Fortunately, he accepted and his column on both this site and his own, are fascinating looks at a real life phenomenon. Tea is currently using Kickstarter to help generate financial support for his book, Heroes In The Night and shared some details about the project with FOG!
What are real life superheroes?
Explaining what real life superheroes (RLSHs) are can be a complicated thing, since there are a number of different approaches. Generally speaking, they are people who invent their own costumed persona and then use that persona to do something in the real world- doing safety patrols looking for crime, detective work, charity events and fundraising, handing out supplies to the homeless, in general trying to do small scale superheroics to try to improve their neighborhoods.
I use the term “movement” because simply defined a movement is a “group of people working toward a common goal.” In this case the common goal is trying to improve quality of life by helping those in need.
Are these people crazy? Do they think they have superpowers?
Well, I think that the people who sit on their ass and watch TV all day and whine about how terrible everything is- those are the crazy people. I will admit I’ve run into some wild characters in the RLSH world, I don’t think anyone will deny they exist. There are a small few who claim to have some psychic, "magick," or metaphysical capabilities. Every group has “crazy uncles” though, and the more interesting story to me was that most of these people are pretty normal, have regular jobs, families, are going to school, some are military, and they are fully aware that they are human beings and face the same limitations we all do.
What approach does your book take? How is it different than potential other books about real life superheroes being worked on?
My book, Heroes in the Night, is based on three strong points- research, extensive interviewing, and field work. I’ve tried to find people doing something similar to this as far back as I can, interviewed well over a hundred RLSHs and associates by phone and e-mail, and traveled to meet RLSHs in Minneapolis and Rochester, MN, New Bedford, MA, New York City, Seattle, WA, and Vancouver. I’ve also spent a lot of time with the local RLSHs here in my home town of Milwaukee, WI.
Knight Owl, Zetaman, Runebringer, and Life (with Dark Guardian in the background) at the Superheroes Anonymous 3 conference in New Bedford, MA
Although I do appear in the book to share in my adventures, I appear more as a narrator than a central character. For most of the book I remain objective- I am presenting these people’s stories and the reader will walk away with any number of impressions depending on how the story resonates with them personally. Some will probably shrug their shoulders and be apathetic, others will think it’s a joke, and I think some will start wondering what color spandex will look best on them.
Who are your favorite real life superheroes?
I don’t really have a favorite. Real life superheroes are like snowflakes- all unique in their own way. Everyone I’ve gotten to meet in person has been really great. I’ve spent the most time with my local RLSHs, The Watchman and Blackbird, patrolling my own neighborhood. I’ve had them over to my house many times and gotten to know them pretty well. I will continue to support them long after my book is on shelves. I’ve met about 25-30 RLSHs in person and my experiences with all of them have been good.
Is there such a thing as real life supervillains?
Ha! There are, but you don’t need to fear for your safety. I think it’s inevitable that not everyone is a RLSH fan, for whatever reasons, so “real life supervillains” began to appear, mocking the heroes online via blogs and YouTube videos. For some I think it is just goofing around making fun of people, others like to try and find hypocritical or unheroic behavior to attack them with.
I am in regular contact with some of them. I don’t always agree with what they say, but I don’t necessarily agree with everything heroes say either- in my experience surrounding yourself with people that only agree with you is very limiting.
Have you thought of becoming a real life superhero yourself?
Yes, indeed. I remember like ten years ago, a friend of mine was viciously mugged on her way to meet her friends at a bar. I had sort of a day dream of myself dressed up like Batman, jumping out of the shadows to save her. So I can see the appeal- creating a mysterious alter ego seems adventurous and fun. I think that is something these guys don’t mention always- it’s fun. I don’t really have the right abs to pull off spandex, but definitely I’ve found myself thinking “alright- this guy’s mask with this guy’s armor, maybe in a darker shade of blue…”
Why are you trying to raise money through Kickstarter?
I’d really like to do it myself and have creative control over it. I know enough qualified people to help me make it happen. There is a substantial amount of cost to make it happen the right way, so I decided to raise funds via the site Kickstarter. At one of the most basic levels this allows people to pre-order a signed copy of the book for $35 dollars, and other levels allow people to get a preview of the book and even a custom ordered mask of their own from Hero-Gear. Jack of Hero-Gear has designed countless RLSH masks and suits.
Being in control also lets me do whatever I want with the books and the money made on them. For instance, I have committed to donating a proceed of the books and related merchandise to charity.
You can find out more about the Kickstarter and preorder a book HERE!