“To everything there is a season…,” and no one possesses a better understanding of that than Citizen Overdrive. An accomplished and respected éminence grise in the Real Life Superhero community, his focus is primarily on educating children with his heroic, yet gentle, persona through a program he developed for the Arizona, and then Utah, school systems called “Kid Heroes.”
Designed to transmit the values and morality he gained through his own childhood love of comic books, “Kid Heroes” was an instant success. Together with his wife, a director of theatre arts for middle and high schools, who also had experience working with at-risk youth, he created a series of role-playing exercises, acted out by professional actors. At various critical junctures, Citizen Overdrive would appear to “freeze” the action, “and let the kids see what was right or wrong with the situation, and discuss the solutions to each one of them.” He found that this level of engagement between the actors, kids and his own commanding presence, had the power to leave lasting impressions with his audiences.
In fact, it is that “commanding presence,” thanks in no small part to the distinctive armored suit he devised for himself, that earned him the widespread respect and admiration of his fellow heroes. “When I went in to design the armor I started from the perspective of ‘I want this to look like a superhero,’ I didn’t want to marginalize my efforts—if you’re gonna be a superhero, BE a superhero.” But designing a ballistic armored suit is one thing, finding someone capable of bringing it to fruition, is quite another.
“I found the guy who made the jousting armor for the Long Beach, CA Jousting Association, the late Greg Podgorny. I took my designs to Greg—he was a true craftsman, and he had the temperament of one—and we’d go for it, throwing it across the room, thrashing it, and going again.” Eventually finding the middle ground between what he designed and what could be realistically executed, “Citizen Overdrive” was ready to suit up. “Once we got to the point where it was flexible enough for me to jump up onto the kitchen counter, I knew we were done.”
But late in 2009., with the birth of his second child, he reached a turning point in his Real Life Superhero career, and made the decision to “hang up the cape and cowl.” He explains further, “It got to the point when I didn’t want my private life to suffer for any semblance of a public life. Life needs to be treated in radials, and my family comes first. You simply have to decide what’s more important.”
Since the announcement, much has changed. Though he is still sought out by those looking to be mentored in the movement, retirement means retirement. “I try to find the best person to direct them to who is still active. Look, when it comes to this community, you can check out anytime you like—but you can never really leave. Still, if you’re going to retire, you retire. I don’t want to confuse people or water down the message I have worked so hard to put out there.”
When Citizen Overdrive looks forward, he likes what he sees. “I look at the armor in the closet and, sometimes, I itch to put it on and go out there. It had an impact, and I miss being able to contribute that impact to the world, but along with that came some baggage that I didn’t want,” he says. “I have an obligation to stick to my own priorities, and that is to teach my kids to be the best kids they can be. I try not push ‘Citizen Overdrive,’—and all that goes with it—on my son, but I think he gets the connection that his dad is a superhero like Satanman and Green Flashlight—but who’s also around to play after dinner.”