Category Archives: Comics

Project CBRunway 7: Round 1- The Purple Haze

I may have mentioned that I am a member of the forums on Comic Book Resources. There’s an annual  Super Hero design/redesign competition on the Artist and Writer Showcase section of the forums called Project CBRunway and this is the 7th “season.”  I’ve participated in the competition a few times and it’s something I look forward to every year. This year hopeful participants had to submit basic costume designs for a hero and villain based on ourselves using a basic template model sheet. I went with the basic themes of positivity and negativity because these are drives and attitudes we all share, but when the mood shifts too far in one direction, you aren’t behaving like your normal self. First I got to work on the positive aspects using the mathematical symbol for plus(+) as an insignia and using bright colors, baby blue, white and yellow to show a positive attitude. And I used the minus(-) sign for the villain and inverted the colors on the computer to come up with that color scheme.  Anyway, here’s my submission.

Mas y Minus

Private Positive and Negatory. Great, right?

MattBib, the moderator of this section of the forums acts as Tim Gunn and gives us wild ideas for our weekly challenges. For the first challenge he came up with the name “Sounds of the Silver-Age” wherein the contestants had to pick an iconic Recording Artist from the 1960s and give that person a super hero costume from the silver-age era of comic books. Comic Book scholars and collectors understand the silver-age to be the period between the late 1950s to the early 1970s. In this period comic fans were introduced to the updated versions of the Flash and the Green Lantern over at DC Comics and Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four… well let’s say just about all the really popular characters over at Marvel Comics.

TM & (C) DC Comics

The Flash went from Jay Garrick to Barry Allen, Green Lantern from Alan Scott to Hal Jordan.

TM & (C) Marvel Comics

This Explosion of Characters came from what Stan Lee likes to call the Marvel Age of comics.

That’s what comics looked like in the Silver-Age, and as for the Music Icon from the 60s, I chose Jimi Hendrix. His look lends itself to the fantastic automatically. His dress was that of a gypsy pirate, with an attitude to match. Hopefully I don’t have to give him too much of an introduction, I’m guessing enough of you are experienced.

To distill Jimi to his most memorable visual components there were a few details I wanted to keep in mind, the Afro, The Bandana, The Goatee and the Vest. There are pictures out there where he doesn’t don the vest or bandana/headband, but in my head that’s what he always wore. A lot of fans say that he was known to keep a tab of LSD in his bandana for storage, but he would occasionally wind up tripping as his sweat dissolved the tab(s) leading the substance to seep into his system through his pores. As with many of the other contestants, I went to the his catalogue of songs for inspiration for his costumed identity. He’s got so many songs that would be great super hero names, Little Wing, Dolly Dagger, Stone Free, Night Bird Flying and Voodoo Child. For a while I was set on Voodoo Child. The lyrics to the first verse sound epic:

“…Well I’ll stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand- Well I’ll pick up all the pieces and make an island, I might even raise a little sand- ‘Cause I’m a Voodoo Child, Lord knows I’m a Voodoo Child…”

With that bravado and cockiness as fuel I began sketching out his look. I tried bell bottom pants for him and frilly cuffs for his shirt sleeves but that was still saying Rock Star and not Super Hero. The one thing from his signature look that I could borrow from to make him a super hero was his bandana. I just rolled the headband down over his eyes and added some goggle lenses and boom, Super Hero. But nothing really came to me though that said Voodoo child and the Internet wasn’t working so well, so researching the symbolism of Voodoo wasn’t going to work out. Also I couldn’t get  the Marvel character Brother Voodoo out of my head. Below are some rough ideas/sketches.

Hmmm, none of these really say "VOODOO CHILD."

Voodoo Child wasn’t working out for me as a character and I didn’t have much time to work because the deadline for this challenge was creeping up on me. For some reason I considered Purple Haze. Time was working against me, so I threw together a quick simple cartoony sketch on some Borden and Riley vellum paper without a solid character model and design to work from. As simple as it was I really liked it. I was watching Adventure Time so that world of mirth and excitement may have slipped in and made me feel good about everything. It’s kind of like what I’d imagine an LSD trip to feel like. So from the sketch it was scanning time, soon to be followed by some coloring in PhotoShop. Here are the results.

 Exhibit C. In my defense I wanted an excuse to give him red eyes.

When working on a character with a purple color scheme, avoid using red.GARISH!!!

I could have gone down the coloring road all night, but it was late and I had to  get this in on time for the voting thread to go up.  To me A was too much like the Wonder Twins. B was a step in the right direction and C was a step in the wrong direction, ugh.  D although it’s basically a simple color swap of A really made things pop for me. It’s what I went with for the challenge. Check out the Project CBRunway: Challenge 1 voting thread and check out the other entries as well. If you’re inclined to vote I won’t stop you. The voting poll allows you to vote for multiple designs so no pressure.

And just for my Ungowa Soul Power visitors here’s a slightly modified image of  Jimi Hendrix, The Purple Haze.

The Purple Haze

Acting Funny, But I Don't Know Why?!? Excuse Me As I Kiss The Sky.

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Pull Pile Podcast – Design

At my good friend Rah Unique’s (@rah_unique) recommendation I began following the Pull Pile Podcast on Twitter and Facebook. Okay for the uninitiated a pull pile (or pull list) is a list of comic books that collectors subscribe to at their Comic Book Store. Most of you may remember being able to pick up comics at your local candy shop, super market, news stand  or 7/11. That distribution model is long gone, Comics are primarily found in specialty Direct Market and Hobby stores. So the podcast is about the new releases the two hosts pick up every Wednesday, the day new releases of comic books are sold. They also discuss films and television series and other related media.

So the hosts of the Pull Pile Podcast  The Head and Winthrop Chesterton wanted to create a new identity and presence online with a new logo and some original artwork. They reached out to their fan-base and followers on various social media platforms. I answered the call and they got in touch with me and told me what they needed. Here’s what they had a friend put together to give me a rough idea for what design challenges I had to meet.

  

The great thing about this is that these guys knew what they wanted and were able to clearly demonstrate what they needed from me. So I pretty much hopped on this as soon as I could, because although I hadn’t met them personally I felt like these were kindred spirits, I saw their tweets, listened to their podcast and there was even some interaction online. They use the hashtag #letstalkcomics to ask fans questions about comics, the characters, the creators and the industry in general. So as I said there was already a bond, a sense of fellowship. So I showed them some roughs that I worked on in Adobe Illustrator.

       

I started with the familiar old DC Comics logo as inspiration. Then I modified it to a series of Ps with the number three taking up residence in the curve of the letter P. Being comic fans they went with the DC bullet, and the masthead was a simple design with layered bold letters reminiscent of the silver-age of comic books, which is around the late 50s/early 60s, where the Justice League of America formed and The X-Men, Avengers, Spider-Man and other well known characters were first introduced or revamped.

I was told to move forward with these designs and gave them a swatch of these designs with different color schemes. Here are a few that they liked.

 

I used the banner on their podcast as inspiration for a few color schemes. They really seemed to appreciate that.

With that done it was on to the illustrations and the mock comic book cover. The characters were definitely interesting and fun to draw, one has no face, like The Question and the other, an over large cranium, like Megamind. I feel a bit longwinded at this point, so I’ll just show the final product. I know bandwith is a little crazy in some places and too many images can slow ya down, so here you go.

I put the comic on a bed of classics and maybe spent too much time rendering the headphones, but I like the work and more importantly so did Winthtrop and The Head.

And that my friends is that.

Hopefully I get more (paid) work in the future to showcase, it was fun and I wish these guys all the success in the world. If you’re a fan of comics follow them on twitter, listen to the podcast and tell ’em @Countbaqula sent you.

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Beeboy:Thug-O-Nomics Logo and Beeboy Emblem

Here are some more graphics for the Stunning Beeboy and his supporting cast of malevolent MCs. The new banner above incorporates Beeboy’s emblem, a stylized letter B with wings and a stinger jutting out of the bottom curve of the letter. A pretty good hero insignia if I do say so myself. This element and the goggles are the most enduring of Beeboy’s look. I’ll see if I can find the original sketch  I did in color pencil way back in 1996. Here’s the Emblem in all it’s glory.

Here’s a nice little graphic with the Logo, Emblem and a fun sketch of Beeboy.

And now for a villain I haven’t introduced yet in the prose. He’s Beeboy’s oldest enemy, I came up with him shortly after Beeboy. Back when I created him I called him Rah-Rah, which was what we called loud and brash thugs around the way, inspired by one of Redman‘s verses, because I love me some Redman. Get his albums Whut? the Album, Dare is a Darkside and Doc’s Da Name and  you’ll find out why. Anyway, Rah-Rah wasn’t a name that could endure, Redman has been off the airwaves for a while and I wanted a name that would have staying power. Thug-O-Nomics just popped into my head and I never looked back.

Thug-O-Nomics is the quintessential studio  gangsta rapper. Tough in the recording booth, but the first to run from a fight. He’s excessive and gaudy and really likes gun talk, but never really ever owned one, or held one. His Medallion is two Glock 9s with silencers attached to the letter S, made to look like a dollar sign, it symbolizes that he gets his money through acts of violence. I think it’s the best thing in the world.

Take a look below and tell me what you think.

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CBR Draw Off: Avengers. W-I-N.

If you’ve been enjoying my blog you know I f*cks with the Comic Book Resources Forums hard body. One of the forums I visit a lot is their Artist and Writer Showcase. There are regular competitions there and I submitted some original pieces to the most recent CBR Draw Off, it was Avengers-centric to honor the highly anticipated movie coming out later this year from Marvel’s film studio.

I submitted two pieces, one a solo shot of Hank Pym as Antman and the other a group shot with Antman, Wasp and the Black Panther. My thought process for my entries was to try to make the uniforms/costumes look like the film studio would translate them for the film. For examples I looked to the existing films and how they approached the costumes. With  Iron Man the costume is about as direct a translation as you can get, with Captain America you could see the elements of the main Marvel Universe(616) and the Ultimate Universe as inspiration for the costume. Hawkeye’s is pretty much  a  direct adaptation from the one worn by Clint Barton in the Ultimate  Marvel Universe. For Pym I went with  the color scheme from the original costume from his Tales To Astonish and Avengers appearances and used some elements of Scott Lang, a reformed criminal that later took on the Ant Man identity. Here’s a rough sketch I have where I was working out some kinks.

In designing the costume I was thinking about what actor I would want to play Pym. I was searching online for fan casts and someone had Anthony Michael Hall as the Vision or something. I didn’t agree with that, I think he’d be a great Henry Pym, he already created an Artificial Intelligence he couldn’t control in Weird Science, was the nerd in Breakfast Club and has some genre relevance from the  SciFi channel series Dresden Files and his bit part in the hugely successful film, the Dark Knight. He’s a nerd with an edge, old enough to be an expert in an obscure field of science. He’s a great fit in  my eyes.  But with Joss Whedon at the helm, I wouldn’t be mad at Neil Patrick Harris, though I’d say he’s too much of a comic actor at this point.

With T’Challa, the Black Panther, the king of  Wakanda, a sovereign African Nation that has never been conquered or colonized, I was over thinking things. Wanting to use elements of African art, I delved into books about African Ceremonial Masks, Military Dictator’s Garments and traditional Zulu garb. I couldn’t stick to one idea until the last minute. Here are a few pages of sketches of the design progression.

These here focusing more on the mask as the central element of his design. There are so many wonderful mask styles to choose from, the Benin had some interesting things going and there were some phenomenal South African masks as well, but I didn’t think that would work on screen. So I looked closer at the Zulus.

The traditional animal skins are replaced with light weight but durable armor that he wears over a body suit. I liked the basic look more, so I went with that and this is what I came up with.

Now  ideally I’d want Djimon Honshu to play this role, but he’s getting up there in age. He might make the perfect T’Chakka, T’Challa’s father, but I think we need someone a little younger, although RDJ is killing it as Tony Stark and he now spring chicken. I’d sat Chiwetal Ejiofor would be good here, he’s got acting chops and he’s worked with Whedon before. With Whedon you could see his ability to do action sequences and in Red Belt he really made me believe he’s a genuine force to be reckoned with.

For Janet Van Dyne, I don’t know what artist to credit with the costume design she had most recently, but to change it at all would be a crime, so I left it as is. Which fits the movie universe, because Scarlet Johanson’s Black Widow is pretty much identical to the comic book interpretation. There was no need to go through a design process here, so here’s the Wasp I went with for the competition.

For the Wasp I was thinking Mila Kunis. Short, cute, and well known. And cute, did I mention cute? But then I saw another fan casting that just made sense, Morena Baccarin. She already has the short hair, or did in the remake of the V mini-series and she to my surprise I find out she went to my High School. That trumps everything to me. So these were the characters I drew. Here’s the group  shot I used in the competition.

I’m not sure which artist did the Avengers Mansion in the background, I found it with Google Image Search. I’m guessing it’s from Avengers Dissembled so that would mean Deodato. Anyway, I thought it fit. And I was right, I won the competition with one vote. Yay me, the grand prize, an assortment of Comic Books from the 90s. Some of which I’m sure I own. I worked at a comic shop in the 90s.

Anyway that’s that. Hopefully this momentum from winning with urge me forward for the rest of the year. If not, guess I’ll have to find some tiger’s blood.

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Lupercalia

A while back, years ago even, I was in a comic book character design competition and one of the challenges was to design a character based on the month you were born. I did a good amount of research into my birth month, February and wanted to do something different than the typical Valentine’s Day, President’s Day and Black History month themes associated with the month. I’m pretty vain, like most humans especially those of us in the west, so I was looking into significant historic events that occurred on the day of my birth, February 15. I was not content to  just share my birthday with Galileo, Chris Farley, Susan B. Anthony and Jane Seymour, or a bunch of people a few days apart from my birthday, like Abraham Lincoln(Feb. 12) and Michael Jordan(Feb. 17), I knew there had to be more.

For a long time I felt I ‘d gotten the short end of the stick having been born a day too late to be a Valentine’s day baby. But I hit the mother load when doing the research for the character I was designing. There was a fertility/mating festival held in Ancient Rome on February 15th, it was called Lupercalia and it was magnificent by all accounts. Prior to Caesar ‘s rule, February was the last month of the year. For a while it was just a nebulous span of time between December, the tenth month and March, the first month called Intercalaris. January and February were just a glob of time for a while, but January came to be named after the two-headed god Janus, and February, well February was named after a lamb skin whip used to select your mate for the spring season. This whip was called a Februa, and the ceremony of the Februa occurred on the 15th commemorating the She-Wolf, Lupa who nursed the twin fathers of Rome, Remus and Romulus when they were infants.

So for some reason and ancient celebration made me feel better about my day of birth, and although It’s not a day I celebrate, I figured I remind all of you, on my actual birthday all about it. You can use it as an excuse to buy valentines candy half off and say  it’s in honor of Lupercalia, the original holiday that celebrated love.

As for my character design I did wind up using a lot of cliches, he’s black for Black History Month, and has a Napoleon Complex because it’s the shortest month of the year, and wears purple because it;s the color of amethyst, the birthstone for February. Well , it’s not the most original design, but I had fun coming up with him, I learned something and hopefully  taught you something too.

Here’s the character below.

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More Fun With The Book of Monsters

I’ve really been having a blast with Steve Morris’ scripts for his web-comic The Book Of Monsters. I finished another strip earlier this week, but before I show the strip, I figured I’d let you in on my process for the latest comic and a strip from the previous Book of Monsters post here.

The monster for the strip I just finished is the Sphinx, a mythological creature revered in assorted ancient cultures, including Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. After reading the script I had to decide how I wanted to interpret the Sphinx for the Book of Monsters to fit the cartoony comic strip style I came up with for Steve’s comic. In doing research I found a lot of suggestive pictures of the sphinx with not only a woman’s head, but also breasts, uncovered supple breasts. That didn’t seem a good direction for the character for a light hearted children’s fantasy series. I considered going for a bookish librarian  look with glasses and a bun, but it didn’t seem to have that mythical feel. Here are some preliminary sketches of the Sphinx.

Then having mostly nailed down the Sphinx’s look I looked at the script to see how I wanted to lay out the page. It’s only three panels and two lines of dialog, but I wanted to give a good sense of setting and pace it so the eye doesn’t jump right to the punch-line. Here’s a look at the script with a rough lay-out, or thumbnail of the strip.

After that I go from the thumbnail to the page, using bristol paper. You’ll notice the design changed for the sphinx when I got to the  step of drafting the actual strip. I was using a blue lead that isn’t quite non-photo blue, so it got picked up in the scan so I had to go through some tedious clean up.  Measuring out the page size to have it scale to comic book proportions of 6.5″ by 10.25″. So after I penciled  the page the next step was inking the page. After the first two strips I decided to stop inking the boarders by hand and just stroking the boarders in photoshop with the rectangle selection tool.  One of these days I may get a wacom drawing tablet, it should take a few steps out of the process. Here’s a scan of the inked page. Arrggh, so much clean up.

After this step, I add color using photoshop and when it looks the way I want I save the .psd and import it into Illustrator to add the lettering. I was saving it as a .jpg before at 300 dpi before I’d do the lettering, but that just needlessly eats up memory. The .psd file is crisp and at a great resolution to add letting on it’s own. Any ways, below is the finished product, Susan and Colin Meet The Sphinx, coming soon to The Book Of Monsters.

And as promised the evolution of my favorite monster to draw, the Bluatschink. He’s just the best monster.

Sketches and designs.


Script and Thumbnail Layout

And you can see the completed strip in the first Book of Monsters post here,and eventually on Steve’s site.

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Beeboy: King Midas and Mogadishu Logos

Just a run through for Logo Designs for the main antagonists in the first Beeboy story. Working on some art work now for a possible cover and some pin-ups to print the short story for sale around the way, maybe at local comic shops. As we know no rapper/musician/comic book character is worth much without his merch, so of course I had to hook up the villains with menacing and/or regal graphics.

For Mogadishu, as described in the story a bloodied military stencil letter M, bullet holes optional.  Showed my Lady Friend, she prefers the non perforated Mogadishu logo.

For King Midas I dug into the Pen and Pixe well and blinged him out to unreasonable levels. But it’s also there as a flat graphic for people that like to keep it simple.

Beeboy Created by Baqi Abdush-Shaheed ©

Mogadishu and King Midas Created by Baqi Abdush-Shaheed and Glenn Bryant ©

Logos TM & (C) Baqi Abdush-Shaheed aka Chuck Spears

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Book of Monsters – Collaboration

I’m a regular visitor of the Comic Book Resources Forums, using the screen name, Your Imaginary Pal, and do the frequent Draw-Me-An-X and Draw-Me-An-Avenger art JAMS there. A fellow site member liked some of my work and asked if I’d do a few strips for his web-comic The Book Of Monsters. It’s a fun site that features the writing of Steve Morris or as he’s known as on CBR, Seresecros, and the artwork of assorted artists. The comic follows Susan and Colin on their adventures in mystical and even mundane realms as they find and converse with monsters and beast from a variety of folkloric figures.

Here are a few of my contributions.


For the uninitiated the setting the kids are in is the backdrop of many a Super Mario Bros. game. The Monster here is a GOOMBA.


I had fun researching this monster, because there was only one article that had the Bluatschink of legend. Most of the search results were for what looks like an Austrian band that makes children’s music, which is a little terrifying considering the Bluatschink lures children into ponds and lakes so he can eat them.

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Beeboy Art and Comics

Here are some comic strips and character designs for Beeboy and some assorted cast members.

Beeboy and Tabi Tha Tigress © created by Baqi Abdush-Shaheed
Mogadishu and King Midas © Created by Baqi Abdush-Shaheed and Glenn E. Bryant

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