Photographer's Forum VOL. 34 / NO. 4 : Page 3

B O O K REVI EW BY A M A N DA Q U I N T E N Z -F I E D L E R FALLEN SUPERHEROES Photography by Eric Curtis. Written by Scott Allen Perry and Adam Mock. Medallion Press. 324 pp. $29.99 paper. he room seems familiar. Perhaps it is in your grandmother’s house. The wallpaper is a little too gaudy, the curtains are drawn together with tasseled gold cords, cheaply veneered wainscoting graces the walls. The table and chairs are a bit too large for the space, but they pale in com-parison to the massive pedestal on which rests a boisterous flower arrangement in a blue glass vase. It is no wonder, then, that a grandmotherly woman sits at the table, staring at us. What is odd, however, are her blue spandex leggings; pink, embroi-dered bodice and half-skirt; cat’s-eye blue mask; tiara; and, of course, her floor-length red cape. She is “The Mighty Maven,” one of more than two dozen costumed characters presented in Fallen Superheroes — a photo-graphic exploration of what happens when super powers, or the people who wield them, aren’t up to the job. It’s a concept that immediately conjures up forgotten and T downtrodden souls in the mind of any imaginative person, especially anyone who idolized comic book heroes. But what most people might imagine superficially, the team of Eric Curtis, Scott Allen Perry and Adam Mock thoroughly fleshed out. The result is a biting view of what happens to those who don’t make the cut. Take, for instance, “Plutonica,” who suf-fers the indignity of being from Pluto, which has been demoted to a mere dwarf planet. Despite all her prowess and abili-course, that you buy into the superhero world. A small suspension of disbelief leads you into the individual plights of these failed figures. Beyond the heroes themselves, the loca-tions that the team found to stage each of these stories are flawless. There’s the iso-lated and dingy bathroom that “Infinity Girl” must clean, ad infinitum. There’s the luxurious lakeside pool deck where “Vane” can admire himself, and the vast and empty concrete room where “Shock These characters are not cobbled together, but fully realized in their absurdity. ties, she cannot live down that fact; and, amidst her achievements, the one person she cannot help is the boyfriend she des-perately wants to save. Perry and Mock deserve accolades for the incisive and accurate text that accom-panies the images, but it is truly Curtis’ work that drives the concept. The pho-tographs are exquisite, even when they are filthy. The production values for each image are astounding. These characters are not cobbled together, but fully realized in their absurdity. Complete with custom suits (created by Perry’s mother), accessories and an assortment of tools, each fallen superhero seems plausible — assuming, of Mama” rocks out on a plain upright piano. As in all photography, the subject, loca-tion and composition are secondary to the lighting — and lighting is something that Curtis controls with mastery. The images are so well constructed, in fact, that they seem unreal. The subtle cues that they are, in fact, real are found in the way harsh shadows fall or in the blown-out glint from shiny surfaces, of which there are plenty. The implication that “Healing Feet” is fly-ing away from a man he’s aided is achieved with dollar-store wings and a well-timed jump, but the illusion is com-plete and easy to believe. Fallen Superheroes is part hilarious rep-resentation, part sober observation. It’s probably best characterized as dark come-dy. The characters themselves are sad mis-fits on the surface, easily identifiable by their demeanors, surroundings or menial jobs. But there is a deeper quality to the writing and images that takes this book beyond a good idea and turns it into a bril-liant commentary. It’s funny, sad, beauti-ful, ugly and entirely worth reading. L Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler is a freelance writer and photographer based in Southern California, where she received her MFA in Still Photography in 2009. She has con-tributed articles to Digital Photo Pro, Rangefinder, and the PIEA Journal. F ALL 2012 | P HOTOGRAPH ER ’ S F ORU M | PFMAGAZI N E . COM · 3

Book Review

Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler

FALLEN SUPERHEROES <br /> <br /> Photography by Eric Curtis. Written by Scott Allen Perry and Adam Mock. Medallion Press. 324 pp. $29.99 paper.<br /> <br /> The room seems familiar. Perhaps it is in your grandmother’s house. The wallpaper is a little too gaudy, the curtains are drawn together with tasseled gold cords, cheaply veneered wainscoting graces the walls. The table and chairs are a bit too large for the space, but they pale in comparison to the massive pedestal on which rests a boisterous flower arrangement in a blue glass vase. It is no wonder, then, that a grandmotherly woman sits at the table, staring at us. What is odd, however, are her blue spandex leggings; pink, embroidered bodice and half-skirt; cat’s-eye blue mask; tiara; and, of course, her floor-length red cape.<br /> <br /> She is “The Mighty Maven,” one of more than two dozen costumed characters presented in Fallen Superheroes — a photographic exploration of what happens when super powers, or the people who wield them, aren’t up to the job. It’s a concept that immediately conjures up forgotten and downtrodden souls in the mind of any imaginative person, especially anyone who idolized comic book heroes. But what most people might imagine superficially, the team of Eric Curtis, Scott Allen Perry and Adam Mock thoroughly fleshed out. The result is a biting view of what happens to those who don’t make the cut.<br /> <br /> Take, for instance, “Plutonica,” who suffers the indignity of being from Pluto, which has been demoted to a mere dwarf planet. Despite all her prowess and abilities, she cannot live down that fact; and, amidst her achievements, the one person she cannot help is the boyfriend she desperately wants to save.<br /> <br /> Perry and Mock deserve accolades for the incisive and accurate text that accompanies the images, but it is truly Curtis’ work that drives the concept. The photographs are exquisite, even when they are filthy. The production values for each image are astounding. These characters are not cobbled together, but fully realized in their absurdity. Complete with custom suits (created by Perry’s mother), accessories and an assortment of tools, each fallen superhero seems plausible — assuming, of course, that you buy into the superhero world. A small suspension of disbelief leads you into the individual plights of these failed figures.<br /> <br /> Beyond the heroes themselves, the locations that the team found to stage each of these stories are flawless. There’s the isolated and dingy bathroom that “Infinity Girl” must clean, ad infinitum. There’s the luxurious lakeside pool deck where “Vane” can admire himself, and the vast and empty concrete room where “Shock Mama” rocks out on a plain upright piano.<br /> <br /> As in all photography, the subject, location and composition are secondary to the lighting — and lighting is something that Curtis controls with mastery. The images are so well constructed, in fact, that they seem unreal. The subtle cues that they are, in fact, real are found in the way harsh shadows fall or in the blown-out glint from shiny surfaces, of which there are plenty. The implication that “Healing Feet” is flying away from a man he’s aided is achieved with dollar-store wings and a well-timed jump, but the illusion is complete and easy to believe.<br /> <br /> Fallen Superheroes is part hilarious representation, part sober observation. It’s probably best characterized as dark comedy. The characters themselves are sad misfits on the surface, easily identifiable by their demeanors, surroundings or menial jobs. But there is a deeper quality to the writing and images that takes this book beyond a good idea and turns it into a brilliant commentary. It’s funny, sad, beautiful, ugly and entirely worth reading.<br /> <br /> Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler is a freelance writer and photographer based in Southern California, where she received her MFA in Still Photography in 2009. She has contributed articles to Digital Photo Pro, Rangefinder, and the PIEA Journal.

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