Sidekicked Blog Tour - Top Ten Bystanders by John David Anderson
While I'm thrilled that you are here at MY Blog Tour stop - don't miss out on all the other fun posts! Check out the full list at Walden Pond Press, or scroll down to the bottom for direct links to the other stops. We're ALL giving away a signed hardback copy of this super powered novel! Also check out the giveaway on Facebook, where you could win a book AND an ereader of your choice. Unless I win it, in which case you're just out of luck.
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of superheroes. You'll find me in line for all the latest movies, and I'm doing my darnedest to keep up with several of the current superhero comics. I'll give Sidekicked a full review in a day or two here on the blog, but let me assure you that this is a book your upper middle grade readers are going to LOVE.
Today I'm excited to host a guest post by the author, John David Anderson, which is filled with the same kind of tongue-in-cheek humor that made me enjoy Sidekicked so much. Enjoy!
In Honor of the Innocents (Bystanders, That Is)
Imagine a world without innocent bystanders—those poor unsuspecting saps who suddenly find themselves in the treads of a giant robot's metal boot heel or caught in the molars of an enormous enraged sea creature dredged up from prehistoric era or simply standing at the business end of an alien's positron blaster as it makes its escape using human shields. Without bystanders, heroes' jobs would be boring: Free of the age old conundrum of "Do I save the civilians or capture the baddie?" he would always be able to chase after the villain. Without bystanders, epic confrontations would be bereft of their emotional resonance. Imagine a villain rigging a bridge with explosives and threatening to detonate it, except there's nobody on it. Nobody even near it. Sure destruction of property is a crime, and it will cost millions to repair, but I'm guessing a lot of superheroes would take their time getting there. Go ahead. Blow it up, they'd say. I've got more important things to do. Bystanders make the whole thing worthwhile.
Because we want to be saved. When the camera zooms in on the screaming victim caught in the clutches of the nefarious villain we see ourselves as we are. Then when the hero swoops in we see ourselves as we'd like to be. So in honor of those often-nameless danglers from ledges I offer up ten of my favorite innocent bystanders/ordinary civilians for your perusal. Note: These are in no particular order.
10. Kid who escapes from parents' view and gets in trouble. Maybe he falls in a crocodile enclosure at the zoo. Or over the Hoover Dam. Or into a black hole. He usually falls over and/or into something. But he's only eight, so we will feel really bad if the hero just ignores him, even if he should have listened to his mother. Catchphrase: "I just wanted a closer look!"
9. Random people naively enjoying some form of rapid transportation. Be it plane, train, or double-decker bus, be prepared for severed brakes, broken bridges, failures in engines three and four, and general mayhem on board. These bystanders are targets for empathy because they are so helpless. They can't exactly jump out of the plummeting plane. The good news: There's usually a flying hero available to safely bring down that 747. They don't ask Wolverine to save crashing jetliners. Catchphrase: "We're going too fast!" Or going down. Or going to crash. Or going to someplace even worse.
8. Man screaming from mutated behemoth rampaging down city street. This guy is my personal favorite. I especially like how he pauses when he looks behind him—just stands there, paralyzed for a moment, before he decides that a 20,000 ton lizard is worth running from. He teaches us the importance of snap judgments as he barely manages to dive out of the way. Or sometimes he doesn't; the big green foot comes down and the camera cuts elsewhere. Most of the time I give this ordinary civilian a 50/50 chance of making it, but it's his own fault. See monster—run instantly. Catchphrase: "Aaaaaaaarrrrggghhhhhhh!!!"
7. Poor little boy or girl trapped in sinking car. How the car finds itself in the middle of a large body of water is irrelevant. What matters is that the windows are open just enough to let the water rush in but not enough for the kid to squeeze through. It's also important that the kid be cute. Granted superheroes save ugly kids too, but they probably save the cute ones first. Catchphrase: "Help me mister...puh-lease!"
6. Police officer about to die as villain escapes. All right, technically not a bystander as he or she is a member of the law, but still someone to save. In fact, it provides an even deeper moral tug for our hero who must choose whether or not to save the dying officer or chase the villain even as the officer is begging him to go get the bad guy. Catchphrase: "Forget about me! There's nothing else you can do for me now. Go! Get Doctor Destructo!"
5. Cat in a tree. Why cat in a tree? Because it shows that superheroes can do anything and all at once. In all honesty superheroes have way too much on their plates to be rescuing stranded house pets who will find a way down eventually. And yet, our very best heroes leave no living creature behind. Catchphrase: "Meereeoww! Hiss!"
4. The guy that doesn't get saved. You know who I'm talking about. Usually comes towards the beginning. When the aliens first arrive. Or the supervillain first discovers her powers. Maybe he's a farmer. Or just a guy on the street. Never a kid, of course (cute or otherwise). Why doesn't he get saved? Maybe our hero hasn't discovered her powers yet either. Maybe he's off saving someone else. The important thing is that somebody died. Because then there is the chance that all of the other innocent bystanders mentioned above might die as well. You've upped the stakes, which means that kitten might really be in danger! Catchphrase: "What the..."
3. Pretty young bank teller at gun point. More often than not the gun is held by a henchman, or even just a random thug who you won't see again and will actually be listed as "Bank Thug 3" in the credits. Odds are this is the first time the hero appears on screen in full costume. Odds are the villain will warn the hero not to take another step, then the hero will take another step, and then the villain will press the gun even closer to the bank teller's head and the bank teller will close her eyes, and somewhere a dog will bark. And then, in a heartbeat, the hero will coolly dispatch the thug and the teller will briefly collapse into his arms, giving the hero the chance to say "It's all right. I've got you." Which is really what we all want to hear. You may substitute pretty bank teller at gun point for pretty lady in alley with knife under chin. Catchphrase: Whimper. Sigh. "My hero."
2. Intrepid reporter who finds herself (or himself, though not usually) dangling off the side of the building. It happens a lot more often than it should—statistically speaking—that loose wires or cables are so readily available for these would-be victims to grab on to. Also, it's hard to call them bystanders as, more often than not, they will end up kissing the hero at some point during the narrative making them decidedly more than bystanders (and a little less than innocent). However, without them, we might not see the more human side of our paragons, nor know the name Margot Kidder. Catchphrase: "You've got me..." See if you can finish the rest.
1. Guy on the john. This poor guy. Not only is he indisposed when the giant mutant creatures or reanimated dinosaurs attack, but he's often in a Porta Potty, pants around his ankles, newspaper in hand. He is a symbol for humanity at its most vulnerable, an expression of our most intimate fear, giving mothers another reason to ask if we are wearing clean underwear. Note: the hero seldom saves this guy. That would be gross. Catchphrase: "Can't believe the Cubs lost ag.....AAHHHHGGGHHH!!"
John David Anderson is an innocent bystander and the author of Sidekicked. He tries to avoid portable bathrooms and has only been stuck in a tree once. No superheroes came to save him. If you want to find out more about Sidekicked, you can visit the author at www.johndavidanderson.org or on Facebook at JohnDavidAndersonAuthor.