Thanks for having me as a guest. I thought your readers might enjoy a peek behind the curtain of the creative process behind the book.
Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is a stand-alone sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy
Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is the sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, which introduced DeDe Christopher. DeDe is an ordinary teen with the extraordinary destiny to become Sky Girl. In the first book, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy. With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl at the end of her sophomore year of high school. This book opens the day before she starts her junior year, so she’s had the whole summer to practice and train with her best friend and self-professed comic geek, Jason. She’s actually gotten quite good at being a costumed heroine—except for her banter, which still needs work. Unlike the first book, which took place over the course of a week, this book covers the whole school year, which allows for more adventures.
For example, Sky Girl faces off against Shadow, Jason faces off against Quizmaster, and they both have to face an angry horde of zombies. In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick. DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to SkyBoy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny. Each adventure stands on its own but is also part of a larger plot and expands on the mystery of what happened to DeDe’s father and Evil Brain’s plot for world domination.
The most important thing to note is that you don’t really need to read the first book to enjoy the second.
I should add that Martin Sisters Publishing will also be rereleasing the now out-of-print first book, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy later this year. The final book in the series, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Return, should be out next year.
2. The locations in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures are real.
The Sky Girl story takes place in a small New Jersey suburban town named Colonia. And while some of the names of the locations in the books are fictitious, the places in the Sky Girl books are real. Like DeDe, I grew up on Hartland Court in Colonia. And while some of the names have been changed, you would certainly recognize the locations if you see them. For example, DeDe’s school is based on my alma mater, Bishop George Ahr High School. Of course, when I attended Bishop Ahr, we didn’t have evil chimps or giant robots. But I haven’t been there in years, so that may have changed.
Colonia, New Jersey, still continues to be the primary setting in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures. However, given that this book is a series of interrelated adventures, as opposed to an origin story, I was able to include a lot more locations outside of Colonia. A number of locations in New Jersey are featured in the book, including an attempted robbery of the First Bank of Colonia; a secret portal located at The Edison Memorial Tower and Museum in Menlo Park; and a hunt for the Jersey Devil in Jenny Jump State Park. I should also mention that there are cameos and references to many of the unique NJ places from my youth, like Merrill and Roosevelt Parks, the Menlo Park Mall, and the Krauzers convenience store where I used to buy my comics, as well as some imagined places, like the Colonia Memorial Cemetery.
When the first book came out, I was pleased when The Home News Tribune and USA Today touted that Sky Girl was Central New Jersey’s first Superheroine. I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, but she is certainly Colonia’s first superheroine. If only I could get her on the Wikipedia site for the town.
3. The inspiration for Sky Girl came from an award-winning short story from a podcast forum.
The Comic Geek Speak Podcast is made up of a bunch of great guys that love comics. I have listened to them for several years and am still an active member of their forums. It was on those forums that I learned about a proposed prose anthology, which would be written by the listeners of the podcast. I wrote a story called the Return of Power Boy, a story about a middle aged accountant, who may or may not be a superhero. (The anthology was never produced and the story was later featured in A Thousand Faces, the Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction.) The story was a very dark tale of what happens when a super villain wins. One of the very minor characters was the accountant’s four-year-old daughter, CeeCee.
Sometimes writers don’t create their characters, they channel them and that’s what happened with CeeCee. After the story was finished, I kept coming back to that little girl. What kind of life would she live, would she develop her father’s powers, and what would she do if she did? Well, CeeCee became DeDe, and the character of Sky Girl was born.
4. The decision to have a Sky Girl was deliberate.
The move to have a Sky Girl, as opposed to a Sky Boy, was a deliberate decision. This is true for two main reasons (other than the obvious reason that I think female characters are fun to write.) First, I wanted to explore how superheroines react to conflict differently than their male counterparts and show how those different reactions turn comic book conventions on their head. A great example of this appears in the current book (Sky Girl the Superheroic Adventures) when Sky Girl meets Penny Pound, another heroine. The typical comic book convention is that the two characters would fight first over a misunderstanding and then team up to take on the real villain. As you will read, Sky Girl’s resolution to that conflict is unique and therefore less clichéd. Another example of the distinction between how girls and boys resolve conflict plays out in the third book, which is coming out next year. In one scene, a villain wants to prove he’s the best by challenging Sky Girl to a fight. Sky Girl responds, “Let me get this straight, you’re not going to hurt anyone or steal anything? You just want to fight to prove you’re better than me?” Bad guy nods. Sky Girl says, “Okay, you win. I’ve got better things to do today.” Then, she flies off, leaving a dumbstruck villain alone in the street. Faced with the same situation, a Sky Boy would probably take the challenge, fight, lose, and eventually emerge victorious in the inevitable rematch (probably with a new costume and chromium cover). The books explore these conflicts in a comedic way, because of course, Sky Girl’s best friend Jason (a diehard comics aficionado) finds her responses quite frustrating.
The second reason I chose to write about a female superhero is much more personal to me – the birth of my daughter. As a proud geek daddy, I wanted to share my hobby with my daughter and looked for characters to inspire her. Sadly, I found very few. With a couple of exceptions, most of the female characters from early comics were merely eye candy fawning with unrequited love over the male protagonist or were relegated to the role of guest star (or even hostage) in their own books. Even the few that started as everywoman characters (like Kitty Pryde or Cassie Sandsmark) rapidly developed into über pin-up babes in the 1990s and 2000s. In keeping with this trend, I tend to get a lot of Sky Girl sketches from fans and professional comic book artists that are too suggestive for a16-year-old heroine. I try to address this phenomenon in subtle ways — like having DeDe dress down Jason when he makes a sexist joke – or with Sky Girl’s refusal to put a symbol on her chest or wear skimpy clothing. Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better for the modern female comics character, but the industry still has a long way to go. Female characters should have the same chance to grow, develop, and overcome adversity, just as male characters do.
My hope is that Sky Girl represents a strong female role model who always tries to do the right thing. She isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes. But, she learns from her mistakes and, most importantly, she never gives up. In Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, Sky Girl has to deal with some heavy emotional things like the death of her father, the fact that her mother is moving on with another man, and the ever-changing relationships around her. But, just because she allows herself to be emotionally open and vulnerable, that doesn’t mean she is weak. Dealing with adversity makes her that much stronger when she triumphs over it.
5. I am Sky Girl’s worst enemy.
In the Sky Girl books, the main character, DeDe, is an only child who lives with her widowed mother, Dianne. But, this wasn’t always the case. In the first outline of the story, DeDe’s mother had remarried and had another child, who would have been around 8 years old (the character’s name was Andy, based on my middle name.) I planned for Andy to be DeDe’s pesky little brother, who would serve as mostly comic relief (especially after he learns DeDe’s secret and tries to blackmail her). DeDe’s stepfather, James Peck (Jimmy Stewart+Gregory Peck), was going to be perfect in every way. This would have infuriated DeDe since he had essentially replaced her father. At some point very early on, it became apparent that these extra characters only complicated the plot and didn’t add anything to the main story. I also found that DeDe’s dislike for her step-father for such a long period of time diminished her likeability. So, they were cut from the novel. In short, I did something that the worst villain would never consider–I single-handedly wiped out the family of a superheroine. I had done more to Sky Girl than SkyBoy’s entire Retallion Battalion put together. Personally, I believe the books are much better after this change. But, that doesn’t change the fact that these characters are forever gone and will never become part of Sky Girl’s world. I had become a supervillain.
6. The Cover to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adcentures is drawn by Dafu Yu, an amazing comic book artist.
The cover was drawn by Dafu Yu, an incredible artist that I regularly work with in comics (most recently, we did a story in Indie Comics Horror #2 from Aazurn Press and he did the cover for Great Zombies in History from McFarland Press, which are in stores now). Dafu has also worked with Zenoscope comics on their Wonderland horror series. He is also the artist on the best selling Rex: Zombie Killer one shot from Big Dog, Inc. with Rob Anderson, another co-creator on Great Zombies in History (Rex returns with a four issue miniseries available for pre-order this month.) I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention what a wonderful job John Hunt did on the colors. A lot of people really don’t understand how much a great comic book colorist adds to a project.
There are a few interesting things about the cover to note. First, as I mentioned, a lot of the locations in the Sky Girl story are real and DeDe’s school is based on my alma mater, Bishop George Ahr High School. And that is indeed Bishop George Ahr High School, the real-life inspiration for the fictional Debole Academy, on the cover of the second book. I sent Dafu a picture of Bishop Ahr along with the manuscript for the book, and he did the rest to create that magnificent cover. The school looks just like I remember it.
The second thing to note about the cover is that, when the trilogy is completed, all three covers will tell a story visually. This came about when Martin Sisters Publishing told me that they would rerelease the now out-of-print first book, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy later this year. This meant I had a chance to redo the cover (I had no real control over the first version, which was computer generated). Using Dafu and John, we are going to try to tell the story using the covers, with each thematically linked to the plot of the individual book. The first will feature an attacking robot while Jason tries to convince DeDe to put on the Sky Girl suit. The second has the aftermath of the battle. And the third . . . well, that would be telling.
7. Contrary to popular theory, the character of Jason is not based on me.
It’s interesting how many people I went to school with say to me that they have figured out that, “Nicole is so and so, or Jason is based on so and so.” Popular theories are that DeDe is based on an ex-girlfriend from high school and that Jason is based on me. Actually, I wish I could have been Jason. I was never comfortable flying my geek flag until I was much older. In that way, I relate much more to DeDe/Sky Girl. She’s trying really hard to be the cool kid on the outside, but really she’s almost as much of a geek as Jason on the inside. I base a lot of these characters’ traits on my nieces and nephews. Jason is actually an amalgam of several people I know in the comics industry. A lot of people, editors and reviewers mostly, have a real problem with the formal way Jason talks, especially the fact that he never uses contractions. They think it sounds stilted – but that is the point. There really are people that talk like him in the real world. I can think of four off the top of my head. There is a lot of Adam that comes from one of my best friends/neighbors growing up. And, although I generally like everyone, Nicole is based on some people (men and women) who sadly have gotten under my skin. Of course, because she’s bad, this also makes her the most fun to write. And, much to DeDe’s and my dismay, I frequently give Nicole the best lines.
I should also add that a lot of people ask for me to put them in my books. I think those people will be quite happy with Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures as I have managed to hide many Easter eggs in each adventure.
I hope you’ve enjoyed some behind the scenes glimpses behind the creation and characters in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures.
Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is available at all online booksellers and can be ordered in brick and mortar shops and chains. It is also available directly from the publisher at www.martinsisterspublishing.com. I will have copies at upcoming show appearances, some of which include: Baltimore ComicCon (September 7-8); The Collingswood Book Festival (October 5), New York ComicCon (October 10-13), and the Festival of the Book (October 19). These shows are great fun and a wonderful place to connect with readers. I’ve even had a few old and young cosplayers come up to my booth to show me their Sky Girl costumes, which was extremely flattering.
About the book:
Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.
In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.
With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.
DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.
Purchase paperback from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-Volume/dp/1625530277/
Purchase digital version from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-ebook/dp/B00D4FHE7U/
Purchase paperback or digital from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sky-girl-and-the-superheroic-adventures-joe-sergi/1115472264
About the author:
Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.