Top, L-R: Aguaman, Super Star, Receiver, Death-Wish, Shield Maiden, The Quick, and Ultrafemme. They star in a soon to be released web TV series, "The Collectibles". Ultrafemme is portrayed by West Seattle resident Lisa Skvarla, co-owner of Lee's Martial Arts. Co-producer, Todd Downing, is a long-time West Seattle resident.
New web TV series "The Collectibles", superheroes meets "The Office"
"A legion of superheroes in a corporate environment"
A satirical web TV series called The Collectibles currently in production launches early next year. West Seattle's Todd Downing is co-writer/co-director/producer and Lisa Skvarla, who co-owns Lee's Martial Arts Academy with her husband on California Ave. SW, is associate producer and cast member.
The premise, an angst-ridden ensemble of superheroes called the "Power Posse" converge in a typical American drab office following a hard day of crime-fighting and are treated like mere mortals by their boss. He considers them "intellectual property" and expects them to file paperwork and answer phone calls. Back-stabbing and rivalries unfold among the posse.
Unlike Superman's Clark Kent, and Batman's Bruce Wayne, these crime-fighters remain superheroes 24/7 and don their apparel, including neon pajamas, gold stars, push-up bras and other-worldly, metallic accessories in the office environment.
A rough cut of the first of 10 episodes, each to run 10 minutes, can be seen on YouTube clip above.
The Power Posse includes The Quick, with his hypersonic speed, Shield Maiden who possesses kinetic energy fields, Death-Wish, a martial arts and munitions expert, Aguaman who can breath aquatically, Receiver, the telepathic receptionist, Super Star, who can leap beyond one kilometer, and Skvarla's sexy and powerful Wonder Women-esque character, Ultrafemme.
Ultrafemme is a bullwhip marksman and yes, a martial arts expert. In fact, she might be the most genuine action figure of them all considering Skvarla's real life martial arts expertise. She has been studying martial arts for over 20 years and holds a 3rd Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and chairs the Association of Women's Self Defense Advancement (AWSDA). The West Seattle Herald did articles about her here and here.
Super Star is portrayed by Brian Sutherland who stars in the film "All My Presidents" shot on North Admiral we featured here.Additional superheroes will star in future episodes including a character portrayed by Lisa Coronado who co-stars with Sutherland in "All My Presidents" and is its co-producer.
"The Collectibles is 'Super Friends' meets 'The Office,'" said Downing, 43, whose wife Raechelle is the line producer. Super Friends was a Saturday morning cartoon in1973 based on the comic book, Justice League, a collection of superheroes including DC characters Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and others. The Office is the hit comedy mocumentary starring Steve Carrell in America, based on the British show starring Ricky Gervais.
Downing produces The Collectibles with creative partner Dan Heinrich, through his Moon Bullet Studios. It is broadcast through Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. He said the "end game" is not necessarily to find a network to run the series on TV, but rather to find a network that would pick it up and back it on the web, a new trend in the entertainment business.
"Super Friends was just great because it was so awful, just kitsch," said Downing, who also filmed "Ordinary Angels"."The Power Posse is a legion of superheroes in a corporate environment, the average American office, in the pseudo documentary style, hand held, zooms, quick pan. We though, how ridiculous would it be if the people were super human but trapped in this mundane office existence. Such juxtaposition is the root of great comedy. If we were to actually show them going out and being super, that would detract from them coming into the office.
"No matter how perfect somebody is, there is always a flaw and I think there is an attraction seeing our heroes as also being human in that way," Downing speculated. "We like flawed heroes. That is why batman is so popular. He's totally neurotic, damaged goods. Batman's parents were murdered in front of him so he takes on this crusade to rid Gotham City of evil. To do that he puts on a costume to scare the crap out of bad guys. Sometimes he kills them. He's a vlgilante."
Downing said he "fell into" the video game industry in the 1990's, and this was a logical segway.
"When I first got in it, it was the early 90's and they were just coming out with the 2D side-scrolling platform games and then into fully 3D technology," he recalled. "The first generation Sony Play Station, Sega Saturn, N(intendo) 64, early 3D platforms. I worked for about 10 years in that, mostly in concept design, sketching characters, production art, animation, working up to art direction."
Collectibles merchandise is available on its website, but those action figures seen in the film clip are one-of-a-kind and the public cannot purchase those, at least for now.
"The Collectibles is a lot of fun," he said. "It's a blessing having a lot of talented people in close proximity. Lisa's a darling. Phenominal to work with. She taught my daughter Tae Kwon Do, and has been a fixture in the community, not only the merchant community of West Seattle but also the independent film community. She is totally dedicated to this production. I would call her a real life super hero."