NEW ORLEANS — Look! Out in the swamp! It's a fish! It's a boat!
Out of the way, Superman. Enter Louisiana's caped crustacean, a Super Hereaux who can stop speeding bullets with his steely shell and leap tall cypress trees at a single bound.
Inspired by the swamps and bayous of his native Louisiana, author and illustrator Tim Edler has created a Cajun comic book hero that youngsters here can call their own.
"In 1979, I was watching the Incredible Hulk on TV and I said to myself, 'Why don't we have a superhero in Louisiana?' I just sat down at a table and drew Crawfish-Man," the 38-year-old cartoonist said.
From a pile of Spanish moss, Crawfish-Man leaped into print, with giant claws to snare Dark Gator and a powerful tail to speed across dank swamps to Cypress Castle, home of the big, fat Swamp Witch.
Edler's books, at least 15 now in the series, catch the magical lilt of Cajun French, which has been passed down for more than two centuries.
He spins his yarns and distributes the books by mail order. For publicity, he shrouds himself in mystery, refusing photographs except when he is in costume as Crawfish-Man.
Edler has financed and published about 100,000 copies of his books and tries to break even. He sells insurance and helps his wife in the jewelry business on the side.
Here is a sample from Crawfish-Man's Christmas tale:
"Santa Claus has been captured by Dark Gator an' his pals. Dey tryin' to stop Christmas. All duh' children of Cajunland are dependin' on us fuh a happy Christmas," says one of the characters.
"We mus' all join togetha' an' attack Cypress Castle an' save Santa," Crawfish-Man says.
The plot unfolds. Crawfish-Man and all the animals march on Cypress Castle and battle the Po-Choms, nasty winged alligators that do the bidding of the wicked witch. But the witch's army is outnumbered and no match for the entire swamp. Saint Nick is out in a jiffy.