Anyone can be a hero, even if he’s ‘kind of an idiot,’ in new graphic novel

Real-world problems meet parodies of classic superhero tropes in Hero-Man

Everyone wants to be the hero. That could mean swinging between buildings on webs of your own design to save the day. That could mean being a firefighter and pulling people out of a burning building. That could mean being the person in the office who brings in doughnuts for no other reason than making everyone’s day.

The idea that anyone can be a hero is the essential concept of Hero-Man. This graphic novel from Winnipeg-based writer Lyndon Radchenka and Alberta-based artist Zach Schuster takes the ordinary-person approach to being the hero as well as the villain. No one is leaping tall buildings in a single bound in this story, nor do they need to.

Radchenka describes Hero-Man as a “well-intentioned golden age superhero that we all know and love from our days of reading classic comic books in which the hero, purveyor of truth, justice, and all things good, defeats the villain terrorizing the city with no regard for any damaged property, economic impact, or public opinion.”

Anyone who reads comics on a regular basis probably has a list of heroes in mind who fit that description.

Schuster, on the other hand, has a more candid but no less accurate description for Hero-Man. “Hero-Man is kind of an idiot, but his heart is in the right place.” And Hero-Man is not alone in his crime fighting attempts – his ally isn’t too far off from his idol, though.

“Hero-Lad is also kind of an idiot,” Schuster continues, “but he’s a kid and will probably grow out of it. In the meantime, he realizes he needs to step up to protect his city, and save his hero, Hero-Man.”

Hero-Man is a parody targeting a variety of superhero comic book tropes. Inspired by classic creators like Jack Kirby, this duo wanted to create something unique, accessible, and fun.

Lyndon Radchenka
Lyndon Radchenka

“Instead of the grim/dark parodies like The Boys and Kick-Ass, though, we wanted to keep things light and fun, like classic superhero comics,” Schuster says.

Radchenka shares a similar outlook and knew that Schuster was the right artist for the job. “His art style is so specific and well-suited to the sort of goofy and sincere story that the concept called for.”

Readers can look forward to some wild twists and turns in Hero-Man, and another key character called the Femme Fatal, but, surprisingly, real life also plays a big role in this story. According to Radchenka, “Comics have always been political and reflections of the world in the moment, and so I’m sure that Hero-Man is no exception.”

Zach Schuster
Zach Schuster

Schuster concurs, saying, “We keep things fun and funny, but it’s definitely a book about the real world’s problems seen through the lens of golden-age optimism.”

In Hero-Man, both creators have shown that comics can have something to say and still be fun. Radchenka hopes their readers “take comics, new and old, and feel comfortable loving them. There’s so much room in this industry to just be our weird selves.”

For Schuster, it comes down to a simple message: “Anyone can wear the mask. You could wear the mask.”