Thursday, March 22, 2018

Superhero Overload (Is it even possible?)

A Post By Jonathan

Whenever I write a post like this I always feel the need to apologize ahead of time. The truth is I haven't been doing a lot of writing lately, so I don't have much to write about on that front. But what I have been doing a lot of lately is watching TV. Working full-time, with a three-year-old boy to take care of in the morning and nights, I haven't quite found my writing groove since, well... pretty much since he's been born. Pre-kid, I used to write like a boss every night from 8pm to whenever I had 1,000 words down on paper. Now I have a son that takes epically long naps at daycare and doesn't want to go to bed until about 9/9:30 at night. Yes, my wife helps out a lot, but she's got a really important job that keeps her late and emailing till the wee hours of the night. By the time dinner is made, bath is done, kid is in bed I'm wiped out. So what do I do then? I go to the DVR and watch TV of course! And if there's one thing I've figured out as a "writer" it is basically if I'm not creating then I'm consuming (other writers' --TV or otherwise-- creations). Some of that consumption is reading and listening to books, which I do manage to do quite a lot (and I feel that at least prepares me to be a better writer), but when you're zapped and can't muster up the energy to do very much beyond sit on the couch, then TV is the ticket.

So what kind of shows do I watch during these fleeting moments? Mostly any kind of superhero show I can get my eyes on. As a child of the 80's, who could only dream of seeing his favorite Marvel and DC characters come to life on the small/big screen when he was a kid (apart from Christopher Reeve's Superman, which was easily my go-to superhero move back then-- and maybe the Incredible Hulk and cheesy Amazing Spider Man re-runs) the epic amount of super hero shows available to you today is dare I say, almost overwhelming.

Not even including the recent barrage of superhero movies that have been released (the Marvel Cinematic Universe includes 18 movies at this point and DC has a nauseating schedule of upcoming flicks) there are so many TV shows and series out there that it's easy to get lost in them.

The ones that I watch/have watched are:

- Smallville (off air)
- Arrow (catch up on episodes on Netflix from time-to-time)
- The Flash
- Legends of Tomorrow
- Black Lightning
- Super Girl (no longer watch)
- Gotham (no longer watch because there's no Batman!)
- Daredevil
- Jessica Jones
- The Iron Fist
- Luke Cage
- The Defenders

And now the SyFy channel is releasing a show called Krypton, about Superman's grandfather! I probably won't watch that either because there's no Superman. The only other show I watch is the Walking Dead (just because I've been invested in it for so long, but I'm pretty much ready for it to ride off into the zombie sunset).

Anyway, what's the point of telling you all this? I think I may be hitting superhero overload, which I never even thought was possible. I guess there are only so many times you can see someone discover something amazing about themselves... pretty soon it gets to feeling like it's all been done before. And the worst thing is, as I'm watching these shows, in the back of my mind I'm kind of like "why am I even watching this?" Maybe it's because some of the CW shows are kind of cheesy and have a lot of Young Adult love-triangle stuff going on... Or maybe it's because I know I'd rather be writing/creating my own adventures. The problem is, I've become so practiced at not writing that it has become more of a chore/work rather than a stress-relief-- like television.

I wish I could take all of this superhero knowledge I've gained (scene/story structure) and turn it into some kind of writing project/comic book (not the greatest artist though). I actually have two decent ideas for superhero-related stories.

- One is called "Weather Girl." She's a journalist who is just starting out at as a "weather girl" on her local TV station, but she soon finds out she has some sway over the weather and uses her skills to become one of the most accurate meteorologists in the world. Then, when she moves to the big city, she has to learn to use her powers for good.

- The other is titled "Mongoose." It's about a scientist in Africa who studies snakes, then all the snakes in his labs get released and he gets bit, then infused with some mongoose blood, which gives him a bunch of cool powers. Then he ends up fighting a gang of guys with names like "King Cobra" "Diamondback" and "Pit Viper".

Pretty cool, huh? *crickets*

Okay, so maybe I'm into more of the fringe superheroes... But you know what? There are superhero tropes in a number of different books I've read lately. Everyone who gets special powers is basically a superhero in my mind. Bella from Twilight, Gandalf The Grey, Harry Potter, Bran and Arya from Game of Thrones, Kell and Lila from a Darker Shade Magic, and even the amazeballs fantasy series I'm reading by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive) is all about Kaladin and Shallan, who are Knights Radiants and are basically learning how to use their special gifts to rid the land of evil.

What can I say? I guess I'm a sucker for any story that takes a normal human being and makes them special. In the end isn't that what we all want to be?

Will I ever stop watching superhero movies/shows? No way. Am I a little less excited about them because of the sheer volume of material available right now? Yes (may even be getting close to my pre-saturation point...). But I guess as long as there's a tall building to be leaped, a train to be raced, or a person to be saved, I'll be there to watch it... And maybe someday I'll even write my own superhero epic. Weather Girl and Mongoose team up anyone?!

What are your thoughts, dear readers? Is there ever too much of a good thing? Would love to hear what you think!


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I used to love superheros. Now, all I care about is Jessica Jones and that's because she's a badass PI.

Carrie Beckort said...

I'm hit or miss on the superhero stuff. Of your list, the only one I watch is Arrow. When my daughter turned 10 a couple years ago, her friends at the party convinced me to write them a book about them and the party. I've not written it yet but I will - the challenge is they now want to have superpowers. Not sure I'll ever publish what I write since it's a special project for my daughter and her friends, but if I do then I'll be guilty of adding to the pile.

Jonathan Schramm said...

Totally understand that, Kimberly. Starting to feel the same way! J Jones is a badass. I sometimes get frustrated with that show because no one ever does what I think they should/are going to do... But I guess that also makes it interesting. Definitely one of the darkest super hero series out there.

Jonathan Schramm said...

That sounds fun, Carrie! I'd read that! Arrow is pretty good (very Batman-esk), got a little behind, but slowly catching up. Thanks for posting!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I came of age a decade or so earlier then most of the ATB writers, in my day all we had was Superman and Bewitched (TV series with a mom who was actually a witch with powers). I totally understand the exhaustion Johathan, I raised four kids and remember all to well wanting to just veg out after they all went to bed. Writing is difficult under the best circumstances but when exhausted it seems impossible. When I'm too tired to write I tell myself to write 3 sentences or observations for the day. I return to these clips of reality at the end of the week and often find interesting connections I've never noticed before. On occasion it gives me something to write about.

But have faith, your boy will age up, and your time will open up again. You will be a different writer from all the things you are experiencing right now. There is a season for all things...

Brenda St John Brown said...

I used to love Bewitched!!! And I agree that soon enough you'll have ALL the writing time! My boy is about to hit 13 and basically wants me to leave him alone.

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