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?
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….
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.
I can’t for the life of me remember what the creative challenge behind this item was. Something about spoilers and modern movie posters.
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”.
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.
This was for a remake/remodel challenge on the Whitechapel forum for “The Goddam Couture Batman”
Bruce Wayne realises his relentless crusade against the superstitious and cowardly criminal classes has left him totally bankrupt. Luckily he’s spent 30 years creating outrageously fetishy costumes for his own use, and has hence accidentally become the world’s foremost sartorial designer.
Once upon a time he fell down a hole, saw a bat, blubbed like a baby, then decided to go kick ass while sporting pointy ears. Now he’s going to rebuild his fortune on the catwalks of Milan using the same winged-rat, utility-belted, caped-bondage-goon vibe in his amazing frou-frou couture ensembles.
You will bring the Fashion. You will bring me the mighty centrepiece of the Brüs/W?n Studio Collection, and god help the poor model stuck inside the thing if he/she can’t move well enough to beat up some criminals while sashaying.
Last year I participated in a challenge to re-invent the vampire, in reaction to such half-assed “updates” as the sparkly emo stalkers of Twilight.
You will design for me a Creature who can live Among Us. We want a fiend who preys on the community in as creepy and unconventional a way as possible. Avoid obviousness – this isn’t a guzzler-of-flesh, but a Stealer Of Power. Does it eat laughter? Ideas? Screams? Sexuality? What role in society would it take: this thinner-of-the-human herd?
I came up with this:
My late friend Jens Altman did a strip called “Made of Fail“, which featured crudely drawn characters in darkly comedic situations. He challenged his friends to draw the characters from that strip in the style of Rob Liefeld. I chose his character Amy:
I can’t draw like Liefeld, and I mean that as a sincere backhanded complement. He uses techniques (e.g. crosshatching) that I’ve never gotten the hang of, so I’m not going to try to duplicate them. Besides, the assignment here was more about design than rendering, right?
So here is Amy as Mr. Liefeld might have conceived her to appear, with a blend of his drawing ideosyncracies and my own. (Fair enough, I hope?)
I chose Amy because I could immediately picture Liefeld’s approach to her hair. And I have to confess that as I referred to a few actual Liefeld pieces while drawing this, I could see that I was overdoing it; I was caricaturing his characters. To fix this, I had to reduce the size of her breasts. Twice.
Back in 2011, there were rumors that DC Comics was going to reboot its superhero universe. Again. So I thought it would be fun to get the jump on them and do a couple myself.
Here’s the new Supergirl. My concept was a simple one: that Supergirl would be a superhero for girls. So cut out the lapdancer costume approach, and skip over the schoolgirl fanservice style too. Just a girl. Who’s really strong, and can fly, and do other fun stuff.
The other one I never finished. It was kinda fannish what-if-ness.
In the overhauled Justice League drawing that DC released, Batman looks older than Superman, implying *he* was the DCU’s first superhero instead of Supes. Which means (among other things) that he’d no longer be the logical inspiration for the Legion of Super-Heroes. So I’d revamp that series as Batboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, an elite corps of teens drawn from the member worlds of the 31st century’s United Planets. Founded by Knightlightning Lad (with dark electrical powers), Shuriken Girl (who mentally controls throwing-stars), and Dark Matter Boy (named after the 21st century’s latest cool sci-fi concept), they go back in time to recruit young Bruce Wayne to spend time with them in the future, where they patrol the dark passages between the stars.
Young Batboy didn’t have Superman’s costume to emulate, so he doesn’t wear a cape, instead going with a more batlike design. Likewise, the Legion follow his lead, so instead of brightly-colored leotards like Superboy’s, they generally wear darker colors, head-covering masks, and of course scallops on the arms are the standard hero fashion.
A little creative challenge I came up with myself:
Inspired by the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a comics publisher with Hollywood connections (aren’t they all) has asked you to pitch a mashup of the historic/classic and… well, it doesn’t have to be horror; any popular genre will do: western, sci-fi, fantasy, sex comedy, explosion fest, superhero, etc. Take a historical figure or a novel in the public domain, and fuse something onto it that will get people who hate period costume dramas to pull out their credit cards. Bonus points if the title is a bad pun.
So it’s Alice of Wonderland, but on the Lost island, with a motley cast of castaways: Gilligan, Robinson Crusoe, Wendy Darling, Richard and Emmeline of The Blue Lagoon, and Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland. In the background we have the Wonderland/Looking-Glass characters in the background, including the Cheshire Smoke Monster.