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Spending Time With Sidekicks...

Authors: Dan Darko and Tom Mason
Illustrator: Barry Gott

Reading level: Ages 9-12 (or 9-35 if the 35 year old likes comics.)

Do you like comics? Do you have children? Do you want your children to like comics but are worried about the increasing amount of sex and violence in modern comics? Do superhero names like "Mr. Ironic" make you curious and fill you with a sense of impending hilarity? If you answered yes to any of the above then authors Dan Darko and Tom Mason have the newest form of addictive comic goodness for you.

Sidekicks is the tale of a 13 year old boy named Guy "Speedy" Martin, who is the fastest person alive. Before he can become a full-fledged superhero however, he has to learn the ropes as sidekick to Pumpkin Pete (who has the proportional strength of a pumpkin) and spend time as the member of a sidekick super group alongside of teen sidekicks Plastic Bubble Boy, Spelling Beatrice, Exact Change Kid and Earlobe Lad, to name a few.

Each book is an easily digested, self-contained story that details a day in the life of our hero both as a sidekick and in his secret identity. The reading level indicates that it is appropriate for ages 9-12 but even at the ripe age of 30, I loved both of the books I read. They are packed with great dialogue, humorous one-liners and action that is fast paced without being gratuitous.

Some of the jokes from the first book are used again in the second book but they are few and far between. Parents can use it as an important lesson in recycling. The only negative things I can say about the books are that I did at times feel silly for really enjoying the toddler size book and the character of Mr. Ironic was never used to the full potential I was hoping for (uses your own powers against you).

I knew that Fanboys would enjoy the series as much as I did and I wanted co-author Tom Mason to give us some behind the scenes details about the books. Here is a quick interview I assaulted Tom with:

FanboyP: Why children's books?

Tom Mason: A lot of stuff we write is aimed at children -- certainly all of our animated work -- so the books like Sidekicks are just a natural extension. We have a lot of ideas for stuff, and we channel it into different projects; books, movies, TV, videogames, whatever. We had been writing children's books all along -- something like 20 of them over the last three years or so, mostly novelizations of TV series like Max Steel, Malcolm in the Middle, Butt-Ugly Martians. In fact, we just finished one of the novelizations for Shrek 2.

We've made a lot of friends in publishing and they've all asked us the same kind of thing - "if you have any of your own stuff, we'd love to see it." Sidekicks just popped into our heads - we are both comic book fans and we've always wanted to poke some fun at super-heroes. In fact, in every TV series we're in charge of, we try to do at least one episode that has super-hero elements to it.

FanboyP: How did you and Dan hook up?

Tom Mason: Dan and I both used to work for Malibu Comics back in the day -- he was the Senior Editor and I was the Marketing Director. Once the company was sold to Marvel Comics, we both wanted to try something new so we started writing TV shows and ended up as head writers and story editors on a bunch of animated series, both syndicated and network. We also freelanced for TV shows like Rugrats and Malcolm In The Middle.

FanboyP: What can you tell us about the next book in the series (due out April 2004)?

Tom Mason: "Sidekicks: Attack of the Mole Master!" The Mole Master has emerged from the underworld to take over the surface world. But more importantly, we're starting to reveal some of the background mystery about how the main character, Guy Martin, got his super powers and the role his mysterious benefactor plays in the story.

FanboyP: What about the long term future of Sidekicks?

Tom Mason: Originally, Sidekicks was just going to be one book. When our publisher suggested it be a 4-book series, we reworked the initial book to start putting in a lot more background about Guy and his world. While each book is a stand-alone story, there's a big underlying mystery about Guy's powers and a super-hero from the past. Now, based on the sales of the first two books, we've signed an extension making it a six-book series.

Beyond that, we've gotten a lot of interest in Sidekicks from movie and TV people - a lot of meetings and a lot of talk and we're just seeing how all that plays out.

Each book costs about 5 dollars each, which is only a few bucks more than the average comic, but with 100 pages of reading, the price is worth it. They are a great read for a child or an adult who refuses to stop acting like a child.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go punch my sister in the arm now.


Sidekicks 2: Operation Squish!

Attack of the Mole Master (Sidekicks, 3)

Michael Goodson

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