Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guest Blogger: CHRIS BOLTON

Please welcome my guest blogger, Chris Bolton. Chris, along with his brother Kyle, has a new graphic novel out and will be giving away a copy to one lucky reader! 

by Chris A. Bolton

Hello, blog readers! My name is Chris A. Bolton and today I have something special for you. Rather than blather on about myself, how and why I wrote the all-ages graphic novel Smash: Trial by Fire (on sale September 10th from Candlewick Press), or what it was like working wth my artist brother Kyle, I decided to let the pint-sized superhero and star of our book speak for himself. Without further ado, please welcome...Smash!


CHRIS: I know you're very busy with homework and fighting crime, so thanks for taking the time to speak with me. To start off, your real identity is--

SMASH: Whoa! Easy, there. First rule of being a superhero: keep your secret identity a secret.

CHRIS: That sounds like pretty good advice.

SMASH: I got it from a guy named the Wraith. He's this old-school crimefighter who could phase through walls and stuff, but now he's retired and trains dogs. He's always trying to make me his sidekick, and I have to keep telling him to go away. Sidekicks spew! I want to be a full-on superhero, not somebody's understudy. Wraith should be my sidekick!

CHRIS: But you're only ten years old, Smash. Isn't that a little young to be fighting crime?

SMASH: I don't know. I mean, I can fly, run really fast, and punch through walls without feeling any pain. Can you do all that?

CHRIS: No, I cannot. Where did these powers come from?

SMASH: That's also a secret.

CHRIS: This isn't going to be much of an interview if you won't answer any questions.

SMASH: Hey, you called me, remember?

CHRIS: Let me tell you what we know from TV news footage. The super-powered hero known as Defender was captured by his arch-enemy, a criminal mastermind called the Magus. There was a freak explosion and a mysterious ball of energy erupted from the building. Next thing we know, Defender is declared dead by the police -- and suddenly, a young boy who has his powers appears, wearing a smaller version of his costume. Is that about right?

SMASH: Here's what I can tell you: my powers are totally real. And yes, I am ten years old. But that's all I can say!

CHRIS: Were you a big fan of Defender's before you got his powers?

SMASH: Heck, yeah! Are you kidding? Defender was the greatest hero that ever... hey, wait a second! You're trying to trick me! I'm still not telling you if I got my powers from Defender. But yeah, Defender was awesome. And so were his powers.

CHRIS: So now, as the hero called "Smash," you're attempting to pick up where Defender left off. Even though you have his -- er, these powers, do you really feel that a ten-year-old kid can carry on such a heroic legacy?

SMASH: Uh, well... I'm trying to! I guess I've got a few things to learn. I mean, it's not like you get flying powers and all of a sudden you're an eagle, you know? Taking off and landing are HARD. So is everything that happens between take-off and landing! But I'm working at getting better.

CHRIS: We've also seen TV footage of you clinging to a flagpole. It kind of looked like maybe you're afraid of heights?

SMASH: What? NO! Who said that? I'm not afraid of heights! I LOVE heights! Heights are the best, they're my favorite -- I wish I could fly HIGHER!

CHRIS: Okay, okay, relax.

SMASH: You tell all the bad guys out there that I'm NOT afraid of heights! Go ahead, say it!

CHRIS: Smash is not afraid of heights.

SMASH: That's better. Geez, thanks for giving away my biggest weakness.

CHRIS: You mean, it would be your weakness, if you were afraid of heights. But you're not, so it isn't.

SMASH: ...

CHRIS: Moving on. In the new book Smash: Trial by Fire, my brother and I attempt to tell your story in the graphic novel format...

SMASH: Yeah, you guys really missed the mark on a bunch of stuff.

CHRIS: Such as?

SMASH: Well, for one thing, my secret identity. You were WAY off on that one! Who's this Andrew Ryan kid? I've never even heard of that dude!

CHRIS: Well, we did some research and made an educated guess...

SMASH: WAY off! Way, way, way off!

CHRIS: Okay, got it. What else?

SMASH: Your brother, Kyle? He's a really good artist, but he drew me all wrong. Like, he made my arms super-skinny and my chest flat. But anyone can see my arms are really HUGE, with muscles on top of muscles, and my chest is BUFF! It's like a block of concrete over a six-pack of abs.

CHRIS: I'm looking at you now, and you just look like a normal kid in a costume.

SMASH: Well, you should get your eyes checked! Because I am HUGE! I once flew past The Rock and he was all, "Whoa! That kid's so ripped, I'm gonna quit wresting and become an actor!"

CHRIS: I really don't think that happened.

SMASH: You don't know, you weren't there! Anyway, I really liked the book except for those parts.

CHRIS: I want to ask you about the Magus. Here was Defender's greatest nemesis, a criminal mastermind who commands an army of deadly Minions. After many years of fighting, the Magus finally beat Defender, once and for all. With that in mind, how did it feel when you came face-to-face with such a dangerous enemy?

SMASH: HA! Magus has a reputation as a big tough guy, but he's not so bad. He took one look at me and cried like a little baby. It was nothin'.

CHRIS: Interesting you say that. As a matter of fact, we invited the Magus to join our interview--

SMASH: Uh, what?

CHRIS: -- and he graciously agreed! So, let's get him in here and find out what he thinks.
SMASH: Hang on, what's happening now..?

CHRIS: Mr. Magus, welcome!

MAGUS: You may simply call me "Magus." Or, if you prefer, "Master." Or "Your Highness."
CHRIS: Uh, well, I'm cool with calling you Magus...

MAGUS:  In fact, let's go with "Master." I like that. What is your question, fool?

CHRIS: After so many years of battling Defender, how did it feel coming face-to-face with your new arch-enemy, who's a short, ten-year-old boy?

SMASH: Short but RIPPED!

MAGUS: Frankly, I was unimpressed.

SMASH: He peed himself. I saw it happen.

MAGUS: Silence, boy! The next time I capture you, I swear, by all the powers at my disposal...

CHRIS: Let's talk about that. Magus, you trapped Defender so you could steal his powers. Then, after Smash started fighting crime, you tried to captured him to take his powers. What is your obsession with these powers?

MAGUS: I merely wish to use them for the betterment of humankind. Surely we can all agree that a small child is unworthy to carry the mantle of "world's greatest superhero." I have had a drastic change of heart since Defender's unfortunate passing, and I now realize my destiny is to protect the innocent and the meek from the forces of villainy that lurk around us.

SMASH: Uh, that's a stinky pack of lies! Magus is evil, okay? You can't trust a word he says.

MAGUS: Don't listen to the boy -- listen to your master! I mean, your savior.

SMASH: Are you getting all this? Magus is obviously the BAD GUY! Someone's gotta stop him from taking over the world. And the last time I looked, I'm the only person around here with super-powers.

MAGUS: Until I take them from you and claim them for my own!

SMASH: Yeah, right! The next time you try to take my powers, you're gonna get a tattoo of my footprint on your backside!

CHRIS: Okay, let's wrap this up before it gets out of control. Do you have any last words for us?

MAGUS: I have perused this Trial by Fire book -- if it can truly be called a "book" by any thinking individual -- and I find it to be pure drivel. I never tried to hurt Defender or Smash. I only have the best interests of the public in mind, and thus, this book is full of lies!

SMASH: And I just want to say, I kicked Magus's butt a whole lot worse than it shows in the book!


CHRIS: We'll just have to let readers decide for themselves what's true and what isn't when they pick up their copies of Smash: Trial by Fire, new from Candlewick Press. They'll find it everywhere books are sold starting September 10th.

SMASH: Nice plug! Who are you, Self-Promotion Man?

MAGUS: Okay, that was a good one. That deserves a fist-pound.

SMASH: Get out of here, your FACE deserve a fist-pound!

CHRIS: And with that, we'll say goodbye.


Whap! Thud! Crash! An action-packed graphic novel simultaneously spoofs and pays tribute to superhero lore while inspiring a new generation of crimefighters.

Ka-boom! Clobbered by fallout from a blast that kills the local superhero, Defender, Andrew Ryan suddenly has super strength and speed! And he can fly! Now it’s up to him to protect citizens from thieves, thugs, and fearsome villains. He dons a homemade costume to hide his true identity, and Smash is born! But fighting crime isn’t easy, especially when you’re in fifth grade. On top of evil robots and trigger-happy bank robbers, there’s homework, curfew, and the school bully to deal with. Not to mention the Magus, a fearsome villain who will stop at nothing to steal Smash’s superpowers for himself! Influenced by film, cartoons, and of course, classic comic books, this vivid escapade features a rib-tickling, high-energy storyline and the colorful, exaggerated figures of nostalgic comic-book art: a combo perfect for kids longing for a secret identity of their own.


Chris A. Bolton has written comics, short fiction, stage plays, sketch comedy, and screenplays. He wrote and directed several short films and an acclaimed web series and recently completed his first novel. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he still dreams of acquiring superpowers.

Kyle Bolton has been drawing since the age of four, although SMASH is his first professional comic work. A graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, he has worked for a variety of game companies creating 2D and 3D animations. Kyle Bolton currently draws and lives in Seattle, Washington.


If you’d like to win your own copy of SMASH: Trial by Fire, just send an email to, with "SMASH" as the subject. Make sure to include your name and mailing address in the US only. This is a quick contest so your odds of winning are really good - if you enter by Sept. 25, 2013. Good luck!

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