Krakt! Superhero-ing with Jason Sharp

Super­heroes! They dress like pro­fes­sion­al wrestlers, but unlike pro­fes­sion­al wrestlers, super­heroes are real! Or at least more real than pro­fes­sion­al wrestlers.

In coop­er­a­tion with EDGE Pub­lish­ing, I here­by present for your enjoy­ment The Super­hero Uni­verse Inter­views, a series of inci­sive­ly unin­ci­sive inter­views with many of the super­pow­ered con­trib­u­tors to Super­hero Uni­verse, the nine­teenth (Nine­teen! Our lit­tle series is almost all grown up!) iter­a­tion of EDGE’s vast­ly acclaimed, Cana­di­an fan­tas­tic fic­tion anthol­o­gy series Tesser­acts.

Today’s sound effect. Click to embiggen.

Please note that, unlike the rest of the Inter­tubes, the con­cept of “unbi­ased jour­nal­ism” has no place on this web­site. I have a sto­ry in this anthol­o­gy, “SÜPER,” which has already received a (slight­ly back­hand­ed) rave in Pub­lish­ers Week­ly. I’m intense­ly proud of it, and if you’re dis­ap­point­ed in me, well … the machine has not yet been built that can mea­sure how lit­tle I care.

Click here for copi­ous amounts of vital infor­ma­tion on how to pur­chase your very own copy of Super­hero Uni­verse.

And click here for a tan­ta­liz­ing, all-too-brief brief pdf sam­ple of all the sto­ries.

Today’s author: Jason Sharp

Jason Sharp

Jason Sharp is a bureau­crat dur­ing the day, hob­by farmer on the week­ends, and spec­u­la­tive fic­tion writer in-between. His works have pre­vi­ous­ly appeared in Masked Mosa­ic: Cana­di­an Super Sto­ries, Altered Amer­i­ca, and Vignettes from the End of the World. Jason and his wife Valerie have lived in Yel­lowknife and Iqaluit, and now reside in the sticks out­side Ottawa.

Tell us about your sto­ry, “Black Sheep.”

Quebec’s Con­struc­tion Hol­i­day is under­way, and that means Mar­tine Rousseau-St. Arnaud, a dan­ger­ous offend­er incar­cer­at­ed at the Joli­ette Insti­tu­tion for Women, needs to break out soon if she’s going to attend the annu­al fam­i­ly reunion.

How did the idea come about?

It arose as a response to a lot of super ori­gin sto­ries in which the hero/villain’s fam­i­ly is small and/or unaware of the hero/villain’s secret iden­ti­ty (at least until some­body abducts or kills them because of it). I thought I’d explore the oppo­site: The family’s large and they’re all in the know. Ini­tial­ly, I took the approach that it was a fam­i­ly who embraced and pro­tect­ed a hero, but it just wasn’t work­ing for me and I went the oth­er way, to a fam­i­ly who reject­ed and feared the vil­lain … but still had to inter­act with her.

I think the most valu­able super­pow­er is courage. That might not seem “super” in a sense, because it’s some­thing heroes have to devel­op on their own.
Were there any super­hero clichés that you strug­gled with?

I lost some time try­ing to find Martine’s secret iden­ti­ty. Super “brand­ing” is a thing, but in a time when oth­er authors have cre­at­ed lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of super­heroes and vil­lains, it’s no sim­ple task to find an orig­i­nal, awe­some, yet unused nick­name. I final­ly decid­ed that it didn’t make sense for her to do this to her­self – con­ven­tion­al alias­es, dis­guis­es, and stealth would make more sense for some­body not want­i­ng to be caught by police. I did, how­ev­er, allude to the media try­ing and gen­er­al­ly fail­ing to brand her.

What do you think of the resur­gence in super­hero movies and tele­vi­sion shows?

It gives me hope of becom­ing an exec­u­tive pro­duc­er one day.

More seri­ous­ly, well, I haven’t real­ly encoun­tered a lot of it—for the last few years, I have watched vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing of any kind, supers or oth­er­wise. I enjoyed Watch­men. I’ve seen a few of the recent DC-themed flicks and didn’t care for them; The Dark Knight bored me. I’ve seen a few of the Mar­vel flicks and thought them to be rea­son­ably pleas­ant but unchal­leng­ing pop­corn fare—although com­ing in cold to Avengers meant I spent the first hour or so just under­stand­ing what was hap­pen­ing. I’ve read a lot of good things about the recent Mar­vel TV series—Dare­dev­il, Jes­si­ca Jonesso might check them out even­tu­al­ly. Some­how. I’m out in the coun­try with a bad Inter­net plan and no cable or satel­lite, so it ain’t a sim­ple thing.

Let’s see more young or elder­ly supers, more supers who have to bal­ance work/family/superheroics, more supers in the ‘burbs, more supers who aren’t phys­i­cal­ly fit or attrac­tive, supers con­fronting prob­lems that can’t be solved with vio­lence.
Which super­hero could be your BFF?

Off the top of my head, I have no idea. What would we have in com­mon? Supers fly, have super strength, and pos­sess a strong dri­ve to pre­vent injus­tice. I’m a bureau­crat with some sheep and I write a bit. Just con­nect­ing for lunch could be a chal­lenge if some ran­dom vil­lain decides that’s the day to rob the First Nation­al Bank.

What makes a good hero/villain?

Human­i­ty, in the sense that they’re a per­son with human foibles and flaws…and also super­pow­ers. It also helps if they have moti­va­tions based on their life expe­ri­ences, while not being turned up to eleven in a TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY way.

Most/least valu­able super­pow­er?

I think the most valu­able super­pow­er is courage. That might not seem “super” in a sense, because it isn’t some­thing a hero gets from a spi­der bite or alien DNA or what­ev­er. It’s some­thing they just have to devel­op on their own, because their oth­er super­pow­ers are of no use to any­body if they’re run­ning the oth­er way.

Chang­ing chan­nels by thought alone? It’s pos­si­ble! Final­ly, one less rea­son to get up off the couch!

Least valu­able. Hmm. I remem­ber that bit in the one X-Men movie with the kid who changes TV chan­nels by sight, yet a coach pota­to would find that pret­ty awe­some. For all we know, that kid might now, as an adult, be block­ing all sorts of awful mind-con­trol­ling/ri­ot-trig­ger­ing/­seizure-induc­ing broad­casts from reach­ing our eye­balls and destroy­ing human­i­ty. So maybe the answer I’m look­ing for is that the least-valu­able super­pow­er is the one that isn’t used with imag­i­na­tion.

What’s the one super­hero cliché you hate above all oth­ers?

I’m not sure there’s one spe­cif­ic cliché that I hate, but there’s a few that I think are ripe for demo­li­tion: The secret iden­ti­ty, antagonists/protagonists “mak­ing” each oth­er, the cus­tom vehi­cle, the recur­ring vil­lain jail-break.

If you could have super­pow­ers for a week, whose pow­ers would you choose and what would you do?

I’d go with Superman’s expan­sive set of abil­i­ties. Don’t know that I’d zoom off to try and end a war or such, but I’d get a heck of a lot done around the farm if I had super-strength, super-sta­mi­na, and flight. Barn? Fixed. Pond? Dug. Steak din­ner? Seared to per­fec­tion with my heat-ray vision.

Which do you pre­fer, “real­is­tic and grit­ty,” or sto­ries of a more fan­tas­ti­cal bent?

I pre­fer a healthy bal­ance of the two, rather than either end of the spec­trum. If forced to pick, though, I’d lean towards the fan­tas­tic for escapist rea­sons. There’s enough real­ism in real­i­ty already.

Where do you hope future super­hero sto­ries will take us?

Away from for­mu­la, which sounds pret­ty vague, but let’s see more young or elder­ly supers, more supers who have to bal­ance work/family/superheroics, more supers in the ‘burbs and the fly-over coun­try, more supers with lim­i­ta­tions on their pow­ers, more supers who aren’t phys­i­cal­ly fit or attrac­tive, supers con­fronting prob­lems that can’t be solved with the sim­ple appli­ca­tion of right­eous vio­lence.

Super­hero Uni­verse: Tesser­acts Nine­teen

Pur­chase your own copy of Super­hero Uni­verse (you know you want one) at:

And on March 29:
Tues­day, March 29 at 7:00pm
Join us for the LIVE Author Chat Event, Tues­day, March 29 from 7–9 pm EST.