ASH: Academy Commentary File
pwerdna at gmail.com
Mon May 11 20:26:20 PDT 2020
On 5/7/2020 6:42 PM, Dave Van Domelen wrote:
> Commentary on The Academy #0-8
> Original stories and commentary by Dave Van Domelen
> Looking back at 17 years of writing in the Academy of Super-Heroes
> setting, Tony Pi's asked me and some of the other writers to provide
> commentary on the stories as he goes back through the archives and rereads
> everything. So, who better to lead off than me?
Oh lovely! :D That sounds super fun. I started a re-read last year but got
distracted, I should get back on that.
> While writing silly
> superhero parody was fun, I also wanted to write somewhat more serious
> superhero fiction, and in late summer of 1993 I found my setting.
> The Patrol.
Ahhhh, yes. A really cool concept.
> Unfortunately, since there was no controlling authority, it ended up
> becoming a sort of majority rules environment. The other writers wanted to
> introduce elements that I'd been careful to avoid, and when I couldn't
> convince them to back off, I left.
> I didn't start completely from scratch, of course. After all, I'd done
> a lot of worldbuilding in other places before, why not raid more old gaming
:D I've always loved the weird elements that seem to have come out of that.
> I decided to pick up the Academy of Super-Heroes setting again and
> jump it a generation into the future (keeping up with the calendar had been a
> minor problem for me in Patrol, this would solve that problem).
> Plus, I'd even had the Modern Knights RPG campaign
> cross over into the LNH, so most of my regular readers had seen bits and
> pieces of the "present day" version of the universe, enhancing the contrast
> with the 2022 start date I'd picked.
Yesssss. <3 That experience really added another layer at the time.
> I came up with the rough idea for the plot: a murder
> mystery at a school for young superheroes, solved by the first generation of
> new heroes to arise since all the supers died in 1998.
That's still an extremely strong concept.
> One of the fourteen
> would have to be the killer, and another would have to die or at least be
> taken out of things completely along the way, to show that no matter how well
> you train superheroes you're going to have casualties. Given how many lines
> of text this setting has generated, I spent shockingly little time thinking
> about this.
Intuitive plotting! :D
> Of course, at the time I wasn't really expecting it to run more than a
> year or so. And my plotting style had always been "take core idea, run with
> it." Let the characters and situations inform the plot, don't be afraid to
> change directions radically if it looks like the characters wouldn't really
> go the way you'd been planning. That sort of thing.
YEAH!!! Love that shit! Not good at it! Need to get better! X3
> Since I knew even the "story"
> part of the first installment would be more of an infodump, I jumped on the
> comics trend at the time of "zero issues", a sort of prologue before the real
I've always thought those were useful. :>
> I was sorting through some old files and found this...I'm not sure I
> ever posted it anywhere, or if it was forgotten in the turmoil of 2011 (not a
> great year for me, I lost a long-term position and went into a series of 1-2
> year gigs). I decided to not change any of the text I wrote above, and just
> update things here in a postscript.
Oh, fascinating. <3
> I'll admit, things have been nearly dead from 2011 to 2020. I spent a
> few years hopping from job to job, with the need to create new curriculum
> every time I got a new job tending to eat up my writing drive. Matt and Marc
> had largely stopped years before that, and Tony found his time taken up more
> by paid writing gigs. A shared universe does tend to need a certain critical
> mass to keep going, with writers bouncing ideas off each other and finding
> inspiration. But the whole thing started small, and it could restart if one
> of the established writers starts turning out more material, or a new writer
> asks to give it a try....
I've written exactly one issue of ASH material. X3; I keep having ideas bouncing
around for it, tho. My writing engine keeps starting up then winding down
unexpectedly, but maybe if I really get my momentum going...
Drew "should definitely do that re-read" Nilium
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