Friday, 26 February 2016

Spider-Man Week - Part 5

Peter Parker and WHO'D YA THINK?
Ending with the man himself.

What can I possibly say about Spider-Man you don't already know? I sure as Hell got nothing I think needs adding to the character. He was my favourite hero when I was a kid and still is now. In the year 2000, Marvel launched 'Ultimate Spider-Man', a series that retold his story in a modern setting. I found it in 2001 and loved it.

I used to buy the original Spider-Man comics but the stories were weird and slow, the continuity clunky, he was married... so to start fresh was really exciting, especially with Brian Michael Bendis' writing. I already related to Peter Parker as a skinny sarcastic nerd (though without the genius part), so that we were now the same age living in the same year was incredibly exciting. The art of Mark Bagley really captured the youthful and adventurous spirit of that age. God... I just got all nostaligic thinking about that time of my life. I was 16, in college, surrounded by friends, all of us thinking about nothing but music and comics. I don't know if I've ever been happier than that time.

A new Spider-Man was cast recently and I remember rolling my eyes at how young he is. "Why do movies cast so young these days? I want a good actor, not some fly-by-night talent catering to shallow audiences." And then I realised. Spider-Man was always young. *I* got old. Now, I'm really excited to see what Marvel studios do with what I consider their main guy. Especially in a cinematic universe that's already established the Avengers.

A hero might be defined by his villains but a villain is defined by his hero. And without Spider-Man, all those other guys are nothing.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Spider-Man Week 4 - Part 4

Doctor Octopus and Lizard
Doctor Octopus - "A guy named Otto Octavius winds up with 8 limbs. What're the odds." That line from J Jonah Jameson in 'Spider-Man 2' is so perfect I just wanted to include it here.

I don't like it when this character is put into spandex or armour and depicted as mad. I mean, he *is* mad. But I see him as subtley, quietly mad. I see him as a dignified scientist who doesn't want to be famous, leaving stuff like that to Norman Osborne, and he wouldn't see the accident that fused him to metal arms as an opportunity to dress like a super villain. Instead, his villainly comes from the fact that he has a ruthless dedication science and a cold heart regarding consequences, the arms giving him a powerful reach he never had before. Whilst I've depicted him in a suit, I do think it's cool when he's depicted shabbily. He's someone who has to go into hiding a lot, and it's in those desperate moments that you have a good reason to show the madness a little more.

Lizard - I've always liked the character of Curt Conners, though my impression of him comes from the 90s animated series of Spider-Man. He was kind hearted, friendly and always ready to help out Peter Parker or Spider-Man. They must have liked him too, 'cos whenever he turned into the lizard, Spider-Man would beat the crap out of him and then let him return to his normal life.

I also like this character because he has a real story. When I was a kid, cartoons, comics and superheroes weren't as prominant among adults as they are. 'Geek culture' wasn't cool. So when a character came along with genuine motivation I would get really excited because it felt like I could talk about it. Curt Conners only has one arm, which motivates him to study the way lizards can regrow tails and try to apply that to human healing. Of course, the serum he develops doesn't go how he wants and he turns into a monstrous creature. It's still mad, it's still disregard for reality, but that motivation is genuine.

I liked that about Otto too. He didn't invent robotic arms so he could terrorise the world, he invented them to aid him in science. If Otto Octavius had met Curt Connors and developed a mechanical arm with him, mechanical limbs for all amputees, they could have both been happier men.

Sandman and Venom

Sandman - This guy is a shape-shifting element much like Hydo-Man so I was worried they'd look too similar. I had to conciously do something different but I really like drawing wild, swirling shapes. After looking at some images of explosions in sand and some free sketching, I stumbled across the dea of choppier swirls, bursting shapes, dusty clouds and broken clumps. I say clumps, because I wans't prepared to draw a billion individual grains.

I don't know much about Flint Marko other than the fact he seems to constantly switch between good and evil. That's a good path to keep with. He wants wealth, he wants respect, he was lucky enough to stumble onto a power that could get him both. But he's impatient, short tempered and controlled by his impulses, resulting in him never achieving either.

Venom - This guy's popularity has only grown since he was first introduced in 1988. For me to even hint that I want to change some things is probably heresy. Well don't worry, I don't work for Marvel. Nothing I write here will affect him. But I'm gonna go ahead and write it anyway.

Over the years, he's been depicted more and more muscular. Almost Hulk-level of size. I don't like it. He's gotten more and more teeth, more and more drooly. I think it's been forgotten that he's essentially an evil version of Spider-Man. That's why he was popular. People love dark versions of heroes, unshackled by morals and responsibility. When you see muscle Venom swinging around on a thin spiderweb, it looks ridiculous. He should be as limbre as Spider-Man, matching him move for move.

That said - a muscular Venom drooling through rows of sharp teeth *is* also cool. I just think he should only get like that during a battle - perhaps when he's losing or just enjoying himself -  when the man inside the symbiote starts losing control.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Spider-Man Week - Part 3

Green Goblin and Electo
The previous drawings were all villains that hadn't yet appeared in Spider-Man movies. This is where, over a year later, I went back and just drew all the buggers.

Green Goblin - A hero is defined by his villains. Superman has Lex Luthor, Batman has Joker, and Spider-Man has the Green Goblin. Although, it's an odd pairing. What do goblins have to do with spiders? The juxtaposition of Superman and Lex Luthor is great. Superman is an alien with immense physical power. Lex Luthor is a human with powerful influence in business and politics. Batman is a dark, sombre figure whilst Joker is a bright, laughing maniac. I feel Goblin and Spider-Man lack this contrasting dynamic.

It certainly works better when you consider the men beneath the mask. Norman Osborne is an older scientist working wihout consequences. Peter Parker is young with full respect and responsibility for what science can achieve. But in costume, they're both bright and eccentric figures. It seems to kill Spidey's sense of humour when the Goblin is around, laughing and making his own jokes. Also that whole 'he killed Gwen Stacey' thing.

Man, I didn't mean to shit on him so much. I mean, the Green Goblin is a great character. Visually and personality wise. I've actually been trying to draw him for a long time and am really happy with how this turmed out. But as a main villain, I think Spidey would be better served with Doctor Octopus. He's also a smart, devious scientist without concern for other people in pursuit of his goals. And that's his personality all the time. It gives Spidey more of a chance to display his wit, whilst those robotic arms match Spidey's wall-crawling and quick combat. To be fair, Doc Ock is pretty high on the list of Spider-Man's most prominant opponents. You'll see him later.

And to be fair to Goblin, maybe hes just been used too much. There's been so many variations with various people beneath each one. Hobgoblins, Grey Goblins... cut them all out. Treat 'em mean, keep him Green.

Electro - Of all the villains I've drawn, Electro is the one I gave the biggest makeover too. His original costume is one of the goofiest there's ever been (or maybe we take comics too seriously now) but I didn't want to depict him as pure electricity like modern interpretations do. To figure out his costume, I had to figure out who he could be. 'cos ultimately, he's just another superpowered thug chasing money. That's not much to work with. The film clearly had the same idea, reinventing the character as an anxious, paranoid nerd. Personally, I don't think that works. I have no problem with keeping him a thug, he just needed a fresh angle. So what's different about him?

Unlike Spider-Man's other enemies, Electro's power is immense and limitless. He could be a god. In fact, considering he shares this word with other Marvel characters such as Thor and Storm, that's exactly how I imagine he would view himself. Delusions of grandeur.  That's what his costume could be: ceremonial armour, a cape, and hell why not, throw in some spandex just for the Bowie-esque showmanship of it.

Rhino and Chameleon

Rhino - A lot of the people I draw are skinny. Even when I try to draw muscular characters, they come out rather slim. For example, this Hulk I shared on Twitter. The drawing here of Rhino is the first time I've drawn a character with real mass. I'm not sure why this happened. Actually, you know what I think it is? It's the tiny pink face in the grey rhino suit. It's hilarious. A squashed man surrounded by muscle. It makes him look bigger than the Hulk, and other Marvel tough guys such as Thing and Juggernaut.

Modern interpretations of Rhino, such as in Marvel's 'Ultimate' comics and the movie, depict his suit as being robotic armour. It looks cool, but considering several other characters have armour plating, I decided to ditch the suit and making him fully mutated. No, I don't know how he pees.

Chameleon - Whilst researching the Chameleon, I found he's always wearing a white mask to cover his own face. Has he ever revealed it? It's a great feature, that a man who can look like anyone chooses a featureless form for his own head. I've taken this one step further and removed his face entirely. No, I don't know how he drinks.

Looking at images of him, he comes across as very machiavellian. I like that. He combats Spider-Man not through physical force, but through intelligence, manipulation and lies. He appeared in Spider-Man #1. Perhaps he could be a more prominant foe than he is. Chameleons eat insects, right?

That's all for today. Tomorrow: Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Sandman and Venom!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Spider-Man Week - Part 2

Vulture and Kraven
Vulture - Adrian Toomes used his skills as an electronics engineer to invent a flight harness. Then, like The Shocker, he decided not to sell this brilliant invention for millions but instead begin a life of crime with it. What's wrong with these people?

I like that the character is old, it's rare for a supervillain and adds extra vivere to his desire for flight. It's be interesting if more emphasis was put on the 'Vulture' aspect too, wherein he steals from other criminals rather than commiting crimes of his own. Otherwise, he might as well be another bird. A bald eagle, perhaps.

Kraven - Considering Spider-Man's plethora of villains using animal themes it was a fine idea to add a hunter to the mix, someone who's as interested in defeating them as Peter Parker is. Unfortunately, his theme is animal too. Not many hunters consider spiders worthy prey, so maybe Peter could take it as a compliment.

Morbius, Jack O' Lantern, Tombstone
Whilst thinking of who else to draw from Spider-Man's rogues gallery I realised that, along with animals, he seems to be regularly bothered by Halloween-themed folk too. I decided to put these 3 together.

Morbius - This character has some interesting trivia beyond his fictional story. He debuted in 1971, shortly after the Comics Code Authority updated its rules. These new rules now allowed sympathetic portrayals of criminals, corruption among public officials, the deaths of law-enforcement officers by criminals and stories involving seduction - although the seduction has to be suggested, not shown. No kissy lips or bum bums. How bizarre is it that these things were banned in the past? Hard to imagine such strict rules in any medium these days. We're even allowed to show kissy lips and bum bums now.

One of the other things allowed after the Comics Code Authority updated its rules was the portrayal of supernatural characters such as vampires, ghouls and werewolves. Thus, the appearence of Morbius that same year in Spider-Man #101. This was also the first Spider-Man comic not written by Stan Lee.

I've drawn Morbius as a scruffy, desperate creature because his backstory is pretty tragic. He became a vampire when trying to cure his own rare blood disease with an experimental treatment involving bats and electroshock therapy. Unfortunately, this made things worse and he turned into a bat-like creature hungry for blood.

Jack O' Lantern - I don't know anything about this character, aside from the fact I always liked his flaming pumpkin head. That's really the only reason I included him. He never turned up in any of the comics I had. From what I've read, he's an ex-CIA operative named Jason Macendale who was disgraced from the organisation for being violent and amoral. Sounds like perfect CIA material to me?

He began a new career as a freelance mercenary - although I can't find any specific reason why he chose Jack O' Lantern as a persona. Maybe he likes pumpkins so much he just needed an excuse to snack on them while he's working. I myself am thinking of becoming 'Toast Master'. He flies around on a flat circular disc but that's pretty dull, so I equipped spinning blades to it too.

Tombstone - Lonnie Thompson was born albino and teased for it, eventually using that to his advantage by filing his teeth and nails to sharp points to resemble a vampire. From a story perspective, we already have Morbius... Lonnie is a stronger, more physical character though so I focused my drawing on that. He's a hitman and enforcer so I should probably have drawn him more gangster than I have here. But I had this idea that these two urban horrors could be the counter-point henchmen to Jack O' Lantern; a more intelligent, dapper and archaically dressed villain.

That's all for today! Tomorrow: Green Goblin, Electro, Rhino and Chameleon!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Spider-Man Week - Part 1

Spider-Man has the best rogues gallery in the hero business. Some people would argue Batman does but I disagree, due to the fact I haven't drawn Batman's rogues gallery yet. I've drawn Spider-Man's. And I need you to be excited about that.

I started sketching Spider-Man villains back in April 2014, after seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I thought the film was good; not amazing. However it was indeed the second film, so I had no quarrel with '2'. At the time I focused on villains that hadn't appeared in the movies yet, but recently I went back and just drew all of them. That's enough for several updates so hey, let's have a Spider-Man week! Focusing, of course, on characters that aren't Spider-Man.

I improvised the costumes as I went so if it seems like the designs are off from the original, that's because they are. I'm also gonna share my personal thoughts on each of the characters because like all geeks, I assume I know better than the people who've actually achieved employment in the industry that publises these stories.

Scorpion and Mysterio

Scorpion - He really should be a bigger threat in Spider-Man's life than he is. They're so similar. They're both arachnida, they can both climb walls... but he comes across as little more than a dumb thug, hastily dispatched each time Spider-Man engages with him. Perhaps he'll never reach the personal, imposing level of villainy that Green Goblin and Venom have on Spider-Man, but I'd still like to see a more ambitious Mac Gargan. Basically, he needs more sting.

Mysterio - I'm surprised Mysterio hasn't appeared in the films yet. There's so much potential for mad imagery with this illusionist, so many ways to mess with Spider-Man's mind and the audience's own grasp on what is reality within the movie.

The Shocker and Hydro Man

The Shocker - Herman Schultz invented a device that could crack bank safes with powerful high-frequency vibrations. He has no desire to be a super-villain or fight heroes, even the suit he wears is just to protect himself from the power of his weapon. I like this premis. If he ever ends up on the big screen, I hope they keep that; a villain who never meant to be a big name. Although really, it was his own fault for calling himself 'the Shocker'. In fact, anything beginning with 'the' is pretty attention grabbing.

As for my drawing, I always thought it was more interesting for Shocker to wear one shock unit rather than a pair. Aside from being more interesting to look at, it really shows that this guy is on a budget, using whatever scraps he can come by to build his weapon and make a quick buck.

Hydro Man - Morphing powers are fun to draw; I went all out with the swirly water. Incidentaly, 'made of water' is all I really know about this character. That and his tremendous hair. From what I read just now on Wikipedia, Morris Bench gained his powers after Spider-Man accidentally knocked him off a cargo ship during the testing of an experimental generator in the ocean. That's pretty damn unfortunate, and unusually clumsy for a superhero. I'm gonna hold on to my drinks particularly careful now, in case one wrong spill results in the birth of 'orange juice man'. That might sound ridiculous, but something about a man named 'OJ' seems pretty dangerous to me.

That's all for today! Tomorrow: The Vulture, Kraven, Morbius, Jack O' Lantern and Tombstone!