Why I Wrote It: Superheroes And Worldbuilding

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Superheroes and Worldbuilding is one of those books that seems obvious for me to write. The superhero stuff has been big for years when I wrote this book in 2018, so that had to be my motivation?

Not really.

Sure, that was one reason – superhero stuff was getting more exposure, so why not a book on worldbuilding and superheroes? It was timely, but that was a minor motivation.

The major motivation? I love superheroes and have been writing about them for years, and superhero fiction is fascinating because of what it is. Allow me to digress as I discuss how superhero fiction is both a genre and something more.

On one level, the superhero genre seems to be its own thing. It’s got certain beats and tropes, the common idea of “alternate identities fighting crime and such.” I could expound on the superhero genre in detail, but suffice to say, “it is a unique genre, and I find it interesting.”

But there’s another layer to the superhero genre – it’s a “meta-genre.” Superhero stories of the past were often their own thing – crime drama, supernatural revenge, etc. These tales began crossing over in the early years, and soon you had detectives and aliens versus demons and bank robbers. The superhero genre is a “wrapper” for genres we’d otherwise not combine coming together.

We have seen genre fusions in vogue the last decade or two, but superheroes were doing it decades upon decades ago. We didn’t always notice it because we wrapped them up in another genre and made four-color adventures on paper.

I’ve written superhero stories alone and in groups, watching various genres come together seamlessly. I’ve played superhero RPGs doing the same. Though I fell off of most American superhero comics, I still follow shows and of course, anime and manga. I love superheroes.

So the reason I wrote this book? It was timely, and I had developed a lot of opinions to express! Now I had a unique way to do so, with my book series.

Of course it helps people which was a motivation. I have sequels I may write as there’s more to get out of my head. But as for now I got some of it into “print.”

If you have a passion, deep opinions, why not do a book about them? It’s your record, your thoughts recorded, your opinions made accessible. It’s worth it personally – and worth it as you may help others!

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Superheroes And Worldbuilding

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I have a few oddball books in my “Way With Worlds” collection on worldbuilding, and the Superhero one is one of them. It’s the first book of the series to tackle worldbuilding in a given genre directly, and though it may not be the last like it, it’s one near and dear to me.

I love the superhero genre.

The superhero genre is a meta-genre that combines many other genres, tropes, ideas together in one heady brew that wears a cape. Orphans turned detectives team up with godlike aliens and humans transformed by chemicals to fight sentient gorillas and criminal clowns. It takes a few trope frameworks (people with unusual abilities develop specific identities and roles) within which you can go wild.

I even helped run a shared universe superhero newsletter back in the day. The crew created their own characters in a shared setting, we’d often trade-off, and the result was a four-year-plus series of stories and a giant body of work. It went every direction, yet also was still recognizable as a superhero body of work.

Again, I love the superhero genre. That would have been enough to write a worldbuilding book on it – but there was more.

Superheroes are a genre that deserves more exploration as it is a meta-genre, a wrapper for many familiar characters and story types. Because it allows one to write so many ideas while still using an easy-to-access framework, you can make the bizarre accessible. The Grant Morrison Doom Patrol or the anime Concrete Revolutio are just some examples – the former surrealist, the latter a puzzle-box. In today’s grand age of superhero tales, we have a chance to explore.

I was further motivated by thoughts of new caped horizons and masked adventures. Yet, one other motivation came into play.

We’re so inundated with superhero stories, I wanted to make sure people didn’t fall into tropes old and new, so my book is a small contribution to avoiding that. My superhero worldbuilding guide asks hard questions to help people make believable worlds. Because superhero worlds are often many genres, that means such a worldbook inspires people to think through bizarre possibilities – and make them seem real! To reconcile alien invasions, time travel, cybernetics, and a mild-mannered reporting career pushes one to artistic heights.

So my worldbook was born of a love of the genre, hope for more, and fear of stagnation. A small contribution, perhaps, but a heartfelt one, and one I hope inspires others.

Sometimes the best thing you can do when you love something is to inspire others who love it to go to heights you never imagined. That’s where “Superheroes and Worldbuilding” came from.

Who knows what other genres I could tackle?

Steven Savage

Latest Book: Superheroes And Worldbuilding

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

And yet another book is out!  In this case it’s my Superheroes and Worldbuilding book.  I’m continuing my mini-worldbuilding books with one on Superheroes (and it mostly focuses specifically on heroes – villains may be forthcoming).  So if you’re thinking about a setting with capes and heroics, give it a check!

-Steven Savage