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We’re going to do something a bit different here. Rather than taking an idea or golden-age character and reinventing them as a Modern! Day! Super! Hero!, we’re going to take an ages-old superhero, throw away 90% of the background, and get Conceptual. This is important, pay attention:
You will not be redesigning Namor The Sub-mariner. Namor the Sub-mariner is an extant Marvel property and, hahaha, jiggering about with those isn’t what we do here, is it? No sir it is not. No no no. No, what you’ll be doing is taking a couple of notable niblets from his Origin Story – niblets which frankly aren’t even unique to him – and evolving them upwards into a Brand New Character. Which is a brilliant and inventive process which totally respects and pays homage to the original character, yes indeed, and won’t get us shot in the digital face by a C&D order. FUN.
For what it’s worth: Namor the Sub-Mariner is a fictional comic book character in the Marvel Comics universe, and one of the first superheroes, debuting in Spring 1939. The character was created by writer-artist Bill Everett for Funnies Inc. The child of a human sea captain and of a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis, Namor possesses the super-strength and aquatic abilities of the “Homo mermanus” race, as well as the mutant ability of flight, along with other superhuman powers. Now forget you read that. Most of it, anyway. For the purposes of this challenge, there are just 18 words we’re interested in:
“The child of a human sea captain and of a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis.”
That’s your mission, my swampy loves. Make me believe that the character I’m looking at is half human, and half… other. Really and genuinely Of The Ocean. A briny being of bubbly brilliance, a nautical numpty, and similar alliterative bumsoup. Truly, a “mer/man”. Or maid, if you like. Or slut. Or spinster. Whatever.
Forget the Crime Fighting. Forget the spandex shtick. Definitely forget the brachycepahlic forehead and fruity ankle wings, which – as awesome as they may be – don’t shriek “oceanic life” to me.
Build me a mythical marvel.
Me: Sorry, don’t have mythical marvel in stock. Got this, though:
Si Spurrier, new master at Whitechapel, says:THE RULES: INSTRUCTIONS: JUDGE DREDD
All righty then. Doesn’t come much better than this.
We’ve had our clowns, we’ve had our jungle-protecting sorcerers, we’ve had our gun-wielding primates. I think we can all agree it’s about time we sunk our teeth into some good old fashioned head-breaking uberviolent zero-tolerance epic future cop action, yes? With the kind permission of the splendid droids over at 2000AD, you’re about to get the chance to re-imagine the most iconic chin in British comics history. Here’s what we know: Dredd is an American law enforcement officer in Mega City One: a violent city of the future where uniformed Judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury and executioner. Dredd and his fellow Judges are empowered to arrest, sentence and even execute criminals on the spot. He was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra. Those of us who know and love the character could happily add to that with days’ worth of affectionate waffle. We’d mention that the common interpretation of Dredd as a fascist is a horrible oversimplification, and for a character nicknamed “old stoney face” he’s in fact remarkably complex. We’d mumble about the gigapolis he inhabits – Mega City One – being a gloriously over-the-top cipher of the real-world, whose gibbering denizens are so thoroughly buzzed on the insanities of the Future that they need brutal and unsympathetic law enforcement to prevent Colony Collapse. We’d meander endlessly through our smugness regarding the genius of a character able to make readers root for him – even empathize with him – despite his stated belief that democracy is the worst thing that could happen to his town.
And then there’s the uniform.
Let’s keep the rest. Let’s drokk about with the look. Your mission is simple: You’re designing a character capable of upholding the law in a city-sized lunatic asylum. He or she is going to be wading in violence 24/7. He or she needs to be mobile, armed, flexible. He or she needs to represent the judicial system which created them, with whatever symbols seem most appropriate. In a world of frothing pants-on-head crazystomm, He or she is the law.
And, folks: WE CANNOT SEE HIS/HER FULL FACE. Trying to de-helmet Dredd is a bannable offence, in this fan’s opinion
Me: The judges are a team. I thought at the beginning that the question of hiding the face and their relationship to humanity poses questions: what if they’re AI? Or Robots? Too much Robocop? Alrighty then.
Si Spurrier says: SAVE US, 80’s CARTOONS, YOU’RE OUR ONLY HOPE
It has been noted that today’s world has taken a peculiar lurch toward 80sdom. Uberconservatism in politics, racism in the news, trouble in the Falklands, riots on the streets, assaults upon the welfare state, godawful haircuts, an overzealous deployment of secondary colours in fashion, yuppiescum wiping their arses on the communal cashpot, and a general all-consuming pall of evil, doom and villainy hanging above the West.
How did we survive last time round? I’ll tell you how:
LIKE THIS, YO. …that is to say, with a torrent of French/Japanese/American animations about groups of broadly-anatomically-correct men and women in cellshade supercolour costumes, hitting/shooting/chasing shit, fighting against mincing cacklefops, walking jerkily past lavishly-painted backgrounds and always always always ending the day laughing unconvincingly at an irritating slapstick pet/sidekick and decrying the Evil Of Drugs. Also, the greatest themetunes EVER KNOWN.
You know the type, yes? Thundercats, Pole Position, Masters Of The Universe, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Ulysses 31, Dungeons & Dragons, She-Ra, Mask, Defenders Of The Earth, Mysterious Cities of Gold, aaaand so on. These are the cultural bedrock of my generation, oh chittering art-monkeys, and I have never ended a pub conversation without an attempt to remember all Marshall Bravestarr’s animal powers. “Smells like a wolf”, arf arf.
I’m not going to give you too many rules here. Instead I have a very simple command: I want you to deliver us from cultural evil, nothing more. Just as the original versions of these splendid fictions saved us all in the 80’s, you shall pick one, you shall modernise it, you shall reinvent it in ways hitherto unforeseen, and YOU WILL SSSSSSSAVE US ALLL.
Ok, this one happens to be my favorite character: Batman, created in 1939. The appeal, to me, was that he’s…only human in a world of superhumans, but is called, by Superman, no less, “the most dangerous human of all”. During all these years, he has been declined in a gargantuan number of versions. Below, you’ll find a few of mine, sometimes, like the ones with the Joker, are different tryouts for a good effect. There is also a stempunk version made for a Remake-remodel thread.
The following gallery is to show the variations between the classic character and the remake-remodel thread.
The gloomy colours add really to what is essential in a superhero.
In the classic literature- Latin, Greek and European Renaissance,
a hero was defined by his weakness to what
overwelmed him: either the State, the Gods or Fate.The overpowering force superheroes have to face? Daily life.
And, to this point, nobody understands this more than Peter Parker.
This version was originally made for a remake-remodel thread, and I focused on the radioactive threat. It’s the most terrible aspect of the change, with the pain. Out of all the transformation Peter Parker could have suffered, this one is the worst.
I made this one in the summer of 2007. I always felt that
the Hulk could be rendered even more impressive with a bigger size.
In this sense, I really like what Ang Lee did back in 2003.
Warren Ellis says: “From 1941, when the drugs were apparently very good: Mr. E appealed for guidance and assistance to a statue of a ancient tribal god named King Kolah which he housed in a subterranean temple beneath his home. Kolah presented Mr. E with visions that led him to criminals. The idol also gave Mr. E the assistance of his elven messengers. The messengers were small gnome-like creatures who could shapeshift into a variety of creatures and wreaked mischief against Mr. E’s enemies. One of the messengers was named Butch. Mr. E used his visions and assistant gnomes to fight crime in Washington DC. Mr. E dated a girl named Miss Terry.
Me: To explain a bit, I thought from the beginning of some African or Oceanic tribemen, but I needed a connection to Washington; Native American tribes became obvious; I then looked for the best fitting tribe (geographic location, patriarcal and with data available regarding mythology and language). In short, Mister E is an Abenaki, and all the mentionned characters are really part of the Abenaki folklore. Except Butch, who might be coming from another story…
Warren Ellis says: “from 1939, probably the 100th Mandrake knock-off in comics. I use this one because I found his list of villains utterly surreal, worthy of Steve Aylett at times:
John Cardy also known as Kardak the Mystic traveled the world fighting crime using his magic powers. He fought villains such as the Mocha Men, the Brahmins, the Great Rexa, the Transparent People, the Beast-Men, the Ice People, and Kid Boppo.
I do not add a picture because, well, there’s really nothing there, so you may as well imagine it for yourself…
Me: I just thinks this calls only for madness and delusions. I just wanted to put all the characters in the same place.
Warren Ellis says: “From Jess Nevins, another very short one that should be fun. It’s not immediately clear, so let me state up front: Gerry Carlyle is a woman.
Carlyle, Gerry. Gerry Carlyle was created by Arthur K. Barnes and appeared in a series of stories in Thrilling Wonder Stories from 1937-1946, several of which were collected in Interplanetary Hunter (1956). Gerry Carlyle is the beautiful and fabulous galactic big game hunter, a sort of Frank Buck Rogers, who works for the London Interplanetary Zoo, capturing dangerous alien beasts on far distant and often dangerous alien worlds, and bringing the BEMs back to the Zoo. In this Gerry is assisted by her bold and rather clever sidekick Tommy Strike, with whom Gerry has a love/hate relationship.
So the key writing was to have fun with the Future, and the various alien species.
Warren Ellis says: “Now, this is the Nedor comics character from 1940, not the famous pulp sf character. There are one or two pictures of this guy online, but I choose not to show them to you. Instead, revel in the description:
Scientist Andrew Bryant was experimenting with gamma and infrared rays and discovered that, by crossing them, he gained superpowers. He uses these abilities to fight crime with the help of his girlfriend, Detective Grace Adams (of the Agatha Detective Agency). Captain Future can fly, hurl energy bolts from his hands, and has super strength. But strong blows to the head can render him unconscious, and he must frequently use his machine to recharge his powers. I like that last bit. ”
The following piece is to show the evolution from B&W to digital colours. The Black and White art was made on a 8 1/2 X 11 card, with only a 0.005 micron.
The colors on photoshop (step 2) was used just to give mood and shades: Blues and Greys tints give a sad, dark and dirty mood. The final image (step 3), is heightened with the front characters who have been given warmer colours. And then, the light effects.
Ok, this one is really insane: From Contact Comics in 1944: Warren Ellis says: “Colonel Moore Williams knows the enemy is easily terrified by the strange and unknown, so he becomes the superhero known as the Flamingo! He has no powers and is only armed with his intellect, his physical strength, his service revolver, and a specially built plane. He uses his new identity to accomplish things the military cannot.”
The story and story board were originally done in under 3 hours, for the five pages. It took me much longer to properly onk, colour and letter the whole thing. But there you go.
And a few weeks later, a new thread:
A sequel to the Flamingo: Warren Ellis says: “Okay, this one has the potential for some crazy. Also, if anyone’s in the mood to draw insane vehicles, now’s your shot…
As Skywolf, Larry Wolfe wore a white wolf pelt into battle and headed a three-man flier team. Members of the team include Cocky Roche, who was a cockney, and the Judge, an old Englishman turned down by the R.A.F. because of his age. The last member was “The Turtle,” A Polish mute whose tongue was cut out by Germans and who communicated by tapping on his own head in Morse Code. The group flew special planes that split in half to become separate vehicles. In fact, Skywolf and his team were such an effective group of Nazi fighters that Adolf Hitler himself was desperate to get rid of them to the point of actually participating in a plan to capture them. Skywolf teamed up with Airboy and battled the monstrous Heap during the course of his adventures.
Si Spurrier says:
It’s not all euphemistic smut-adventurers and bee-fancying spandexers on Whitechapel, oh no. You’ll recall I launched my stewardship here with a chance to reinvent the Egyptian War-Goddess Sekhmet – as a pissheaded psychopath, naturally – and verily It Was Good. So. Let’s try some more of that sort of thing. ”Jenny Greenteeth is a figure in English folklore. A river hag, she would pull children or the elderly into the water and drown them. She was often described as green-skinned, with long hair, and sharp teeth. She is likely to have been an invention to frighten children from dangerous waters similar to the Slavic Rusalka, the Kappa in Japanese mythology, or Australia’s Bunyip, but other folklorists have seen her as a memory of sacrificial practices.” So: an aquatic psycho-slag to frighten kiddies, drown geriatrics and delight RPG players the world over. But hark! This is Remake/Remodel! This isn’t just a chance for you to get your Creep On and draw an old faerie gribblie, oh-ho-no.
You will update. You will recontextualise. You will use your tasty brainbits as well as your scribbledy pens of power.
Bethunk as follows: how does a slime-titted water-devil fit into whatever passes for contemporary folklore? Is she the same old hag of yesteryear, now living a 21st century life? Is she keeping herself to herself, or using her unique skills (of, um, drowning children) to get by? Has she found a new niche, as a Modern Monster?
Maybe you fancy spandexizing the poor fiend and turning her into a heroine or villainess. Maybe “Jenny Greenteeth” is a tabloid nickname for a murderer, or a filename for a sentient techbug, or an experimental superweapon, or whatthefuckever.
Be Thou Interesting.
A long time ago, Warren Ellis posted a remake/remodel thread on a Ghost Exterminator: The theme said: “The Ghost Exterminator was created by Gelett Burgess and appeared in Cosmopolitan and possibly a few other magazines from 1904 through 1906.
The Exterminator is Hoku Tamanochi, a Japanese San Franciscan who uses an ancient Japanese formula and his family’s traditional skills to exorcise the ghosts of San Francisco. Hoku sprays the ghosts with an ancient Japanese powder when he finds them; this turns them semi-solid, and he then uses a bellows to capture them. He then seals them in bottles, thus permanently trapping them.
Hoku is (unwillingly, at first) teamed up with the nameless narrator, who is Hoku’s friend. The narrator analyzes the powder and creates a special compound of his own that does the same thing. He then begins stealing Hoku’s business (some friend, eh?) and making an additional profit by selling the ghosts, which he can reconstitute with the help of radium. The narrator eventually fumbles things and Hoku is forced to save him. The Exterminator stories follow this pattern: the narrator gets greedy and is initially successful in using Hoku’s ideas and methods, but eventually something goes wrong and Hoku is forced to ride in at the last minute and save the day.”
So it took me a while and a bit of research on Japanese History and culture, since I didn’t want to mix facts and dates. For this story, I wanted to use another aspect of webcomics, the scroll down reading.