I spent the latter half of last week finishing up client change requests on the “Horror Mini” (you remember, the one that was supposed to come out at the beginning of December? Yeah, right) and the Zombie Mini, both of which I think are finally Done with a capital D. I think. Hope.
So the last two days or so have been spent thinking more about HeroMachine 3, and drawing out some figures. I’m a bit torn on this score, as I have the sneaking suspicion that the art style I’m using sucks. It’s hard to say from the inside, because I don’t know if there’s a moment when you as a creative person think “OK, this is my style, that’s how I’m doing it from here on out.” It seems more organic than that to me, that you just sort of fly along, doing what you do, and eventually you look back and realize you could pick out something you drew from a thousand other pieces, not just because you know you drew it but because it looks like you somehow. And wham, there’s your style.
I’m not there, not by a long shot. I think the basic figure of the Minis is decent, and I like the stuff I’m doing as the prizes for the Caption Contests, but I still (at almost 40 years of age, blegh!) don’t feel like I’ve figured out yet how I draw.
It’s like this. When I look at the Her-O-Matic, everything in it is very tight and cohesive. And that’s because he is using Bruce Timm’s style, which is very well thought-out and meticulous in its adherence to its own rules. As any animated series must be, when you’re relying on hundreds of people overseas who don’t even speak the same language you do to draw all those thousands of cels. You have to have your art direction absolutely rock-solid, and it definitely shows in all of Timm’s DC Animated Universe stuff.
So when you look at output from the Her-O-Matic, you know in an instant what you’re looking at. And it works. It’s absolutely a cohesive illustration.
I don’t have that, certainly not in HeroMachine 2, which isn’t surprising given that it consists of artwork strung out over the course of almost ten years. Given the (let’s be honest) not very good figures the whole thing is based on, a lack of a satisfying portrait is unsurprising.
That’s one of the things I’m most excited about for HM3 and with the Minis, that I was getting to start from scratch and rework it all from the ground up. And I have to say, when I see the stuff people have come up with, it definitely looks a lot tighter than any previous version. I can’t wait till the Game Contest is over and I can see all the entries, but even just the ones in the gallery UGO put out were pretty nice looking.
Which is all a long, angst-ridden way to show the figures I’ve come up with so far for possible HM3 usage, and to ask if you’re happy with the artwork in the recent minis.
I ran out of observations about onomontoPOWia, so I bid that topic a fond farewell (at least as our staple on Fridays) and instead introduce you to:
Liefeld Follies Friday.
Yes, my friends, I have decided that I should not be the only one subjected to the eye-gouging agony arising from forced reading of Nineties-era Image comic books. So now you have to suffer too, because that’s how America works, you commie bastards.
And because I want to get things off on the right foot — or the left one, I don’t care really, as long as there are two of them on the same body — I treat you to this wonderful assortment of feet from the Rob Liefeld created, Rob Liefeld written, Rob Liefeld pencilled, Rob Liefeld inked, and Baboo the Blind Monkey non-edited/non-art-directed comic, “Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood” Number 2:
Super-hero comics and soap operas have the same problem — they stick around so long, through so many writers, with so many unbelievable, Earth-shattering plot twists, that after a while they start to collapse under the unbearable burden of their history. Part of what makes a story powerful is the sense that the events within it matter to the characters. That’s easy to do the first time a soap-opera star or super-hero faces a deadly illness, or meets their evil twin, or saves the world, but after the third time? Or thirtieth? The effort of keeping the past straight, of having to deal with the (lack of) repercussions of all of those major life events acts like a sort of air-brake, dragging the stories down into complete irrelevance.
The big publishing companies are, of course, aware of this problem, and unlike soap operas they have the luxury of just snapping their fingers and “ret-conning” the entire universe back to zero and starting over, making the characters once again interesting as they face “new” challenges and stories.
At least, new this time around.
As an added bonus, they’ve been able to expand their franchises to an entirely new audience via the movies, where once again the characters get an entirely new treatment by an entirely new writing crew, reinventing the entire concept. In a weird kind of feedback loop, the energy from the fresh audience and story of the movie revitalizes the comic, and vice versa, so you have Bob Kane’s Batman inspiring the insipid TV Batman inspiring Frank Miller to go back to the original Dark Knight inspiring Tim Burton’s darker movie version which inspired Bruce Timm’s darker animated series which gave rise to … you get the picture. Literally.
But the older you get as a fan, the less power this bait-and-switch has. We’ve been through so many Infinite Ultimate Multiple Crises on Every Earth And Then Beyond Again massive multiverse-ending crossovers that having to sit through one more seems like a joke. Batman gets another partner again, again; Spider-Man’s a teen again again, then married again again, then not married again again … stop already!
At some point the weight of the canon cannot be offloaded onto us any longer. Enough is enough.
Which brings me to “Invincible“.
Deciding on a color scheme for your super costume frightens many a would-be designer, but I think Marvel’s Captain Ultra has hit upon the right approach here — use all of them!
Oh sure, your classic heroes all have a three-color approach, like Superman’s red, blue, and yellow, or Batman’s gray, blue, and black, or Spiderman’s black, blue, and red. But they’re not ultra! When you’re ultra, the world expects a bit more from you. You have to show up and not just match the other heroes, but surpass them. If they have three colors, you wear four. If they have four, you go for five.
So just to be safe, budding super-hero sidekick (dare you go with “Captain Ultri-mate”?), take a page from your mentor’s book and go with blue and red and yellow and orange and green and black. Because Superman might have more powers, and Batman more balls, but nobody wears more colors than Captain Ultra!
And as you can see in the bottom illustration there, no matter what, remember — Jazz Hands! Always, always Jazz Hands.
(Image and character ©1985, Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc.)
With thanks to everyone who made suggestions about my Christmas gift, I today received from MyComicShop.com my order of the complete “Who’s Who in the DC Universe” run AND the trade paperback edition of “The Perhapanauts: First Blood” AND the first trade paperback of All-Star Superman. Which I just read and loved.
My wife rules!
Plus, hopefully you’ll be seeing even more ridiculous super-heroes from the Eighties showing up on the “Bad Super Costumes” Wednesdays in the weeks ahead thanks to this bounty.
I love this panel. Love love love love it. It’s from Image’s “Prophet” number 5, and while I had to edit out two editor-text boxes in the lower right, it’s totally worth it because surely there can be no more cliched image in all of comicdom. I cannot wait to see what you all come with for captions on this bad boy:
If you come up with the best/funniest dialog to for the balloon, you’ll win your very own custom black and white illustration of whatever you like (within reason) from me, Jeff Hebert, professional illustrator and full-time bald guy. You can’t beat that with a stick, folks!
As always, no more than three entries per person, left in the comments to this post, with said entries not to exceed the bounds of what would commonly be seen on broadcast television.
Good luck everyone!
Edited to Add: OK, I can’t let this go. Let me count the Image-y goodness in this panel. Gross, bulbous thighs. Bizarre padded wrestling helmet. Massive gun across the back. Massive ammunition belts across … well, everything. Huge, bulging, vein-filled arms. Strange, tiny fists. Lots an dlots of grenades. Shuriken belt buckle. Sitting in flames and yet not burned. Bald head with tubes sticking out. No feet. Unbelievably wrinkled and massive crotch. Blood everywhere. Phlegmings in the mouth. Massive grimace. No pupils (time is money here, people, if we leave out the pupils we save a hundred man-hours in the course of one year!). NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Upside-down mini-machete sheath with bullet loops on top, because every square inch must be taken up with ammo. Leg shadows that are filled with both color and lines.
Ok, now I’m done.