KIDLIT, FANTASY & SCI-FI –> Feed Your Head!

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz


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Great Science Fiction Comedy Movies

By Alasdair Wilkins, Charlie Jane Anders and the mad geniuses at io9 (http://io9.com/the-13-greatest-science-fiction-comedies-of-all-time-1613425431). I love io9, but I feel like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and Men in Black deserve to be on this list too.

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

Here are the 13 greatest (live-action) science fiction comedies of all time.

13. Mystery Men

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

The film flopped on its initial release, providing yet more evidence that, as a general rule, big budget comedies just don’t do very well at the box office. For all its pyrotechnics, Mystery Men is really just an alternative comedy with surprising insight into the superhero genre. If I’m being honest,Mystery Men probably does a better job deconstructing superhero conventions than the Watchmen movie does.

It helps that almost everyone is perfectly cast. It’s hard to imagine anyone better suited than William H. Macy for the straightforward family man the Shoveler, Hank Azaria for the wannabe British fop the Blue Raja, Greg Kinnear for the narcissistic sellout Captain Amazing, Ben Stiller for the irritable asshole Mr. Furious, or Geoffrey Rush for the ludicrously over-the-top supervillain Casanova Frankenstein. The only real misstep is Paul Reubens as the Spleen, but I suppose that’s because he’s just a little too convincingly creepy.

Better than any other superhero movie I’ve seen, Mystery Men captures what it means to have a city full of costumed heroes and villains, a concept it exploits to hilarious effect. The superhero tryouts really hit upon the absurdity of D-list superheroes, the discussions of whether Captain Amazing is really Lance Hunt (which is impossible, because Lance Hunt wears glasses and Captain Amazing doesn’t) make it difficult to ever take the Clark Kent concept seriously ever again, and the climactic fight sequence manages to brilliantly use every last one of the heroes’ lame powers. Plus, Michael Bay cameos as a douche bag henchman. Sounds about right.

Also worth checking out:

The Specials, starring the always awesome Thomas Haden Church and Paget Brewster, came out around the same time as Mystery Men and is its low-budget equivalent. It may lack the action of Mystery Men, but that just allows the film more time to develop its oddball cast of characters. The recent Sky High is actually a pretty decent movie, grafting a lot of good jokes onto what could have been a lame kid’s movie (supporting turns from the likes of Kurt Russell, Lynda Carter, and Bruce Campbell certainly help). And of course there’s always The Incredibles, which isn’t exactly a comedy but is always worth watching.

12. Safety Not Guaranteed

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

A small-budget film about a group of journalists from a local magazine who go to investigate a newspaper ad seeking a willing time traveler, this movie caused a huge sensation and earned director Colin Trevorrow the chance to direct Jurassic World. And it’s a brilliantly funny movie about a weirdo (Mark Duplass) and the woman who’s drawn to him — there’s a lot of loss and pathos here, but the movie keeps a kind of indie-comedy vibe going throughout that actually helps you bond with the characters.

Also worth checking out:

Another weird time-travel movie that hit big around the same time is Hot Tub Time Machine, in which a group of middle-aged losers (and one younger guy) travel back to the 1980s at a ski resort. It’s much more of a standard gross-out comedy, but has some really nice character bits as well. And is pretty much stolen by Rob Corddry as the one jerk who doesn’t accept that you should just leave history the way it was. There are some clever uses of time travel in Hot Tub, and Chevy Chase is perfect as the hot-tub maintenance guy who knows what’s going on.

11. This Is The End/The World’s End

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Two apocalyptic comedies came out around the same time, on opposite ends of the Atlantic Ocean. And they’re both funny and kind of thought-provoking, in different ways. Which one of these you prefer probably says a lot about you.

In The World’s End, a group of middle-aged dudes decide to recreate the massive pub crawl they did when they were teenagers. But it turns out the small town they grew up in has gotten a bit more cosmopolitan since they left. It’s looking a lot more like any town, anywhere, with very generic furnishings and boring people — and maybe that’s a sign of something more sinister. It’s a weird mashup of midlife-crisis-drinking and apocalyptic silliness, which drives towards a really dark ending.

In This is The End, Hollywood personalities play themselves at a party — where the Biblical apocalypse suddenly happens and everyone is screwed. Seth Rogen, James Franco and friends wind up cowering in a basement, being preyed upon by Emma Watson and strange monsters. And the whole thing gets more and more Biblical until it reaches an honest-to-God religious ending. For my money, World’s End is funnier but This is the End is cleverer.

Also worth checking out:

Seeking a Friend at the End of the World is another apocalyptic comedy, which doesn’t quite have the same bite as these other two but has some really neat moments and more of a focus on characters resigning themselves to the end of the world. Definitely worth watching. And Attack the Block isn’t really a comedy, per se, but it does have an apocalyptic feeling and a lot of funny bits.

10. Spaceballs

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Mel Brooks’s Star Wars parody is from his later, weaker period, and it lacks some of the wit and inspiration that made Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein classics. Neither Bill Pullman’s Han Solo character nor Daphne Zuniga’s Princess Leia are particularly memorable, placing most of the comedic responsibilities on the rest of the cast.

Luckily, the supporting players are more than up to the challenge. Brooks roped in two SCTVpowerhouses, John Candy and Rick Moranis, to play the Chewbacca and Darth Vader roles, and these two are crucial to the film’s success. Candy’s Barf is about as lovable as any half-man/half-dog (he’s his own best friend) possibly could be, providing Spaceballs with the bare minimum of emotional investment needed for it to be more than a string of hit-or-miss comedic setpieces.

Still, it’s the villains, including Moranis’s Dark Helmet, Brooks’s President Skroob, and George Wyner’s Colonel Sandurz, who consistently steal the show. Moranis is particularly inspired as the least likely person to play the galaxy’s greatest villain, and the fact that he plays the part as though it’s any other Rick Moranis role gets funnier with each passing scene. The film’s constant willingness to break the fourth wall doesn’t necessarily make for the most satisfying narrative, but it does provide some fantastic gags, as we’ll see below.

Spaceballs is far from perfect, but it established many of the conventions that would dominate future space opera parodies, and it represents a comedy legend’s one great attempt to take on the science fiction genre. For that alone, it earns a place on our list.

Also worth checking out:

If you’re looking for an even sillier parody of Star Wars, look no further than Hardware Wars. If you’re looking for something of the unintentionally hilarious variety, I’d recommendStarcrash, the highly unauthorized Italian remake of Star Wars that may or may not star Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff. (It totally does.)

9. Cabin in the Woods

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon teamed up to make a satire of classic horror movies where a group of teens spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods… but this movie takes some bizarre turns and winds up being a lot more than that. The whole thing is brilliantly, sardonically funny, and the characters are so pigeonholed as stereotypes that they wind up growing beyond that and becoming something more. And in the process of commenting on how horror movies serve our need for clichéd bloodshed and stereotyped characters, this film winds up saying something profound about storytelling and the human race.

Also worth checking out:

Joss Whedon’s webseries Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is also screamingly funny and has a lot of dark observations about human nature. The two works have a sort of complimentary darkness and silliness to them, and you could almost imagine the Evil League of Evil being a consultant to the people organizing the mayhem in Cabin. Also, Whedon’s Firefly movie,Serenity, is very funny, though not really a comedy.

8. Army of Darkness/Shaun of the Dead

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

I’m probably stretching things a bit to consider these films science fiction. (I’ll countArmy of Darkness because there’s time travel and a Day the Earth Stood Still reference, and Shaun of the Dead makes it, because the zombies might have been caused by a meteorite, which is sort of like science.) As such, I’ll just combine these two brilliant horror comedies into one entry and say that, together, they just about add up to one science fiction comedy. And why not?

The debate as to whether Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness is the better film will likely rage on into eternity, but I think it’s fairly clear where I stand. Casting aside the last shreds of seriousness seen in Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness is nonstop badass quips and undead slapstick. That’s a winning combination right there, and Bruce Campbell has never been better than he is here.

Meanwhile, nobody puts more time and effort into their comedies these days than Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz might be the most intricately constructed comedy I’ve ever seen). Shaun of the Dead is no exception, taking the relatively mundane idea of a zombie comedy and adding onto it a dense web of callbacks and subtle visual gags that demand repeat viewings. It’s also just a funny, eminently quotable movie, with Nick Frost’s Ed getting all the best lines. Although I still don’t see the point of owning a car in London.

Also worth checking out:

For more Bruce Campbell goodness, look no further than Evil Dead 2. If you must look slightly further, then check out Bubba Ho-Tep, where Campbell plays an aging Elvis Presley in a nursing home who teams up with a black JFK to fight a mummy. It’s as awesome as it sounds. Fans of Shaun of the Dead should definitely give Wright and Pegg’s series Spaced a try. It’s not science fiction, but it’s one of the most proudly geeky series ever made.

7. Groundhog Day

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

It’s easy to forget how committed this film is to its time loop premise. Bill Murray is funny enough that I’d gladly watch a film about him as an asshole weatherman even if he wasn’t trapped reliving the same day for an unspecified span of time. (Director Harold Ramis once said it was thousands of years, but the official word now seems to favor about ten years.) The fact that the film keeps coming up with new takes on its premise is what elevates it to the heights of science fiction comedy.

Murray’s repeated attempts to woo Andie MacDowell, each day slightly modifying his behavior so that he can give her exactly what she wants, is one of the best examples of what makesGroundhog Day so good. On the one hand, it’s simply a funny idea, as the callbacks and repetition mount and build up comic momentum. But the film also wonders about what it really means to live a life without consequences, as by his hundredth attempt Murray isn’t even bothering to hide his preparations for his next attempt, fully aware no one will remember his sleaziness.

The film is also refreshingly willing to tackle darker territory. Murray’s attempt to save a homeless man are positively heartbreaking, and there’s real pathos in a nurse’s observation that this is simply his time. His ultimate despair and repeated attempts to kill himself are funny in the bleakest, grimmest way possible, but they’re part of the reason the film’s eventual happy ending feels so richly deserved.

Also worth checking out:

There’s at least one other Bill Murray/Harold Ramis science fiction collaboration I can think of that’s worth watching, but I can’t quite remember the name. Maybe it’ll occur to me later in the list.

6. Tremors

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Of all the homages to fifties monster movies,Tremors was one of the first and it’s still the best. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward make a wonderfully stupid, profane pair as they try to evade the massive earthworms that have come to devour their desert town. The other twelve residents of Perfection, Nevada, are just as fun to watch, with the survivalist couple and their well-armored rec room a particular highlight.

The film reverently captures the charm of old monster movies without resorting to cheap parody for laughs. Instead, the humor comes from exploring how actual people might react to being attacked by fifty-foot earthworms, and the results are pretty damn hilarious. The gloriously terrible special effects are also part of the appeal of Tremors – if, as is sadly inevitable, they ever remake Tremors, I can only hope the Graboids don’t make the leap to CGI. Some things really ought to be sacred.

Also worth checking out:

Slither is a much more recent homage to this kind of movie, and it has the added advantage of starring Nathan Fillion. For more cult eighties movies, there’s always The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension, which is sort of paying homage to every film ever made.

5. Ghostbusters

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Oh yeah, this is the Murray/Ramis film I was thinking of. The special effects inGhostbusters haven’t necessarily stood the test of time, but the movie’s enduring themes of “Who you gonna call?” and not being afraid of no ghosts have kept it relevant well into the 21st century.

Day Aykroyd has always struck me in interviews as being far more interested in the paranormal than any normal person should be. (It’s possible his claims that he sincerely believes we will soon be visited by ghosts are all part of an elaborate joke, but if so, that is some serious commitment to a bit.) Either way, his and Harold Ramis’s complete belief in the seriousness of the ghostly threat lends the film some much-needed authenticity. The rest of the cast, including Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson, all get their moments to bring the funny, and nobody wastes their opportunity.

Still, this is pretty much completely Bill Murray’s movie. Legend once had it that he didn’t even read the script, instead electing to ad-lib all of his lines. That’s since been denied by pretty much everyone involved, but his hilariously natural, seemingly off-the-cuff readings make it easy to see why the rumor took hold in the first place. Besides, he really made me rethink the wisdom of strapping an unlicensed particle accelerator to my back, and that’s really just a public service.

Also worth checking out:

Whatever you may have heard, Ghostbusters II is a pretty decent film and worth checking out, if only for Cheech Marin’s random cameo (his one line is still stuck in my head years after I first saw the movie). The eighties was something of a golden age of science fiction comedies, and there are no shortage of other movies to check out, including Weird Science, Short Circuit, andEarth Girls Are Easy.

4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

It’s the rare science fiction franchise that has the guts to make one of its big-budget movies into a fish-out-of-water comedy, but that’s exactly what Star Trek does here. I’m not sure anyone would have guessed the series would have concluded the loose trilogy begun in Wrath of Khan with a lighthearted time travel story about saving humpback whales in eighties San Francisco, and I really doubt anyone would have guessed such a movie would end up being one of the best Star Trek movies.

It helps that the entire cast has so completely grown into their roles. William Shatner is legitimately good as Captain Kirk here, and he displays a newfound willingness to not take himself seriously that would serve him well in pretty much all of his future roles. Leonard Nimoy, who also directed the film, is appropriately spacey as the recently resurrected Spock (though that also might have something to do with all the LDS he took during the sixties). The always brilliant DeForrest Kelley adds another dimension to their adventures in the past as McCoy angrily surveys the state of 20th century medicine.

Then there’s Uhura and Chekov’s attempt to find the nuclear vessels in Alameda, which takes the form of an amusingly unrehearsed scene where they ask real passersby in San Francisco where the ships are. Speaking of nuclear vessels, it’s quite possible that, without this film, Chekov’s inability to pronounced his v’s would never have taken on such legendary status. And there are few things quite as enjoyable as watching Scotty wrangle with a primitive Apple computer.

Also worth checking out:

The two Star Trek fans in Free Enterprise are way too insufferable for their own good, but the film is worthwhile if only because William Shatner takes his capacity for self-parody to its logical conclusion. In this case, that conclusion is a rap interpretation of Julius Caesar where he plays all the parts.

3. Sleeper

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Woody Allen only once turned his attention to the science fiction genre, but it was more than enough to show he knew what he was doing. Supposedly a “wildly distorted” adaptation of When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells, Allen’s story hits upon pretty much every science fiction trope that doesn’t involve space. From cryogenics to dystopias to changing sexual mores to slapstick robots – it’s all here, and it’s all hysterical.

The decision to freeze his character in 1973 and awaken him in the 22nd century was undoubtedly part of the movie’s success, as it would have been impossible to believe such a staid, repressive future society could ever create an oddball like Allen’s trademark character. Besides, Allen’s unique status allows him to return to similar territory he tackled in Bananas, as he becomes the world’s unlikeliest revolutionary.

Although Allen’s turn as a robotic butler and the orgasmatron are justly famous, perhaps the film’s best running gag is Allen’s willingness to wildly fabricate 20th century history. He calmly agrees with a historian that sportscaster Howard Cosell was used to punish political prisoners, he tells Diane Keaton that giving guns to criminals was considered a public service, and he claims that Bela Lugosi was the mayor of New York. I wish I could get cryogenically frozen, if only so that I could get the chance to make up historical “facts” half as good as those.

Also worth checking out:

Mike Judge’s Idiocracy tackles a lot of the same material, although the dystopian elements ofSleeper are replaced with a more straightforward brand of dumbassery.

2. Galaxy Quest

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Galaxy Quest is a rare trifecta: it’s a great science fiction comedy, it’s a brilliant comedyabout science fiction, and it actually works as a pretty decent science fiction film in its own right. The film never loses sight of its parody of Star Trek‘s most cliched tropes or its affectionate skewering of the various neuroses of the has-been actors, and it’s a tribute to Galaxy Quest‘s comic dexterity that it perfectly balances both threads. It’s also about a million times better than any film starring Tim Allen should be.

Admittedly, some of that is down to his supporting cast. Alan Rickman long ago passed the point where he was even capable of turning in a bad performance, and here he actually has good material to work with as a seriously tortured British thespian who absolutely despises his catchphrase. The movie’s deconstruction of science fiction wouldn’t have seemed quite so definitive if Sigourney Weaver hadn’t been involved, and she shows even more comedic chops here than she did in Ghostbusters. Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell get tremendous comic mileage out of the latter’s existential angst over whether he’s the doomed extra or the plucky comic relief, maybe the film’s best bit of sustained meta-comedy.

Even so, one shouldn’t dismiss Tim Allen’s contribution just because the rest of his filmography is so full of, well, total crap (the Toy Story movies excepted, of course). More than any other recent actor, Allen captures all that was so distinctive about William Shatner: the hamminess, the bravado, the willingness to turn in terrible performances in terrible films.

It’s an open question whether a better actor could have so fully inhabited the Captain Kirk role; in fact, I might go so far as to say he was perfect for the role. Considering the stories that Allen “purposefully” tried to replicate Shatner’s legendary dickishness and prima donna tendencies on set, I’d say he knew that too. Whatever works, I guess.

Sigourney Weaver Seduces Aliens, Drops Dope Rhymes In New Galaxy Quest DVD

Just how multitalented is Sigourney Weaver? Here she is, seducing two aliens and then doing a rap…

Also worth checking out:

There’s plenty of other Star Trek parodies out there, but I don’t think any will ever top theFuturama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.” Or, for that matter, any episode with Zapp Brannigan, who Matt Groening has described as 40% Kirk, 60% Shatner.

1. Back to the Future

The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time

The Particulars:

Quite simply, there’s never been a more complete science fiction comedy. It’s legitimately interested in the mechanics of time travel, placing a time paradox at the heart of the film’s central conflict. The film never backs away from the admittedly creepy comedic potential of a mother unwittingly falling in love with her time traveling son, and the film’s exploration of Marty McFly’s culture shock and unwitting anachronisms hilariously climaxes in rocking out just a little too hard at his parents’ dance. Back to the Futurealso respects the rest of the science fiction genre, as can be seen in Marty’s brilliant disguise as Darth Vader, extraterrestrial from the planet Vulcan.

Michael J. Fox plays the kind of likable, active protagonist I still don’t understand why we no longer see in comedies. Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown might just be the definitive mad scientist in modern film, and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect bully than Thomas F. Wilson’s Biff. Lea Thompson is cute and hilarious as Marty’s mom, and Crispin Glover dials down his total insanity to steal the film as George McFly.

I’d keep going, but I think I need to go rewatch Back to the Future now.

Also worth checking out:

Why, Back to the Future Part II and Part III, of course. The first sequel might be the best pure science fiction of the bunch (though it’s not as funny as the original), while the third is basically a payoff for all the running gags set up in the first two movies by doing them all over again in the old West. Which is, to be honest, kind of brilliant.


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Interview with picture book author Deb Lund

Deb Lund is the author of Harcourt’s best-selling picture dinobooks and MONSTERS ON MACHINES. She’s a writing teacher, creativity coach, and creator of FICTION MAGIC: Card Tricks & Tips for Writers, a boxed-set of 54 cards and a guidebook to be released in October. The card “tricks” help intensify the tension in your stories as the creativity-coaching “tips” help reduce the tension in your writing life. It’s like having two decks in one!

Lutheran - Deb Lund

For what age audience do you write?

My published books are all picture books, and I’ve just completed an upper middle-grade historical fantasy that takes place in Portugal in 1762. I’m also working on a YA series and an adult novel.

Henry: Wow, you are working across a wide spectrum of audiences.

Tell us about your latest book.

DINOSOARING joined DINOSAILORS and ALL ABOARD THE DINOTRAIN. This has been a popular series about gargantuan dino goofballs who take off on adventures. So far they’ve traveled by boat, train, and airplane.

Henry: Well, after getting seasick in DINOSAILORS, I can see why they’d explore alternative means of transportation.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

Besides enjoying the rollicking rhythms and rhymes, I hope it helps them find their own sense of adventure. A public librarian once told me that my books were never the “behind the couch” books at her house. When I asked what that meant, she said they never minded reading my books over and over. When they got bored with a book, they would stretch their arm over the back of the couch and drop the book behind it. It would take weeks for their kids to figure out what happened to it.

Henry: Ah, I used a similar technique as a child, hiding unwanted parts of my dinner under the plate or napkin.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

For me, the most challenging aspect of being a writer is carving out time. While I’ve learned to create fairly well in the middle of chaos, I need to deal better with distractions. I love new thoughts and ideas, and I enjoy revision, but my mind is always whirring away and picking up cues from this and that. It’s amazing how much I get done at times with all the competition going on in my brain!

Henry: Yes, operating from within the eye of a swirling vortex of kid chaos – the bane of all work-from-home parents.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Just one? How about a few? Hard work pays off. Being stubborn is an asset. I am not alone. Anxiety and blocks are part of the creative process. I have gifts to share with others.

Henry: Thank you for sharing them!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Seeing that first giant-sized hardcover book arrive with a big dinosaur face on the front, and under that face, a name exactly like mine.

Henry: Yes, that thrill of seeing your name up in lights like a movie star!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Oh, the usual. Join a critique group, expect rejection, know this will take years, not months. Ask questions. Write, write, write.

Henry: Yes, yes, yes. It is a subjective business, so what someone rejects, someone else may love. Critique groups are very helpful, as is joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) 

Do you have any favorite quotes?

One of my own quotes (that I often use on myself) is “Energy Follow Action.” I even wrote about it for an online magazine. http://www.whidbeylifemagazine.org/creativity-cafe-energy-follows-action/

Henry: “Perfect is the enemy of good enough.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

It depends on what I’m writing, what mood I’m in, or what time of day I’m writing. I might light a candle, sit quietly for a minute before beginning, or even stretch before I get in the chair, but usually, I just sit down and turn on my computer. Nothing too strange here—well, that I’m willing to share!

Henry: No pentagrams or bagpipes here.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To be able to access instant energy at any time. I’d love to be up at night, writing away, playing by day, feeling vibrant and alive no matter what else is going on in my life. Oh, how funny. I just realized the connection between this and the quote I mentioned above. See now why I need to use “Energy Follows Action” on myself?

Henry: You’re welcome. :)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like walking on our island beaches and trails, meeting with my friends, singing with my amazingly talented husband, goofing off with our three kids, teaching writers of all ages, talking with teachers, and supporting other creative people who are ready to pursue their dreams.

Where can readers find your work?

My books can be obtained from any normal book outlet. I love supporting indie stores, and hope your readers feel the same way. Teaching materials, advice for writers and artists, continuing education classes, and other resources can be found at www.deblund.com

Thank you so much, Henry. It was a pleasure to chat with you, and I wish you and everyone reading these words lots of success with your projects.

Henry: It was a pleasure interviewing you, Deb.

This interview is also posted at the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with picture book author Deb Lund at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-IG  via @Nimpentoad


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Interview with Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Molly Idle

Molly Idle is the author/illustrator of TEA REX, CAMP REX, and FLORA and the FLAMINGO, which was awarded a Caldecott honor. Her next book, FLORA AND THE PENGUIN will out this fall. This bio is short because Molly feels awkward writing about herself in the third person…

IdleMolly

In what genres do you write?

You know, we’re only on the first question, and I’m already stumped Can you believe I’ve never stopped to consider exactly how I would categorize my picture books? I guess that says that I don’t write with a particular genre in mind. But… I do tend to gravitate toward stores that contain a mix of comedy, theatricality, movement, and heart.

Henry: Stumping Molly Idle earns me another SCBWI merit badge. Just like the time I made Ame Dyckman laugh milk out her nose.

Tell us about your latest book.

CAMP REX is the first follow-up book to TEA REX. Like the first REX book, the text reads as a straight forward “how-to” guide (this time, it’s about how-to camp in the great outdoors). The pictures, on the other hand, read more like a “how-NOT-to” guide.

Henry: Hilarity ensues. Seems like a Triceratops would be a handy camping companion for making s’mores.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope they will get a few good laughs (And maybe some camping tips too…)

Henry: Learning what NOT to do is often as important as learning what to do.

What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?

Without a doubt, writing is the most difficult for me. Sitting at the computer, word choice, revision… all of it. I’ve spent so much more time honing my skills as a visual artist, that I am much more at ease telling a story visually than verbally. I think that’s why I prefer creating wordless books, or books – like the REX books- that have a very simple, straightforward, deadpan style of narration.

Henry: I would LOVE to do a wordless picture book. The only thing stopping me is a complete lack of illustration skills…

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being an author/illustrator?

Stories take time. They take time to find, time to mull over, time to make, time to tell and retell…

Henry: Very true. And time to sell (at least for me).

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

A few weeks before FLORA AND FLAMINGO was awarded a Caldecott honor- someone sent me a picture of their little girl holding a copy of the book and positively beaming, with the caption “I read it all by myself”. It was her first ever all-by-myself-book. The look of pride and accomplishment and sheer delight on her sweet face… I’ll never forget it.

Henry: Nice.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

If it scares you… do it. Now, I don’t mean this piece of advice to apply for every situation. For example: The thought of being out in the open ocean surrounded by giant sharks scares me. I don’t feel compelled to do that. But if I am thinking… “Oh my gawd- this story could be amazing. But … is going to be hard for me to tell- the depth of the work involved is terrifying.” Then, I feel compelled to dive in. It’s good to be a little scared…to go out so far that you can’t touch the bottom… then you have to learn how to swim (sharks optional).

Henry: Thank you for the clarifying shark metaphor to remind us all to stretch as writers. That’s how we grow. And get eaten alive.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“It is not because it is difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that it is difficult”— Seneca

Henry: And there’s the similar, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write/illustrate?

Hmm… You mean like wearing lucky socks? No I don’t really have any strange rituals (or lucky socks for that matter). But, I am surrounded by a strange assortment of wonderful things as I work. Like… a taxidermic rubber chicken, an antique diving helmet and harpoon, my original Muppet Movie lunchbox, elk antlers, and a plethora of pencils, paper and picture books.

Henry: Taxidermic rubber chicken!? Harpoon!? Nothing to see here people. Move along. Move along.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would have the power to stop time- then I’d never miss a deadline, or story time with my kiddos, or the opportunity to take a nap

Henry: That is the most popular answer to the superpower question. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Mermaids. When I was little, I wanted to be one… I’ve always loved the ocean. Though it’s always scared me a bit too. Every time I dip a toe in, whether it’s to collect seashells or surf, I immediately hear the theme from JAWS playing in my head. I think that’s because 1. The film JAWS terrified me as a kid- but I LOVED watching it. 2. We’re so out of our element when we’re underwater. I think being a mermaid would mediate the latter point… not so sure about the former.

Henry: I’m sensing a trend here. Well, it was Shark Week recently on TV… Plus, Molly tells me she’s currently working on a SEA REX. ;)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to watch classic films Technicolor musicals, film noir, westerns, epics, screwball comedies…

Henry: We must feed our muse.

What would you like it to (accurately) say on your tombstone?

My name. It would be really awful to have my name written inaccurately on my tombstone…

Henry: Good, practical response.

Where can readers find your work?

In libraries, online, and at my favorite local indie Changing Hands Bookstore… and hopefully at your favorite local indie too!!

This interview can also be read on the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with Caldecott Honor winning author/illustrator Molly Idle at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Iw  via @Nimpentoad


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Interview with Iron Druid urban fantasy series author Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, an urban fantasy series about a 2,100 year-old Druid hiding among us, dodging the attentions of Irish gods who want to kill him. He used to teach high school English, but now he writes full time, reads comic books, and plays with his doggies. His latest book, SHATTERED, came out this summer.

HearneKevin2

Tell us about your latest book.

My last book was HUNTED, the sixth book of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Atticus and Granuaile are on the run from Artemis and Diana, goddesses of the hunt, and they have to run across Europe to get the help they need.

Henry: For those not familiar with the Iron Druid series, Atticus is the titular druid of the series. He frequently has both favorable and unfavorable interactions with gods, demons, and the like. Successfully evading Artemis and Diana sounds like a formidable challenge. Another fun fact: Atticus’s pet Irish Wolfhound (the tallest dog breed) is inspired by Kevin’s pet pug.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Turning off the Internet and just getting myself into a zone. Distractions abound these days.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I’ve met some incredible people—other writers, all interesting folk who make me laugh, and many readers who are entertaining individuals as well. And I’ve traveled much more than I would have otherwise, seen more of the world. And best of all, I don’t have to wear pants anymore when I go to work. Pants were invented by The Man to oppress us, you know. I’m sticking it to The Man.

Henry: Down with pants! As long as you’re sticking it to the man in the privacy of your own home, my friend.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t give up! I sold my third completed book, not my first, and I was writing for nineteen years before I first got published. Your first efforts may turn out to be unpublishable, but that does not mean they are a waste of time. I learned so much from my first two terrible novels; I wouldn’t have been able to write HOUNDED without writing them first.

Henry: Nineteen years!? Well, we’re glad you are indefatigable. It was worth the wait.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The Manticore! Three rows of teeth, man. That’s bold. Think of all the cavities! And the halitosis! Even Altoids would be all DUDES, THIS IS HOPELESS I CANNOT FIX THIS BREATH.

Henry: I did not see that coming. You took that and ran with it. I have a manticore in my upcoming picture book, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES. And they shoot spikes out of their tales. Like frickin’ sharks with laser beams! All books are better with manticores. And pirates.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I hug trees, play games, paint a little, go for walks in the neighborhood with my headphones on and just wail the hell out of my air drums. Because of that old saying, right? Bang your head like no one’s watching. I think some of the neighbors might be scared of me. This one paranoid guy was really protective of his grass and unaware that he was conforming to a stereotype.

CODGER: Stay off my lawn, kid!
ME: I’m forty-three!
CODGER: I don’t care, you kids keep your drugs and your heavy metals away from here!
ME: Still forty-three!

Henry: Heavy metals!? What were you doing shlepping around platinum, plutonium, and palladium? And in any event, that sounds like the exchange from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

King Arthur: Old woman!
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I’m 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I’m 37. I’m not old.
King Arthur: Well I can’t just call you “man”.
Dennis: Well you could say “Dennis”.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

I’m not usually this morbid.

Where can readers find your work?

Wherever they like to buy books! They can check out the series on my site, kevinhearne.com, and I have a bunch of links there to find me on social media if anyone wants to say howdy or just follow for the fun of it. Thanks for having me!

Henry: It’s been fun. But people, don’t distract him too much. He has more books to write!

Hearne

L-to-R: Jason Hough, Henry Herz & Kevin Hearne at Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with Iron Druid urban fantasy series author Kevin Hearne at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Ip via @Nimpentoad


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15 Words That Sound Worse Than They Really Are

I met this interesting lady recently who described herself as a polyglot. Now, I know what the word means, but it struck me that it sounds a lot worse than it really is. So, I was inspired to create this post. Enjoy!

wordcollage

1. ALLEGATOR

Suspected Meaning – Crocodile

Actual Meaning – One who ties or unites

2. BATRACHOMYOMACHY

Suspected Meaning – The surgical operation necessary when you accidentally swallow a bat

Actual Meaning – A battle between frogs and mice. What? It’s a reference to Batrachomyomachia, an ancient Greek parody of The Iliad. The mock-heroic poem satirizes  the absurdity of war

3. BUMBERSHOOT

Suspected Meaning – What an exterminator does to unwanted wasps and bees

Actual Meaning – Umbrella. That’s got to be of British origin.

4. CALLIPYGIAN

Suspected Meaning – Someone from Cairo who moves to Los Angeles

Actual Meaning – Having beautifully proportioned buttocks. A personal favorite.

5. CRUDIVORE

Suspected Meaning – Someone who chews with their mouth open

Actual Meaning – One who eats only raw foods (unconfirmed)

6. FARTLEK

Suspected Meaning – One who is flatulent

Actual Meaning – An athletic training technique, used especially in running, in which periods of intense effort alternate with periods of less strenuous effort in a continuous workout.

7. FORMICATION

Suspected Meaning – Having sex with paperwork

Actual Meaning – The sensation of insects crawling on the skin; symptom of a nerve disorder

8. INDEFATIGABLE

Suspected Meaning – Unable to lose weight

Actual Meaning – Incapable or seemingly incapable of being fatigued; tireless.

9. LOGORRHEA

Suspected Meaning – Unfortunate intestinal results from chewing on tree bark

Actual Meaning – Excessive use of words :)

10. MUGWUMP

Suspected Meaning – The brown stains that accumulate in the bottom of a coffee cup

Actual Meaning - A person who acts independently or remains neutral, especially in politics.

11. PANDICULATION

Suspected Meaning -Explaining the characteristics of panda bears

Actual Meaning – The act of stretching and yawning, especially upon waking

12. POLYGLOT

Suspected Meaning – A person who eats enormous amounts of food of all types

Actual Meaning – A person who speaks multiple languages

13. PULCHRITUDINOUS

Suspected Meaning – Infectious

Actual Meaning – Having great physical beauty and appeal.

14. TURDIFORM

Suspected Meaning – Being shaped like a poop

Actual Meaning – Of, relating to or resembling a thrush. I did not see that coming.

15. VOMITORY

Suspected Meaning – Foul tasting

Actual Meaning – One of the tunnel-like passages of an amphitheater or stadium between the seats and the outside wall or passageway.

 


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Interview with children’s book illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people. Her first picture book that she is writing and illustrating, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, debuts from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Summer 2015.

Debbie’s illustrations appear in NAKED! (2014) and I’M BORED (2012), both picture books written by Michael Ian Black and published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. I’M BORED was selected by The New York Times for its list of Notable Children’s Books.

RidpathDebbie

For what age audience do you write and illustrate?

I write and illustrate books for pre-K up through middle grade. My current focus is on fiction, but I also have some nonfiction ideas. So many books I want to write and draw, and not enough time!

Henry: Ridpath Ohi’s corollary to Murphy’s Law: illustrations will expand to fill the time available.

Tell us about your latest books.

NAKED! is a new picture book written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by me. It’s a story about a little boy who doesn’t want to put his clothes on after his bath, and starts running around the house in the buff. I laughed out loud when my editor sent me Michael’s story…so much fun! I also enjoyed illustrating I’m Bored, Michael’s previous picture book.

Also just out: Judy Blume classics reissued by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, with my illustrations on the covers of the middle grade editions: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Deenie, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, Blubber, Iggie’s House, Starring Sally J. Freeman As Herself and It’s Not The End Of The World. I also did the interior illustrations as well as cover illustrations for Freckle Juice, The One In The Middle Is The Green Kangaroo, and The Pain And The Great One.

My most recent book projects, though, are WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? and SEA-MONKEY AND BOB. WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? is the first picture book I’ll be both writing and illustrating, and comes out from Simon & Schuster in Summer 2015. SEA-MONKEY AND BOB is written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by yours truly, and comes out from the same publisher in Fall 2015.

What do you hope readers will get from reading NAKED?

I’m hoping that NAKED! will make for some fun read-aloud experiences, especially at bedtime. The focus isn’t so much on his nudity but on the little boy’s innocent delight in his freedom au naturel, how much FUN he’s having as he’s racing around the house, and the chase-to-cuddle interactions between him and his Mom.

Henry: You know some parents are going to be dealing with streaking kids, and you’ll have to answer to them.

What aspect of illustrating picture books do you find most challenging?

It varies from book to book. In NAKED!, it was drawing the boy sans clothes throughout most of the book but also keeping the illustrations appropriate for a young audience. No private boy bits! I admit to panicking a bit at first but then decided to throw myself into enjoying the challenge. It ended up being way more fun than I had expected.

Henry: No private boy bits. ‘Nuff said.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a children’s book illustrator?

How much work goes into creating a picture book, and how collaborative that work can be. So many people think it’s easy to write and illustrate a picture book. Now that I’ve done both, I can dismiss both those myths. To clarify: it’s easy to write and illustrate a picture book. Writing and illustrating a GOOD picture book, however, is entirely a different animal. I feel very lucky to have such great editor (Justin Chanda) and art directors (Laurent Linn, Lauren Rille) on these recent projects; I love the creative collaboration and learn so much.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been an illustrator?

Having Judy Blume tweet me! (see https://twitter.com/judyblume/status/434101492858224640)

Henry: A true fangirl moment for you.

What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Draw something for fun every day. Doodle, experiment, push yourself to try new subjects and new media. Don’t get obsessed with technical perfection.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Here’s one of my favorites from Judy Blume: “Determination and hard work are as important as talent. Don’t let anyone discourage you!”

Henry: Nice. I also like: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you illustrate?

If I’m at an early stage in the creative process, I prefer silence. If I’m doing something more repetitive (like finessing line work, etc.), I’ll have an audiobook or Italian progrock playing, or DVDs playing on the other monitor for the audio soundtrack.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Flying. Who hasn’t always wanted to fly?

Henry: No one, that’s who.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing and illustrating?

Reading, playing board games, writing and making music.

Where can readers find your work?

You can find out more about me and my work at DebbieOhi.com and on Twitter at @inkyelbows.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner

Click to Tweet: Interview with children’s book illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Ic via @Nimpentoad


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Edna Mode Talks Superpowers with Conan O’Brien

Author’s Note: I’ve always been bothered with the incomplete science implicit in some superpowers. Just because it’s science fiction, that doesn’t mean a concept cannot be fully thought through. On another note, I find Edna Mode from The Incredibles to be a hilariously written character. So, I’ve written a humorous short story that has her addressing the science of superpowers. All hail Brad Bird!

Edna_face

This transcript of last week’s live broadcast is made available courtesy of WHJH TV in San Diego, California.

Conan O’Brien: Please give a warm welcome to our next guest, the brilliant and talented Edna Mode – fashion designer for superheroes!

(enthusiastic applause)

Edna Mode: Thank you. Thank you. I deserve it, to be sure. You all have exquisite taste.

Conan O’Brien: Wow, you really are short!

Edna Mode: I’m tall on the inside, Conan. Unlike you, I rely on my accomplishments for stature, not my pituitary gland. And what are you wearing? That’s a hobo suit, dahling. You can’t be seen in that. I won’t allow it. Fifteen years ago, maybe, but now? Feh!

Conan O’Brien: Although Edna needs no introduction, her impressive background is worth sharing. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, she quickly impressed her teachers with her advanced sense of aesthetics and engineering aptitude. She enrolled in college at the age of 15, completing in three years a double major of design and materials science at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Edna subsequently earned master’s degrees in apparel design from the Rhode Island School of Design, and electrical engineering from Cornell University. She capped her education with a PhD in mechanical engineering from Caltech.

Wow, that is a lot of schooling! Did you have much of a social life? I was a bit of a partier myself, but I have trouble imagining you chugging a beer, Edna.

Edna Mode: My friends call me “E”… You may address me as Dr. Mode. I never look back, dahling. It distracts from the now. But no, I did not feel the need to fraternize with my inferiors or dull my wits with alcohol. In any event, my social skills were already acutely honed from dealing with bullies in kindergarden.

Conan O’Brien: Of course, almost everyone has seen Edna’s, er. Dr. Mode’s biopic, The Incredibles, in which it was publicly revealed that the government had engaged Dr. Mode to create costumes for the superhero community. Her unique combination of design and engineering skills yielded costumes that were masterpieces of both aesthetics and protection. After briefly coming out of retirement to aid the Parr family, Dr. Mode then went on to co-present with Pierce Brosnan the Award for Costume Design at the 77th Academy Awards ceremony. What were the Academy Awards like, Dr. Mode?

Edna Mode: I can appreciate your interest, dahling, since the likelihood of you participating asymptotically approaches zero with the inexorable passage of time. I felt that The Incredibles winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature was only, hmm, fitting. I was also pleased to note the absence of capes on the attendees, with the notable exception of Cate Blanchett. Normally, I say, “no capes!” but who am I kidding? Hers was made from the finest Egyptian cotton, and she looks good in everything. I was more aggravated by the supermodels in attendance. Supermodels. Heh! Nothing super about them… Spoiled, stupid little stick figures with poofy lips who think only about themselves. Feh! I used to design for GODS!

Conan O’Brien: Uhhh, let’s move on, shall we? My understanding is that years prior to creating costumes for superheros, you worked for DARPA developing gear for the military. Gadgets to enhance the abilities of individual soldiers, if I’m not mistaken. We’ve seen your superhero costumes, but you’ve not elaborated on your earlier DARPA work. Will you tell us about some of your classified work, Dr. Mode? Please?

Edna Mode: You push too hard, dahling! But I accept! First, I researched what other countries were doing in the field. No need to reinvent the wheel, as they say. And what an elegant design the wheel is. But I digress.

We received intelligence that the North Koreans succeeded in genetically modifying some “volunteers” to be capable of unaided flight.

Conan O’Brien: Unaided flight!? You mean flying like Superman!?

Edna Mode: Exactly, dahling. They grew several men who could fly. But it didn’t turn out well for them. Not well at all.

Conan O’Brien: What do you mean?

Edna Mode: Well, if you stop and think about it, the problems with unaided flight for humans are obvious… Nothing? Well, obvious to me, anyway.

The first few challenges they experienced were just annoyances, really. You can’t fly too high due to the lack of oxygen. At 20,000 feet, you’ve got less than half the normal amount of oxygen in the air. So then they gave their pilots breathing gear. But, it gets very cold, even at altitudes where breathing gear isn’t mandatory. Not accounting for wind chill, it’s about 23 degrees at an altitude of 10,000 feet. So then they wrapped their pilots in warm clothing. But, if you’re flying at high speed, normal clothes will flap violently and quickly shred. I should add that this was the impetus for me to begin investigating high-strength clothing.

But, it gets worse. When you fly at high speed, the air friction causes intense heat. For example, the canopy temperature of an SR-71 jet is over 570 degrees when it lands. Needless to say, their first pilot to break the sound barrier had fourth degree burns on his head and shoulders.

Some pilots had trouble controlling their acceleration. According to one report, there was a bit of bootleg sake drinking that preceded a flying race. Their fastest pilot launched himself skyward at a thousand meters per second squared. At a sustained 100 g, his blood drained downward. Violently. He blacked out as his blood exploded out the bottom of his feet. Not a pretty sight, I’m afraid.

(Conan’s jaw drops and the blood appears to be draining out of his face)

For the aforementioned reasons, their pilots tended to fly at lower altitudes. But they forgot to genetically engineer for superhuman eyesight and reaction times. When you’re traveling at Mach 3 and a flock of birds or bats crosses in your path, it’s a problem because normal human reflexes cannot react quickly enough to avoid a collision. Consider that the energy of a 10 lb bird striking the head of a human pilot flying a very modest 170 mph is roughly equivalent to that of a 200 lb weight dropped from a height of 50 ft. Apparently a bird was the last thing on that pilot’s mind. So, for all these reasons, the North Korean program really never, er, got off the ground.

(Conan is mopping his brow and looking very queasy)

Conan O’Brien: Dr. Mode, please, let’s switch topics. Was any work done with mechanical implants to enhance soldier performance?

Edna Mode: Indeed there was, dahling. Indeed there was. I wasn’t personally involved, but I had a friend, Oscar Goldman over at the Office of Scientific Intelligence. Ah, now there was a man who could make loud-patterned sport coats really work! And the man could accessorize! But I digress.

Oscar led a large (for the time) budget project to surgically insert miniaturized power sources, hydraulics, actuators, and so on into human legs and arms. Then the electronics had to be delicately wired into the subject’s central nervous system. Real cutting edge stuff, mind you.

Conan O’Brien: It seems unethical that they would do such things to perfectly healthy people.

Edna Mode: Your reasoning is surprisingly correct, as it turns out. They used people who had suffered serious injury. One was a male astronaut crippled by a test flight crash. The other was a female professional tennis player severely injured during a skydiving accident.

Conan O’Brien: Were the surgeries successful? What kind of abilities did they have?

Edna Mode: They replaced both legs and an arm on the astronaut. That went well. They also replaced both legs and an arm on the tennis player. But there was a problem with her body rejecting the bionics. Eventually, they worked out the kinks.

The bionic legs were rated for a top speed of 60 mph. The bionic arms were rated to lift a ton, as I recall. Unfortunately, there were design problems with only replacing limbs. What do you suppose they were?

Conan O’Brien: Um, short circuiting in the rain? Setting off metal detectors at airports? Voiding the manufacturer’s warranty?

Edna Mode: Your words are useless! Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble! Too much, dahling, too much!

Imagine you need to move a car that is blocking your access to an escape route. You walk over to the car, grab the bumper with your bionic arm, and lift. What happens?

Conan O’Brien: Um, you lift the car?

Edna Mode: Wrong! It boggles the mind that you graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University!

Your arm is strong enough and your legs are strong enough, but what connects them? A normal torso with normal skeletal and muscular structure. Poor Col. Austin tore every muscle in his back the first time he tried lifting something heavy. And the strain was so severe, one of his eyes popped out of its socket! It flew clear across the alley. They ended up replacing his eye with a bionic one. Oscar was very upset about the budget overrun that caused, dahling.

Conan O’Brien: I get it! A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Could they at least run fast?

Edna Mode: Indeed they could, but running fast came with its own set of challenges. Normal sneakers are not designed to handle the extra weight, friction, and speed of a bionic person running at 60 mph. So, the shoes and socks disintegrate rather quickly, and then you’re running barefoot at freeway speed. Have you ever stepped on a LEGO barefoot at 60 mph? It’s more painful than a corduroy leisure suit. That’s when they bumped up my security clearance so I could consult on enhanced footwear design.

But that wasn’t the, er, sole running problem. Have you ever tripped while running?

Conan O’Brien: Are you kidding? I’m 6′ 4” and weigh 160 lb. A stiff breeze knocks me down.

Edna Mode: Imagine you’re running at 60 mph and you lose your footing, for whatever reason. What happens?

Conan O’Brien: I fall down and scrape my knees and elbows?

Edna Mode: Your fall would be no different than if you jumped out of a car going 60 mph. On one mission, Jaime Sommers recklessly chased someone through a rocky field. She slipped and fell, cartwheeling for 75 yards. Her head was banged up so badly they ended up having to give her bionic hearing on one side. She never did seem quite right after that…

Conan O’Brien: Gee, the superpower business is a lot tougher than it looks. Can I ask you to tell us another story?

Edna Mode: You can’t! It’s impossible! I’m far too busy, so ask me now before I can become sane. Alright, one last tidbit.

We learned that during the Cold War the Soviets were experimenting with a process that hardened human skin to be virtually invulnerable. They wanted indestructible soldiers to spread the “benefits” of Marxist Socialism. They actually did develop bulletproof skin.

Conan O’Brien: Well, then why aren’t we all speaking Russian right now?

Edna Mode: Basic physics, dahling. Bulletproof skin would work just like a bulletproof vest. It stops a bullet from penetrating, but your body still suffers the impact. If you wear a suit of titanium armor and jump off a building, the impact will still turn your internal organs to chutney.

They also failed to consider what happens when these soldiers gained weight. Since bulletproof skin won’t budge, the internal organs get progressively more crowded until they fail. And then it’s off to the antiquated Soviet medical system.

And that emergency liposuction won’t be easy. No hypodermic needle for inoculations, fluids, or blood transfusions can penetrate the skin, although I suppose they could stick it inside your mouth. No surgery would be possible, other than that which could be performed by inserting instruments into an orifice. All in all, making surgeries even more difficult and unpleasant.

Conan O’Brien: Well that’s all rather horrible to contemplate. Instead, let’s talk about that stunning outfit you’re wearing.

Edna Mode: Ah, you seek to redeem yourself, no? I cut it a little roomy for the free movement. The fabric is comfortable for sensitive skin. And it can also withstand a temperature of over 1000 degrees. Completely bulletproof. And machine washable, dahling. That’s a new feature.

Conan O’Brien: It’s lovely, but why does it need such durability?

Edna Mode: Well, I am sure I don’t know, dahling. Luck favors the prepared.

Conan O’Brien: Well, our time is nearly up. Are there any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with, Dr. Mode?

Edna Mode: Having only one superpower can leave a hero vulnerable. If you are going to be an effective superhero, you need a suite of powers. Or, dare I say, a suit of powers. That’s why I left DARPA and focused my considerable talents on augmenting superheroes’ abilities with my designer supersuits. There’s no reason not to be stylish while you’re saving the world. Fight! Win!

I’ve enjoyed talking about myself. Have me back again. Don’t make me beg, dahling, I won’t do it, you know.

(applause)

Click to Tweet: Edna Mode Talks Superpowers with Conan O’Brien at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-I1 via @Nimpentoad

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