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Woodclaw

Woodclaw

Thursday, 02 July 2020 00:36

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #14

Before we start this installment of the Admin Spotlight Theater there are a couple of announcements:

  1. Both LFan and I hit a pretty rough spot with our respective day jobs, which means that this feature is going to officially slow down a bit. Most of you probably already noticed that we are already doing it almost bi-weekly.
  2. To compensate and broaden our selection we have already asked some of our moderators and collaborators a little bit of help, as soon as their first pieces are ready we would be able to provide a new, more consistent schedule.

Ok. The administrative stuff is out of the way, let's get this show on the road and this week I'm featuring a story that left many readers puzzled at first, starting with its title, which isn't exactly something that rolls off your toungue:

Armada, All-Powerful Queen Of Portland by Castor (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

This was one of Castor's first pieces on this site and, I'm not going to lie, at the time it looked extremely weird. The story had most of the tropes of our genre and yet it felt completely different from everything else we have ever hosted. The story had an extremely slow pace, without any apparent big reveals or crazy stunt. This particular style of narrative is pretty much a staple of Castor's writing, but, for me, it never felt more substantial and appropriate than in Armada. It's easy to turn away saying "boring", but in a way that's exactly what the first couple of chapters aim to. This is not an end od the world scenario, it's a slice of life comedy built around a superwoman doing the least slice of thing possible: taking over a city and establish it as a separate nation because she cares about it.

Now before going any further. I understand that this particular story, especially the last chapter, might be problematic right now. Castor wrote it back in 2013, way before any of us could ever imagined events like those that transpired in these last months. So I urge you to take this story as a simple moment of fun, not an attempt to further any kind of political agenda and whatnot. Any similarity between this story and the events of the Capitol Hill Zone in Seattle is purely coincidental.

Moving on, the slice of life impression is compounded by another of Castor's trope, changes of scene. There is a crapton of small changes of scene detailing how the rest of the world reacts to the insane idea of a super-strong, flying woman declaring herself Queen of Portland. These reactions go from the funny to the extremely serious. My favorite is, probably, the moment we see a completely false and yet completely believable tabloid title about her harem. What really got me here is that this is seeing such a classic supervillainess trope being used in reverse, to characterize Armada in-universe, rather than to the reader.

Still, these scenes aren't just some funny intermissions, they set the path toward Chapter 3. This is when the shit hits the fan and the illusion of the slice of life is shattered. Chapter 3 open with a (literal) bang and goes on to provide us the biggest plot twist of the entire story. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but this is really what made this story for me. Without the final revelation, Armada would have been an interesting, but limited take on another genre. With it, many of the stories plot holes suddenly make sense and our (as in readers') perspective get flipped upside-down.

Personally, I don't think I've really enjoyed any of Castor's stories more than Armada. Out of all of his extensive production and numerous experiments, this is the one that really set the bar for me.

Thursday, 18 June 2020 10:46

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #13

Sorry for the delay, but curve balls keep coming over here.

I had a really hard time choosing a story to feature because I didn't want to give another spotlight to one of our most esteemed writers, until everyone else has five minutes of fame... and LFan beat me to two names on my short list. Hence, I present to you:

Linda's Transformation Part 1 & Part 2 by Oogber

Over the last weeks, LFan talked about his Mount Rushmore of stories. I really never developed such a concept, but I recognize that some stories really set the standard for some scenes. This one is the one that really has my favorite transformation sequence, bar none.

While the transformation itself takes only a very short amount of story, the gimmick used by Oogber is nothing short of perfect. It plays with a very old and very significant quirk in the human perception (no, I'm not going to spoil it for you) and uses it to great effect to convey the idea that neither we, as readers, nor the character really knows if this transformation is repeatable or what caused it. This is brilliant for a first chapter, because it gave us a beautiful (and very sexually charged) moment that opens many possibilities, instead of closing them.

The follow-up is just as good. Linda is a really fun character, who isn't really good or evil (except, maybe in high school terms), but her curious and mischievous personality creates some great moments with her friends and rivals. She's clearly not into the superhero game, but she isn't trying to take over the world either. She just wants to have fun, to enjoy her powers and their many delights, in particular her super-sexiness. This is a trademark of Oogber stories, he's one of the few writers that really manages to convey how powerful a superwoman's sex appeal can be. Thanks to a brilliant use of fragmented descriptions, interspaced with very short bits of dialogue, he gave us the real impression of the sensory overload experienced by those close to Linda and what "a face that launched a thousand ships" really means.

I really want to tell you more about this story, but I fear I might go into spoilers territory. What really put Linda heads and shoulders over many others origin/discover stories is the quality of writing and how real Linda felt to me when I read this story for the first time many years ago. For me, writing a truly morally neutral character is one of the greatest challenges an author can face and Oogber pulled it out beautifully.

Although we haven't seen one of his stories over her for a while, Oogber is still very active in this community, especially on our Discord server, and has a DeviantArt page where he published a number of other short stories, including four new chapters of Linda.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 00:00

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #11

When I started this series, one of the guiding principles was to favor single-shot stories over series or, at the very least, include stories that didn't have a dedicated shelf in our Multi-Chapter section. This, of course, ruled out many stories I love, which will probably appear in future installments, if my partner in crime LFan continues to feature great series for the past, like Serena. Today I'm going to cheat a little and include two stories that are a gateway to an anthology, rather than a series proper:

 Argonaut's Mightora & Mightora Meets Tyrannor

These stories were the first of a series of one-shot -- one might say "episodes" -- where our friend Argonaut injected some major supergirl action into some classic Hanna & Barbera cartoons. I admit that among all the cartoons he worked on Mightor was the most obscure to be. I don't remember watching even a single episode of it as a kid (opposed to Space Ghost and, of course, Scooby-Doo), but maybe that's why these two stories really hit my imagination... or maybe it was the exceptional illustrations by TGK ;)

Anyway, one of the things that made me love these stories the most was how Argo found a way to organically insert his leading lady in the setting without breaking it. In actual fact, he found a way to insert her in a very specific moment of a very specific episode, creating the illusion that in a slightly different world these stories could have been made into the series proper. Of course, many moments in the stories are absolutely PG-13 at the very least. I have to give Argo credit for one thing: he's never vulgar or gratuitous when including sexual elements. All his stories are titillating, but always in a very delicate way and Mightora his no exception. Despite the rather frequent references at the effect of statuesque prehistoric superwoman, all the interactions remain very faithful to the style and the spirit of the old Saturday morning cartoons.

Just like those old cartoons, the real drive of these stories is action. Seeing or heroine spring into action by transforming under a boulder and fighting dinosaurs it's spectacular, insane, over the top and absolutely a joy to read and imagine. It also fit the mold to a T. In no moment I felt pulled out of the immersion, in no moment I felt one feat was too outrageous or silly, because I really felt like I was watching a cartoon and I was ready for anything. As I said these stories were part of sort of anthology, Argo later tackled Space Ghost and three episodes of Scooby-Doo (Zombie in the Endzone, Taking down a Ghost Clown and Charter Fright). Even so, I think that it was with Mightora that he really nailed that perfect combination of harmless fun, absurd situations, humor, superpowered action and little sexual innuendos.

I know for a fact that Argo is still around, lurking in the shadows of our community, even if he didn't write anything new since 2016. I've not gave up hope that one, day I would see one more story from him pop up in the backend feed, but until then, Argo, thank you for all the fun.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 16:47

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #9

Sorry, for the delay on this installment of Woodclaw's Warehouse of Wonders, but life just threw me one of the worst curved balls of the last three years, to say the least. Before anyone asks, this has nothing to do with the Covid-19 situation, nor any bereavement in the family, but it still makes me angry. So, I really needed a trip down memory lane, looking for a good story to cheer me up and I actually found three, The Ultrafemme Series:

Ultrafemme by Anterion

Ultrafemme: Reward and Punishment by Anterion

Ultrafemme: Gemini by LaraFan, JNW550 (a.k.a. Stoneyman) & Ultragirl

This series is rather unique in our library because it wasn't the brainchild of a single author, back in the day Anterion gave us an open-source setting centered on a regular mad scientist, Doctor Julia Brooks, and gave all of us free reign to write and expand it. It was a unique idea and it proved fertile ground for a rare three-way collaboration between some of the most esteemed contributors of the SGInc site: LaraFan, JNW550 and Ultragirl teamed up about a year later to create Ultrafemme: Gemini, the so-far final chapter of the story. Of course, these entries are very different for tone, perspective and content.
The original Ultrafemme story is a first-person narrative, told through the surviving tapes of Julia Brooks original experiment. It's a very clever use of this medium, that gave the entire story a very Doctor Frankenstein feeling. Julia's methodical self-examination before and after the experiment is absolutely spot on and makes one of my least favorite tropes of our genre (the painting of the picture) fit perfectly into the story and the psychology of the character. It makes crystal clear that Julia is very much amoral and focused on the result, she doesn't care about the mean, only the ends.
Reward and Punishment, shows us even more of far Julia is willing to go for the sake of SCIENCE! (sorry, I couldn't resist). While Julia is still the engine that drives the plot, she takes a back seat and allows her guinea pigs to take the center of the stage. I'm trying not to spoil too much about this episode, but I adore the fact that Anterion (and later the others) clearly established that the Ultrafemme experiment is repeatable. Julia isn't the lucky recipient of a one a billion freak accident, she worked to gain her powers and now she is testing their limits, by giving out altered samples of the formula to other women. She isn't just a superwoman herself, she aims to spread the wealth.
Gemini, starts on the same premises of Reward and Punishment, once again Julia and her formula drive the plot, but she isn't the central character. Once again someone receives the formula and things go south, but for a very different reason. In Reward and Punishment, it was Julia poor judgment and willingness to experiment that cause an insane ubergirl rampage, this time is something more personal... a matter of family.
All the entries are exceptionally written in their own right and I think this series has something from everybody: mad science, transformations, sibling rivalries and more.
As far as I know Anterion never closed the invitation to others to write more and I really hope that someone would pick up and tell us more about Julia Brooks.
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:10

Admin Story Spotlight Theater #7

Unfortunately, this last week hasn't been kind to LFan, who is, apparently, swarmed with stuff to do at work. As a result you got another dose of Woodclaw's Warehouse of Wonders and, hell, I've been dying to present this story. As I said before, in the early days of SGInc, Serena was the story that really got me into this genre, but when ubergirls.org died and SGInc became SWM... I wasn't happy. I had discovered this community less than two years ago and seeing it going through such a massive change was kind of disconcerting. I stayed for the stories and one that really pushed my buttons back then was:

The Goddess Club by Willow

Two things really hooked me and reeled me in. The first was the setting, in 2005 I had just stopped reading superhero comics (mostly for monetary reasons), but I was fully into the idea of a shared superheroic universe. The hints at a larger world, no matter how small they were, that Willow dropped here and there were perfect bait for me. The second and most important is the main theme: I just love the "Dating Catwoman" kind of stories because of the implied level of conflict they came with and seeing this trope delivered with such a steamy action sequence was a joy to read. Of course, the story doesn't go too deep into the implications of this kind of situation, but the potential is all there, ready to explode in a superbattle of insane proportions.
Willow is still an active part of this community and is responsible for the titanic effort of creating a conclusion to AK's much-beloved Superior Girl, but she (or he) only produced one sequel to The Goddess Club. Family Reunion came out in 2006 (much to my joy) as part of one of our workshops and won. This new chapter expanded the setting once again, implying that there was a lot we didn't know about this world.
Willow, if you're reading this, I would love to see more of Phaedra, Bridgette and all your character.
Tuesday, 21 April 2020 23:36

Admin Story Spotlight Theatre #6

After featuring one of my relatively recent favorites, I decided to go as back as possible. I discovered this community during the final year or so of the old Ubergirl.org website and of Larafan's first experiment Supergirls Inc and I think that the first story that really caught my eye was the often praised Serena by Yohashuan. While I can't deny that was my first real dip into the genre, it's not the story I want to feature today. This one is from the same time period, but from a completely different author and perspective. For the Woodclaw's Warehouse of Wonders, allow me to introduce:

Titaness Part 1 & Part 2 by Stoneyman a.k.a. JNW550

Titaness is a story that might surprise those that know me well. More often than not I tend to write (and enjoy) stories that dwell into the lower end of the superpowered spectrum, because I like the struggle and the hard choices needed to come up on top, but this early foray in the upper echelons of superwomen really captivated my imagination. The set-up is very basic, but I think the description of the transformation in the first chapter really pushed the boundaries of what I considered an erotic description back then. The scene is hotter than a volcano and to this day it remains one of my favorites in terms of details. The main character is insanely overpowered and carefree, without stepping into the typical slippery slope of evil. She comes out as egocentric, but ultimately good-natured, in a very She-Hulk way.
Chapter 2 opens up the narrative even more, introducing a second superwoman and moving the clock forward a few months, giving us a little glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes... but unfortunately, the story is incomplete. While JNW550 is still an active part of this community -- he posts daily on our Discord server under the name of D3adelite -- he left the writing field a long time ago. I know for a fact that every now and then he puts together some small vignettes, but he hasn't posted a new story in years. Even so, his corpus makes him one of our earliest and most enthusiastic contributors. 
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 20:47

Admin Story Spotlight Theatre #4

When I look through the many stories of our site, one of the hardest things to do is finding a common theme that isn't just "my favorites over the years". Even restricting the choice to my (criminally small) list of favorites, I still have trouble to figure out a path, so for this week of Woodclaw'sWarehouse of Wonders, I'm going to feature a story that isn't particularly old... (April 2015... WTF), but it really never received the love it deserved:

The Lioness:  The Blacksite Affair by AuGoose

I admit I have something of a vested interest in this story since I was a beta-reader for it and I spent a crapton of time discussing it with AuGoose on the site chat first and on Discord later. In his intentions, this was meant to be the first installment of a long-running series featuring the titular character in a series of paramilitary/espionage missions. Many of the ideas were later channeled into AuGoose's Quantum Tarot series (also very worth reading), but Lioness has a rather unique approach to one of our favorite elements: how to cope with powers. More often than not, our heroine and villainesses tend to come in one of two flavors: some gain a pre-installed guide on how to use their powers from the start, others have to figure out everything by themselves. Lioness is a very intriguing third choice: a character that supplements her really high power level with some hard-earned military training, trying to blend the line between our genre and military fiction.
Now, this might look weird to some, after all "Supergirl vs Military" is one of the most common tropes we use and it's absolutely present... with a twist.
Instead of being a blunt item trashing enemies by the dozen, Lioness is a surgical instrument, trained to hit her target with maximum force and precision. Some superbeing might be insanely powerful, others might have received the best training available, but Lioness is the complete package: powerful, skilled and with an entire team to support her... while working on their own agenda.
As I said I've a vested interest in this story: I know where AuGoose wanted to go with it and I hope, one day, to see it come online.
Until then, stay safe, people.
Wednesday, 18 March 2020 18:54

Admin Story Spotlight Theatre #2

After LaraFan got the ball rolling, I found myself wondering which story to choose. Over the years I’ve read way too many stories to remember than all, some were really good, others awfully bad (and I can tell you very few of the bad one got a pass from yours truly).
Anyway, I didn’t know which one to recommend, so I turned to my favorite list and picked from there. Of course, not all the recommendations of the Woodclaw’s Warehouse of Wonders will come from there, but for now, allow me to introduce:

Super Secret Agent by JKIJ

Out of all the underappreciated stories on this site, I believe that this particular piece really deserves a special place. JKIJ really has a gift for writing some light and effective narrative, with plenty of humorous moments that actually enhance the plot, instead of bogging it down or feeling tacked on. What makes Super Secret Agent really stand out is how he was able to seamlessly blend our favorite genre into a Bond-flick without twisting things out of shape.

Let’s be honest, there are so many beautiful women in the Bond franchise that any writer would be hard-pressed not to just pick one's favorite, give her superpowers and let her run amok, making fun of agent 00-Ultimate-Male-Power-Fantasy all the way. Instead, JKIJ worked his magic the other way around, using this particular supergirl to justify one of the franchise’s most unbelievable elements: James Bond’s luck. As the old saying goes behind any successful man there’s a great woman… well, behind Bond there’s a woman so much greater than him in every possible way that she could (and she has) make or destroy him easily… without him even noticing.

This last bit might turn some people off, but hear me out: It. Just. Makes. The. Story. Better!

Why?

Because, when you finally see this girl going all-out you know that the shit has really hit the fan. Also, knowing that 007 is oblivious to all of this it makes the entire story even sweeter, because you can absolutely picture that big reveal moment (teased at the end), which would really make or break him.

Unfortunately, JKIJ hasn’t been around for a long while. He last visited the site in 2013 and I have no idea what happened to him after that. I would have loved to see a sequel to Super Secret Agent that would tackle Mark Twain’s personal variation of the old saying: “Behind every successful man, there is a woman… And behind every unsuccessful man, there are two.”

(also bonus point to JKIJ for using Judi Dench as M)

Monday, 03 October 2016 21:15

Short Workshop, Halloween 2016

Just a very quick reminder to you all, the new short workshop is on and here are the specifics for this new seasonal themed event.

  • Theme: A Ubergirl First Halloween
  • Deadline: October 30th, 2016
  • Prize: The right to choose the theme of the next Short Workshop

As usual the story can take the theme in any direction you like, is the main character transformed during Halloween? Is she from another planet/dimension/whatever and arrived just in time to experience the fear? it's all up to you.

Keep in mind that this workshop voting will last only a week, so get ready and go nuts.

Saturday, 20 August 2016 23:01

Spring 2016 Workshop Winner

So, we can put another workshop under our belts. I don't know how to properly express how happy I am with the result. The participant gifted us with six incredibly different stories -- ranging from the cute and funny to the creep-ish -- from a single suggestion. For me, this is what a workshop is about: stimulating creativity.
 
Now down to business. The voting was a neck-to-neck race and, until the last minute between the first and fourth story there were barely ten votes; while the second, third and fourth were separated by just one vote.
The final scoring, from the bottom to the top is:
 
5. Shall Escape My Sight by Castor
4. Touch and Go by TheDoc9
3. Supergirl and Superwoman by Ace191
2. A tie between Guardian by Geekseven and 15 Minutes of Fame by AuGoose
1. Crimson High by DKC
 
Congratulations to DKC for winning another workshop in a row and to all the other, in particular, TheDoc9 who delivered a stellar debut piece.
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