Saturday, 19 April 2008

5 Min. Comic Book Character Sketches

Yesterday I was in a neighborhood pizza joint. As I work from the house sometimes I need to get outside. I sit someplace and work on my laptop drawing away in some corner as I eat. Some kids came in and seemed interested in what the heck I was doing. I was working on a new SPATZ cartoon and showed it to them. They thought it was funny and recognized the character from seeing it around the city on the streets. They said they always wondered who did those and that they thought SPATZ was "wicked". For those of you over 30 "wicked" means cool. It made me feel good that some young teenagers got what I was doing with SPATZ. I hooked them up with some SPATZ T-shirts later that day and they were happy.

While we were at the pizza place one of these kids says he draws and is into comics. I showed him flash and let him doodle around with my Wacom drawing tablet. He was into it and I gave him the web address to download the demo. He definitely showed potential for a 13 year old kid, nice sense of balance in his characters. I also gave him one of my old tablets and a pen(I have like 6 wacoms and 14 of those stylus things and they're just sitting around). His mom has a new Mac so he'll be fine. You never know... he just might be the next Frank Miller. Even if he's not, it's nice to see someone want to express themselves and get really excited about learning. People helped me along the way so now I encourage kds like that when I met them.

While we were all talking at the pizza place they asked me if I could draw Wolverine from the X-Men as well as a few other characters. Spider-Man. Spawn. The Hulk. Below are the results of about 5 mins drawing of each(Spawn took about 10-15 because while I know what the character looks like I really wasn't clear of the details of his costume. The fact is I have grown up with these characters but I have never drawn them.

While I was in high school I was pretty much into Charles M. Schultz and animation and sci-fi stuff. I found many of my male peers wanted to draw comic books. They would always draw these guys with huge muscles(so huge I couldn't imagine them moving) and women with really unrealistically large breasts. I loved reading comics and still do but back then I didn't want to draw like that. I had brought up the subject with Frank Evers on one of my weekly visits to the New York Daily News and his take was I keep learning and practicing how to draw realistically and then later I could really draw anything.

My life took me into cartooning, illustration and 3d animation among other things. What I found interesting was not only that i could draw these characters so quickly because they seem to be part of the American collective consciousness, but also that when asked o draw them I really thought about and knew who they were in their motivations, actions and ways of being. This is a huge testament to the people that created them and maybe a lesson to all creators of characters. No matter what their flaws we identify with them. Wolverine when he was first introduced to the X-men was like this really explosive, psychopathic and homicidal individual.
Spider-Man was just some kid that can't pay his bills and gets bitten by the radioactive spider and does the right thing but still can't pay his bills. And Spawn is this huge Shakespearean kind of story about a guy who at the end of the day is trying to redeem himself. That said I have always thought that Spawn was cool and at the same time kind of creepy. I have friends working on technology that will allow people to more easily tell stories. It would be interesting to see Todd McFarlane do a Spawn movie true to his vision of his character rather than one he has to make by dealing with the Hollywood system. Perhaps soon.

I suppose these characters are so compelling because as stated before no matter what their flaws they try and do the right thing. In addition, in a world that at some times seems so unfair maybe we all like seeing character that fight back against injustice.

At the end of the day it was cool sitting with those kids in the pizza place and seeing how into comics cartoons and other things they were. And I'm not gonna lie. I kinda had fun drawing Spawn and the others. Maybe in one of my tutorials I'm planning for youtube I'l do a chapter entitled "I didn't animate SPAWN, but if I did, this is how I would have done it"

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