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Interviewing Leather (and Other Stories)

By Jim Zoetewey, editor, author of The Legion of Nothing

Aug 11, 2013: I can’t claim this is an unbiased review. "Interviewing Leather" is one of the stories that made me think that I should try writing an online serial myself.

About six years ago, blog software made it obvious that posting a novel on a blog would be easier than static html pages. Fiction had been online pretty much since the beginning of the internet, but the maturing blogosphere offered a new option.

That was the period when Tales of MU began, and also the period in which web comic critic Eric Burns-White started posting stories on his own website.

One of the stories posted on his blog was "Interviewing Leather." It became one of the most popular pieces on his blog, standing out from science fiction, fantasy, and modern myths.

"Interviewing Leather" itself tells the story of how Todd Chapman, a music journalist who writes "slightly sycophantic" articles about musicians, finds himself interviewing Leather, a pseudo-punk, third tier supervillain.

It also shows how he adjusts to some very bad situations (like captivity and being beaten up by thugs), and comes out changed.

Overall, the story doesn’t satirize superheroes even though it does point out some of the absurdities of the genre. It essentially takes the whole concept seriously, but makes jokes about it at the same time.

More specifically, it attempts to ask how some things would work if they were real. For example, if you had supervillains regularly stealing from jewelry stores, how would that work exactly? How do they fence the goods? Where do they get their henchmen?

Note that this isn’t the same thing as making things "realistic." Making superheroes realistic is something of a lost cause.

Creating a world that has the necessary background for me to believe being a supervillain is financially viable is quite a challenge, but in this story, it works.

This kind of world building is one of the story’s best features.

That’s not to say anything else was done badly. Actually the characters, plot, and pacing all worked well. I’d talk about all of them except that this review is already a little long.

With that said, it’s time to consider the site.

Previously this review included pointing out some navigation difficulties.

As of a few minutes ago at this writing, Eric added navigation (including previous/next links and lists of individual stories) to the website. Whether it helps most viewers, I don’t know, but it does now easily allow a person to find the first post in a series, and continue through the series without continually pressing the back button.

It’s worth noting that this primarily applies to "Interviewing Leather" and the series that are currently updating—three new stories including "Interviewing Leather"’s sequel "Interviewing Trey."

There are still stories on the site that don’t have easily accessible navigation pages, but unless you go back to the beginning of the site, you’re unlikely to encounter them, making that irrelevant.

Bearing that in mind, the site works well enough, and the stories are worth reading.

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