Sunday, November 2, 2008

Project: ATOMIC BEETLE! "Version 1"

Art: Mark Willis

Concept: Chad Carter

I've decided to use this blog to reveal the process behind a creation of my own, specifically for any comic book that would have it.

Mark Willis is the designer of this character, a "novice" in the sense that his experience is limited. We're both cruising toward 40, so age isn't so much a factor as the creeping hands of cold, merciless death running up our spines. We've worked together on a host of other concepts which are linked together more specifically, but the Atomic Beetle is meant to be more "commercial" and not thematic to the Silver or Bronze Age Era we hoped to evoke in other work.

The Atomic Beetle has it's antecedents in the Universal Horror Monsters, Ben Grimm (the Thing of the Fantastic Four,) and other "tragic freaks" of comics.

I had an idea to fuse a man and an Ox Beetle, a large beetle type found in southern states from Nevada to Florida. The critter looks like this:

Yeh, he's cool.

This led me to thinking hard about what I was looking for in an "Atomic Beetle." I had the name out of nowhere, but I needed a physical manifestation. That's where Willis comes in.

I supplied Willis with some basic materials, demonstrating body type, density and scale, texture, and "human-to-monster" ratio.

I included these panel pieces for reference:

Seeing the concept one way, Willis began with "Man in Suit" action, or "Atomic Beetle Version #1":

This revealed a whole new side to the Atomic Beetle equation: the idea that the man would, indeed, become the Man-Beetle fusion, but would also wear a specialized suit to cover his deformity.

This was a Willis conceit that I immediately thought was better than just "Man into Monster."

Willis, being a "Superhero Guy" began to play with emblems to be worn on the suit.

I wanted, though, a bit more monster, indicating the "Man-Thing" reference here:

As we'll see in Version 2, Willis decides to "monster-up" the Atomic Beetle.

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