Kai Strand’s King of Bad plus a GIVEAWAY!

If you’ve spent much time here, you’ve probably discovered how much I like Kai Strand’s writing. She first appeared on authorericprice.com shortly after her book King of Bad came out, with a guest post about different types of publishing. Here’s a link to that post. She’s also the mastermind behind last year’s Lightning Quick Reads project. Spend some time exploring this site for hours of quality short stories by several authors.

I’m a huge fan of Kai’s book King of Bad, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring her back for the YA Reads Book Blitz this week. If you’ve ever liked comics as much as I did, this series is for you. Edit: I should also mention this is the second addition with bonus material.

king of bad kai strand

 

Super Villain Academy, where you learn to be good at being bad.

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

 

Read below for an excerpt from the book:
An alarm blasted, startling the occupants of the room into silence. The double doors burst open, slamming against the walls with an alarming crack. A swarm of people, clad in black from head to toe, poured through the door. Blue flames erupted from those on the outer edge of the group. The flames weren’t directed at the kids in the room, but acted more like a battering ram to clear the way.
“Blue flame?” Oceanus whispered.
Jeff stepped between her and the melee. He saw a panicked look on Source’s face and wished the intruders didn’t separate them. Jeff knew Source’s lack of skill left him vulnerable.
Oceanus stepped around Jeff. “What do you think you’re doing?”
With her eyes sparking, Oceanus didn’t look as helpless as Jeff would like to think she was. Regardless, the need to protect her was strong and he again stepped in front of her. Hoping to distract her, he said, “Uh…you’re more experienced than me and you can help me fight if we need to. Stay back.”
Oceanus glared at him.
“Uh…for now.” He nodded to give his feeble statement strength.
“But I want to see.” Oceanus stepped sideways. “I’ve never seen blue fire before, Polar. What is it?”
“I don’t know, but it looks like they have more tricks up their sleeve.”
The tight knot advanced militarily to the center of the room. Then they unfurled like a flower bud, revealing a deadly stamen. A small woman, with ebony skin and violet eyes, stood in the center, seeming seven feet tall with the importance she emanated.
She spoke in a smoky, low voice to a ferret-like kid. “¿Dónde está, el?”
The ferret pointed and she raised her long nailed hands above her head. Nets, conjured from thin air, shot up and sailed across the room landing over her surprised target.
“No!” Jeff yelled. He lunged forward, his hands instantly aflame, but when he tried to shoot his fire it balled back on him, burning his own hands. He blew ice onto his hands to squelch the burn. Seeing the frost gave him a thought. “Oci, water!”
He pointed to the floor and indicated that he wanted it to snake across the room.
Oceanus pulled water from the overhead sprinklers and dropped it onto the floor. Jeff drew a deep, deep breath and breathed across the surface of the water. It iced over, immediately sending half the blue flame people to the floor. Jeff blew again, refreezing the water over their hands and trapping them.
“It won’t last forever, let’s move.” He grabbed Oceanus’ arm and they ran. They were halfway across the room when roots burst through the floor and wrapped around their ankles. They sprawled face first on the floor. Another kid fell, knee first, onto Jeff’s back, knocking the wind out of him. Jeff squirmed around until he sat up and grew a small controlled fire in his palm. He showered sparks onto the roots that had snaked up around his calves. The roots shrank away from the fire, loosening their hold and Jeff tore free of their viney grip. He did the same for Oceanus and they scrambled to their feet again.
The intruders hefted their squirming captive toward the door.
Jeff anchored his feet firmly on the ground and gathered all the gravity he could feel around him. As quickly as he could, he bound the feet of those carrying the hostage.
“See if water will work on that blue fire, Oci. Before they get to us.”
Oceanus swung around and saw four of the blue flames approaching. She pulled water from the drinking fountains and doused the flames. But instead of putting it out it seemed to increase it. “No good. I think it’s feeding on it!”
Jeff felt light headed from having to split the gravity in so many directions. He imagined his feet were buried in the ground, giving him a deeper contact with the source, and his head cleared a bit.
“Can you smother it somehow?” Jeff yelled.
“No, I don’t have anything. And the others are getting free.
Sure enough the blue flamers who’d been temporarily frozen were up and re-igniting their fire.
One of the intruders with the blue fire yelled, “¡Detenganlo!” and pointed toward Jeff.
Teachers had joined the fight. In the midst of pelting milk cartons, lightning strikes, and lashing ropes, Jeff was struck by one strange fact. His fellow students seemed to be fighting for the sake of fighting. No one appeared intent on retrieving the hostage. As a matter of fact, Jeff watched a kid blast one of the captors and turn away from the hostage.
Jeff roared. He had to get over there, but if he moved, he’d release the gravitational hold he had on the captors. Experimentally, he slid a foot forward without lifting it from the ground. He felt the hold weaken, but it didn’t break. Concentrating all his efforts on maintaining control, Jeff slid his feet across the floor. The going was agonizingly slow. He felt some of the captors struggle against the gravity that locked them in place, hoping to break free. Someone’s psych ability nudged around his head looking for a way in. With all his efforts focused, he continued to slide across the room.

A blast of steam and heat hit Jeff, knocking him sideways. He slid a couple of feet across the ground and came to a rest in a heap. Dazed, he shook his head and sat up. Then he remembered what he’d been doing. He leapt to his feet and searched the room for the group of captors. Too late. The doors swung closed behind them. Source was gone.

2 ed KoBKing of Bad (Super Villain Academy Book 1) by Kai Strand

Genre: YA Fantasy

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/King-Of-Bad-Edition-Villain-ebook/dp/B00DQGA6MW

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/king-of-bad-super-villian-academy-book-1-kai-strand/1115915105?ean=2940016426198

Box Set Purchase Links:
3 book bundle
The Giveaway:
$15 Amazon gift card plus a signed bookmark and a pack of King of Bad playing cards (see attached picture); open US only
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Kai Strand

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.

Guest Post: Scott Harpstrite and Comic Book Movies

Scott 1Today I am pleased to welcome Scott Harpstrite as he discusses the evolution of the modern comic book movie. Scott is a Research Lab Supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. I know what you’re thinking: “So he understands liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, but how does this qualify him to discuss comics?” I’ll tell you. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a recovering comic book addict. On Saturday mornings, I frequently paced the mall (faster than most of the senior citizens, but not all). I did this not for exercise, but in anticipation of the comic book store opening; and Scott strode next to me. In many ways, our addictions fed off one another. This post couldn’t go on forever, so many notable movies had to go unmentioned. Please use the comments section to talk about your favorite (or least favorite) comic book movie. And come back here Friday at 4pm CDT for a companion article about my favorite graphic novels.

The First authorericprice.com Giveaway!

To make this more fun, I’ve decided to give away my unopened Collector’s Pack of the Wolverine/Gambit: Victims mini-series. So please, enter to win and tell all the comic book fans you know. To clarify one of the criteria, you can get entries by commenting on either this post or the one I will run on Friday, but not both…I don’t think. The same giveaway will be connected to Friday’s post. Click the link at the bottom to go to the giveaway (I can’t figure out how to make the giveaway show up here).

I can think of no better way to prove to myself I’ve progressed in my recovery than to give away something I once coveted. I reread my opened copy the other night. Aside from having an interesting “modern-day Jack the Ripper” storyline written by Jeph Loeb, in all of their 1995 glory, issues three and four have autostereograms: One for Spider-man they other for Mallrats. Remember those pictures you’d stare at until a hidden image appeared?

The Modern Age of Comic Book Movies

By Scott Harpstrite

In today’s world, movies based on comics are commonplace.  Previously vetted material, from various genres, with the added bonus of an eager, established audience, provides a straightforward moneymaking concept.  In this spring and summer’s blockbuster season, we’ve seen five movies with origins in comics: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Red 2, R.I.P.D., and The Wolverine (and who knows, I may be overlooking one or two).  But things were not always like this.  Not so long ago, movies adapted from comic books were rare.

Cover of "Superman - The Movie"
Cover of Superman – The Movie

In 1978, Superman set the bar for modern comic book movies very high.  Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman made people believe a man could fly.  The movie captured the heart and soul of the comic book.  But as the series continued with its three sequels, the quality of the plots declined, their popularity dwindled, and profits decreased.  While the Superman franchise died, the idea of adapting comics into movies lingered.  In 1989 the genre leaped forward with Batman.  Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City and The Caped Crusader was drawn straight from the comics, dark and serious.  Unfortunately Batman quickly followed Superman’s path.  The franchise saw three sequels, each considered worse than the previous.  Fortunately, the realm of comic book adaptations expanded beyond these two well-known superheroes.  Several other films based on comics debuted: The Mask, Judge Dredd, Barb Wire, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Phantom, Spawn, and The Crow. By reaching beyond the superhero genre, these movies received a broad range of acceptance.

Now it was around this time when I stumbled across comic books.  I instantly became obsessed, reveling in the fantastical worlds, the exaggerated personalities, and the always-epic storylines.  While I gave a great effort to learn about and follow many comic book universes, I lived in the world of the X-Men.  As the Batman movies came and went, I was sinking deeper and deeper into everything X.  Looking at other comic book adaptations, I impatiently waited for the day X-Men would finally hit the big screen.  And just a few years later, an X-Men movie was in theaters; leading to one of my fondest memories…

Cover of "X-Men (Widescreen Edition)"
Cover of X-Men (Widescreen Edition)

Several weeks after opening weekend, my girlfriend and I sat in an almost empty theater. Wolverine, face down in the snow, had just been thrown through his truck’s windshield and slid across the ice. Seconds earlier, Rogue had told him he should wear a seatbelt. We crack up laughing, and the odd sensation of someone watching me set in.  Still laughing, I looked around.  No one else was laughing, and a few of the moviegoers had looked at us, with expressions of curiosity and disbelief on their faces.

As much as they must have wanted to know what we found so funny, I wanted to know why they were not laughing. After a moment of pondering, I understood.  They must have thought that we had already seen the movie and therefore knew what was coming[1].  We had not previously watched the movie.  Yet, we did know what would come next[2].  Wolverine would stand up, grumble, and his wounds would disappear.  We knew the same metal on his claws (adamantium, shown minutes beforehand) covered his entire skeleton, making it nearly indestructible.  We knew any injuries he received from breaking through the glass windshield and skidding across the ground were short-lived, thanks to his mutant healing factor.

At this time, I also understood we watched completely different movies.  I watched my heroes, characters whose struggles I enthusiastically followed.  I watched villains I despised, yet sometimes sympathized with.  I watched my favorite comic books in live-action.  Everyone else in the theater saw something different.  They had just heard ominous introductory narrative on evolution and watched a boy torn away from his family entering a Nazi concentration camp.  They had heard the screams of a teenage girl after a kiss put her boyfriend into convulsions, followed by a Senate debate on the rights of people born different.  They had just witnessed a rough-looking man (whose dog-tag read Wolverine), in a brutal cage fight, a near bar fight where metal claws tore from his knuckles, and a violent crash.  They watched a serious, dark movie.

This difference is the key to comic book adaptations becoming successful movies.  While many people went to see their favorite characters in theaters, many more just went to see a movie, with characters and storylines new to them.  Here were successful comic book characters being tested in the movie format.  If a comic-uninitiated audience enjoyed the movie, it would make money, and justify making another adaptation (i.e. Daredevil, Hellboy, Spiderman, Constantine).

Also, if a particular title turned a profit, a sequel would follow.  If the title failed, it was put back on the shelf…but no longer permanently.  Much like the comic book characters they were based upon, movie franchises can come back from the dead[3].  Almost a decade after Batman Forever ended the series, it began anew with Batman Begins.  Gone for almost twenty years, the Superman franchise returned with Superman Returns, failed, and is now rebooted with Man of Steel.

A new constant for the field developed: several years after a title fails, or even fades slightly, it can reappear to be tried again. This stability allowed the field to expand and experiment.  Now, instead of movies simply retelling popular stories and themes, they sometimes emulate the comic book style, trying to nearly reproduce the comic book on-screen.  Sin City is presented almost entirely in high contrast black and white, very similar to the graphic novels[4].  Watchmen and 300 have the camera angles produce identical views as the comic book panels [5].  These movies are nearly the same as viewing a comic while actors dictate the word bubbles.

Comic book adaptations have changed greatly since the time of Superman. Comics solidified their place in the movie industry through slow and steady expansion. This stability led to some less predictable changes.  Now, movies based on comic books range from a new story for a character originating in a comic book, to an attempt to bring a comic book to life by placing the pictures from the paper pages onto the screen.

Footnotes:

[1] It is also possibly they thought we’re sadistic for laughing at a man getting hurt…which in retrospect does seem a bit sadistic.

[2] My girlfriend, while not obsessed (she didn’t even read comics), had a great knowledge of the X-Men due to us living together.  I believe it is a common occurrence that anyone living with a comic book collector inadvertently (and sometimes unwillingly) absorbs an advanced knowledge of comics.

[3] Death in comics has little meaning.  Returning from death (or perceived death) is far too common, especially for very popular characters with significant deaths: Jean Grey, Superman, Jason Todd (the second Robin), The Flash, Captain America, Batman, Jean Grey again (To tell the truth, I don’t know if she’s currently alive or dead.  She dies and comes back a lot, which makes sense, her codename is Phoenix.).

[4] I don’t want to get into a semantic debate concerning the terms “comic book” and “graphic novel”.  For the purposes of this discussion, I consider them the same type of literature, just packaged differently.

[5] While it is my current favorite comic/graphic novel and movie, I did not mention Scott Pilgrim because it seems to simultaneously be a movie based on a graphic novel and a graphic novel based on a movie.

Don’t forget! You can enter to win an unopened box set of Wolverine/Gambit: Victims 1-4.IMG_20130805_223558_767
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