Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions
"An earnest, entertaining tale of adolescence and fantasy fandom." -- Kirkus Reviews
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When life supplies eleven-year-old Tommy Grant with some unfavorable circumstances intruding on his otherwise tranquil life in 1980's Ohio, he retreats into the spell-binding Order of Cosmic Champions. When he discovers that the largely successful animated program and toy line is holding a nationwide "Create-A-Character" contest where applicants submit their action figure designs, Tommy knows he has to enter as surely as he knows his own name.
But when Tommy's character design fails to win the contest, he finds his world crumbling from all sides. And there is only one way he knows to fix it.
What follows is a whirlwind coming-of-age adventure of righting wrongs, overcoming perilous obstacles, confronting our inner demons, and challenging the limits of reality. In this waxing nostalgic and imaginative fantasy, readers will discover what excitement lies waiting when you take risks and conquer your fears. Only one question remains: In the final hour when you heed the call, the courage to give your all, will you stand or fall?
It is probably no surprise to most children of the '80s that Order of Cosmic Champions is partially inspired by the toys and cartoons of the decade. Properties like Masters of the Universe, which was and still is dear to the hearts of millions. For those like myself, such things were a means of escape into magical worlds of science fiction and fantasy.
When Mattel, makers of MOTU, held their own "Create-A-Character" contest in 1985, they received thousands of entries... and one of them was mine. Like Tommy, I didn't win. Thankfully I didn't see fit to run away from home and do something about it, but that doesn't mean it didn't bother me. As a matter of fact, it made me pretty upset. It is something I have never forgotten. I grew to despise the winning creation, Fearless Photog. Even though Mattel did not (yet) live up to the promise of making the character into a figure, I still felt cheated.
Then something happened.
I was perusing the internet one day in the early 2000's and stumbled upon a post published at a favorite website of mine, X-Entertainment (now Dinosaur Dracula). It was an article about Fearless Photog. There was very little information in the article that I wasn't already familiar with, but the article itself created what would become the stuff of internet legend. Those commenting on the article began to ask themselves, "Where is his creator? What happened to that kid?"
Within a very short amount of time, the X-Entertainment faithful had dug up bits and pieces of rumor, gossip, and hard facts and began to piece them together like a puzzle. 2,300+ comments later, a picture emerged of a kid who had dealt with plenty of his own disappointments and hardships. Whether any of it was true or not mattered little to me. I came to realize that while Fearless Photog may have represented a frustrating disappointment from MY childhood, for this kid... it was his time to be on the mountain, when valleys were inevitably to come. And that's life for all of us. You may be on the mountain, but someone else is in the valley.
After that, I quickly grew to appreciate Fearless Photog. Was he the coolest Masters of the Universe character ever? Not by a long shot (that's Roboto... in case you were wondering). But he came to represent the mountaintop for me, when for so long he had been the valley.
Almost 10 years after the X-E article, Mattel FINALLY produced Fearless Photog as a part of their Masters of the Universe Classics line. It was a promise almost 30 years in the making.
I bought 10 of him.
I wanted to bring that positive spirit I came to feel to others like me. The spirit of being encouraged to overcome difficult times of life, and growing to understand what really matters. This is what inspired the writing of the novel, Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions, as well as the art, media, and promotional merchandise that graces this website.
I want to thank my friend Anthony J. Rapino (professor and author) for helping to make this fantasy a reality.
Anthony D. Grate