Thursday, April 29, 2010

HERO PROFILE #20: Anonyman

Operates out of: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Group affiliation: Saskatonian Help

From Saskatonian Help's website:
"Saskatonian Help is a new volunteer organization that seeks to keep the homeless citizens of Saskatoon alive by offering them food, water, clothing, and other valuable resources."

Author's notes: Some people worry about dumb kids dressing up like ninjas trying to be Kick-Ass. Sure, sure that is something to be concerned about. But what about the smart kids who join up and try to make the RLSH world a better place?

I think Anonyman is a smart individual, has an open mind, and tries to think outside the box. I wish him luck in his work with the RLSH community and on the frozen streets of Saskatoon.

Big Hairy Deal- Radio Tour

To show my journalistic integration skills, I called into Malvado SV's blog talk radio show, SV Radio last night and guests Agent Beryllium, Lord Malignance, and host Malvado thought I was fellow villain Poop Knife after I tried to fool them with an impersonation of Captain Australia (who Malvado has jokingly referred to as his arch*)

Despite traveling through Australia, from Sydney to Kangaroo Island to the middle of the Outback, my Australian impersonation is still about ten notches down from a stand up comedian at bar close.

As usual, I kept my ears open and my mouth focused on a rum and coke, but did ask a couple questions. Some of the topics discussed included Lord Malignance's sandwich mathematics theory, the rumored plot of Kick-Ass 2,the fabulous and flamboyant new villain Lavender Leopard and the good samaritan of New York who was stabbed and died on a sidewalk (story HERE).

Beryllium offered her cynical take on the world, Lord Malignance laughed maniacally, and Malvado showed his good taste in villainous MCs by spinning a track by MF DOOM.
Good times, chillin' like a villain.

Thank you villains, for your hospitality. I look forward to calling the Creature Feature show Saturday night. I wrote about both shows in a record shattering comments section entry HERE.

* Arch: 1. As in arch enemy, i.e. Yeah, Captain Australia is totally my arch. 2. To intend to be someone's arch enemy, i.e. I saw Captain Australia's youtube videos and I totally want to arch him, dude.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peter Tangen's RLSH site Live

Peter Tangen's epic RLSH photo project, which I wrote about HERE, now has a functioning website at where you can find more details on the project.

"More content will be added in the coming weeks." Peter says.

Thursday, April 22, 2010



When a villainous gorilla and yak-furred Christmas demon collide, the results are seldom pretty.

Hmm…I’ve written some weird sentences over the last 13 months, but that has GOT to be top of the list.

“Anti-hero” Krampus and “the most hated villain in America,” Malvado SV, are having a good old fashioned media rivalry, with barbs being traded on their blog talk radio shows and on their blogspot pages.

Let’s take a look at these wild and woolly guys:
Krampus is the host of the Creature Feature show [Saturdays, 11PM EST]. He became a co-host of the show shortly after it began airing episodes in September 2009, with show founder Executrix.

Executrix recently announced she was taking leave from the RLSH scene to move into a secret Rocky Mountain based hide out with her boyfriend, the Wall Creeper.

The Krampus namesake comes from European folklore. Krampus acts as a companion to Saint Nicholas, and while Saint Nicholas awards good children with gifts on December 5, the horrifying Krampus punishes bad children.

The baritone, British accent sporting Krampus leads his guests through news of the weird, RLSH related opines, and cartoon character impersonations. Frequent guests include Mr. Jingles and Mixsae, among others.

Malvado the Sound Vandal (SV) began his show, SV Radio [Wednesdays, 11PM EST] early last month. The show’s tagline is “by villains, for villains.”
Malvado originally called himself Guerilla Grodd, a nod to the DC supervillain who was a super intelligent ape from Gorilla City. Grodd often tangoed with the Flash, Superman, and the Justice League. A "cease and desist" order forced a name change.

The evil ape talks about a variety of RLSH news and views. Frequent guests include Lord Malignance and Poop Knife, among others.

Of course the forerunner to both of these shows is Meow and Friends [Sundays,9PM PST] in which host Apocalypse Meow runs through weird news, and has some fun talk with various RLSH and associates.

HERO PROFILE #19: Amazonia

Aka: Her friends call her "Am."

Group affiliation: Vixens of Valour

Current location: Secret

Activities: Safety patrols and charity events.
Participating in the Green Power Rally by organizing a rally July 31 in Ocala, Florida.

Quote: "(I am) a Real Life Superhero, and have been active since May, 2002. I started my career in Lowell, Massachusetts, where I patrolled the downtown area at night, traveling the alleyways and back streets, checking on business and people to make sure everything was alright. I had a few run-ins during that time, which included vandals, muggers, and more violent criminals, and I once assisted in keeping a store on the outskirts of the city from being robbed." -From Amazonia's MySpace page

Author's notes: Amazonia has moved around a bit on the east coast, where she patrols the streets looking for crime. I got a chance to hang out with her at the SA3 conference back in September in New Bedford.
She'll be lending a hand to Captain Ozone (along with several other RLSH) July 31 for the Green Power Rally in Ocala, Florida.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New RLSH Column!

I'm glad to announce that my first column (which is about RLSHs), titled "Cape Optional," has been posted at the site Forces of Geek. I will be writing the column for them once a month. I will still be maintaining this blog as I have been so far. You can expect a lot of interesting content here in May.

----> You can read the column HERE

These geeks are alright in my book. The site has a lot of short articles, reviews, columns, etc., about all the great geekery in life; comic books, sci-fi, video games, all the stuff that makes life fun. I think it's a good chance to get my writings to a new audience who will most likely be interested in this subject matter.

The first column is about Kick-Ass and it's relation to the RLSH community. Future columns will most be a "round up" of short pieces of RLSH related news and events.

Now, go forward and may the Forces of Geek be with you!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Center Street Patrol- 04.17.10

Center Street
I do have a personal interest in RLSHs activities in Riverwest, the neighborhood I live in.

If they are successful, even on a small scale, the neighborhood benefits. If their presence by patrolling does nothing, well, Riverwest has suffered nothing more than a rash of superhero sightings. We've seen a lot of weird stuff in this neighborhood.

I'm interested in trying to get a community wide reaction to the concept of RLSH.

It's really, really easy to get a react quote from someone- i.e. grabbing someone stumbling out of a Center Street bar and saying "hey buddy, take a look at these superhero characters- whaddaya think?!"
Here's what they'll say (probably): "Whoa bro, pretty wild!"

It's also easy to get a quote from a police spokesperson or a psychologist or whoever.
Here's what they're going to say (probably): "Gee, we like the idea of people helping other people out, but we're concerned about their safety."

But how does a community react? Do they embrace the idea and support their local heroes? Will they join them in their quest? Will they be met with indifference, or worse, run out of Riverwest on a rail?

These are questions I don't have complete answers for, and never really will. I can't make a conclusion that represents the entire neighborhood. I can only report things as they go.
Center Street

Saturday, April 16, 17:00- HEROES IN THE NIGHT HQ (My Kitchen)- RIVERWEST

The Watchman showed up. The night was about patrolling, but also speaking to people in Riverwest, making a connection, hearing their opinions. I was able to facilitate some of this. I've met a lot of people in the neighborhood as a writer, through various projects, and just hanging out goofing around.

We discussed upcoming events (which I'll elaborate on when we figure out more details), and then headed out for a social call.


Actually I don't think it's a great mystery. I'm not sure if they want me to use their names at this point, though, so I'll just call them "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." I'm sure they've secretly always wanted aliases.

Anyway, why are these people good people for The Watchman to communicate with? Well, they are both highly intelligent, well connected within the community and have both worked proactively to try to make the area a better place through data collection and organization.

The Watchman had decided to make the visit sans mask. This is probably a sensible approach, although Mr. & Mrs. Smith's kids seem disappointed Batman hasn't shown up.

The Smith's were very gracious hosts and invited me and The Watchman to join them at the dinner table to partake in hot dogs and steaks off the grill. Mr. Smith shared with us some ideas on ways regular citizens can help deter crime and talked about nearby areas that have suffered from crime.

I think that Mr. Smith is giving the idea the benefit of the doubt. He'd like to see if it can work, and has offered assistance with information, even saying he would volunteer to be an "oracle" or "operator" for future patrols.

--> (for more info on what an oracle is, read this post)

He also put some thought into what would make a group patrolling the Center Street area effective and came up with a list of ideas. I think his ideas are not only good, sensible ones for Riverwest, but for any group RLSH themed- or not- trying to start a concerned citizens group. You can read his ideas at the post previous to this one HERE.


We thanked the Smiths for their hospitality and ideas and headed back to my house to meet up with the mysterious Blackbird. He and Watchman put on their gear and masks and Blackbird showed off his new night vision device.


We walked about five blocks from my house to meet up with a couple people.

Tim has been a Riverwest resident for about a year and a half, and a posting on the Riverwest Neighborhood site led him to my blog and he got in touch with The Watchman. He was interested in seeing what it was all about and wanted to be out there helping to deter crime. A couple other people have expressed interest as well, except they were wrapped up for the night.

We were also joined by Tom Tolan who works for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and is thinking of writing an article in the future and was along to kind of get a feel for the story. I was very happy he joined us, because Tom has written the book on Riverwest. Literally- Riverwest: A Community History by Tom Tolan. This book follows the rich history of the neighborhood, from European immigration to the neighborhood becoming a counter culture and civil rights center in the '60's to a modern look at the neighborhood today. Some excerpts HERE.
Center Street


We are standing in a group, talking, in the darkness of a basketball court by an elementary school on Center Street. In the background you can see the giant radio towers on Capitol Drive, dozens of blinking red lights in the sky.

We are joined by Matt, a friend of mine who is going to school for film. We have been talking of shooting some short videos for the blog here, footage of the guys out on streets and short interviews. He doesn't have his camera tonight, but wanted to meet the guys and walk around with us for a bit. Everyone is curious to ask Watchman and Blackbird about their gear and methodology.

When people comment on the street, Watchman stops and tries to explain what he's all about. We get the first few catcalls I've expected- at least a couple people shout "KICK ASS!" as we walk around. Topical reference. I suppose the amount of the explanation that sinks in depends on how intoxicated the individual is. After all, it is Saturday night in Riverwest.


And actually it's pretty quiet for a Saturday night. It may be that the night is fairly chilly. We walk in a loop similar to the last Riverwest patrol- side streets and alleyways around Center and Clarke streets. After awhile we head back towards Burleigh when we are joined by Groschopf, famed leader of Team Cthulhu who joined us last patrol. Tom and Matt split at this point.


I'm a bit sleep deprived, so me and Groschopf decide to split. Watchman and Tim continue to walk around. Blackbird stays in touch but heads to the South side to do some patrolling of that area.

More organizing and another tentatively scheduled patrol soon.

UPDATE: First request for help! Sent today, 04.20.10:
RE: Superheroes! Help my block!
to: watchman, me
I live at [Address deleted]. I am increasingly becoming more and more frightened in my neighborhood. The house at [Address deleted] contains some shady characters that seem to attract even more shady characters. Could you patrol down my street?

Center Street- Brainstorming

Center Street
The Bic pen cartography of Tea Krulos

As introduced in the next post, "Mr. Smith" is someone who has compiled some ideas about organizing a RLSH/ concerned citizens patrol. I think he has a lot of good ideas and so I wanted to share the e-mail he sent to The Watchman and myself in it's entirety.
Original message follows:

Ideas for a Center Street patrol


1. Measurably reduce crime by patrolling in a focused area at peak times and locations for criminal activity. (E.g. Center St. weekends 9pm-3am)
2. Build and sustain community cohesion through patrol groups and others, like block watches, bike cops and police squads active at patrol times.
3. ????


* determine geographic and time limits for patrol/watch area
- what are peak crime times and locations. what times are people available to patrol, and how many people?
- based on crime heat maps from last year (I sent you access to these) the ideal range is probably Wright to Locust + alleys
- Meinecke and North is separate problem area. Burleigh-Fratney is another.
- what are peak times for robberies? (heat map: 2AM+ Center-Clarke-Booth-Bremen and Pierce-Burleigh. 9PM-2AM to south)
- what areas can be covered with people available?
- base patrol areas on clustering/frequency of prior year crime activity? (We have this data but can do closer analysis)
- benchmark recent summer month muggings to assess this year--is crime up or down?

* how can other people help?
- publicize the patrols
- help coordinate patrols and volunteers
- join patrol and watch units
- building owners and residents provide lookout points and information about suspicious activity, etc.
- trend analysis, data sharing

* publicity/recruiting
- fliers, cards -- distribute in bars
- use a central email and phone number for all contacts.
- use google voice phone # to receive inquiries and tips in voicemail box that emails a transcription automatically to call handlers
- create a clear and simple protocol for patrol members. What to do if you see X. When to call bike cop mobile number or 911 or non-emergency line.

Likely Pitfalls to Anticipate and try to Head Off

* Lack of continuous support from changing group of volunteers
* Unreliable volunteers
* Burnout of reliable highly involved people

UPDATE: "Mr. Smith" also forwarded on this article: "6 elements of successful action groups" by Sally Campbell. Again, very good, helpful ideas on some things needed to start something like this. And actually the entire site has useful info.

UPDATE: Captain Black, who was featured on this blog recently, wrote a short essay on the theme of RLSH working with community. I think his words mirror what we are thinking here for Riverwest. Here it is in it's entirety:

Coalition minded real life superheroes ( RLSHs ) should enlist other citizens in our creative crusade. What better way to promote doing good than by expanding the ranks of do gooders? Being approachable is key because more stand-offish Movement members may not be suited for this, unless done secretly.

My vision morphs real life superheroes with other citizen innovators like the Guardian Angels or Mad Dads into a united front. This morphing takes various forms: RLSH serve as rallying symbols to spur people into positive action. Imagine us in the vanguard of hybrid groups combining best practices from costumed activism with those of grassroots movements? This breathes new life into loners and would-be recruits drained by a bad economy and related problems. The vitality of RLSH imagery complements the numbers of fellow concerned citizens needed to expand our impact.

The era of the Lone Real Life Superhero may soon met the Dawn of the RLSH-Inspired Community Coalition, pronounced "rick." This isn't an either/or proposition. RLSH who prefer to work solo or with other Movement members are free to do so. Coalition-minded folks need to identify places where public meetings can be held to introduce our non-RLSH majority to this unique lifestyle. Crime, hunger and hopelessness demand mass action.

Real life superheroes can serve as symbols and field marshals in the coalition building process. This doesn't take the place of RLSH-only teams. It actually assists them by offering more hands and minds. We have set the standard for what creative individuals can accomplish. The next step may be leading community coalitions which widen our scope beyond current levels.

If real life superheroes creatively serve the community (and we do!), isn't it time to invite the community to serve beside us?

NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK promotes crime prevention and self-development.

Friday, April 16, 2010



Peter Tangen, far right on ladder, shoots photos of Phantom Zero. Photograph by Blake Pellenberg

Photographer Peter Tangen is no stranger to superheroes. He has shot movie posters and ads for several superhero and horror franchises, including the Spiderman and Hellboy series, Batman Begins, and the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street reboots. In addition he has done work for movies of all genres.

Peter was introduced to real life superheroes through an article on Master Legend in Rolling Stone. He began researching and reading more about the RLSH.

“After doing research, I felt a lot of the media was exploiting and mocking these people. I felt I had an opportunity to hand the microphone to the heroes, and give them a chance to talk about what they do. I think they really show the power of an individual.” Peter told me over the phone as he drove to a meeting about the project in Hollywood.

Peter met his first RLSH, Thanatos, in Vancouver, a destination he travels to frequently for photography work. He says that Thanatos inspired him further and helped him reach out to the RLSH community.

For his next step, he decided to take these everyday people into an epic Hollywood treatment. The major shoot for this project took place in Los Angeles at the end of September 2009, and was the largest (and most diverse) meet up of RLSHs to date, with 19 being photographed and 2 more in attendance hanging out.

The shoot would have run into tens of thousands of dollars, but Peter made it happen by inspiring a small army of thirty some volunteers to get to work in a large, bustling photography studio. Everyone from photography assistants, hair and makeup people, and even the caterers volunteered their time to be part of the project.

“It inspired a lot of people. Many of them told me it was the coolest day of their careers. I often get a positive, emotional response when I show people the project. I can tell you, it’s changed my life.” Peter said.

The photo pieces are now complete, and Peter is preparing them for a large gallery show in Los Angeles in June, and hopes a New York showing will follow. He is also speculating on a life for the project beyond that, although those speculations are confidential at this point.

While in Vancouver in February, I joined the RLSH present and we got the privilege to see Peter’s pieces that had been completed up to that point, and the craftsmanship was amazing. The show is divided into two sets.

“Outside/ In,” is a series of portrait shots of the RLSH as well as accompanying text and video to help explain who they are and what their missions are.

“Sub Culture/ Pop Culture” is a perfect marriage between Peter’s RLSH subject matter and his experience as a movie poster photographer, creating faux movie posters with RLSH as the stars.

Collaborating with Peter on these posters are “some of the best movie poster designers in the business” Peter says. They include Bryan Allen, Paul Hoegh-Guldberg, Rick Lynch, Kevin Bachman, and Martin Gueulette.

One of the amazing things is Peter’s ability to capture the spirit of his subject matter visually.

For example, DC’s Guardian’s star spangled poster has an energetic All-American Comics feeling, while Superhero’s dynamic piece reflects the Golden age comics that have inspired him.

I jokingly told Knight Owl I was going to tape Z’s poster to my screen door to scare off anyone trying to break into my house.

It’s pretty certain Nyx, the “protector of the night,” will develop a following of adoring amateur ninjas after seeing her catlike pose. Ragensi’s amazing poster reflects his interest in the paranormal and it looks like he is about to launch a high octane spell on someone.

Life’s poster can best be described as the anti-Rorschach, as he is clearly reaching down and saying “Yes.”

The poster of Geist looks like a mix between a Spiderman poster and something from the Indiana Jones series, except much cooler. These are just a few examples.

As the show’s probable pièce de résistance, Peter has created a large as life group shot, inspired by the dark and realistic superhero paintings by Alex Ross.

The date and venue are details that “will be announced soon,” Peter says. And a website will be launched in the next couple of weeks. Several RLSHs will be in attendance for the opening.

In keeping in the spirit of his subject matter, the project is non profit and proceeds made on sales of the pieces will be donated to charity.

I will be sure to update with news on the show here. Meanwhile, you can become a fan of the project’s Facebook page HERE.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

HERO PROFILE #17/18: Life and Cameraman


(Cameraman on the left, Life on the right)

Operates out of: New York City

Activities: Documentarians who also have done safety patrols and hand outs to the homeless

Founded: Superheroes Anonymous, a program that hosts an annual conference in different cities, monthly meetings in NYC, as well as being a documentary film project. More info at their website:

"Superheroes Anonymous is a collective of Real Life Superheroes who aim to do good in the world and inspire others. Originally founded in 2007 by Ben Goldman (Cameraman) and Chaim Lazaros (Life) as an annual conference for superheroes, Superheroes Anonymous has since become the legitimate face of the Real Life Superhero movement – bringing superheroes together in the real world to affect positive change."- from the Superhero Anonymous website

Author's notes: Life and Cameraman founded a project that quickly became larger than themselves. In addition to being a documentary over three years in the making, SA was one of the first meeting of RLSHs in person. The two made the transition and became RLSHs themselves, actively participating in the events they were documenting and hand out food and supplies to the homeless of New York City.
The New York Post recently did a round up of NYC RLSHs in an article


A scene from Three-Panel Dreams with San Diego RLSH Mr. Xtreme

Three-Panel Dreams
is a documentary directed by first time film maker Adair Cole that examines the lives of west coast (and Texan) real-life superheroes.

Adair explained the long road covered in the film:

"In our 'mobile-production Prius' we traveled from Los Angeles to San Diego to Austin, then Fort Worth, and then back to San Diego, and then to Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco/Oakland and, finally, back down to Venice, CA." Adair told me. Along that route they met 17 RLSHs.

Along for the ride were executive producer Timothy Marx,producers Nicholas Walker and David Lawrence and Matt Edwards,the director of photography. This crew all met at University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

The film is currently being shown to national and international distributors.

I got a chance to see Adair's energetic crew in action in Vancouver, boldly following the street level adventures of Thanatos, Knight Owl, Motor-Mouth, and Victim. Adair talked about the film's mission in an e-mail update to me today.

"In general, the 'mission' of our film was to handle the heroes and the community-at-large as fairly as possible. And to attempt to understand, first, why the community exists, and, second, why heroes are attracted the community.

While we were impressed with several fascinating newspaper and magazine articles on the community, we were always left disappointed by the various news clips we were able to find covering the real-life superhero movement. Most videos we found either turned the community into a joke, or failed to go past the surface level."

Adair also mentioned the impact the project has had on himself and his crew.

"On a personal level, we were blown away by the passion and enthusiasm of the heroes we met. These guys are out there making a difference (in whatever way possible), and it's nothing if not admirable. Forget the film, it changed our perspectives as people."
More scenes with Mr. Xtreme

You will be able to find updates on the film at their website, which launches Monday:

Adair adds:
"Also, people in the community should keep their eyes peeled for special screenings exclusively for members of the community (more information on the website soon)."

Heroes in the Night featured in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Waka waka! The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an article about Kick-Ass with an RLSH take. The roving reporter tied in local hero The Watchman along with yours truly and this blog.


And a hero sized welcome to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel readers!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010



The cast of RLSH: A Comic About Real Life Superheroes without their RLSH attire.

Amber Gant is in her third year of college, where she is studying sequential art in Savannah, Georgia. She will soon move to Atlanta, where she’ll undertake an internship with an inker who works for Marvel comics. She first heard about real life superheroes in a Psychology class.

“My first thought was 'sweet, I wanna do that.' Then I realized I'm 120 pounds and not too tall. I'd probably get my ass kicked." Amber told me. "Instead I wanted to do my own in helping get the word out. I think I really got the drive to go on it when I first saw the Kick-Ass comic. I don't think I would have known it was RLSH related, except someone brought it up in their interview. I read the first few issues and was just sick because everyone I had talked to told me the opposite of what was going on in the comic.”

Amber decided to craft her own six issue comic book series, titled RLSH: A Comic About Real Life Superheroes.

To prepare for writing the script, Amber read up and also interviewed ten RLSHs (and three real life supervillains). I have spoken with Amber over the last months on a several occasions, and she gave me the privilege of reading the script for all six issues of the series. She is now hard at work on drafting the artwork for the comic.

I think Amber has very accurately captured the ideas and personalities of the RLSH while adding some drama to help move the story along. I found myself reading it and being like oh yeah, this reminds me of so and so RLSH, and this she obviously got the idea from such and such RLSH's patrol.

Many things in the story were a believable take on things instead of ridiculous, over the top, slice and dice, Kick-Ass style stuff. Some of the conflicts are “what if” scenarios which have long been discussed by the RLSH community.

Amber presents these worst case scenarios with sensibility. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but some of the issues the fictional RLSH run into include government intervention, double crossing, negative media hype, and a suave, plotting supervillain.

Amber plans to make the comic web-based (to tie in with one of her classes) and should have an early installment mid to late May at

In keeping in the spirit of her subject matter, a portion of proceeds made on sales of the comic will be donated to charities.

I will be sure to update here with developements.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010



The wily and nefarious time traveling villainess Agent Beryllium pointed me in the direction of The Overlord, a fellow villainess with an artistic eyeball. (In fact both myself and The Overlord got the "Beryllium Bump" on her blog yesterday.)

The Overlord, of Portland, Oregon, mixes art and sinister musings on evil schemes at her site "Evil As A Lifestyle Choice" at I conducted a brief Q and A via e-mail with her yesterday.

Tea Krulos: What inspired you to become a super villain and start your website?

The Overlord: My New Years Resolution for 2009 was to become my inner Super Villain. Basically, everything I love about myself and everything I aspire to be has been rolled into one character, The Overlord, and she has slowly become a larger part of my life.

I love blogs, and I find that what I love isn't always the subject matter, but the personality, the vulnerability, and the conversational tone that often comes through. I've wanted to start a blog for awhile, and started "Evil As A Lifestyle Choice" late last year.

TK: Is evil an art form? In what way?

Overlord: This question deserves two answers: My Arch Enemy is an artist who has recently taken up photography and contributed a lot to the look and feel of my site. On my arch's page, we have a sampling of illustrations from a comic we worked on together, "The Apocalypse Picture Book." That project has been shelved for the time being, but I believe his goals are similar to mine, to bring people out of their mindset and shatter perceptions.

The way you live your life and interact with other people can definitely become an art form. When you decide to really take on the persona of an Evil Super Villain, it really has an impact on all levels Your day to day life. The way you dress in the morning, your tone, the words you choose, etc... All of these things have the power to impact others.

I enjoy telling people, in all seriousness, that I'm an aspiring villain, I've shacked up with my arch nemesis, and I'll take him down one day, after he gets a good life insurance policy. At the very least, I get a smile, but the goal is to slow people down and bring them out of their world and into mine, just for a moment.

I'm not talking about true evil, by the way, or the sort of evil that causes us to hurt one another. I'm talking about accepting the darker aspects of yourself that society tells You to keep hidden away. That darkness inside you is probably more real and more honest than your good side could ever hope to be.
TK: Who is the most villainous artist of all time?

Overlord: This is a broad question. My feeling is that most art has good intention, even architects working in the thick of Nazi Germany managed to have vision and make beautiful monuments.

I'm going to stick to what influenced me the most and has certainly influenced my Arch Enemy. Street art is technically illegal, but as I see it some of the most influential work out there. It has transformative power, mischief, and the ability to make a complete stranger pause and smile. There are too many people to name.

I love the people behind I love Joshua Allen Harris' animated trash bags. Anyone Who has ever painted over a billboard or a train car and turned something ugly and mundane into something unexpected.

I hate it when vegans paint on stop signs. Too obvious. "Stop Driving". ugh...
I guess what catches my eye is the spirit of mischief, not necessarily evil, but true.

TK: What feelings do you hope to inspire in "real life superheroes" that view your art?

Overlord: I feel there is a thin line between "hero" and "villain." It takes a special kind of person to put on a mask and fight crime. A superhero who takes it to the streets could easily become disillusioned and cross over into the realm of evil. At the very least, I'd like them to see how much fun I'm having.

TK: What are your goals for the future?

Overlord: My main goal is to continue to work hard on my site. I want something that is approachable, sort of gateway into the world of evil, geared towards the uninitiated.

I would also like to organize an event, a "Super Villains in the Park," masks required. Portland is full of people who love having an excuse to dress up, myself included.

The Arch Enemy and I are working on a few comic ideas that will mesh well with "Evil As A Lifestyle Choice." We'll also be working on some children's books that I've written over the summer, because you have to hook them while they're young.

Monday, April 12, 2010



(Above: Flaming Carrot with the Mystery Men)

Bob Burden’s surrealist superhero, Flaming Carrot, first appeared in 1979 in Visions #1, and got his own title in 1981. The Carrot was unlike anything seen before- he sports a gigantic carrot head with a flame shooting out of the top and wears scuba flippers. His utility belt is equipped with a yo-yo and sneezing power, and one of his few powers is entering a state of “Zen stupidity.” The title became a cult hit in the direct comics market in the 80’s.

Burden introduced the Mystery Men in a two part story in Flaming Carrot Comics #16/17 in 1987. Like Flaming Carrot, the Mystery Men had sub-par, questionable powers and were presented as working class stiffs. The comic characters were adapted into a film in 1999.

Although it’s easy to chuckle at the Mystery Men’s lack of stature and powers, the Mystery Men are the ones who get the last laugh. By banding together and fighting with heart, in the end they emerge victorious.

Burden lives in Atlanta, and a recent Flaming Carrot series has been published by Dark Horse Comics. This excerpt is from a phone interview conducted on February 3, 2010.

* * * *

Tea Krulos: It feels like Flaming Carrot and the Mystery Men may be paying tribute to comic book characters you grew up with. Is that true?

Bob Burden: Yes and no. As far as comics, I came along in the early days, at the same time as the Marvel explosion of the early 60’s. Spiderman was one of my favorites. But then I also liked Herbie Comics (1) which was humorous. Perhaps in a way Flaming Carrot is a combination of tone between the two?
One of the appeals of Spiderman comics, one of the fascinating things about the Marvel comics, they were sort of revisionist…you understand what revisionist means, right?

TK: That they were kind of a parody?

BB: No, not parody, a different way of looking at things. The original superheroes were sort of all powerful, and mythical. The Marvel superheroes, were more middle class, more anit-heroes, they were revisionist in that sense. It was a revolution. And when they came along, it was all middle class and there was an appeal to middle class kids. There was a tremendously big middle class in America back then, middle class was king, that is where it was at.

Now then, with the Mystery Men, I kind of usurped the Marvel middle class by coming up with a working class, blue collar, rust belt, superhero. Where Marvel was Tom Sawyer, Mystery Men was Huck Finn. The Flaming Carrot shops at K Mart, hangs out at a bowling alley, and owns a broken down laundry mat. He catches the catfish dinner special on Friday nights, and hangs out in strip clubs.

This was another level down from the middle class superhero.

I remember reading a Spiderman comic where he couldn’t find his costume, Aunt May took it and threw it out, so he had to get a costume quick. He went into a department store and got a toy costume- a Halloween costume and all during the adventure it was coming loose on him and he had to keep using spider webs to pull it back up.

That’s not the type of thing that would happen to Superman, who was kind of an all powerful character, or Green Lantern. Unthinkable. They just kind of flitted around and spoke prosaically, they were as far away from reality and as deeply engrained in fantasy as they could possibly be. They were a valid, mythical sort of reality. I loved them when I was young.

James Bond is glamorous. He’s a law man, goes after the bad guys right? Then you have Hill Street Blues, and they were very blue collar lawmen or heroes or whatever. And that was basically the concept of that- now what were the influences of my blue collar super heroes?

One of the influences of Mystery Men probably was the Matt Helm secret agent series. The original Matt Helm novels came out and were popular around the same time the James Bond novels were. However, James Bond had all this fancy stuff and an exotic sports car and this that and the other thing.

Matt Helm…all he had was like a switchblade and a .38 special revolver and a shotgun. I mean he was not glamorous. He was more like a thug than a snappy, stylish, hip secret agent.

TK: Was this intentional?

BB: Nothing intentional about it. I’m mostly instinctive. When I came out with the Mystery Men, they were a kind of second string, blue collar superheroes with mediocre powers. Flaming Carrot was kind of the prototype of this kind of superhero. He wasn’t smart like Batman, so when he got in a spot he would blast his way out in a hail of gun fire. All that was fun and it fit my art style which wasn’t as slick as the Marvel or DC art.
(Above: The cast of the Mystery Men movie)

TK: Was the leap into the movies something you planned then?

BB: Flaming Carrot was such a hard idea to make into a movie, because of the mask. I man I always wanted to get comics into movies, but I shot myself in the foot what that mask for FC. We didn’t want to turn this into another Howard the Duck. It could have easily happened too. We were always talking about making a movie, so what I did was come up with the Mystery Men (2). A group that had Flaming Carrot and more of the same- strange, weird, second string, blue collar, mill town superheroes. The ones that couldn’t make into the major leagues.

Anyways-after Flaming Carrot and Mystery Men came out, then there is Who Wants to be a Superhero? which is kind of a derivative of Mystery Men, because Mystery Men had that try out scene. At conventions we were doing the same thing, I would do conventions where I would be a judge, and some of the other guests would be judges. They would have a whole “who wants to be a superhero” panel.

And I can’t say Flaming Carrot influenced these people, but maybe Flaming Carrot, Mystery Men, Who Wants To Be a Superhero?, all had an effect on them. The idea of going out there and being superheroes. Same with Watchmen.

The Rorschach character was a lot like Mystery Men. You know, he’s eating beans in the kitchen- you want me to heat that up?-he says “fine like this.” He’s in a big tirade yelling at Dr. Manhattan, who snaps his fingers and all of a sudden Rorschach’s standing in the rain carrying on and yelling.

He gets no respect- kind of a Rodney Dangerfield type, but he’s also very serious about things, so it makes him an interesting character. Now to an extent he seems to be based on the Steve Ditko characters (3) like The Question and Mr. A… who were very stoic and very Ayn Randish. Do you know who Ayn Rand is?

TK: Yes. Atlas Shrugged.

BB: It would be curious to see how many of these real life superhero guys have ever heard of Ayn Rand. Some may think that Ayn Rand might be an unusual reading choice for a man of action who goes out on the streets to fight crime; Ayn Rand is more intellectual than action orientated. It’s entirely possible a lot of these characters are out there doing these superhero things- the idea they were inspired or egged on by the idea of Flaming Carrot, Mystery Men, and Watchmen.

TK: Had you heard of “real life superheroes” already?

BB: I have- I’ve seen them on the news.

TK: What was your reaction?

BB: I thought it was interesting, but there wasn’t much of a reaction. There wasn’t a reaction in a negative or positive way, it was just sort of interesting that it was happening, and that also seems the way the news took it. They weren’t like- oh this is going to be dangerous or that these are wonderful great heroes and they should all be given medals. Neither. They had a wait and see attitude, let’s see what’s going on here, this is sort of interesting, putting it on a platter without any kind of viewpoint…

Isn’t that weird that any minute, this thing could change. It could become really important, say for instance somebody takes a potshot at a politician or a rock star and one of these superheroes jumps in and saves him, takes a bullet for him. Then these guys become heroes. If one runs into a burning building, and loses their life throwing babies out the window for firemen to catch, then the guys will be heroes.
If one of them accidentally kills somebody or gets sued for millions of dollars or blows up a gas tank that takes out a city block, then they’re bad guys.

It all depends on what they do. It all remains to be seen and you don’t know what’s going to happen and I can’t tell you what’s going to happen.

TK: So you saw the real life superheroes- did you have a moment, like “oh my god this is just like the Mystery Men?”

BB: No, I didn’t even think that. I mean to me the whole idea of people doing the superhero thing today is perfectly normal development. I don’t think there’s anything bizarre or unusual about it, sociologically, I mean compared to everything else going on: suicide bombers, the Harajuku Girls in Japan, the streakers back in the 70s, Disco, the whole Punk Rock thing…

TK: Have you ever dressed up?

I myself have a peculiar phobia to costumes. I really do not like to dress up. Why, I don’t know. It kind of gives me the heebee jeebees. I remember when I was a kid on Halloween I didn’t like to get dressed up in costumes and stuff. When I was a kid, I had a cowboy hat and six-guns and spurrs and then one day I looked at myself in the mirror and just said: “you ain’t no cowboy.” And after that it I couldn’t do it anymore.

TK: That is kind of strange.

BB: It is- I’m saying. I just like… I’ve never liked coconut. I can’t explain why, but coconut just doesn’t do it for me. Actually I think the reason is I was a kid and I went through a bottle with my aunt and there was sawdust on the floor and it reminded me of coconuts and I was like “this reminds me of coconuts,” you know what I’m saying?

TK: It looks similar too.

BB: It looks similar too, yeah. It’s really shredded wood is what they both are- sawdust and coconut.
The idea of people going out and having a costumed adventure is great! I wish them well and, sure, that is kind of a Flaming Carrot kinda thing. I wrote a story one time, it was a business man who was sitting in his office and talking about Flaming Carrot comics. He’s saying, well I’ve got two or three hours to kill now before the whistle blows and I go home and I’m just going to sit here and fantasize about being Flaming Carrot.

And he starts thinking about why it’s cooler to be Flaming Carrot instead of Batman. You know, Flaming Carrot gets to keep the money from the crime scenes. Flaming Carrot, instead of being polite and shy like Batman, like when Batman is around Catwoman, Flaming Carrot hangs out with all kinds of bimbos and they love him. Flaming Carrot gets to shoot his gun off, you know take pot shots at the rats down at the dump just for the fun of it. He gets to lurk in the alleys and do all of this cool shit, spy on people. I mean for some people, it is probably really cool to be Flaming Carrot because Flaming Carrot has all the fun.

TK: Which do you think is more realistic- Watchmen or Mysterymen?

BB: I think that is an unfair comparison. In other words that is like saying who is stronger- the Hulk or Thor. They are both strong and they can both kick ass, that is the whole point.

I’m just putting you on. The Watchmen movie has all the gritty realism and serious philosophical conflict. The philosophical argument in Flaming Carrot comics is: “Certs is a breath mint!” “No! Certs is a candy mint!”.

But personally, I’d have to say it’s a flip of the coin, for a lot of these people doing this, Watchmen is much more serious and these guys take themselves seriously but Mystery Men is fun. From the viewpoint of people who don’t really know what they’re doing and see a news article or one in the street, they’re going to think these guys are Mystery Men though.
So there you go, which one is the bigger influence? I don’t know- why do some of these people do this stuff? I mean they do it because they want to do it, not because they saw some movie.

These are individuals with individual thoughts who have taken the initiative… the vast majority of people in this world are just reactive to things, in other words they have to be inspired by something to do something, they have to be controlled. They’re manipulated by the media and corporations and things like that.
Then there are people out there that just go out there and do it whether it’s Henry Ford or Steve Jobs or you know, that guy (Preston) Tucker who came up with the automobile design.

And so to a lot of people it is incomprehensible that they would come up with their own idea and they have to find some derivative thing that all this came from. Well, it negates the whole existence because most people live a derivative lifestyle. They repeat what they hear on television, they watch the news at night so they’ll have something to say around the water fountain the next day. They have no opinions of their own.

So let’s say someone goes out there on their own, takes their own initiative. That’s a person worth watching, that’s a person that is interesting and worth following.
Something like Flaming Carrot or Mystery Men or Watchmen can be a doorway, but they have to choose to go through it.

You can visit Bob Burden's Mystery Men site


1. Herbie Comics stars the balloon shaped Herbie Popnecker, who would change into the superhero Fat Fury, armed with super powered lollipops. The title was published by the American Comics Group in the 60’s.

2. The Mystery Men film was released in 1999 with an incredibly talented cast; Ben Stiller, Paul Reubens, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Greg Kinnear, Janeane Garofalo, Tom Waits, Geoffrey Rush, and Eddie Izzard were among the cast.

3. Alan Moore has said that the Watchmen characters are loosely based on characters from the Charlton line of comics, with Rorschach based on the Ditko character, The Question, and a similar Ditko creation, Mr. A.


I'll be writing on Kick-Ass and the possible implications and so on, after I get a chance to see the film this weekend.

During the week I will be spotlighting some real life artists working on projects involving the RLSH.

Before there was Kick-Ass, there was Mystery Men, and today I am featuring an interview I did with Mystery Men creator Bob Burden.

It was quite a thrill for me to talk to him. In high school, my cool friends introduced me to a lot of direct sale/ alternative titles like Tank Girl, Cerebus, and Megaton Man. My favorite, though, was Burden's surreal superhero Flaming Carrot. The Mystery Men first appeared in the pages of Flaming Carrot and later starred in a 1999 movie.

I have three other confirmed guests for the week, and a couple others I hope pull through at the last moment. These guests I will be able to do features on for sure are comic artist Amber Gant, documentary maker Adair Cole, and Peter Tangen, who is working on a large scale photography show.

All three have been putting a lot of work into their projects for a long time, so I am very glad I can give you a small preview of their work here so you can get a sense of what angle their work is coming from.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Captain Australia on the street

First, a general announcement. Kick-Ass will be released next weekend, and so tomorrow starts "Art Appreciation Week" here at Heroes in the Night. I will be spotlighting different media projects featuring a RLSH angle every day, Monday through Friday. More info tomorrow.

Today I've exchanged e-mails with an interesting guy, Captain Australia. Like a lot of Australians, the Captain is a larger than life type of person. You can read more on him at his website HERE.
The Captain has a situation in Australia he'd like to think of a strategy for very carefully, and is seeking advice.

In the Captain's own words:

I've accepted a Quest, and it will help me construct my strategy by taking on a range of viewpoints, as this one requires a bit of lateral thinking on my part.

What I'm asking is your opinion on the below:

- I was approached by a small business owner from King's Cross (in Sydney) who asked me to help.

(Editor's note: I actually stayed in the King's Cross area back in 2001. I don't know how much it's changed, but I remember it was an eye popping intro to Australia for me. In the five block walk from my bus stop to my hostel I walked past the porn theaters, bars, and kebab shops and was solicited by about seven prostitutes, several drug dealers, and various scam artists and panhandlers)

- Problem is junkies and dealers outside his store.

- There is a legal injection room nearby and a 1200 meter (about 0.75 miles) exclusion zone around it where you can legally carry a small amount of otherwise illegal drugs, for personal use.

- The junkies and dealers flaunt the inconsistent law, and it drives honest trade from this business, which is going belly up.

- The local drug trade is all ran by a network of Lebanese bikey gangs, very structured and very dangerous.

I'd be grateful for your ideas and opinions and general comments, it will help me compose my own plan of attack.

I told him that I would post here, and invite comments from RLSH about how they would handle this problem.

I think your response will not only help him (and me as a writer) but it will probably benefit yourself to think about what the right thing to do is in this situation. After other people post comments, I will in fact offer my own opinion.

Let me add a couple of fictional "what ifs" to this situation.

- The Lebanese gang is considered armed. They are not just causing problems for the business, but because they are hanging around outside, they are also harassing passers by (sexually harassing comments to woman, trying to start fights, pissing in the alleyway, leaving graffiti, etc.)

- The police for whatever reason REFUSE to intervene. Maybe the Lebanese bike gang has paid them off, or some weird zoning law exists.

If this was happening in your home town, and this business owner came to you asking for help, what would you do?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Aka: "Cap" for short

Operates out of: Savannah, Georgia

Activities: Writing, communication, community organization

About his name: BLACK stands for Brotherhood-Loyalty-Ability-Courage-Kindness

Quote: "I applaud real life superhero members using bill money and buying folks in major trouble some necessities. I've given away thousands to people in need.

'Saving' the world while broke introduces a challenging element to RLSH and other hunger activists. It's a real sacrifice to pay for items others need while your pockets are increasingly thin. Shouldering this sacrifice is as heroic as stopping crimes in progress or visiting school children.

As a largely working and middle class movement, regularly sacrificing to help others shows our hearts are in the right place. It's too easy to just spend on ourselves without helping the needy. I do what I can. Capt. Black is known as someone who'll give you something to tide you over. Again, I do what I can."
-from a recent essay

Author's notes: I interviewed Captain BLACK by e-mail quite awhile ago. I'm on his e-mail list and I always take time to read his essays and have listened to some of his blog talk radio shows as well. A good example is a recent column he wrote on artist, athlete, and activist Paul Robeson which you can read
HERE. You can find out more about him and a link to his blog talk radio show at his website,

Monday, April 5, 2010


Hong Kong-

It is strange there isn’t a strong RLSH movement in Asia. After all it is a culture that has picked up some odd bits of American culture (baseball, Rambo movies, and rockabilly for just a few examples) in Japan in particular. Japan also has a culture that loves manga and anime, giant lizards and robots.

Even the current Japanese first lady, Miyuki Hatoyama, describes meetings with aliens, including a trip to Venus, and a meeting with Tom Cruise in a past life in her book “Very Strange Things I’ve Encountered.” There has been at least a couple Japanese reports on RLSHs.

So it would seem RLSHs would not only be welcomed, but maybe even decorated as public ambassadors or state spokespersons!

However, Red Arrow of Hong Kong is one of the only known RLSH of Asia. He is dressed almost like a Hong Kong version of the DC superhero Red Tornado. He has a blue cape and shirt with a giant red arrow and a blue mask concealing his face with a plush red arrow stuffed with Styrofoam attached to the forehead.

A 2006 YouTube video shows him making the costume, then going out into public, where he hands out candy at a school assembly, says hi to people and offers favors, performs yo-yo tricks, hands origami swans to children, and offers to shade pedestrians under an umbrella.

In a second video, shot on Christmas of 2006, he walks around handing out 100 small gifts to “kids in poor places in Hong Kong.”

On September 19, 2007 he updated his MySpace page, announcing he would be moving to the UK for 4 years. His trail, at least for the time being, seemed to have disappeared there.

On Friday (April 2), however, the Red Arrow appeared on the forum, announcing that he was currently in the UK, had not been active in RLSH activities the last several years, but was making a return to the scene.

I guess he's letting the giant red arrow on his head guide his way.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

HERO PROFILE #15: Motor-Mouth

Photo by Thanatos

Operates out of: The Bay Area of California

Activities: Safety patrols

Often patrols with: Mutinous Angel

About his name: Has the gift of gab. Likes to talk about his extensive knowledge of comic books and other topics.

Quote: “I think it goes back as far as my childhood. I’m a California native and I remember being able to go to like Golden Gate Park with my family, just being able to be a kid. Crime existed, but not half as bad as today, know what I’m saying? It’s like seeing an apple rotting from the inside out. Not just the apple, but the whole orchard.”

Author's notes: Motor-Mouth has got...well, he's got a mouth on him, but he's also got heart. He is very energetic about being out there on the street, sometimes doing all night patrols. He has helped organized a good crew of guys, not just in the Bay Area but in the entire state of California. Any criminals these guys cross are sure to get an earful.