Creating Comic Book Characters circa 1994

I was reading a old issue of  Wizard Guide from March 1994 and came across an article titled “Just Add Water: Ten easy steps for creating gritty, cutting-edge comic book characters”. If only creating comic book characters were this easy…well, maybe in the 90’s it was. Anyways, what you are about to read is exactly as it was printed in the article. (I’ve even scanned the important bits) Let’s begin our journey towards creating the most super-awesome comic book character ever!

(FYI – clicking on the thumbnails will allow you to see the entire image)

Step 1: The Namenames

To start things off, you have to choose a name for your champion of justice. To spare you the usual time-consuming task of thinking up an original character name, we’ve provided the following “match-and-win” instant name generator to the right. Just take one of the words from the column on the left, place it in front of one of the words in the column on the right, and bingo, you’re on your way to creating a licensable product.

Just look at all the choices! I’m going to name him… Hell-Hell. Now on to Step 2.

Step 2: The Origin

Considering how unimportant origins are to a character, it’s alright to skip this part and head straight to Step 3. If you insist on giving your character an origin, we suggest choosing one of the three moody origins below. This will make your character nice and dark, and if you’re lucky, you might even get Frank Miller to write a more detailed origin for your character later on in the series.

A) “Everything I’ve believed in has been a lie…and now someone is going to pay!”

B) “This soulless corporation made me into this…this killing machine…and now they’re going to pay!”

C) “They’ve killed everything that’s ever meant anything to me, even those little snails I kept in the fish tank to keep it  clean…and now they’re going to pay!”

“Considering how unimportant origins are to a character, it’s alright to skip this part…” No wonder characters from the 1990’s were so…so…blah! I’m not even going to choose an origin from that list of cliche crap, so on to Step 3!

Step 3: The Superpower

Instead of going crazy trying to decide whether or not your hero can fly, shoot ray blasts, grow in size, et cetera, a simple superpower that’s loads of fun to work with is quick healing. This way, you can dismember and impale your hero every issue and still keep the series going.

Huh?! I don’t want another Wolverine! Let me think here…um…I know! My character is going to fly! Now to Step 4.

Step 4: The Buildphysique

Now it’s time to choose a body type. Regardless of the character you have in mind, only real he-men types can be heroes, so when you’re choosing a frame for your champion of truth, we strongly suggest using one of the three buff bods shown at the right.

Am I missing something because all three physiques look identical?! Sigh…alright, I’ll take Massive Physique B. Sheesh! Let’s move on to Step 5, shall we?

Step 5: Distinguishing Featuresfeatures

No superhero is complete without some sort of nifty gimmick. Story and art can no longer carry a comic by themselves; your hero must stand out. Nowadays, having at least three of the following physical characteristics is a must.

Gee, don’t these “distinguishing features” look all too familiar. (If you’d like me to list all the characters with these features please raise yours hands…or leave a comment).  Let’s see what Step 6 has in store for us.

Step 6: The Long johns (ie: The Costume)

This really isn’t that important. Throw some different colors on the body you chose, mix ’em around a bit, and bingo, this annoying little chore is out of the way. After all, it’s the miscellaneous paraphernalia on top of the long johns that makes the costume these days. Speaking of which…

I wish I could whack the writer of this article, Pat McCallum, on the head. Even in jest, the costume is extremely important and just wait until I blog about how I came up with the costume for The Deciders. And also, what the *beep* do you mean by “Throw some different colors on the body…”?! You want me to make my super-incredible character a rainbow looking freak?! Forget it, I’ll skip this step and go to Step 7.

Step 7: Miscellaneous Paraphernaliaaccessorize

Accessorize,accessorize,accessorize! Remember, a cluttered hero is a good hero. Even if they seem out of place, add at least three of the following items to your champion of the downtrodden. (Choosing three of the same item like, say, the leg belts, is okay.)

I shouldn’t dare let my hero walk out of the house without his accessories! What a fashion faux-pas that would be. Accessories are good to go. Now to Step 8.

Step 8: The Weaponweapons

This is doubly important. First, no superhero is complete without some sort of big weapon, and secondly, they translate really well into accessories when your character is made into an action figure.

So true. As long as his weapon matches his tights he’ll be good to go! Weapon is taken care of…what does Step 9 say…

Step 9: Supporting Characters

Skip this part. Supporting characters are hard to work into battle scenes, they don’t look cool, and they don’t kill anybody. They’re just not worth it.

That’s not true! Supporting characters are the “red shirts” of the comic book world! They’ll be the first to die in battle and they’ll do anything to make the team. Did you hear me? ANYTHING.

Step 10: Characterization and Continuity

We’re not exactly sure what characterization is, but we do know what continuity is: annoying. Skip this part too.

After following these easy 10 steps I am proud to present to you… the newest super hero sensation, Hell-Hell!

 

1990's Superhero

I am one bad mofo!

I can’t wait to write comic book based on this guy!

4 Comments on "Creating Comic Book Characters circa 1994"

  1. John Liam says:

    Wondering why a bionic arm needs to wear a glove??

  2. mio says:

    I just discovered this blog, and loving the Deciders characters 🙂
    Because I’m not from the U.S. we don’t have big access to books on sketching, creating characters, can you post some links on sketching and creating super heroes and characters ?
    Thanks.

  3. Mark says:

    Heh, I remember when Wizard was snarky…of course, i guess now that should just be “I remember Wizard!”

    • Jocelyn says:

      Yeah, I used to always look forward to reading Wizard Guide magazines. Now they’re super thin and they don’t have the free trading card or 1/2 comic book with it.

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