the work of Lance Woods. A staff writer and editor for Diamond Comic Distributors for many a year, Woods’s words are read by thousands of comic retailers every day, helping them operate their businesses and make important buying decisions. But not long ago, outside of work, he focused his creativity on an exciting new project in the early 2000s that would have made a wonderful comic book – but instead became a popular series of podcasts and stories – with his “Lost Tale,” SuperHuman Times.
Tell us about your humble beginnings in the comics industry? How long have you worked professionally in the four-color medium?
I’ve worked for Diamond Comic Distributors since 1991, first as proofreader of the PREVIEWS catalog, then as a writer and/or editor for our publications for comic retailers. Now, I’m managing editor for our Diamond Daily e-newsletter, and I create much of the content for our Retailer Services Website.
What’s the secret origin of SuperHuman Times?
Not that glamorous, really. I’ve just liked superheroes ever since I watched Batman on ABC when I was four. Mostly, after exposure to way too many “events” in the comic industry at my job, I wanted to write stories about superhumans that didn’t involve the fate of the world/universe/multiverse every other day. The ordinary lives of extraordinary superhumans. But it was always a back-of-the-mind thing.
The catalyst that moved it forward occurred in 2004. A play I’d written (and directed) for an s-f convention came off so disastrously that I seriously considered not writing anything beyond work anymore. Then, out of the blue, I read online that a comic creator I’d crossed paths with during my Diamond years was having a rough time, too. I decided to email them and remind them about a phone conversation we’d had 10 years earlier because they were so nice and non-celebrity-like to me on the phone for, like, 20 minutes. Their attention made me feel like a million bucks. So, in the midst of their troubles, I just wanted to say thanks.
To my astonishment, said creator replied the next day. Their reaction to my words stunned me. And it made whatever muse that controls my writing say, “Hey! You’re not done yet!” And it reminded me of the concept that ultimately became SuperHuman Times.
(FYI, the creator in this story has no knowledge of SuperHuman Times — or of me, probably, although we’ve met again since then — and I’ve never revealed their identity because I don’t want to give the impression that they endorse it. Paranoid, but that’s me.)
I would also be remiss not to acknowledge another huge influence on the creation of this beast: Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, which I always cite as the reason I read comics to my friends who don’t.
Anyway, that’s when I began to conceive SuperHuman Times as an anthology of graphic novels.
Who was the artist supposed to be when you first came up with the project?
Actually, me. I used to cartoon a lot in Ye ‘80s, but despite my “best” efforts, I couldn’t get the knack back, I also couldn’t afford to hire a hungry freelancer, so the Comic idea died pretty fast. And that’s when my friend Steve Wilson — executive producer of Prometheus Radio Theatre — said to me, “If you ever have an idea for a show, let’s do it.” Hence, the podcast, which began airing in 2006.
When and which publisher was it supposed to be published?
I was going to try and do it myself. Bwah-ha-ha!
Which SuperHuman Times story stands out?
That is so hard to nail down. I’m proud of all of the podcasts we created not so much because I wrote them, but because people I know and love came together to make them real (and, I’m told, had fun doing it). Still, if I had to choose …
“True North,” the pilot, because it sets up the whole world and puts a reverse spin on the classic super-origin story (at least that’s what I was aiming for). The attack on New York — directed & edited by Steve Wilson — paints a better audio picture than anything I could have drawn.
“Servant Problem,” my screwball comedy, in which the former butler of a superhuman master thief inherits his ex-boss’s corpse — and it arrives as he’s trying to orchestrate a dinner party for his current employer. The lead actors, John Weber and Heather Bagnall, delivered exactly what I hoped for in terms of the classic spirit.
“Dashing,” my three-part James Bond homage that started out as a script for Remington Steele back in 1982. It contains more action scenes than we’d attempted up to that point. My wife Cindy edited much of it and she was definitely performed above and beyond what I thought was possible of our team.
I could point out something I love about every episode or story, but these three are always the first that always jump to mind.
What was your “Lost Tale” about?
Lost tale? Try lost season. After the first five podcasts went live, I wrote another five for our “second season,” but only one got produced. No one’s to blame; Prometheus is something we all do in our spare time, and the show just faded out as Steve and others concentrated on different projects.
I did transform a couple of the lost episodes into short stories as part of my year-long 10th anniversary celebration on the website in 2016, so at least those saw the light of day (if not the eyes of readers).
And I’ve spent the past year trying to plot out what I hope will be the second SuperHuman Times prose novel. So, the “franchise” isn’t entirely dead, at least in my own mind.
Where can fans go to read or listen to your SuperHuman Times stories?
SuperHumanTimes.com has links to the Prometheus shows as well as downloadable PDFs of short stories based on those episodes, unproduced episodes and original concepts.
There’s also a link to information about Heroic Park, my SuperHuman Times prose novel published by Firebringer Press, which I believe is still available as a Kindle book. And if you sign up for Prometheus Radio Theatre podcasts on iTunes, you can get the serialized audio book, read by yours truly, along with a lot of other fun shows.
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved