Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 “The Post-Punk / New Wave Martian Manhunter”

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A Brazilian artist who goes by the handle "Butcher Billy" likes to do mash-ups of super-humans and real world figures, which I've found amusing in the past. Today, beginning on some friends' blogs and continuing through spotlights on various industry sites, Butcher Billy really blew the doors off by tapping a flush vein for the MTV generation. By taking early '80s DC icons and combining them with the New Wave artists I adore, Butcher Billy so totally bowled me over that I had to get into the game myself. I never want J'Onn J'Onzz to become too popular, because he'll cease to be "mine" and will likely find a staid status quo instead of eternally simmering with untapped potential. However, it bums me out when his under the radar status excludes him from art projects like this, so I felt the urge to rectify the matter.

A few names popped into my head before David Byrne, but once it did I shut down all other contenders. Byrne has a natural alien quality about him, and his esoteric art school lyrics suit the Sleuth from Outer Space far better than, say, the lust and angst of a Ric Ocasek (who could have been a good Plastic Man, now that I mention it.) Many consider the Talking Heads to be the greatest new wave band ever, which is a little higher profile than I would have gone for under normal circumstances, but the fit was too good to deny. Just think of their catalog of hits like the Alien Atlas' buffet of powers, while Byrne's lack of adulation compared to an Elvis/Madonna/Prince etc. placing him more squarely on Mars II.

I couldn't find any pictures of Byrne bald, but I figured I would just stick his face on an old drawing, so that non-problem was easily solved. The reference I used was from a Life Magazine photographer, but I couldn't find a credit. I'd hoped to just blow out the contrast and keep this simple, but the lighting and graytones made that impossible with my outdated software.

Instead, I started free-mousing over the picture in Windows Paint, and when I wasn't appalled by the result, I kept going. Once I was satisfied, I obliterated the underlying photo, tilted the drawing, resized, and stuck it over a Joe Certa splash page scanned from Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter.

The great thing about this project was that, as opposed to the fake comic book covers I usually do, this didn't have to look like a real publication. Following Butcher Billy's example, I went loud with the coloring, tossed in elements willy nilly, and was given permission to obscure as much of the Martian Manhunter logo as I pleased. Usually, I put together fully realized elements and merge them, but for this I just slapped one black and white layer on top of another and colored the whole thing at once. As liberating as all that freewheeling was, it still took me a great many more hours than I hoped to get this done. No Thomas Dolby Ray Palmers or Taco Paco Ramones for my other blogs!

I had a copy of Justice League of America #230 handy, which made the cover elements a snap, and allowed me to differentiate this from Butcher Billy's work in more ways than just the inferior quality of mine. In case you forgot, that was wholly appropriate as the final chapter of "War of the Worlds 1984." The song lyrics are from "And She Was" and "Mr. Jones."

The Post-Punk / New Wave Super Friends

1 comment:

LissBirds said...

I like this a lot!! I think David Byrne is a great choice--definitely rocking an otherwordly look.

Plus I like Talking Heads and new wave, so bonus.

Also, I agree completely about ownership of a character and not wanting him/her to get too "popular." As I like to say, as soon as something becomes popular I have to stop liking it. If my dream noir/period piece J'onn J'onzz series ever came to fruition, I'm sure it wouldn't live up to my expectations. Rather it's better to think of what could be in the midst of untapped potential.

Still, I gotta dream...