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Being a superhero just became easier

Mark Fearing has illustrated 'Superhero Instruction Manual'

SUBMITTED PHOTOS: MARK FEARING - Superhero Instruction Manual was released May 17, written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Mark Fearing of West Linn.

Becoming a superhero was made easier May 17, with the release of “Superhero Instruction Manual,” written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by West Linn author and illustrator Mark Fearing.

The book introduces readers to a young boy “deeply absorbed in a complete, unabridged instruction manual that guarantees it can turn anyone super in seven easy steps.” Dempsey’s rollicking text is depicted by Fearing’s expressive, cartoon-style illustrations.

Fearing uses a combination of comic book frames, traditional picture-books spreads and text boxes that contain directives from the manual. In the background, a friendly dog and an “intrigued-yet-suspicious sister follow the boy throughout his journey to superhero-dom in hilarious counterpoint.”

According to Kirkus Review, “The instructions lead to mini-adventures, such as the search for a super-secret hideout that shows him approaching the occupied doghouse and being banished from the predictable behind-the-couch sanctum before fetching up in the remodeled treehouse (complete with “No Sisters” sign). The tale turns as the sister takes to the role of hero with more ease than her discombobulated brother, who feels far from super after a world-saving-cum-world-ending high speed chase through the park in pursuit of his villainous sidekick pet dog. She helps readers realize that heroics are not always about superpowers but the true human power of always being there when it counts.”

The story is about a boy who is absorbed in a complete, unabridged instruction manual that guarantees it can turn anyone super in seven easy steps.

In his blog, Fearing said he had been thinking a lot lately about what he does and what it means about his personality.

“What I most like are opportunities to be truly creative,” he writes. “To have only the slightest idea what I might do today — how will the story I’m writing end? And what about that idea I had yesterday? Will that work as a book? Or what will the drawing I do today look like? How will it turn out? Being able to make a living doing this feels spectacularly lucky.

“I love how strange ideas connect and wash over me. To create characters who intrigue me and make something I haven’t seen before. The happiest work moments in my life are those times when I’m just chugging away on an idea. Discovering where it is taking me as it take me there.”

Fearing will visit Cedaroak Park Elementary School in West Linn May 24 to make presentations and drawings and sign books for students. He will also be the visiting author/illustrator in Kennewick, Wash., in October and at Princeton Day School in Princeton, N.J., next year.

“Superhero Instruction Manual” is available at bookstores everywhere.

Learn more about Fearing online at markfearing.com.