Originally created to be posted with preview art of issue 2 for the comicon.com website. The article is still on their archieve, but the art is not. Hoping to repost those preview pages soon on my website.
This is a good overview for parents or curious readers, but contains story spoilers for the first issue.
IN HER OWN WORDS: CREATING HEROES IN BIRMINGHAM
by Rachel Kadushin
With Heroes in Birmingham, there's angst and hope. We like to show that there is more than one kind of loner out there, more than one kind of loneliness ... and people do different things about it. We wanted to write a team book, but not have all of the characters know each other in the beginning. Some of them know of each other's reputations, and N-Ergyzer and Roof Girl actually know each other - but don't like each other.
The first issue introduces all of the main heroes but focuses on our male-teen newbie, Mercutio Bishop.
What makes them heroic? In a world where costumed adventurers are figure-heads in the military, the police, featured in soap operas and used to sell products to consumers the actual "heroes" are much closer to what they are in our own real lives... people who push themselves to make a difference in someone else's life, while also trying to grab some happiness for themselves.
We want our book to be parent-friendly and have self-rated the book for ages 11 and up, due to some violence that might be too intense for younger children. So think of all of the adults who love the original Spider-Man animated series (and later incarnations), the Harry Potter books, or even surf on over to the Cartoon Network in the afternoons to watch Static Shock.
The setting is in the near-future, alternate history on Earth. So there will be some retro elements, some contemporary elements and some futuristic elements to the setting. Some historical elements were different as far back as the 1700, so while the world can feel familiar it is totally fictitious and there are no real people or real places represented in this story.
We didn't try to keep all of the main heroes in their teens, but both Willow aka Photonia and Mercutio Bishop aka FlapJack are in their late teens. Later, we'll flash back to some teen adventures of the 20-something and 30-something heroes -- who had many life changing adventures when they, too, were in their teens.
In the first issue we saw Mercutio Bishop from his high school career to now. That included, actually getting pulled out of high school to be a "Product Hero" which is kind of like being a professional athlete and movie star at the same time. Not too many teens love school, so Mercutio was happy to do the physical stunts and training involved. He even went beyond scripted scenarios to help people in danger from out of town marauders (like Mad Max biker gangs), and local food supplies from poachers. But this also separated him from his friends. When his job is eliminated (because the film crews got all this extra footage out of his enthusiastic escapades), Mercutio doesn't know what to do or who to talk to.
He gets an offer to deliver a dangerous proto-type to the city-state capital, BIRMINGHAM. You can see some of his adventures along the way in our issue #1 preview.
The other things you need to know are that Mercutio did briefly meet Willow in the first issue ... and page three of issue #2 finds Mercutio on the 30th floor or so of a roof-top complex of landings in CENTERTOWN. A series of buildings, maybe 3 miles in diameter, where the shortest level is 24 floors, and some of the individual corporation towers go up to 50 stories or more.
Special thanks goes to Jay Luna of www.stardustcomics.com who was the lead color artist on the cover for issue #2, working with Ed Meares black and white drawing and my instructions and assistance.
And while we're at it, Ed Meares' work is a treat for people who like good sequential storytelling. While I (Rachel Kadushin) did some additional grayscaling during the digital phase -- Ed Meares did all of the drawing, penciling and inking on paper -- including a re-design of the HEROES IN BIRMINGHAM logo that you see on the cover, and some of the costumes you'll see in issue #2.
People keep telling us that they like Ed's work even better in issue #2.
You can read more about Ed's influences and career on this page.. http://www.bestfriendsproductions.com/meares
Finally, I wouldn't be able to publish this comic book without the friendship and co-creation with Ruben Caldwell. Ruben and I created the story for HEROES IN BIRMINGHAM as a way to stay in touch after high school. We created many of the characters together and wrote the first drafts of the scripts together (scripts through issue #9 and story through issue #12). Ruben is presently pursuing some advanced degrees and gave me the go-ahead to keep finishing and rewriting our earlier efforts. I'm glad whenever he has the time to give me some feedback on our progress.
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