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.


  1. Now they're getting professional Myspace pics? Jeez, will it never end..?

  2. ArchNemesis in the picture. Heh.
    One will indeed follow this facebook page.
    -Lord Malignance

  3. I am with Malvado on this one. Can't believe I just said that.

  4. this could be a good thing we used to have neighborhood watch groups these are no different

  5. This only adds to their "Media Monkey" status, you know. They are to be congratulated for their superhuman tenacity to get other people to notice them, and little else.

    At least self-confessed cosplayers will give you the straight answer when asked why they wear costumes: "Because it's fun dressing up and I like having my picture taken."

    And do any photos exist where Nyx ISN'T hyper-sexualized? I can understand the desire to be lusted after but the girl needs to step back for a moment and realize what it means to be constantly portrayed as a cheap piece of ass. Where's the intelligence? Bravery? Heroism? It's been traded in for the cheap thrill of knowing that you're the very first to come to mind when a man's gotta rub one out.

    That's a damn shame when you started this business to help people and clean up the streets.

  6. I think it's a good project. Sure, people have varying degrees of ego involvement in the project. Some may be doing it for the ego boost more than anything else. At the end of the day, though, the overall message is that everyday people can choose to become superheroes.

    As Real Life Superheroes, we can choose to help our communities and have fun doing it. Community service doesn't have to be a chore; now, it can be an adventure. And people are a lot more likely to sign up for an adventure than a chore.

  7. Vanity is a weakness all people share.

  8. Leave it to the RLSV to try to take something and twist it into something that it is not. So with respect to this I also have to say "Jeez, will it ever end?"

    And thank you Treesong for adding some common sense to counteract the negativity. All these complaints about self-promotion... hmmmm. Maybe Lord Malignance should take down all those You Tube videos of his or maybe ALL blog talk radio shows should be canceled. And
    Calamity is right about vanity - I have heard many RLSV refer to their own arrogance with admiration.

    Awesome news about the photo shoot. Score one for the good guys!!!! ;)

  9. Hey now, Beryllium.

    I think it's no secret that I enjoy hearing Agent Beryllium's opinion. It's usually much more villainous than my own, of course, but she is a very intelligent woman.

    I think I have to clarify my brief description of Peter's portrayal of Nyx in case I have led people astray in what they are visualizing.

    The depiction is definitely NOT hyper-sexualized. In fact I was very impressed with Peter's good taste in presenting it. It was attractive, but not cheap or exploitative. He gave her equal ground as her male co-stars.

    It's a lot less sexually charged than many female depictions,all boobs,hips, and midriffs, that you'll see in any Marvel or DC title.

    As for my kind of jokey comment, I said that because Nyx's depiction was the only female one I saw and I'm sure many young men will like the idea of a real-life superheroine that could possibly save them from the variable troubles they could find themselves in (in their imagination).

  10. P.S. Calamity is like an evil Buddha.

  11. Wow Agent Beryllium, if I didn't know any better I'd say there's a wee bit of a shot of the letter "N" and the letter "V" in your post. I guess having that one Chapter in Teas's upcoming book is not enough for you.

    And maybe if you actually did something other than bitch and blog then someone would people would congratulate you for something as well. I still remember on one of your blogs how you admitted that you were an "attention whore". Thus complaining about others putting themselves in the spotlight or ego is just a little bit of that RLSV hypocrisy shining thru...yet again. Hey, maybe Lord Malignance will put you in that upcoming Youtube video HE KEEPS HARPING ABOUT. A little more of that SELF PROMOTION you keep complaining about there right honey?

    And yes Tea, that comment by Calamity was rather profound. Even I have to admit that.

  12. I would like to see these pictures, 'cause pictures are pretty.

    I enjoy reading the comments on this blog, where RLSH and Villains intersect. I think We should try to keep it above the belt, however, Jingles .

    The Overlord poses for pictures in a costume, too, because She doesn't take Herself too seriously.

  13. Very true Overlord. We should try to keep it above the belt. Now take a wander over to Malvados blog and see how "under" the belt he goes. Trust me. Compared to him pretty much anyone is a choir boy/girl.

    And as for not taking yourself too made me laugh. Good for you Overlord. I like your approach. I'd take pictures of myself also but a rat in spandex is just a little too strange. ;)

  14. Tea Krulos said...
    P.S. Calamity is like an evil Buddha.

    APRIL 17, 2010 8:18 AM

    Thanks for the compliment, I shall consider that my official employee review.

  15. I am siding with Agent B, every single picture of Nyx is overly sexual, and Mr. Jingles, you need to chill out, talk about not taking the high road. I understand the intentions behind the pictures, but, again, it isn't about how they intended the pictures, it's how the public interprets them, and although we may have the label of RLSV, we are still the public, and we have a right to question those out there that claim to be doing good, especially when a lot of the evidence leans toward just more and more promotions of themselves, not of their actions. If newspapers were taking their pictures when they are out helping people that is one thing, but going into a studio to pose for pictures is another. These photos in no way shape or form are there to help people.

  16. and for treesong, the fact that someone even views helping their community a chore is a problem in and of itself. I am not arrogant either, I have never spoken of myself as anything but a man with a point, and I have to say that as much as you claim we generalize the RLSH, you Mr. Jingles have the strong tendency to do that yourself. And your comment about score one for the good guys, screw you dude, I am not a bad guy, and having that kind of view is more villainous than I.

    You make the statement that maybe someone would congratulate agent b if she did anything but bitch, hmm, unless you know her personally that is an incredibly assumptive statement, and completely proving the point that many RLSH are out for a pat on the back.

    And calamity, nail on the head.

  17. Virus, you need to chill the hell out. I like how you accuse the RLSH of self promotion but you glance over every other instance of the RLSV doing the same. Agent B went out of her way to harp on the RLSV chapter in Tea's book and even proclaimed herself as an "attention whore" - those were her words, not mine. Lord Malignance harps on his upcoming YouTube video and has a slew of them where he props around "self promoting his gimmick". You got you buddy Malvado self-promoting himself with his blog talk radio show and the Potentate using his ego and being the supposed leader of ROACH to help sell his t-shirts. The RLSH and their supporters have as much right to question the motivations of the RLSH and the inconsistencies of their behavior and rhetoric as much as the RLSV question the RLSH. By the way did you even bother to read this article clearly, especially this part:

    "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."

    Did you read the last word Virus. It's CHARITY. Should I break it down into syllables for you? CHA-RI-TY. Would you like me to pull the definition out of the dictionary for you? So that claim about these picture not helping anyone is null and void. So much for reading comprehension I guess. And yeah, I reiterate...score one for the good guys. Maybe I don't know Agent B but the same can be said about alot of the RLSH that your RLSV kin target with their filth so step off your pedestal of righteousness Virus. The RLSH don't need pats on the back to go out and help people but neither do they and often non-researched poison that spews out of the mouths of the RLSV.

  18. Tea,
    Thank you for the positive words on the project. I have a feeling we'll be re-hashing these same arguments again in June but on a much larger level.

    The RLSH donated their time as did Peter and his crew. Many other resources have been donated all for the sake of selflessly doing something for someone else and raising money for charity and those that need it.

    Kudos to those involved with the project on any level.

  19. i refuse to go into a flame war as you so heartily wish jingles, and again, the RLSV are not the ones proclaiming to help others on the internet while plastering it with their pictures. That seems to be the point you miss, any number if not all of the RLSV could just as easily be in charities, so does that automatically make them a bad guy because they carry the title of RLSV?

    That is a very shallow and biased view. The RLSH are supposed to be working out of the kindness of their heart, then why the need to constantly put your name out there? The RLSV do not make claims of doing good online because there is no need, you should be doing good for doing good, that is where the pats on the back come from. And as for the respect of self righteousness you sir are bleeding it.

    Your poor attempts to mock me are very sad and weak, you think my reading comprehension is bad, well son, you have a lot to learn, you personally attack people over the internet claiming to be neither hero nor villain but only stick up for the heroes, i would say again that is fairly biased. Not once have you look outside of your box to see this side of the table. My overlooking the one single line does not mean I have no understanding of the situation, and although the site may be for charity it doesnt mean those pictures that will be on their myspace pages are for charity, they will still post them on their page as a symbol of their pride. and again screw you on the good guys, the fact you and they think that they are any better than myself or anyone else just makes you look like an ass, and proves the point with more validity. You think that bashing people for questioning intentions is a bad thing? Well then you are not living in the real world, it is called constructive criticism. And in case you didn't notice I do not affiliate myself with anyone, i neither condone nor condemn either side as a whole, because that would be too much of a generalization. I look at the actions of the individuals involved. And the same people continue to pop up doing the same things, as for the people actually trying to do good and use their costume to assist in that, not for themselves, but for others, they are to be commended, but those going out and doing this to have their picture taken and to be noticed, is not selfless at all. I will never and have never knocked any of them for going out and trying to help, it has always been about the way they go about it.

  20. With all due respect Virus, The RLSH project is an exhibit of proffesional photographs. With no photo's, there is no project since there will not be any art to place in the exhibit. Nothing to sell to raise funds with.

    What I would suggest is before speaking on the subject that you all have very little knowledge of, you hold back your commentary until you do recieve the full picture of the project.

    As it stands now, you're all coming off as petty and jealous trying to badmouth and hurl insults.
    It doesn't matter what "good deeds" the RLSV may do. This particular project is Peter Tangen's idea. The RLSH are participating in it. If they wish to participate, what skin off your back is it really? No one is forcing you to attend the exhibit, make any donations or do anything...
    As much as you claim the RLSH are showboating,you're coming off as something much worse and less then proffesional.

  21. again you make assumptions, all of you claim that i or anyone else knows so little about anything at all, that you are all seeing and all knowing, and that we are all just ignorant assholes (that is how you make it appear, although that may not be the case). In case you did not notice, i am not hurling insults, and as a whole do not unless completely due, this has nothing to do with jealousy or pettiness, you seem to miss the entire point, which is again no surprise, it seems that neither side ever seems to grasp the others. It may simply be the conveyance of those ideas, but it is still being missed nonetheless. My comment regarding good deeds is directed at the comment by the mouse and not at mr. tangen, his intentions are most noble and commendable, again i do not ever knock someone for doing good. Again I must reiterate that I am part of the public and my voice has just as much right to be heard as anyone else. This has nothing to do with RLSV or RLSH this has to do with my opinion as a person of the public. These photos being sold in a gallery for charity are fantastic great idea, fine. But when those same photos meant to be used for good are also used for self gain then there are problems with it. Now if these photos never find a way to their myspace pages then i will admit when i am wrong, but until that happens, I wont be holding my breath.

  22. I would say that due to how the photos have been produced, they can't go up without Peter's permission. If he gives it to them...again...what skin is it off your back?

  23. Just looks like glamor shot photos to me.

    Nothing wrong with that... I believe that is how they caught Billy the Kid and Bonny and Clyde.

  24. I’ve been reading these comments with great interest and thought it was about time I added my own thoughts. I’d first like to say that I appreciate all points of view, those posted by heroes and villains alike. I’m not here to defend RLSH or argue with those who oppose them. Instead I’d like to say a few things about this project.

    This is a project that tells a story and this is what I believe…

    A story that inspires people is worth telling.

    I’ve shown the project to about 40 people and each one of them has been inspired to look for opportunities in their own lives to make the world around them a better place. The thirty people who worked on the photo shoot were inspired to volunteer because of the story I told, the owners of companies that provided studio space, equipment and other things did so for the same reason, as have the many people who have contributed to the project since the shoot. The story this project tells hopes to spread this message to a larger audience.

    Each of us wants power.

    The power to have our voices heard and to inspire others to understand our point of view and hopefully adopt it. As a photographer I use imagery to express what I believe. Many RLSH & RLSV do the same.

    The RLSH are in the business of marketing good deeds.

    A child battling cancer who met DC’s Guardian has a memory that will last and a hero to look up to. An eighty year old homeless woman meets and dances a waltz with Thanatos, dancing with “death” just weeks before her own passing. A witness to Life helping a homeless person describes her own realization that simple acts can make an important difference in someone’s day, without the mask it would just be another anonymous handout to an anonymous homeless man.

    I believe RLSH do make the world a better place.

    I’ve witnessed the effect heroes have on the people they help and I’ve seen firsthand the effect their story has on people who hear it. I’ve learned that the power to be heard is not the only power I aspire to as I’ve recognized my own power to help the less fortunate I meet in my day to day life.

    As The Crimson Fist says “I’m one guy, I can’t save the world, but I’d like to inspire the world to save itself”. With this collection of photographs I hope to reach people and inspire them. RLSH are the vehicle I’ve chosen to accomplish this goal and I’m proud to know many of them and to call them my friends.

  25. Peter!

    Thanks much for posting. I was actually thinking of e-mailing you to see if you would like to comment in response here.

    It's an exciting project and I'm looking forward to seeing it in a complete version.

  26. That is fair, and I certainly have no qualms with that. You Mr. Tangen have given a much better description than any RLSH that have tried to defend themselves, and i wish to take back most of the statements I have made regarding the photos. Thank you for clarification, but i still stand by the fact that those could make just as much good even without the extra persona, but i understand the perspective, yet those are very encouraging words nonetheless. Again thank you.

  27. Peter, seeing what you and your crew have done has actually inspired me to step up my own game and produce more. Your work is just as much an inspiration for us as well as the public.


  28. And THAT'S the idea...

    Plus, the proceeds from Peter's project are going to a children's charity. Any RLSV's want to argue with that motive?

  29. Geist...they're going to argue with it regardless. We all have an ulterior motive in why we do what we do.

    Peter, again thank you for this opportunity and your efforts and dedication to this project.

  30. Keep that tinfoil hat planted tight! You never know when an RLSV is gonna applaud a Cape just to mess with your head!

    Look out! There's another one!!!

  31. Couple of important links to this project for those interested. The first publicly released photo is viewable as a banner here

    Also, the website has gone live and more content should be availble in the upcoming weeks.

    I've heard about some fantastic things in store and who knows what Peter may pull out of his hat!

    Again, kudos to all involved who have donated their time and given of themselves to support a cause. It's National Volunteer week and it's these sort of efforts that inspire and in some cases, gives hope to those who may need it.

  32. More badass pictures made=more charity money from the event

    as a graphic artist, I'm in for that one.

  33. So where can we find these cool posters? I hope it helps promote their goodwill.

  34. Anonymous- Keep your eye here as well as Peter's site, there will be an announcement soon about when and where you can see them.