Hero and villian creation
For this feature I am going to avoid using a particular game system, as I think it will make things more useful for more people. However, I am eager to get some opinions on this, as I'd eventually like to do a thing. If I did stat things up, I'd likely use ICONS or FASRIP.
Forty pages into making my comic the Planet Eaters, I am a little taken aback to realize that some of the challenges associated with running an rpg game and writing/drawing a team superhero book are remarkably similar. This is especially true in regards to character spotlight/development time. When one is reffing a game one has to guard against letting one character dominate- especially if they make moving things along easier. It is the same with comics. I have a huge cast, which is only growing larger, and there are defintely a couple of characters I like to draw more than others, but I gotta get to them all or else things fall apart.
Given the large casts involved in comics and games and the resultant spotlight issues, then, it is probably a good idea to front load some of each hero's (and villain's) characterization and thereby lay the groundwork for future development as well.
Superhero comics have two very well established ways of doing this: Origin story and costume/appearance, both of which tie directly into a third sort of character expression: powers and abilitles.
Batman, for example, lost his parents to gun violence. Unsurprisingly, he really hates guns and criminals. As a result he becomes an expert in both unarmed combat and criminology and develops a non lethel projectile weapon. Visually, not only is he a giant, scary, muscle man, but his costume is explicitly designed to make him frightening, protect him from harm, and showcase how conditioned he is all at once- it also includes a visible utility belt that grants him a further range of abilites.
The FF and the X-Men take this a step further in regards to relationships. The FF and certain teams of X-Men all wear the same costumes, but their powers, or, in some cases, their hairstyles, grant them visual individuality. The uniform nature of their super-suits implies inity and shows that they are more than just a random assortment of powered individuals.
The best characterization comes from an origin that haunts the character. The gateway to power cannot be crossed without a price, be it one's parents; homeworld; physical appearence; Uncle Ben; best friends trust; peace or- well, anything, really. Invoking such ghost of loss at the proper moment is an excellent way to work in some quick and powerful character development.
Okay, lets build one from the ground up.
Again, for a variety of reasons, I went systemless, but my power/ability names should be failry self- descriptive.
I don't have a preferred order, I start with a name, or a visual, or an origin, but usually change one or all three sometime during the process.
The vaguest idea forthis character has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time; I had a sack full of potential names too, and actually changed her name and design two seconds before I drew her on the page for the first time. This, by the way, is about the closest I get to making analog characters. She is very distantly inspired by Batman and Robin-and as I worked on her she became even more distant. Her suit and glove (utility belt stand in) are really the only leftovers from the intial concept.
As with the origin and name, I think a visual representation of the character, be it a drawing, a photo, or whatever, is absolutely essential when it comes to creating a super character. For me of course this is the easiest part. However, not everyone can draw. There are some free online resources like Hero Machine (google) and a few other such things. I urge you to check them out. Players really respond to cool looking original villians if nothing else.
However, I'm too stupid for Hero Machine, so I had to do this the hard way.
I could not fit this on the card, but the Talon's father died during the intial assault of the Wet World Empire- a period during which she had turned her back on the family legacy and refused to operate as his teen partner- hence the guilt from the spectral grandparents. Further, Talon's war experience has left her more than hardened towards violence. She is capable of losing control, hungers for it almost- this is especially true when she wields the Ghost Gun.
So here's the rest of the main crew, less a couple I couldn't fit in.
Next week I'll detail out Vlad Frankenstien.
REAL TALK: The Type of characterization I'm talking about was really brought into comics by Kirby, Ditko and Lee at Marvel in the 1960's. There is no substitute.
Get a Marvel Unlimited account and read the following;
Amazing Fantasy 15
Amazing Spider-Man 1-38
Watch the aftermath, as Peter Parker's super-villian origin is disrupted by the murder of his Uncle Ben and he slowly evolves from potential school-shooter into a right guy and a super hero. I'm not even exaggerating. Early Parker is a straight up creep. See issue 5 page 11, panels 1-3 for a good and cringe-worthy example of this. The stories are fucking great. Also Ditko's art,mespeically the inking, is sweet as fuck.
Tales of Suspense (Captain America) 59-99 Captain America 100-116
Cap is haunted by memories of his dead partner and a past to which he can never return. Also Modok, Agent 13, Black Panther(!), Nick Fury, the Avengers, and all kinds of other great shit. Not read nearly as widely as it deserves. Mostly Lee/Kirby, with a Steranko chaser at the end. I don't really have enough exclamation points for any of that.
All of these are currently available in print in lovely oversized omnibus editions as well.
Your library might have some of these, but most I've onto usually seem to have Ulitimate Spider-man by Bendis (not to my taste) which is not at all the same thing as Lee/Ditko ASM. CA and the FF are inlikely to be there at all, sadly.
Marvel Unlimited is an amazing deal, especially if you have a tablet, but If, like me you have a print fetish amd you are thinking of buying copies, you absolutely have to check this site, with which I am not affiliated in any way, out. They are waaaay cheaper than Amazon, and pack their books infinitely better.
Contest: I want to have two comtests: one to do a character drawing and another to do a map but I am not sure how to go about it, or if there is any interest. I'll try to come up with something next week. I would not be able to make delivery until November anyway.
Anway, leave a comment, jerk.