Thursday, April 24, 2014
I present Kung-Fu Frankenstein!
I wrote about this guy the other day, mixed in with some other blather about Kirby knows what. I don't. I've forgotten. Anyway, this is a character I came up with at work last week. I doodled a couple of quick concept drawings, aiming for a kind of Jack Kirby-Steve Ditko-late 60s Marvel synthesis. Trust me-- he looked a lot better in my mind!
I had this idea of mocking up a comic book cover or two from a fictional bottom-feeding type company where the editor-in-chief or publisher saw what was happening at Marvel and it blew his mind. Unfortunately, his imagination wasn't up to the task, and his budget only afforded him to hire guys as talented as I am. These sad circumstances led to this character, a shoddy Hulk rip-off and eventual disaster. I was going to create a whole pseudo-history for the company complete with hack freelancer writers and artists rapidly descending the professional career ladder on their way to destitution. Which, I admit, isn't very funny when you consider this actually happened to real people back then, including some formerly top names.
Still, I was enthused enough with the idea that evening to whip out this more realized concept piece, which proved to me what a terrible idea the whole thing was in the first place. I still like the character and elements of the design, and a quick Google-search revealed there is not already a character named Kung-Fu Frankenstein. Or, if there is, it's not well-known enough to show up on Google. So just maybe I got there first for a change. (UPDATE: Yet another Google search reveals a movie of some kind called Kung Fu Frankenstein and various references to "Frankenstein's Kung Fu Monster." Yes, I know the monster is not named "Frankenstein," but rather its creator; however, I bow to childhood tradition in this matter and imagined my mythical comic book publisher would have as well.)
Which reminds me. This morning I was doing a little reading about Dan Clowes' Lloyd Llewellyn and I made a startling discovery about myself! First of all, Clowes is a legitimate genius of the form. I got into him via Ghost World, like a lot of jerks-come-lately, but when I did, I went whole-hog into his back catalog... as far back as just past Lloyd Llewellyn. Which is why I was curious about it.
Anyway, to end this shambling story, this led me to a Wikipedia search (first resort of the lazy and time-pressed; there are no others) and to the realization my genre is Lowbrow Art. Or "pop surrealism," which is too pretentious for my taste. I realize I'll never be paid to produce art, which is kind of depressing, but at the same time I'm feeling enlightened by this realization. I am affiliated with a movement and now my tongue-in-cheek, vaguely asshole-ish approach to drawing superheroes makes sense. I'm probably not capable of producing straight adventure material, so I'll just have to resign myself to admiring it.
Now this doesn't mean I won't keep trying to improve my art skills. What it means is, I'll probably become more precious and affected, without first having gone through a commercial period.