The cult section of the literary world

Thirsty Thursday: Super Dog

by Ross E. Lockhart

I just saw that great big superhero movie. You know, the one where all the caped-and-masked guys from all those other superhero movies get together and beat up bad guys and aliens (and each other) for two and a half hours. I had a great time. Enough fun, in fact, that I’m sure I’ll go see the next one. And the next. And the next.

One of the dominant cultural memes of the twentieth and (so far) twenty-first centuries has been the myth of the superhero. Which seems odd, on the one hand, since a costumed vigilante in colorful long underwear and a cape taking on well-armed criminals in real life would seem at a severe disadvantage (and really, a guy who wears a cape to a fight is just asking for trouble).

But comic books (and now, multi-million-dollar comic book movies) are another matter entirely. The more colorful the better. Thanks to old comic books, for years, I believed that World War II was won by Superman, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Popeye, and Bugs Bunny. I will admit that the only issue of The Avengers I remember buying was the one featuring their 1984 appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, but I’ve read more than my fair share of campy, old Batman comics.

And while my taste in comic books shifted over time to horror and underground fare, there’s something comforting about the idea of a super-powered benefactor out there, fighting crime and criminals, taking out the bad guys so that we don’t have to.

The first popular superhero was Lee Falk’s Mandrake the Magician, who appeared in newspaper funny pages in 1934, a few years before Detective Comics, Inc. debuted Siegel and Shuster’s Boy Scout-from-another-planet, Superman. Today, superheroes tend to reflect and comment on the colorful past, even while living in the complex present, and characters like The Toxic Avenger, The Crimson Bolt, and Kick-Ass are the norm. We’ve come a long way.

So tonight, I’m having a Super Dog IPA, from Portland, Oregon’s Lucky Labrador Brewing Company, which the awesome folks at Eraserhead Press sent down in tribute to a fallen friend. This one’s for you guys! Cheers!


Super Dog pours a dark, cloudy orange with just shy of a finger of fizzy, white head that falls fairly quickly to a ring thick around the perimeter of the glass that leaves behind clumps of lacing. Grapefruit and bitter orange on the nose, with just a hint of pine beneath the citrus. Taste follows scent, adding a touch of lemon zest, a bit of malty sweetness, and a nice, stinging bitter bite. Citrus remains strong and astringent against the palate, and the lingering finish has a nice, hoppy, bitter wallop of pine. Super!

Recommended literary pairings for those inclined to leaping tall barware in a single bound:

Prepare to Die!, by Paul Tobin. Nine years ago, Steve Clarke was just a teenage boy in love with the girl of his dreams. Then a freak chemical spill transformed him into Reaver, the man whose super-powerful fists can literally take a year off a bad guy’s life. Days ago, he found himself at the mercy of his arch-nemesis Octagon and a whole crew of fiendish super-villains, who gave him two weeks to settle his affairs–and prepare to die. Now, after years of extraordinary adventures and crushing tragedies, the world’s greatest hero is returning to where it all began in search of the boy he once was . . . and the girl he never forgot. Exciting, scandalous, and ultimately moving, Prepare to Die! is a unique new look at the last days of a legend.

Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman. Doctor Impossible—evil genius, would-be world conqueror—languishes in prison. Shuffling through the cafeteria line with ordinary criminals, he wonders if the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life. After all, he’s lost every battle he’s ever fought. But this prison won’t hold him forever.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America… the comic book.

Island of the Super People, by Kevin Shamel. SUPER FRIENDS MEETS GORILLAS IN THE MIST! Four students and their anthropology professor journey to a remote island to study its indigenous population. But this is no ordinary native culture. They’re super heroes and villains with flesh costumes and outlandish abilities like self-detonation, musical eyelashes, microwave hands, whalemancing, super boobs, and the power to turn anything into fuzzy pink bunnies. When evil government forces threaten the island, the students and super people must join together to fight. Only through their combined powers can they save themselves from total destruction.

Ross E. Lockhart is the managing editor of Night Shade Books. A lifelong fan of supernatural, fantastic, speculative, and weird fiction, he holds degrees in English from Sonoma State University (BA) and San Francisco State University (MA). In 2011, he edited the acclaimed anthology The Book of Cthulhu. He lives in an old church in Petaluma, CA, with his wife Jennifer, hundreds of books, and the conspicuous absence of dog. Visit him online at

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