I used profound disappointment in the behavior of humanity as a motivator behind a few characters in the series. Nihilistic villains who think humanity doesn't deserve the world anymore, heroes who gave up because they couldn't take the relentless cruelty people heap onto each other any longer.
The kids are my own personal beacon of hope, because they're not allowed to despair. They still, in the end, think humanity can be better and deserve that chance.
There are weeks when the collective horribleness of human behavior makes me think those nihilistic super-villains really aren't that unrealistic.
On a film set this weekend for a project I'm acting in, I got to talking with one of the crew about storytelling and I told him a story from a year or so back when a director I've worked with was lamenting, "when will this superhero fad go away?" (He writes westerns and crime movies.) I said, selfishly, I hope it never does, because superheroes are my profession, but honestly, I think we're obsessed with them these days because the world is so bloody dark right now we're all grasping for some form of escapism. The real world is awful enough. Give me a ray of hope in primary colors telling me the world can be a better place.
One of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis, wrote in a very self-aware, very meta- comic the line: "No, a finer world is a small thing to ask." It's a throwaway line in a comic so few people were reading it was canceled a year or so later, but that one line has become my own touchstone for when things become so awful I feel like giving up like one of Doc's old teammates. A finer world is not too much to ask for. But we have to act like we want a finer world, and we have to demand that the rest of humanity join us in building one.
Keep being kind to each other. There's enough people out there being cruel to make up for the rest of us. Need to throw some weight on the other side of the scale.
Finally recovered from a very, very busy weekend at Rhode Island Comic Con and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth. I also want to say an extra thank you to the folks who came back for books 2 and 3 whom I met the previous year in RI or Boston--guys, you are amazing. Sometimes working on this series I can feel like I'm in a bit of a bubble and it's kind of unreal, and to have the chance to meet face to face with you a second time is seriously the best feeling in the world.
I have to say a special thank you to the couple who came back for books 2 and 3 who took a selfie with me (congratulations on your pending nuptials by the way!). That was the highlight of my weekend. If you ever post the picture anywhere, send me the link!
It was so much fun to talk shop with a few of you who are also writers as well. I'm sincere when I say I answer every email, so if you ever have any follow up questions about the writing process, fire away! I might not have the answer (everybody writes differently, and everyone has a different writing and publishing process) but I will do my best.
Lastly--to all the parents who checked out the book and bought it for your kids. Thank you. True story: when I was growing up, my dad had a rule. He'd buy me any book I asked for as long as I read it. We weren't a big literary family, but when my father--who has always said in another lifetime he would have loved to have been an English teacher--saw I was a reader, he did everything he could to promote it. And because of him I grew up to be a writer. So maybe, just maybe, you'll see yourself on the dedication page of their first book as well. (The proudest moment of my entire life was being able to thank my parents for supporting my creativity when the Indestructibles was published.)
So... when's the next con for you? I'm at Northeast Comic Con in December in Wilmington, Mass (which is a great little show, by the way, if you're local--the organizers put on a great event). And I'm speaking at a panel on Saturday at the Salem Lit Fest. Anyone know any local shows I should look into for December or January? Even if I can't table, I kinda want to go--maybe I'll cosplay for the first time. I have this idea for being Karnak from Marvel's Inhumans...
So a couple of news anchors apparently lost it a bit the other day about Star Wars hype. And, I mean, okay, selling out tickets for December in eighteen seconds is a bit crazy. But I have absolutely no tolerance for people who make fun of sci-fi and fantasy, and even less patience for those who make fun of those who consume it. Sure, yes, I write superhero fantasy/sci-fi books. I've got a pony in the race, so to speak. But I also table at comic cons and I talk with fans and I know how smart and how happy and how healthy they are, and I find people who cannot understand fandom to be incredibly frustrating. But rather than explain my own frustrations, I want to quote the amazing Mr. Neil Gaiman talking about when he was invited to a science fiction conference in China:
"I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
"It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.
"Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.
"And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it’s a bad thing. As if “escapist” fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in."
Science fiction is important. Creativity is important. Passion is important and imagination is bloody important. So if you run into someone who can't understand fandom... you've probably run into someone who is a little short on imagination. Maybe they should watch Star Wars and let their minds go a bit.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.