Some cities just get under my skin. After a while, it’s a compulsion that drives me to want to go back, be it Portland or Santa Fe or New Orleans.
Or Cobalt City.
Cobalt City made it’s debut ten years ago in the novel Cobalt City Blues. It was my first novel, written for myself and friends–and to prove to myself I could finish a long project. It wasn’t even part of a series at that point. Just one book jam packed with superheroes and a city that won’t let me leave it behind.
I’ve written several more novels set in that world, including the prequel to Cobalt City Blues, and two follow-up books with Gato Loco set a few years in the future. I’ve written a little short fiction, published three anthologies and five novella length works from other people set in Cobalt. I’ve even written radio dramas which were wonderfully produced and serialized, allowing me to expand out the world a little bit more. (For the curious, the full timeline of what stories happen when is available here.)
But it’s been years since I’ve taken a long walk in Cobalt City. Other books had taken me away. I missed the view of the orange cranes towering above the docks in Quayside, with the neon glare of Casino Row beyond. I missed the historic streets of the Cannonade, with narrow, cobblestone streets and ivy-enshrouded brick buildings and the golden glow of quirky bistros and late night book stores. I missed the quiet of Lafayette Park while the towering condos of Parkside loomed along the eastern edge of the park. I missed the idea of a cup of coffee at Schrodinger’s Cup up near the University, or watching the Cobalt Blue Blazes whip some ass on the basketball court. I missed the little ethnic neighborhoods secreted away in the twisting streets of Karlsburg. Even missed the suburban sprawl of Moriston to the north, and the crumbling buildings and danger of The Hollows.
But mostly I missed the heroes.
I love the idea that you could look up some day and see the golden contrail of Stardust slicing through the blue sky. That your evening commute might be disrupted by Wild Kat and Velvet tumbling out into the road, wrestling with a dragon. That you might see a mugging interrupted by the appearance of Gato Loco. That a bank of fog might materialize into Mister Grey somewhere ahead of you and a dangerous night suddenly feels safer.
I love the fact that other writers have fallen in love with the city and helped it grow: from Jeremy Zimmerman’s Kensei and Rosemary Jones’ Wrecker of Engines in Cobalt City Rookies to Erik Scott de Bie’s Lady Vengeance and Stardust and Minerva Zimmerman’s Tempest in Cobalt City Double Feature. Jeremy has another Kensei book coming out soon and I promise you all, I’ll be one of the first people in line to read it.
It was time for me to revisit Cobalt City. I’ve been away too long.
Los Muertos marks my return–a love letter to Cobalt City and to the weird heroes of the comics of the 1970’s. Inspired by an era that saw horror cross over into superheroes with titles like Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Doctor Strange, the Demon, Swamp Thing, I wanted to tell a story about Halloween in Cobalt City. Because horror eventually creeps into most things I write, I suppose. And I already have a Cthulhu element in the city with Louis Malenfant and the King in Yellow. The antagonist, Trepanning Mary, was inspired by a wall of nineteen trepanned skulls from Peru I saw on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, so I suppose I really have to thank my friends Krista and Brendon for taking me there a few years back.
I’ll be setting up shop in Cobalt City for a while. There are just too many stories to tell.
Because the world needs heroes. Even the weird ones.
Especially the weird ones.