Friday, July 31, 2020

Hero project part 7; the Ur-characters

See:  The pilotPart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five. Part Six.

So this has been a romp through a pretty clearly-established but totally in-my-head comics universe. (Actually, it's multiverse, with at least two other Earths, one an alternate-history scenario and the other a near-future setting, but maybe that's another series.) The Bravos have pretty much solidified now, but their roots go way back into some of my earliest work. Here are artifacts from some far antecedents of the current characters.

First, piece so old there was actual typing on the sheet from my Smith Corona portable manual typewriter (I cropped it out).These are all folks that were originally slated to appear in prose, rather than in an imaginary comic.

I rather like the concept of Ebon and don't know why I left it. He's Pyewacket, the cat familiar from Bell, Book, and Candle, transformed into a human.

Domesday is a proto-Moxie, with a little too much Dark Phoenix, I think.

You can see Virago in Athena quite clearly. The character concept didn't change much but she sure went through a lot of names over the years.

Yancy was the size changer, courtesy of an alien police officer's uniform - maybe some Greatest American Hero going on there?

I made a superhero version of the Warner Brothers character Tasmanian Devil well before DC did. According to my notes, he was an ex-soldier with PTSD before the term was in use.

The final piece in this series is an illustration of the characters in a projected 21-chapter science-fiction novel that took them across the galaxy- that's the flow chart and table of contents there on the left. I think about two chapters were even written,a little more if you count my writing the opening scene about six times. I think the world-building and the character creation were enough to satisfy whatever itch I was scratching; the same with all the little doodles and scribbles of characters over the years. Even now I can conjure up entire scenes, as if I had read the books or seen the movies. Anyway, here they are:

Walking in with raincoat and gat is the main protagonist of the novel, Earthling. I can tell you exactly where his name came from: in a letter column to some DC comic, a reader complained of the use of the term "earthling" in a story involving aliens, saying "You can't imagine how old-fashioned that sounds". The editor responded: "You're right. I can't." Earthling was a person from Earth who had somehow gotten to be a part of the teeming intergalactic community well before anyone from Earth should have, so his name just identified his planet of origin. I believe his weapon is a one of the last remaining star-guns and draws energy from dark matter or something. He's the one who draws the rest of the characters into the story, and collectively they are called The Terran Irregulars. (I think that was going to be the title, too.)

The winged woman is Earthling's alien companion Ariel. Her schtick was that she could not be lied to. Originally, her name was Windy, and if you are thinking of a 1967 hit single by The Association, you'd be right.

I think the fellow swinging in on the rope is the Ebon, just going by straight-up Pyewacket here. He's giving a ride to the Tasmanian Devil.

The woman swinging in is Debbie - with the epithet "the girl with the doomsday mind". Domesday going by her real name, I guess.

Drop-kicking the drone is, of course, Athena.

And rounding out the group is a multi-limbed fellow that the the team must pick up along the way, since he's not listed among them in the novel outline:  Yantzee - the alien whose hobby was Earth. I supposes it's fitting that this shaggy dog epic ends with a character who so closely resembles a Thark.

If you have hung in here until now, thanks for coming along for the ride. It was fun to explore all this character creation, and re-examine how character concepts evolved and changed. Who knows - maybe we'll even do something with these some day. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Hero project part 6: Action!

See:  The pilotPart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four. Part Five.

Now that we have met all the Bravos and their rogues, here are some action shots.

The Bravos racing into combat: Virago and Monad appear to be executing a "fastball express" a la Colossus and Wolverine,  but where's Moxie?

Here's Moxie - maybe Virago was throwing Monad to her? At her?

So, the fastball seems to be a popular move...

Clydesdale swats Monad away while Osprey swoops in...

Moxie and Sleetman exchange blasts while Osprey soars by...

Virago lassos a giant robot with some power cables...

Virago swats aside a poorly-drawn cat and lunges! (Is this another iteration of Whiskr?)

Virago stopping a truck. (Murphy Anderson drew an unbelievable panel of Hourman doing this. Should be in a museum.)

Monad alley-ooping into a bad guy's, ah, jewels.

Monday keeping the bad guys on the scene.

Monad vs. truck

Osprey swooping. I like this one.

Osprey dive-bombing a bad guy who (a) is using weapons I once saw Karate Kind use in a sparring match with Superboy and (b) apparently has a pretty nice butt.

Osprey vs. Clydesdale solo. Maybe after he swatted Monad away.

Osprey vs. Sleetman. What detail!

Osprey vs... a flying shark?

Osprey vs. Handyman (I think).

Osprey vs... I dunno, PAX? I didn't know they could fly. Maybe only some of them can.

And, from the big (imaginary) Thark-DC crossover event...

Virago vs. The Manhunter from Mars!

Next up: the ur-characters

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Hero Project 5: Rogues Gallery Part Two

See:  The pilotPart OnePart TwoPart Three. Part Four.

First of the rest: 


If Kinkajou and Clydesdale were sympathetic, Sleetman was the villain you were supposed to love to hate. No tragic backstory, although he of course plays the victim of an unfair world in his own narrative. Basically just a prick. I think he was the first rogue recorded. 

In terms of power set, he was a scaled-down, more "realistic" version of Captain Cold or Mr. Freeze, with a more localized hand-held instant-chiller thing. He started out with a long, dramatic cloak but that soon turned into more of a hoodie.

In terms of personality, he was greedy, cruel, nasty, self-serving, underhanded, mean, cheap - almost no redeeming qualities. An out-and out villain.

The rest of the rogues:

The Bulleteers

This group of terrorist/extortionists was a direct rip from Fleischer Superman cartoon. Just go watch that for what I was going for here. They're in the public domain now, right?


Inspired by the Japanese custom of using birds for fishing, Cormorant was a shadowy figure who used flying automata to commit his crimes (remember, this predates quadcopters and drones). I think the gimmick would have been that the robo-birds would be stopped but that their mysterious controller would always get away.


Doppelganger was inspired by G.R.R. Martin's novelette Meathouse Man, but instead of cybernetically controlling corpses, this rogue controls mindless android bodies much more powerful his own. I liked the ideas that the androids were lifeless without his consciousness animating them (sort of like the bodies T.H.U.N.D.E.R.'s No-Man used) and the visual of  his sometimes subconsciously having them duplicate his movements (kiped from a scene in the story).


Handyman was another character who was meant to be a little more sympathetic. He was basically a scavenger who took tech left behind by other rogues and leveraged it for his own purposes. Below are his low-tech mode and his "just found a whole bunch of good stuff" look.


Kelpie was the underwater rogue- an underwater hero, Amphibian, showed up later, and maybe you'll get to meet him someday. A little mermaid in here and a little of DC's Dolphin (the original incarnation), and she doesn't have the shape-shift qualities of her namesake water spirit.


I don't remember too much about this guy, except he was the underground rogue, tunneling and stuff.

Lord Lewis

The name is intentionally ironic, because this guy is my take on a working-class Lex Luthor. Lewis started out as a union organizer, and when his power of super-charisma (like that of a version of King in one iteration of the Royal Flush Gang) revealed itself, he started to do more in the way of self-aggrandizing and less in the way of labor activism. Sort of a combination of Marvel's Purple Man and Sylvester Stallone in F.I.S.T.


Named for the king who (may have) shot an arrow at Yahweh from the top of the tower of Babel, and who was identified in the Bible as a "mighty hunter". He fills the contract assassin character niche in the Tharkiverse, and has the hubris of his namesake.


Like the Bulleteers, PAX is a they. The name is the common shorthand for the Peace in Action Committee, a right-wing, fundamentalist organization functioning as a militia/volunteer security force/what have you. Operating theoretically under the color of law, they would prove a problem for The Bravos as they chose to implement their own political agenda regardless of legal technicalities. PAX agents were equipped with high-tech gear provided by an anonymous donor and perhaps bear a passing resemblance to Jack Kirby's Justifiers.

Ptolemy Tyne

Tyne is the genius-intellect master criminal who looks down on Kinkajou and Clydesdale as rank amateurs, at Handyman as an embarrassment, and Doppelganger as a novelty act. He is rich, untouchable, arrogant, conceited, condescending, and extremely talented. He started out in a  bit of a super-suit but then just went to utility pants and turtleneck.


Let's face it, he's here simply because Marvel's Stingray (my namesake Walter Newell) was always one of my favorite characters. That's all.


Some sort of collective intelligence/hive-mind kinda deal, I suppose...


A stealthy rogue-for-hire mercenary operative with a pet cat, although in the first image it looks to be a fox, so maybe it's a fox, and the second image is a woman, so maybe this character concept never really solidified, eh?

Next up: Action!