A hero needs his city

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This cover is a total fake. But it’s how I picture the hero, thanks to a quick sketch and Photoshop.

A bit of news first: I penned a short story this summer called Airfoil: Hotspots, based in the same story universe as my as-yet-unpublished novel Airfoil: Origins. Since then, it’s been accepted for publication by The Crossover Alliance, a publisher of stories by Christian writers that doesn’t shy away from PG-13 and R frameworks. Keep an eye out for Superheroes: The Crossover Alliance Anthology Volume 3, due out March 28

Back to the matter at hand.

When I dreamed up Airfoil three years ago, I knew he needed a city. Seriously, what superhero doesn’t? Arrow has Star(ling) City. Flash as Central City. Batman has Gotham City. Superman, his Metropolis. That’s a DC heavy list, but Marvel’s no stranger – except they focus a lot on New York. I’m looking at you, Spider-man, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc.

I spent a lot of time perusing maps of superhero cities for inspiration, until I realized that I didn’t want to just draw a bunch of cool-looking lines on paper – though, I did. It just wasn’t the primary motivation.

What I wanted was a major character.

The city is as much a starring role as the hero himself. It needs a history, neighborhoods that vary in terms of culture, economics, and age – not just of the buildings, but the people.

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Drake City, circa 2014

At some point in mid-2014, I sat down at my drawing pad over a period of several days and produced Drake City.

As I invested my imagination in its creation, neighborhoods sprang to life: the run-down and diverse Hull district; the gritty, industrial Newport; the upscale Rittenhouse Island; and the small  and primarily residential Nine Square.

Eventually I scanned this fictional New England city into my computer, fired up Photoshop, and added some cleaner lines and a nice blue harbor. Then I had some more fund. What good was a map, I reasoned, if I couldn’t have a big one in my hands?

So, I exported it as a PDF, then instructed a printer to spit it out full scale. Meaning, make it take up eight sheets of 11 by 17 paper.

The result makes me grin every time I unfold it.

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I tell you what. If you’re ever interested in finding a Christmas or birthday present for a guy like me, get someone to turn this thing into an actual road map, just like the ones you pick up at the Chamber of Commerce or the gas station.

What’s the big deal? Well, like with most of the major characters in all my books, I finally had a face to go with the name.

You’ll get to meet him soon enough.

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2 thoughts on “A hero needs his city

  1. That map looks fantastic. Looking forward to shaking hands with the place.

    Please tell me their major sports franchise is called the Drake City Dragons.

    1. Hmm, you know? I’ll have to look back at the manuscript for the novel. I think I may need to change that! Don’t recall what I made the team name. It’d be fun to credit your suggestion!

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