LNH: LNH 20th Anniversary Special, Part #2

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Mon Apr 30 22:08:54 PDT 2012

On Sun, 29 Apr 2012 07:07:16 +0000 (UTC), Arthur Spitzer wrote:

>      For a long time -- much longer than I am prepared to
> admit -- I believed I could become a super-hero.
>      This was not as ludicrous as it might seem.

Makes sense to me!

>      It wasn't the powers themselves that I craved.  Don't get me wrong 
> -- I'd love the chance to fly, or throw lightning bolts, or move at 
> superhuman speed.  What I really wanted, however, was not the powers 
> themselves but what I thought they could give me: confirmation that, 
> despite all available evidence to the contrary, I was somebody special.


>      At some point I realized that I would never be a part of this 
> world.  Whatever hidden powers a lifetime of radiation and environmental 
> toxins bestowed upon me had decided to stay hidden.  I was never going 
> to be a super-hero, so I decided to do the next best thing.
>      I became a writer.


>      (This could sometimes backfire.  I once wrote a story in which the 
> main character is so upset that his roommate has begun dating the girl 
> he likes that he decides to kill his roommate.  My own roommate -- who 
> was, in fact, dating the girl on whom we both had a crush -- found the 
> story, and was disturbed by how many of its details seemed familiar...)

You know, sometimes I'm glad that I was terrible at doing continuing plots
when I was younger. >->;

>      My writers' workshops were full of very, very serious would-be 
> writers like myself, who wrote about bad childhoods, broken 
> relationships and terse, highly symbolic episodes that I did not 
> understand at the time, but later learned were meant to be homages to 
> Hemingway, Nabokov or Raymond Carver.
>      I was well on my way to becoming a serious writer.


> The information 
> superhighway arrived at Kenyon College, as most things did, about two 
> semesters after it showed up at every other university.  There was no 
> World Wide Web in those days, of course, just e-mail, FTP, Gopher and 
> something called "newsgroups," which seemed to be bulletin boards where 
> people with very strong opinions spent a great deal of time telling 
> everyone else why they were wrong.

Yeah, in some respects, the Internet hasn't changed much in twenty years.

>      It didn't take me long to realize that in the Internet I'd finally 
> found the place I'd read about in comic books: a place where seemingly 
> ordinary people could lead double lives as the heroes, or the monsters, 
> or (in the case of one of my male friends), the attractive and 
> flirtatious women they had always wanted to be.

Amazing, innit?

>      Comics were supposed to be a second-rate genre (this was the time 
> at which the world's best-selling comic book began with the lines "His 
> name -- Spider-Man!  His powers -- Extraordinary!  His webline -- 
> ADVANTAGEOUS!").  And yet here were writers like Dave Van Domelen, Ken 
> Schmidt and Jeff McCoskey, telling stories that were funny, well-crafted 
> and engaging about real people who just happened to be super-heroes.

Bit ahead of the curve, they were.  Oh, sure, there was Vertigo and
Watchmen and all, but all of those felt like, to be well-written, they had
to part their superheroes from superheroness, instead of reveling in it.

>      The thing that amazed me the most, however, was how friendly a 
> place the LNH was.  I'd come to expect writers' groups to be catty -- 
> and a writers' group on the Internet, where one rarely has to encounter 
> the object of one's scorn face-to-face, to be ten times cattier.
>      Yet the harshest criticism I'd seen leveled on alt.comics.lnh was 
> something along the lines of "that character's actions seem inconsistent 
> with how he/she has been portrayed in the past."  Everyone on the 
> newsgroup seemed supportive of one another, and no one seemed to take 
> themselves too seriously.

It's super great-awesome. <3

>      So I wrote my first story for the LNH.  I created a character who 
> was, like me, someone who had desperately wanted to become a super-hero, 
> someone who had, in fact, gone so far as to subject himself to prolonged 
> exposure to radiation in order to gain super-powers, and who had, as a 
> result, gained the ability to glow in the dark and be detected at great 
> distances with a Geiger counter.  I called him Easily-Discovered Man.
>      And because I had recently read _Don Quixote_, I felt that my hero 
> needed a sidekick, someone who would act as the voice of reason and a 
> point-of-view character for my audience.  If Easily-Discovered Man was 
> earnest and heroic to the point of obsession, his sidekick would be 
> practical and a bit sneaky, someone who viewed the whole idea of being a 
> super-hero as more than a little ridiculous.  I called him 
> Easily-Discovered Man Lite.

Interesting how that turned out.

>      When it worked -- when it really worked -- writing for the LNH was 
> like what I imagine it would be to play in the world's greatest jazz combo.
>      I'd toss out a riff -- a story, a chapter of an ongoing cascade, a 
> response to someone else's post -- and the next author would respond 
> with something even more brilliant and hilarious (or, in the case of 
> Arthur Spitzer, completely surreal) and the whole thing would roll on, 
> each of us constantly forced to reach down into that creative part of 
> him or herself, each of us constantly raising our game to match the 
> talent of the people surrounding us.

Mmmmmmmmm.  I love this so. <3 <3 <3 Especially on cascades, y'know?

>      I started out wanting to be a super-hero when I grew up.  I ended 
> up growing up by becoming a super-hero.

We could totally take this line out of context for the advertising

> And it's kind of funny when you think 
> about how the LNH would probably have a better chance of getting Alan 
> Moore to write for it than DC or Marvel now days (still -- he probably 
> doesn't work for free).

I could see him using a pseudonym, just to keep his hand in.

> Still, there are plenty of other shared universes (like Superguy) that 
> haven't screwed over Kirby and I'm not writing an essay about them.

I dunno, I hear Ben Brown got the rights to Captain Victory for a song.

> The Omega Universe probably had a greater percentage of 
> quality writing than the LNH (although my top ten list of greatest RACC 
> stories would probably have a lot more LNH stories than Omega -- also 
> LNH characters are way cooler than Omega characters).

I've meant to get around to that in the archives for a while, but there's
always something more relevant to what's being written *now*, y'know?
Still, I'm sure I'd get a good amount of inspiration for it...

> So is that why I love the LNH -- 
> because I've been a part of it?  Is it basically narcissism?  Yeah, 
> probably -- but really how can you not love something more if you put 
> your blood and sweat into it than if you don't?

Heh, it's true.  Of course, for me, it goes the opposite way - I pour
myself into it because I love it so.

> Can it last another 20 years?  Who knows.  I suppose if Superguy is 3 
> years ahead of the LNH in Writer's Apathy -- then maybe we'll be seeing 
> tumbleweeds blowing around on RACC in 2015.  But I wouldn't bet against 
> the LNH -- it's lasted this long -- it's possible it will bury us all 
> and just keep on going.  And going.  And going.


> And I'll be there -- if not writing then lurking -- and waiting for that 
> three month lull when I can post the last LNH story and then watch as a 
> bunch of other writers jump in and the LNH comes back to life again -- 
> just refusing to die.  And laughing at my last LNH story attempt.

LNH: The End?

> So, twenty years ago today,
> I taught you guys how to play.
> And because I've never gone away,
> I wrote an anniversary essay.

Wooooooooo!  I've already given feedback on this one, so I'll just say it's

> Well, that's it (except for those stragglers who are posting their 
> essays right as you read these words)!  Thanks to those who sent me some 
> essays (or stories)!  And thanks to you people out there reading these 
> words (we do this all for you)!  See you five years from now for the 
> 25th Anniversary (Well, hopefully we'll see you sooner than that)!


Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, absolutely!

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