Over the break, I joined the 40 hour make-a-thing event at SAE Brisbane. I was abroad as it was happening which presented me some extra limitations and challenges that I managed to anticipate ahead of schedule. Primarily I wasn’t going to have a lot of spare time to sink into whatever project I managed, and also that I wouldn’t have access to the programs and resources I normally would for this kind of challenge.
The three words assigned to the challenge were “Mass,” “Staccato” and “Prolong.” I already knew this was going to have to be a simple pen & paper project and I decided to create characters for an imaginary comic book series that were each based on the individual words in turn.
One of the apparent aims of the words chosen for the make-a-thing challenge is that they can be interpreted multiple ways, more so in the context of each other. I took the easy path of trying to represent multiple interpretations for each word in each individual character. As “mass” can refer to the physical attributes of matter and, in conversation, is usually linked with the subject of gravity, but can also refer to a gathering event for religious people, I developed the character “Gravity Priest.” His design took cues from classic super heroes like Superman, flaunting spandex and a cape, but with a catholic priest’s frock over the top.
The abilities were influenced by Magneto and other telekinetic characters in their ability to manipulate physical forces, though the powers I drew were specifically referring to applied force. The “singularity” ultra-move was designed to to bear a resemblance to an atom, as the representative concentric orbits of the particles implies the presence of electromagnetic pull. The sigil is a stylised “down” arrow and I decided to forgo using the letters “GP” as I felt it wouldn’t add to the design. Originally, the arrow motif was also going to be tattooed or painted on the character’s face as well. This wasn’t in the final design by pure fear of putting it on in pen and not being able to undo it if I didn’t like it.
“Staccato” was slightly harder as it required a character that made a point of being incongruous. Over the previous trimester, in my Creative Industries class, we were treated to watching and then discussing films by director David Cronenberg. His use of stark body-horror elements and confronting themes seemed like a good (and fun) direction to take. The other, obvious, connection “Staccato” makes is to music and so I simply adapted another recognisable profession within that field, which lead to the character “Cronen-Conductor.” I took the pun making an extra step by also incorporating another meaning of the work “conductor,” as I felt the character’s personality style had not been established by the initial naming convention. My reference was a minor character from an episode of Justice League: The Animated Series (2001) which was a self referential villain with a music shtick. His abilities were centered on the role of the conductor as commonly seen in parodies where the baton is the musical direction tool on it’s own.
Lastly, “Prolong” was fairly straightforward in it’s theming. I was considering creating “The Rubber-clock Kid” as a sidekick to Gravity Priest, but was running out of time to draw the image as I had been very active most of the time I was away, as one would hope from a vacation. I brought the idea around to a mcGuffin of some kind that would feature in the particular episode of the fake comic. “The Tempordion” was a simple conjunction of “prolong” referring to extending time and extending something (itself in this case). The design concept was that one could extend the accordion and stretch one second into one minute/hour/etc. This was a particularly thing to be doing on a Mediterranean beach at 8 in the morning.
I had also intended to create a black and white mock up of a potential front cover for this non-existent issue, but simply ran out of time, I did however manage a few thumbnail sketches.
The first is a classic head-to-head (literally) face-off design with the two characters glaringly obvious and simply detailed as the entire focus. This was a good start to get the energy I wanted but was far too simple for my tastes. The second was taking a stab at reinterpreting the word “prolong” as I wanted to hint at the idea that this was an ongoing series much like other comic series that would continue until it was unfeasible. I considered making the title of the issue the joke within “prolong” and thought about creating the longest title possible with only a small image stuck in the page corner. I then put a pin in that concept. The third was the most interesting for me as it is a design that takes for granted the notion that the viewer is already completely aware of the design of the main characters. by having them distant from the camera view, this version lends a sense of history to the relationship the viewer has with this series. It also presented a nice opportunity to show the artistic styling of the character’s abilities on paper.
This submission got me the half-hearted award of “Sure it looks pretty… but what does it do?” which is good enough for me. My sketch book is a little bit fuller and my ego was adequately stoked.
To see more of the September 2017 Make-A-Thing entries: