Art by Travis Hanson.
People often ask what inspired us to create the Grey Griffins series, and the truth is that we had quite a few influences . . . J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), and George Lucas (Star Wars) are at the top of the list. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t add Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Stan and Jack co-created many of the superheroes who have become household names (The Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers and many more). Derek and I spent a lot of weekends hanging out at a comic shop called the Comiclogue, reading stories that featured many of Stan and Jack’s creations. In fact, I bought my copy of Fantastic Four #112 there when I was thirteen, and I still have it today.
Derek’s favorite comic book was the Uncanny X-Men, which centered around Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where a telepath named Charles Xavier (Professor X) gathered powerful teen mutants to teach them how to use their powers for the good of mankind. We decided that would be Ernie Tweeny’s motto as well.
Ernie is a huge comic book fan, just like we were. Not only does he spend most of his time hanging out at a comic book shop (The Spider’s Web), but he writes and draws his own comic (The Amazing Adventures of Agent Thunderbolt). The stories center around . . . well, Ernie. You see, he’s become a real life superhero.
** SPOILER ALERT ** At the end of Rise of the Black Wolf, Ernie nearly dies. In order to save him, Max Sumner injected him with faerie blood that not only carried a healing property, but it turned Ernie into a changeling. ** END SPOILER **
So what is a changeling? It’s a lot like a mutant from the world of Marvel Comics, but instead of carrying an X-gene, changelings get their powers from faerie DNA. The faerie whose blood courses through Ernie’s veins not only had an ability to heal quickly, but it was fast and had enhanced hearing and eyesight. Now Ernie does, too. But there’s a catch. The more a changeling uses his or her abilities, the more he or she will turn into that faerie. Eventually, that person could lose his or her humanity completely.
The good news for Ernie, is that he found out a way to block that transformation. The secret? He drinks dragon dung tea (no, that isn’t a typo).
For nearly a year, Ernie thought that he was the only changeling on Earth, but when he transferred to Iron Bridge Academy he found out that there were other kids just like him. And they all had different powers:
* Denton: super strength and agility
* Smoke: teleportation
* Raven: can talk to inanimate objects
* Tejan: can wipe memories
* Laini: flight
* Hale: shapeshifting
* Robert: transmutation
Eventually Ernie (aka Agent Thunderbolt) formed his own superhero team called The Agents of Justice, and they’ve made it their mission to rid the world of slavers. You can find out how they did in Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles #2: The Relic Hunters.