Thursday, January 28, 2010

My World : Some Annotations

Hope everyone enjoyed their glimpse last week into a few of the characters in my personal fictional world. Guess what? You'll be seeing more of that in the future. So be ready for it.

I suppose some background for this particular project is in order. In 2007, I went on a bit of a tear (by my standards) in producing artwork. Now, I have no illusions that my art is good, but it's mine and I have a lot of fun making it. This is lost on some people, I guess. Anyway, I was very prolific that year, and one of my main projects was to create art pieces depicting the characters of my "modern" universe.

I don't really have any concrete plans for this project beyond the art pieces and accompanying backstory thumbnails. However, that doesn't mean you won't be seeing something more involved in the future. There just aren't any plans. Yet.

  • Captain Satellite : Captain Satellite first came into being sometime around the 6th grade. He wasn't anything special at first, but eventually he merged with various other characters running around in my own personal universe. By the time I was done, he had emerged as my superhero alter ego. I've been using his name for various projects since 1995.

    Interestingly, Captain Satellite was originally conceived as a VILLAIN! He was an adversary for the various superheroes I was playing around with at the time. Later I had a change of heart and "killed off" the villainous Captain Satellite and replaced him with a second Captain who was a superhero. As time went by, Captain Satellite's nefarious origins were forgotten entirely and the superhero version became the only version. That Captain Satellite was the one who evolved into the one we know today.

    The earliest incarnations of the character looked somewhat different. The main distinguishing characteristic is that the Captain used to have an old style satellite chest emblem. I'm pretty sure that got dropped because it looked too busy when I drew the character at a smaller size. I originally envisioned his uniform as being yellow, but settled on the current color scheme. This was likely an influence of the old Legion of Super-Heroes member Ferro Lad, who had inspired me a great deal as a kid.

  • Shelly Ericson : Shelly was born in my high school days, though truthfully she has her origins in many female characters I created over the years. Her name and particular backstory struck a chord with me, so she was chosen to be the one to get fleshed out into something like a real character instead of just a surrogate fantasy girlfriend.

    The key turning point for Shelly was the Japanese superhero series SHAIDER. As I've discussed in the past, I'm rather enthralled with Shaider's sidekick Annie in the show. She is competent and charismatic, but still needs to constantly have her bacon saved by Shaider. I wanted to take that concept one step further, and have a female sidekick who was actually more competent than the hero. Shelly's personality gradually began to take shape from there, and her distinctive look evolved from Annie's inspiration.

  • Third World : Third World is my underground subversive organization. As you might guess, their name is inspired by the phrase "third world power" that doesn't get thrown around nearly so much since the Soviet Union fell apart. Third World itself owes a huge debt to Marvel Comics' group Hydra. A number of details of Third World are inspired by Hydra, but I sort of took it into my own direction - especially as far as the design of the agents (pictured).

  • Hugo Beaumont : Hugo Beaumont is the Captain's arch-enemy, I guess. I liked the idea of mixing the mad scientist type with the time traveling villain type. Hugo is also a great excuse to mix together hoary old bad guy tropes like the top hat, pencil-thin mustache, etc. He draws from many sources - silent movie bad guys (or Snidely Whiplash, if you prefer!), Lex Luthor, and Kang the Conqueror to name three specific ones.

As you may have guessed, one of the biggest challenges in this project is creating something interesting from what was originally just a big personal fantasy. I suppose that is why I've never followed through on my threats of telling an actual story with these characters. They are fun to put through their paces in my head, but I'm not entirely sure that would translate for readers.

As the years have passed, Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson have moved away from their original purpose of serving as idealized wish fulfillment characters. Why? Because that grew boring to me. They still have their roots in those interpretations, but I enjoy them a lot more now that they've been allowed to stretch out and grow away just being generic avatars for my daydreams. If the day comes when their world is more fully-realized, it will be because they have stories that are demanding to be told.

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