Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Creation of a New Character---Part 1

Cartooning is by no means an exact science and therefore any ideas I come up with are very much hit and miss; I can never tell if I’ve invented another Snoopy or a Titanic that will sink ingloriously without trace.

The only constant, in this inconsistent world of mine, is that I keep creating. If an idea comes to me and I think it might stand a chance, then all I can do is go with it and hope for the best.

The main difference between normal people and cartoonists is their brain. Normal human brains are divided into three sections: the hindbrain, the midbrain and the forebrain; the last one involves the cerebral cortex. But a cartoonist brain has two more sections: The pink fluffy bit which creates all the stuff that political correctness loves--- and the dark side. This is the part that creates what most cartoonists look at, laugh out loud to and then discard as too much fun to be publishable.

So without further ado I would like to take you through the whole thought process of a character created from scratch right up to the day that it’s dispatched to the editor of its chosen market. This will be divided over something like four to five separate blog posts.

 But I give you fair warning, whereas most of the ideas you see come directly from the pink fluffy side of my cerebral cortex, this one flew right out of the dark matter which resides on the wrong side of my brain tracks. And when I tell you this characters name is Captain Alzheimer and the comic I’m aiming it at is Viz a comic in the traditional sense but with a humour that crosses the borders of the anarchic with aplomb, then I think you can consider yourself to have been fairly warned as to its insensitive nature. This idea is not for the faint hearted or the PC obsessed.

Today’s post will start with the rough pencil outlines of Captain Alzheimer and the idea behind the strip:







1. This was the first ever sketch of Captain Altimeter. I didn’t like it as it was over complicated. He had one slipper on one foot and a boot on the other, too many warts; you couldn’t really tell what the significance of his shorts were, the towel on his back was a little confusing, i:e; it might be a tablecloth or settee throw--- The idea was to have a confused superhero not a confused looking one.


















2. Next came the more geriatric looking Captain Alzheimer. But once again there was a problem. Mainly in the fact that he wasn’t going to be durable enough to draw from all angles; and the confused costume problem was still there. And anyway he didn't look confused he looked dazed and stupid, and when ever you create a character there must be some sort of empathy within it.

















3. Then I settled on a more rounded character with the look of pomposity that all superheroes seem to have. But still he was too complicated, costume wise, but I did like the capital ‘A’ that wobbled on the top of his mask as he moved.




Then I hit upon what I thought to be the right mix. But first I had to create his reason for being. Captain Alzheimer suffers from memory loss, so logic would dictate that he knows he has to change out of his civilian clothes but he can’t remember what he did with his superhero outfit. He has his mask but nothing else, so I had the idea of him improvising; what I came up with was to have him stripped to his thermals with a tea towel for a cape and his wife’s marigolds for gloves. The final bit was to replace the letters of his name on his chest with the word ‘Errr....’ as an instant signifier as to his mental state.
Below is the finished, cleaned up drawing of Captain Alzheimer. Incidentally, I knew I’d hit upon the right idea when I showed Karen the finished picture. She just shook her head and said “There’s really no hope for you is there?”

All good super heroes have catch phrases and mine had to have one that befitted him. Spider Man had a phrase that I just knew could be changed to suit mine. Spider Man’s was ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ but Captain Alzheimer’s differed only slightly, his was...



The NEXT post will deal with the durability of Captain Alzheimer as I produce the first character sheet which will shows him in action, and from all angles. I’ll also be creating his supporting cast and their personalities and their relevance to his world.




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