I Squandered My Childhood Drawing Muscle Men
MY FACE IS SO VERY ANGRY AT YOU ALL!!!
One of the things that probably comes through very clear in my writing is that I'm a huge nerd, particularly a comic nerd. I have been such a creature since my youthful days, which I non-voluntarily spent as a child. I think the comic book is a fantastic medium that allows for a wealth of intelligent, interesting, and downright entertaining stories to be told far beyond the stereotypical "Superman beats up alien" or "Spider-Man gets molested by his cloned uncle's local bike shop owner" nonsense the industry is known for. In my early years, around the time I went into a cocoon and underwent metamorphosis into a horrendous looking teenager, I dreamed of being a comic book artist. Back then my capacity for story was shallow enough to consider the plot to an id Software game a work of moving fiction, so when I read comic books I didn't see much beyond the art. To make matters worse, my youthful ideal of quality art was incredibly lacking, if not fairly abysmal.
I tell you this because in honor of the recent trend of passing childhood art off as Internet comedy, I am going to attempt to pass my childhood art off as Internet comedy. Unfortunately I no longer have any of the drawings I made when I was a wee lad, but I do still have an embarrassing stack of drawings I made when I was in the age 12-13 demographic. That was when I made my initial foray into comic collecting. When I first purchased a comic, I knew then and there I would become a comic book artist. That dream lasted until it was replaced with "becoming a web designer." My dreams for the future have now atrophied to simply "keeping the noose at bay."
As an aspiring comic artist, I was drawing influence from an anatomically incorrect fountain of disproportionate stupidity. My favorite artist of the day was one Rob Liefeld, who is still well known in this modern millennium. For those of you not familiar with Rob Liefeld, he is sort of like the Derek Smart or John Romero of the comic book industry. When Liefeld draws a comic, you can rest assured that it will be a moving, kinetic work from cover to cover. This is partly because Liefeld cannot maintain any sort of consistency whatsoever, even between panels on the same page. Having background details randomly change between panels set in the same location is hardly an issue when you take into account how he draws the human form. Even by exaggerated comic book standards, Rob treats human anatomy and perspective in ways M.C. Escher was never cruel enough to consider. He can barely manage to align eyeballs across a face, let alone draw limbs to their natural conclusions. All the characters he draws are packed so tight they look they are either going to go supernova at any moment or tip over due to a lack of feet and ankles. I think his work can best be summed up in this hyperlinked picture of Captain America, seen just after some asymmetrical breast implant surgery. Don't take my word for it. Some simple research on the Internet will show you just how bad an artist he is, and how he manages to draw female anatomy far, far worse than male anatomy. Making fun of Liefeld is clichι at this point, so lets move on.
Yes, in retrospect, patterning myself after a guy who thinks Captain America has bigger breasts than an estrogen-fueled tank was probably an ill-conceived idea at best. But I was a dumb kid attracted to flashy art and apparently men with big muscles and guns. That's pretty much what comics in the 90s were all about, though. I'm not sure why, and I don't really want to know. Anyway, what follows now is my analysis of a handful of drawings I made in 1994 and 1995, shortly before my dream died and I began the downward spiral that continues here each and every week.
|Drawing #1 "Guy So Overloaded with Guns and Muscles He Can No Longer Stand"
Anatomy: Obviously this character needs those bulging muscles to compensate for having small feet and ankles and a tiny neck. I think I really nailed human anatomy when it comes to the chest area, as most muscular people look exactly like that. Clearly this doofus is very strong, as those weapons are by no means light. This is also a very dramatic pose, and as you might imagine, it taxed my drawing abilities to the limit.
Pointless Weapons and Gear: It's fairly easy to ascertain that this angry man intends to shoot things. I base this on the fact he is not only carrying some kind of ridiculously oversized handgun, but also some cannon roughly half the size of an adult helicopter. In case either of those two massive guns fail to achieve the important goal of killing people, he also has a third gun strapped to his back, probably causing some severe spinal cord damage. In case he does end up breaking his back from carrying around a battleship's arsenal, he can radio for help with his powerful headset. Because that thing is roughly four times the size of a cell phone, it is obviously four times more powerful.
Costume: Our kneeling hero is basically wearing a one-piece bodysuit with boots and a headband. But when you really think about it and I mean really think about it what more do you need? The fewer items of clothing you have to put on, the quicker you can get out to battle. Really, when an emergency happens you probably only have time to slide into a bodysuit and put some boots on before rushing to the armory. He's damn lucky to even find the time necessary to grab his headband. I guess he also had time to put some kind of paint around his eyes or something. I'm not sure what that crap is. The point is, if he had to put on a shirt and pants, he probably would show up late to battle. That's just unacceptable. It's also a good thing he chose a bodysuit that has padded collars. You never know when you're going to get your neck snapped, especially one so dainty. Those collars are probably very soft and smooth.
Please note my awesome signature, as it is the mark of a true artist. No, I don't sign my checks that way. But if I had the money for a checking account I most certainly would.
|Drawing #2 "Masked Angry Man"
Anatomy: I hate to say it, but I think our masked friend probably abused a lot of steroids. Not only are his veins and muscles popping, but also I think his joints are literally popping loose. Unless he has childbearing hips for a reason I simply don't remember, I think this poor bastard is actually falling apart. It appears he may also be developing breasts in place of his abs, but then those just might be really supple muscles. With all that on his mind, it's no wonder his eyes look like they are going to implode. Although that might just be his poker face, in which case I fold like a paper airplane.
Pointless Weapons and Gear: I have a hard time believing a single shoulder pad offers any sort of tactical advantage, and probably only restricts arm movement. But, if you're a superhero or supervillain, there is room to compromise mobility in favor of fashion. Still, if you were going to be swinging a sword around, it would probably be best to have as much freedom of movement as possible. I don't want to spoil any surprises, but for those of you wondering what's in those belt pouches, well, it's jellybeans. Magic jellybeans. I think that's a Timex watch he's wearing. Most likely it's one of those kind that can go underwater or in the shower, since the last thing a superhuman wants to think about is whether his watch is going to bust if he has to dive into some water to avoid an explosion.
Costume: This generic costume, particularly the mask, is like a copy of a copy of a copy, but that doesn't mean I didn't think of it first, which I obviously didn't. Thankfully there isn't much to it.
|Drawing #3 "The Man With Pregnant Muscles"
Anatomy: This bulging mess is in serious danger of having the majority of his muscles give birth. As to what muscles give birth to, the darkest parts of my imagination can only fathom. When your kneecap is larger than your head, that's probably a sign of trouble. Thankfully he appears to be somewhat happy, as indicated by the muscle-taxing smile that's slicing out of his face.
Pointless Weapons and Gear: Aside from the inexplicable metal "wings" coming out of his back, this guy really doesn't have much in the way of gratuitous gear. Well, except for maybe the hoses, and the cyborg arm, and the shoulder pad, and the gun that apparently shoots pancakes or Frisbees. But virtually every comic book character created in the early 1990s had that stuff, so can you really fault me? This lunatic is a product of his environment.
Costume: This is a very modest outfit, consisting of pants, a shirt, and boots. The pants and shirts are neatly adorned with some kind of lines for some important purpose I'm not sure of at the moment. I bet I had a really good explanation back on 2-10-95 when I was drawing this opus of the magnum variety. They were probably cooling vents or something very crucial to the business of kicking ass. It's also a good thing he was able to find boots in his size, which is hard when you are a misshapen blob of malformed muscle.
|Drawing #4 "The Human Armory"
Anatomy: He's a human pop machine ready to vend some fizzing soda in your face! Really, do I need to point out how poor a grasp of anatomy I had anymore? The muscles here make no sense. It's like I had a jigsaw puzzle and couldn't figure it out so I just forced the pieces together with staples and a hot glue gun. As you can see, I was capable of illustrating a wide range of emotion, but chose the one that best reflected my inner torment. I had a lot of inner torment back then, what with the steady decline of Saturday morning cartoons and all and the start of my journey into manhood. Regardless, his chiseled face is quite striking, as the beautifully illustrated eyes draw you into the mystery of this "man with a mission."
Pointless Weapons and Gear: None whatsoever. No really. Okay, this jolly fellow has more weapons on him than most Republicans own. Not only does he have enough pouches to store all kinds of oats and grains, he also has a chain mail sleeve for his elbow! The straps of bullets, shoulder pads, and weird things fastened to everything help round out the "I AM GOING TO HURT MYSELF IF I TRY TO MOVE" look. In case there is trouble, he also has one of those stylish headsets for up-to-the-minute weather reports and sports scores at 15 past the hour every hour. At least his guns look somewhat plausible.
Costume: Another case of a very non-existent costume design being buried under a pile of useless belts and pouches. But when you think about it, I could have given him a cape on top of everything else. The fact I did not shows a great deal of restraint on my part, therefore making this character design quite respectable.
I think at this point it's quite evident I had serious difficulty drawing characters in anything but the most generic pose.
Finally, to prove I've still got it, I humbly submit this character I drew late last year. I think I may still have a shot at my childhood dream!
|Drawing #5 "Battleworx"
Anatomy: As you can see, in spite of giving up the dream, I actually mastered the human form in the decade since those other drawings. I think this is probably as good a depiction as the human body as you can get, and I'm quite proud of my work. I didn't take any shortcuts and really nailed the details. This could easily be a page out of Jerry Bruckheimer Presents: Gray's Anatomy.
Pointless Weapons and Gear: I don't think there is anything pointless about the equipment he is carrying or has strapped to his back or head. It all makes sense and is very logical. Battleworx is a factory of death and destruction, so he needs all those attachments. His cybernetic arm is also especially necessary, since he probably lost his original one in a cotton candy machine accident or something along those lines. Clearly he is skilled in both knives and gigantic guns, as any factory of death should be.
Costume: Versatile and practical! I wanted to show the evolution of technology over my previous superhero drawings, and that really shows in the headgear Battleworx is wearing. Look how big it is compared to the other drawings. Bigger means better, so he's well suited for just about anything. You may think the non-matching boots is a mistake, but it really adds balance given his robotic right arm. Yep, all and all, this is a superhero dressed to kill!
And with that we're done looking at my terrible teenage artwork! Given the huge stack I have of bad drawings from 1994-1995, in addition to all the ones I lost over the years prior, I think it's safe to say I really wasted a good chunk of my childhood. On the plus side, I can always cease all further development and regress to a childlike state to reclaim those lost years. That should work out nicely.