Monthly Archives: January 2011

Character Contest 55: Henchables

Every good organization needs henchmen, those loveably expendable front-line shock troops referred to in times gone by as "cannon fodder". Whether you're talking about "Marked for Death" Star Fleet Red-shirts or the tunic-wearing green-clad losers with giant yellow "H" suspenders Hydra runs out to get their butts kicked by Captain America, these guys and gals put it all on the line every day knowing full well they've got a snowball's chance in Hell of making it through any scrape unscathed. And yet, they strap on their ginormous yellow AIM helmets anyway and gamely soldier on.

Not that all organizations with henchmen are evil. I say nay nay! S.H.I.E.L.D isn't shy about trotting someone's weak-kneed little brother out there in a midnight blue jumpsuit to get blasted to death, either.

Your challenge this week is to create henchmen for some larger comics organization. You could use an established group like A.I.M. or the Justice League, or you can use a group entirely of your own creation. Either way, we're not talking unique one-off heavy hitters, we're talking front-line soldiers who dress in uniforms here. For instance, Back in the Day buddy John and I were involved in a long-running Champions campaign. My criminal organization was "Leviathan", built along nautical themes while taking their motivation from Hobbes' vision of a humanity badly in need of someone to take charge. Their lowest level of front-line goons were called Piranha:

The heavy-hitter units were called Squids:

That's the kind of thing, in general, I'm talking about. Here are a few more henchmen to give you an idea of the kind of thing we're talking about:

The contest rules are the same as usual:

  • All entries must be in JPG or PNG form (BMPs are too big), posted to a publicly accessible website (like ImageShack, PhotoBucket, the UGO Forums, whatever);
  • Entries must be made as a comment or comments to this post, containing a link directly to the image and the character name.
  • The image cannot have been used in any previous HeroMachine character design contest.
  • You cannot use any other image-editing software (like Photoshop or GIMP) to create your image (basic cropping excepted).
  • Please name your files as [your name]-[character name].[file extension]. So DiCicatriz, for instance, would save his "Bayou Belle" character image as DiCicatriz-BayouBelle.png.
  • Please make the link go directly to the image (like this) and not to a hosting jump page (like this). If you see "preview" or "rotate" somewhere in the link you're probably doing it wrong.
  • All entries must be in by next Monday, when I'll choose a winner, who will receive his or her choice of any item or a portrait to be included in the final HeroMachine 3 program, or a "Sketch of the Week" style black and white illustration.

No limit on entries this week, so knock yourselves out. Just make them good!

Caption Contest 91 VOTE!

Thanks to the enthusiastic entries for Caption Contest 91! Apparently nothing gets people pumped like a singing Batman. Who knew?

I've gone through all the ones I thought were best, and am once again opening it up to a vote. Whoever has the most votes by tomorrow morning at 8:00 Mountain Time wins! You can vote for as many as you like, but you only get to vote once overall. Good luck everyone!

(Batman character & image ©DC Comics.)

RP: Models make lousy super-detectives

(From "Super Mystery Comics" number 2.)

RP: Quick, call Robo Rooter!

(From "Super Mystery Comics" number 2.)

You Don’t Mess Around With Jim

One of the Things I Love the most are pop songs featuring super-hero references. And one of the all-time best is "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" by Jim Croce, which goes a little like this in the chorus:

They say you don't tug on Superman's cape,
You don't spit into the wind,
You don't pull the mask of the ol' Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim.

Since many of you may be too young to have ever heard of Jim Croce, here's the song. Feel free to name-drop other songs you like that reference super-heroes in the comments!

RP: On punishment, cruel and unusual, duck-style

(Courtesy of The Invincible Super-Blog.)

Back to the future!

For those of you not interested in the Open Critique Day, I thought we'd continue with our "Return to the Cave of Time" story.

When you're stuck in a cave with a wild-eyed old man featuring a glowing hand and magical time-altering powers, it's good to be optimistic. Which apparently we are, as we decided by a two to one margin to go forward to the future instead of backwards to the past! So let's peel back the pages and see what sticky situations we can get into. So to speak.

Continue reading

Open Critique Day #9

It's time once again for another Open Critique Day! I realize the cartoon below is about film critics, but let's be honest, a lot of the same observations apply.

If you have a HeroMachine illustration or another piece of artwork you've done that you'd like some help with, post a link to it in comments along with your thoughts on it -- what you think is working, what you're struggling with, etc. I will post my critique of the piece, hopefully giving some tips on how to improve it.

Of course everyone is welcome to post their critiques as well, keeping in mind the following rules:

  • Make sure your criticism is constructive. Just saying "This sucks" is both rude and unhelpful without giving specific reasons why you think it sucks and, ideally, some advice on how to make it better.
  • Each person should only post one illustration for critique to make sure everyone who wants feedback has a chance.
  • I will not critique characters entered in any currently running contest, as that doesn't seem fair to the other entrants. You can still post it if you like for the other visitors to critique, but I will not do so.

That's it! Hopefully we can get some good interaction going here and help everyone (me included!) learn a little bit today.

(Image © Matt Groening.)

RP: Great moments in bad analogies

(From "Wonder Boy" number 18, 1955.)

Starting at the beginning

The votes are in, and we've decided to go to the Beginning of Time! Because beginnings are a very good place to begin, I reckon. So let's see what awaits us ...

"I'd like to see the beginning," you say. Instantly you find yourself weightless, floating in totally black space! There are no star or suns or moons or wisps of light; no breath of air; no sound; no smell or taste; no up or down or sideways; no motion; no feeling; nothing but silence.

Suddenly a point of light so brilliant it feels like pins driven into your eyeballs flashes and, sooner than you can blink, expands like a million lightning bolts.

You instinctively shut your eyes, but the light is still painfully bright. You move your hands to cover your eyes. You scream -- but no sound comes.

Darkness returns.

Your eyes have adjusted once again to the dim light of the chamber of the oracle. He is still standing where he was. You feel shaken by your experience. You're not eager to try something like that again, but you are still curious about time.

"Tell me," you say, "did anything happen before time began? Could anything happen after time ends?"

"Nothing can happen unless time is passing," the oracle says. "But things could happen in another time frame, outside our time. Then another time would be passing."

You think for a moment, then ask, "Could I ever visit another time frame, where another time is passing?"

"It is possible," the oracle replies. "The Cave of Time has passageways leading to more places than you can imagine, even places where you perceive others as they will be in their future while they perceive you as you were in their past, and places where you perceive others as they were in their past while they perceive you as you will be in their future."

Your head feels clogged with thoughts you can't absorb. [We all know THAT feeling, I'm sure! -- Jeff] "I'd rather stay where everybody is in the same time," you say.

"That may be possible, but possibly it may not," says the oracle. "Which shall it be for you then, the future or the past?"

"Just a minute," you say.

"What's the problem?"

"I want to visit another time, but I'm afraid I might end up in a terrible time and place. It might be in the time of the black plague in medieval Europe, or far in the future when the Earth is swallowed up by the sun."

"I suppose so," the oracle says. "But that would be unusual."

"Still, it's something to think about," you say.

The oracle pulls on his long beard. He seems to be thinking, and it's taking him a long time, which is not surprising, for he has all the time in the world!

"All right," he finally says. I'll give you a secret word you can use to escape if you don't like the time you're in. The secret word is 'Juno.'" [Apparently the oracle is a Diablo Cody fan, who knew? -- Jeff]

"But remember this: You may only be able to use it once! Now let's not waste time. Which shall it be for you, the future or the past?"

I have to say, our trip to the beginning of time was kind of a letdown. The oracle seriously needs to upgrade his brochures or something, because if I want to feel like I can't see, hear, or taste anything and that time is endless, I'll just go sit through another showing of "Avatar".

Oooo, I'm gonna pay for that one!

Anyway, here's the graphic from the page where we get our Secret Word:

I'm going to have to check my references, but I'm pretty sure he just turned us into Iron Man, complete with palm-mounted repulsor beams. Which is awesome.

Which is a good thing, because here's our decision page:

Apparently Doctor Octopus is eagerly awaiting our choice, so it's a good thing we've got StarkTech backing us up. Choose wisely, folks!

(Text and images ©1985, 2010 by Edward Packard.)