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Playtime: The Indecisive Backpacker

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There was a short-lived but fun creative challenge on Whitechapel, in which a short-short story was posted, and artists were invited to create a spot illustration for it. This one was a story called “The Indecisive Backpacker”. (Go ahead and read it: it’s freakin’ short.)

Playtime: EEPROM


Some of the most fun creative challenges can be the ones where I don’t give a fuck about the subject.  Case in point: to remake / remodel Rom the Spaceknight, the star of a comic I never read, based on a toy I never played with.

I can’t find the place this was originally posted (probably Warren Ellis’ The Engine), so I can’t quote the specific instructions.  For some reason, I decided that this artificial entity should be hermaphroditic.

Playtime: Puff, Puff, Pass

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Puff, Puff, Pass is a popular ritual among those who smoke pot. You take a hit off a joint, you take another hit, and you pass it along to the next person.

This piece was part of a creative challenge based on that: each contributor’s page begins with a joint being passed into the frame, and ends with it being passed on. In between was to be a story told without any words, pictograms only. The forum that the other entries were posted in is gone now, so I only have access to my own page:

Playtime: Nerak of the “New 52″

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Back when DC was launching their “New 52″ line, sorta-overhauling most of the DC Universe, they did an online survey to gauge reader interest. To flag bogus responses, they included a fake title in the list: Nerak. I decided to have a little fun and designed a character and cover art to go along with it.

The character’s name was totally made-up. One theory was that it was “Karen” (as in “Karen Berger”, increasingly marginalized editor of Vertigo) spelled backwards, so I gave her a sidekick named “Nad” (as in “Dan DiDio”, increasingly powerful co-publisher of the company). I made her a science-fictiony space knight, because it seemed like a genre that DC ought to be doing more of. You may notice a species resemblance to Starfire, who is notorious for wearing exactly the opposite amount of clothing that Nerak wears.

The cover copy is entirely tongue-in-cheek. DC’s “new” characters were almost entirely rehashes of existing ones, sometimes being “updated” to look more like older versions. The new titles were noticeably short on female leads, and DC was in the middle of a typical PR trainwreck because they’d published a redesign of Wonder Woman’s costume which included pants – which was promptly “fixed” to put her back in panties.

Playtime: homoerotic deity

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One of my writer friends (I won’t drag him into this by saying who) posted a challenge to his artist friends, to draw a homoerotic pin-up of a deity. He received a bunch of great responses (homoerotic Zeus, homoerotic Osirus, etc), but declined to post mine. Which I expected, and respect, because – me being the trouble-maker I am, I’d picked a deity which is totally off-limits for drawing.

Part of the challenge of drawing this particular god comes from the fact that drawing him is so absolutely taboo. Unlike Mohammed, Jesus, and even יהוה‎, who’ve been depicted countless times, this one has no established likeness. Just a name. So I homoeroticized … just the name.
Please don’t kill me.

Playtime: Doctor Strangest

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A little creative challenge posted on Sequential Workshop a couple years ago asked people to describe what they’d do if they got to write Doctor Strange.

There’s a discussion going on right now in the WFH Dream Gig thread over the viability of Marvel’s Doctor Strange as a character, with me arguing that he’s a mess of incongruous elements and has been since day one, and @joshhechinger, @JasonFranks and @Owen_Jones disagreeing.
So how about we put our money where our mouths are and say what we would do if we were writing Doctor Strange?

My contribution:

OK, I read up over lunch on this “Doctor Strange” character y’all are talking about. It says here that he suffered nerve damage which affected his manual coordination, and he sought out medical and surgical corrections which failed to fully restore it. Gods on earth, I actually know someone like that! Someone I could use as a touchstone for my version’s characterization.

So basicly he’s me, 15 years from now, after turning to the arcane arts in bitter desperation, growing the mustache he once swore he’d never grow, training tirelessly for years, and finding that with this mystical power comes mystical responsibility. From there it took just a slight alteration to my his appearance….

Playtime: The Doctor, 13

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A remake/remodel challenge that elicited a lot of response back in the day was for The Doctor. Specifically the final one. The instructions were quite simple.

A Time Lord can regenerate twelve times before dying. Thirteen incarnations in all.
Design the thirteenth incarnation of the Doctor.

Brainstorming the words “thirteen” and “doctor”, two images kept coming to mind (once I finally banished DC’s “Dr. Thirteen”). The first is a 13-year-old (riffing on the trend until just now for younger and younger actors in the role).  The second is the doctor known as “Thirteen” from House, M.D.. Which of these is the Doctor and which is the Doctor’s companion is an exercise left to the reader. :)

Playtime: Captain America

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Here’s a creative re-imagining done for one of Warren Ellis’ challenges on Whitechapel, for Captain America.

A “doctor” with a funny foreign name performs a “procedure” on a skinny geek which turns said skinny person into a “super-soldier.” It is decided that no-one must know who this person is, and so they are given to the US Army under the name “Captain America.”
Possibly you weren’t paying full attention when this was being explained to you. Possibly you have a drinking problem. And those headaches have been getting worse. Also, as the person who looks just like you and follows you around all day has commented, your poop has turned grey.
NONETHELESS. You must take what you heard and turn it into a character design.

“Skinny geek” is an operational requirement; the hoverchair cannot carry more than 100lbs. The “procedure” is cybernetic, and the “doctor” with a funny foreign name is roboticist Shota Katayanagi, PhD. After extensive screening through video games, high-scorer Stevie Rodriguez (b. 9-11-2001) is permanently linked to the “Captain America” army combat drone as the ultimate “super-soldier”.

Playtime: Buck Rogers

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A very long time ago, Warren Ellis used to post creative challenges to remake/remodel characters, on his forum “The Engine”. The site is gone, but I still have most of the pieces I did. This challenge was to take just the core concept of Buck Rogers, a man of the early 20th century, who wakes up in the 25th… and recreate the character.

In the era in which the original story was written, the term “buck” was sometimes used to describe a strong young black male, so I decided that was a nickname for an African-American man, whom I dressed in the tightest retro-futuristic leotard I could justify.