Saturday, January 28, 2017

XEUS RETURNS!


Lost Sunday I posted about the development of my original superhero XEUS! Well now here's a new design of that character. I sent the images I had before to KEITH HOWELL. I believe that I told him that I wanted him to make the crossed lightning bolts on his chest bigger, looking more like an X, which is something I felt none of the previous artists captured quite right, and that other than that, he was free to make any alterations to the costume that he felt like making. I didn't really expect him to do anything, but I've learned from previous work with Keith that it's best to let him know that he has whatever latitude he wants, because this isn't a artist that you ever want to hold himself back.

And boy did he come through!

I wasn't expecting all that. Certainly not the "simple" design that I envisioned, but how can complain about that image? So when I posted this on Facebook along with the previous images, I referred to it as Xeus' "summer outfit."

It kinda make sense, doesn't it? I mean, why would a superhero have to wear the same exact costume all the time? Wouldn't they want to mix it up every now and then?

And one thing, a small detail but it's significant to me, is that he removed the mustache from the goatee, for some reason I feel that just really fits the character, as I imagine him to be. So all future drawings I'd get of this character, even in the original outfit, I will request the mustache-less beard.

When I decided to commission JOSHUA COVEY for some images of Xeus, I asked for one in the original costume, seen in the previous post, and also one in Keith's design:



Okay, he got the bare arms wrong, but still, great stuff!

Friday, January 27, 2017

INANNA MAIYA






 




























These two photos (both taken by Jesse Walker of Walker1812 Photography)are of my longtime online friend Anna Young, the co-owner of the comic-book/collectibles store GODS & MONSTERS in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to being a gorgeous model, smart businesswoman, and talented artist, years ago she was also the inspiration for a character named Lygeia that the legendary George Perez created for his creator-owned series CRIMSON PLAGUE (unfortunately, I can't find any decent scans of said character to share here).

I had the idea of basing a comic or fantasy character on her, as well. Taking the above images as inspiration, combined with her former screen-name, Inanna Maiya, I commissioned three different artists to draw her in this outfit.





CELINA HERNANDEZ

JOSHUA COVEY





CHAD PORTER




Great work from all. But, man, Chad really nailed it. He's the "winner" of this particular task.

However I never did come up with a background and story for this character, as I later came up with an entirely different idea for a story based on Anna. I shall post that at a later date...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

SPACE BABE

The above image is not a commission of mine. This is one of many images I saw of an artist named JOSHUA COVEY, whom I discovered on Deviant Art years ago (he's no longer on it but you can see his work on Instagram and Smoothfolio). I really love his style and, as such, whenever he opened calls for commissions, I would try to take advantage of it. I believe the following is one of my first commissions from him. I created a science fiction character, meant to be a Chinese woman. So, seeing the above image that Joshua did, I asked for one similar to that. I said a Chinese woman in a smilar space-suit, blowing bubble gum inside her helmet (I don't recall why I suggested that). He sent me this"

And that was great...except I wasn't expecting him to draw her with such big breasts. I mean, let's get real, how many Chinese women do you ever see with natural breasts that big? And the character I had in mind wouldn't be someone who ever feel the need to get breast implants. So it didn't quite work for what I have in mind. But I still love the image. Again, Covey's artwork is awesome. So I figured that this could be a different character. Thus when Covey asked me if I'd like him to color it in, I told him to color her skin light brown. The character can still be "Asian", but maybe she's East-Indian or Filipino or Cambodian? So here we go:
I never did come up with a story or background (or name) for this character. But I felt it's worth showing off. So, for now, just "Space Babe."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

NICK, OF T.I.M.E.




I've always loved time travel stories. I think it all started with the short-lived 1982 TV series VOYAGERS! I was a very wee lad at the time, and this quickly become one of my favorite shows. Or it may have started with an viewing of the 1960 film THE TIME MACHINE. I don't recall which I saw first, but it was probably one of those, I just know I've loved time travel stories for as long as I can remember.

This was an idea I once came up with for a TV series, which would be a James Bond As A Time Traveler concept. Set in some undated point in the future, Nick (no last name given) was a special agents for an organization called Temporal Investigations and Municipal Enforcement.

So he's Nick, of T.I.M.E. Get it?

Yeah, yeah, I like silly puns.

Admittedly, the basic concept isn't much different than older TV series like Voyagers, or Quantum Leap, or modern ones such as Travelers and Timeless, not to mention Doctor Who, of course, where people travel through time in order stop others from traveling through in order to change history. The main difference was supposed to come from the lead character himself. As I said, he was meant to be a James Bond-type, a suave and skilled ladies man, and we'd see him romancing various women in different eras, often causing more trouble than he was there to solve.

I worked out the basic plot of the first episode, as Nick is tasked to stop a crazy man who traveled back in time to kill his own grandmother when she was a young woman, thereby stopping himself from ever being born (this is new form of "suicide" that people do in the future). In a sort-of Terminator-esq twist, Nick would sleep with the woman, unknowingly getting her pregnant and thereby becoming the bad guy's grandfather.

I commissioned KEITH HOWELL for an image, I said I wanted a White man in a tux, with his arm around a sex Black woman (no one cares about race in the future). Keith added the clock in the background (nice touch) and having the man holding up the gadget (presumably the device used for time travel).

I still like this basic idea, but if I were to revisit it today I think I'd need to work a little harder to make it more unique.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

If I Could Write. . .BLADE!

This came about just from some random wishful thinking one day. As I'd come to know and buy commissions from many talented artists over the years, one I wrote a post on Facebook about how if I could pick each artist to collaborate on mainstream comic-book with an established character or character (as opposed to one of my own original creators), what would be the title I'd I'd pick for each artist? With SAMAX AMEN it was an easy choice, I listed BLADE.

I, like most people, first discovered the character of Blade with the 1998 film starring Wesley Snipes. At the time I had no idea that Blade was a longtime Marvel Comics character. I also loved the sequel, (the less-said about BLADE: TRINITY, the better) and even the short-lived TV series, which I own on DVD had its moments.

Anyway, it's a shame that today people seem to have forgotten the Blade films, which could be classified as having start the "comic-book movie boom" before X-Men and Spider-Man came along. One problem is that Marvel Comics has, to date, never really capitalized on the film series' popularity. There have been a few attempts to launch ongoing Blade comic book series' and miniseries over the years since the first film, but,  for whatever reason none of them have managed to catch on with an audience. A couple of years ago there was announcement of an upcoming series starring Blade's daughter, which I don't think is the right idea, but so far nothing has come of that.

In any case, it's a character I'd love to tackle someday. Preferably in a series that would be published under Marvel's MAX imprint, as I believe that this is a character best served when written for adults, meaning few content restrictions. Like the MAX Punisher series, and like the films themselves, which were rated R, this book should not need to hold back from showing bloody violence (and occasional nudity). Plus I don't want to feel compelled to tie my stories to the rest of the Marvel Universe, like being interrupted to include whatever latest company-wide crossover storyline.

And, really, a character like this works best in a world with few other "super" beings. In a Marvel Universe full of superheroes, mutants, aliens, wizards, etc., what makes vampires so strange? Again, like the movies, this series would take place in "the real world", where vampires (and some, but not many, other supernatural beings) exist mostly in secret from the general population.

I will note that Marvel has launched a Blade series under their Max imprint before, but in addition to not being very well-written, I found the artwork to be very mediocre. A character like this will thrive on its visual depiction, and that's where SAMAX comes in, as I believe his unique style would fit Blade perfectly. And thus I commissioned a BLADE image from him, which you can see above, and I'm sure you'll agree that he clearly "gets" this character.

See it in color HERE

As for storylines, admittedly I never really spent much time thinking about exactly what I would do with the character. I only ever came up with two "scenes" which I'd begin and end my first issue with. We'd open with BLADE in the middle of a battle with THE LUGOSIS. This is a Vampire street gang, who all dress up like Bela Lugosi in the original 1931 Dracula movie. I just think that would be a cool visual to immediately hook the reader, seeing Blade in an extended fight scene against 10-12 identical Bela Lugosi Dracula's, as he slices them all to pieces with his sword.

I know my ending sequence would have Blade back at his hotel or something, where suddenly three beautiful Vampire women appear in his room, ala the Brides of Dracula scene in the Gary Oldman/Keanu Reeves Dracula film of 1992. The women appear naked and Blade is awakened and has sex with all of them. When it's over Blade appears to pass out from exhaustion, at which point the women prepare to kill them, as was their plan, but off course Blade was just fooling them, and then Blade proceeds to have an fight with the three women (all still naked, of course) ending when he slices their heads off with his sword.

Of course I know I'd have to come up with some STORY to fill in the rest of the issue in-between the beginning and then end, but I think I'm on to something...

Samax did approach me with the idea of coming with some original Blade-like character that he could draw, but I procrastinated on that and never got around to it (as usual).

I did eventually commission CELINA HERNANDEZ for a Blade image too, and this is what she did for me:





Monday, January 23, 2017

My Version of. . .BLACK ADAM!



 
Well, with all of the recent news about DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON starring in a solo BLACK ADAM film, I guess this makes it the perfect time for me to show off this particular image.

 I've always loved the original Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family, and Black Adam is an awesome villain. Truth be told, I'm not a fan of the portrayal of him as "anti-hero," I think he should be a pure and unrelenting bad guy. He is the opposite number of Captain Marvel, who is a pure good guy who only uses his powers for good.

Over the years I've spent a lot (and I mean a LOT) of time imagining how I would write the Marvel Family if I ever got the chance. And one of my main ideas is returning Black Adam to his original villain status. Storywise I wouldn't actually be changing much, as I'd just be sticking with is original concept as introduced in back in The Marvel Family #1 in 1945.

Back in ancient Egypt, the wizard Shazam gives super powers to an Egyptian man named Teth-Adam, transforming him into the superhero Mighty Adam, charging him with protecting Egypt in his absence. Mighty Adam starts off doing good deeds, including building the first pyramids, but eventually gets greedy and decides to take over the land for himself. He kills the current Pharaoh and takes his place. When Shazam returns, he is appalled, and thus calls him Black Adam, to reflect Adams's "Black" (evil) heart. But, unable to take back Black Adam's powers, Shazam uses his magic to banish Black Adam to the other side of the universe. But Black Adam vows to return and immediately starts flying back to Earth.

For the record, I think that synopsis right there is a pretty good story for the Black Adam movie. The rise, corruption, and fall of Black Adam. You end with him in deep space, starting to fly back to Earth, vowing to get revenge "no matter how long it takes!"

This is then followed by the Shazam/Captain Marvel movie, taking place in the modern era, where the wizard, aware that Black Adam will be returning soon, appoints Billy Batson to be his new champion (which is basically the plot of the 2010 animated film Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam, except the live-action film wouldn't have Superman in it).

Anyway, that's how I'd write Black Adam. The major change I would make would be visual. To start off with, I'd actually make him a Black man (which was a new idea when I had it, long before The Rock was signed to play him). It was also my idea to make him bald and give him the long pointed beard of an Egyptian Pharaoh. I kept the black pants and golden boots of his costume, but removed his shirt and decided that the lightning bolt symbol should be tattooed directly on his chest. I sent that description to CELINA HERNANDEZ and, as usual, she did a fantastic job, as you can see above.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

XEUS


This character came about via multiple inspirations. First I'll state that I've had a practically lifelong fascination with Greek/Roman Mythology. I've read many books about the Zeus and the gods of Olympus. Back in 2013, sometime before the film came out, I posted a link to the trailer for the film OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN on my Facebook page. One of my friends joked that he was disappointed after watching it because, based on the title and the first image, he assumed it would be a film about the Greek Gods, with Morgan Freeman starring as Zeus.

That immediately put the image in my head of  Zeus, drawn as  Black man. Thinking of Freeman specifically I thought, "why not?" He's already played GOD before, TWICE. Hmmmm...

This idea just sort of floated in the back of my head for awhile. I was once thinking of an idea for a movie about a bunch of older superheroes who have to come out of retirement for one last mission to save the world. My dream cast was Robert Deniro, Kathy Bates, Angela Basset and Morgan Freeman. And I started thinking about the kind of superheroes I'd create for them. And the idea of Freeman as a superhero named "Zeus" seemed useful. This isn't something I ever sat and wrote down, it was just something I would think about from time to time.

Then I bought a copy of ABSOLUTE ALL-STAR SUPERMAN (the greatest Superman story ever written), and in the backmatter, Grant Morrison speculates about characters from "New Olympia" (mentioned in the book, but never actually seen), where a new race of Gods live, ruled by "Xeus."

Immediately a light went off in my head as I just loved the spelling of the name, with an X instead of Z, and I added that to my mental catalog of "Black Zeus"

A year later, while writing my blog for IF I COULD MAKE A SEQUEL TO "HANCOCK" once again I had the idea of creating new heroes to be played by established actors. Once again, I had the idea of a Black superhero named Zeus who would be the leader of a new superhero team that would appear in this movie. This time I was thinking of Denzel Washington in the role. But I also thought if he wasn't available for it, it could also be offered to Morgan Freeman.

Again, these just remained thoughts in my head, until I saw Denzel Washington in THE EQUALIZER. I loved it. In this film, he basically plays a superhero. He's Batman/The Punisher. And it works. Even with Denzel being pushing 60, it was believable that he could kick so much ass.

So with that, I finally got around to fully developing this character. The above image is from ARIS ILLIOPOULIS, but it's not the first image I got of the character, that was actually this image from CELINA HERNANDEZ:





I was going for a relatively simple costume design. Y'know, Zeus is usually depicted in mostly white robes, so I figured Xeus would have a mostly white costume, with some yellow (like lighting). And since he is meant to be an older man, again I'm thinking Morgan or Denzel, my idea was that the costume would kind of lose, not the standard skin-tight superhero costume. I was picturing something that wouldn't look too unusual on them, like Morgan's white shirt and pants in Evan Almighty:





And for the symbol I asked for two lightning bolts on his chest, crossing each other to look like an X.





The gray hair and gray goatee were also obviously inspired by Morgan.

I also got the following image from Aris:





In addition to the images from Aris and Celina, I also commissioned one from an incredible artist by the name of JEREMY FARLOW aka DAGGERPOINT,
whom I originally found on Deviant Art some years ago. He drew this image (which was then colored by Celina):






And then this image from JOSHUA COVEY:



Good stuff. You may notice one slight change in Joshua's image, which is that instead of a goatee, Xeus has a mustache-less beard. That was at my direction, as that came from a redesign by Keith Howell, but I will save that for a future post.

So the backstory I came up with for the character is taken from some thoughts I had once about if I were able to revamp the old MILESTONE COMICS superhero ICON. One of my little problems with that character is that he wasn't really "Black", he was a green(?)-skinned alien who took the form of a Black man when he landed on Earth. I would change that to he is a Black man, an actual human, but he's from a parallel universe, with an alternate timeline.

In Xeus' original timeline, the ancient Greek inventor Hero Of Alexandria somehow found the means to mass-produce his proposed steam-engine. Thus, the Industrial Revolution began a full 2,000 years earlier than it did in our reality. Therefore, their current society is far more technologically advanced than our is in the present day (by the time Columbus was "discovering" America here, they were already colonizing Mars). This explains Xeus' superhuman powers (super strength, stamina, speed, near-invulnerable, and able to project bolts of lightning from his hands and eyes) they're a combination of genetic engineering and scientific tools which he possess.

He was scientist, experimenting with inter-dimensional travel, which lead to him transporting to our world, without the means to return to his own. Initially preferring to live in obscurity, while working on ways to return home, he eventually decides to go public as a superhero, using his abilities for fight for truth, justice, and all that stuff.