Nick Ahlhelm has been a comic book fan forever and publishes some pretty cool stuff via Meta-Human Press. Now he has a new Kickstarter project going that sounds just fantastic. I was eager to ask him some questions...
Tell us - what is 'Lightweight' about?
Lightweight is the tale of a young man named Kevin Mathis that learns he has the ability to control the gravity of any non-living object. This quickly leads him into danger against a robot named Titan, sent after him by a mysterious group that does not have best interests at heart. But even as he faces more and more danger, he gains a growing compulsion to wear the costume of Lightweight, even as it threatens to drive a rift between him and his friends.
Two reasons. The obvious one is that I’ve hired Brent Sprecher to design work on the series and the covers. An artist the caliber of Brent needs to be paid and much of the money raised will go to pay him. The second reason is proof of concept. Lightweight is the first ever ongoing monthly super powered prose serial. I chose this format because I feel it is the best way to tell Kevin’s continuing tale over the months and years to come. But I also need to know that this is a format that can sustain Kevin and company. If I can raise $900 or more before the concept comes to fruition, I know I have something people will read.
To readers of what comics will it appeal?
Much of my inspiration comes from favorite comics of the 80s and 90s. Spider-Man fans will certainly find something to love in Kevin, but I would say my main two influences would be Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon and both Roger Stern and James Robinson’s versions of Starman. Larsen’s real time style narrative will be a feature in Lightweight while Stern’s tale of a young awkward hero and Robinson’s intricately plotted build-ups are all part of Lightweight’s DNA. Finally, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible is a major influence on how to make a large scale independent superhero and their universe work for years and years of storytelling.
Where can we find the book?
Right now, the only place to find information about the book is at its Kickstarter page: If the Kickstarter proves successful, the ebook edition will be available through Amazon, Smashwords and my site SuperPoweredFiction.com. The print editions will be available through Createspace and Amazon.
How do you think superheroes work out in prose, and why did you decide to take a stab at it?
Much like any other genre, moving superheroes into prose offers advantages and disadvantages. Obviously prose cannot be as action drive as comics or film. But it does also allow a depth of plot and character that is almost impossible in either.
Who is your favourite comic book hero, and who's your favourite creator?
My favorite superhero will probably always be a toss-up between Hawkeye and Firestorm. West Coast Avengers and the John Ostrander Firestorm were two of the first comics I regularly read at Marvel and DC. I’ve always had a fondness for both characters because of them. As to creators, I could list a dozen. Robert Kirkman, Neil Gaiman, Steve Englehart, James Robinson, Erik Larsen, Tom DeFalco, Billy Tucci, Joshua Williamson and on and on. But I always like to specifically mention Mark Gruenwald, perhaps the favorite author of my younger years. Gruenwald told compelling stories without ever contradicting a massive continuity that he seemed to feel a personal quest to keep straight. If I could be half as good as he is at keeping my timeline so perfect, I’ll have a very successful career ahead of me.
What is it about superheroes that appeals to people so much and why are there so many comic book movies now?
I think as people continue to stretch the boundaries of their own body and technology makes science fiction shows seem terribly out of date, society looks for something larger than life in their heroes. A being with super powers in our modern world is something we can only ever dream about, but the adventures they can have can wow us in ways other forms of fictional narrative just cannot.