Meet The New Heroes: John Squad

Twenty years ago, John Squad enlisted in the United States Army.

Eight years ago, Sergeant Squad’s unit was sent on a top-secret mission that went worse than bad, further than south, more crooked than sideways. The extraction force  never came and Squad’s men were gunned down to the last, on the run through a Central American jungle. All except Squad.

When Squad came to, the voices of his men lived on, inside his head.

‘Never leave a man behind,’ they say.

That’s a mixed bag of advice.

John Squad appears in the story “Better Off Not Knowing” by Jeff Tidball, published in The New Hero Volume 1.

Listen to Jeff reading a section of “Better Off Not Knowing”.

John Squad has left the war, but the war hasn’t left him. He hears voices in his head: the voices of the fellow soldiers he left behind. Their counsel keeps him alter to danger as he sets out to perform a dangerous favor for a girl named Becky.

Jeff walks a brilliant, cordite-stinking line in this story, simultaneously embodying and subverting the military vigilante action genre. With the hardboiled pleasures of a crackling crime story always in the crosshairs, he confronts us with a character for whose madness is not only functional, but a necessity of survival.

“I pitched the John Squad character to my manager as a movie protagonist about six years ago,” Jeff says. “He correctly pointed out that one inner monologue—let alone a half-dozen—would be a massive challenge in a visual medium like film. When I heard about The New Hero anthology I knew it was the perfect opportunity to bring this character to life.”

Jeff Tidball is an award-winning writer and game designer with a roiling wake of stories, board games, card games, and roleplaying games in his rear-view mirror. Marquee credits include the Horus Heresy board game, the Pieces of Eight pirate coin combat game, and the book Things We Think About Games. Jeff holds an MFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California and lives with his wife, sons, and dog in Minneapolis. His website is predictably located at and he spews forth on Twitter as @jefftidball.

All New Hero artwork by Gene Ha.

The Stone Skin Press Kickstarter and more information can be found here.

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