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Cupid’s Got A Death Ray

(PG; Superhero) Agent K tries to relax after rebooting the universe and stopping a General Zaq attack. Why do these vacations never work out? Collaboration with special guest artist Line Olsson.

Exploring the comics art form itself, Cupid tells the same story from two characters point of view. It’s designed to read horizontally and vertically. Each narrative is told in a different art style. Imagine Alex Toth and Edward Gorey telling the same story. Their storylines merge at the end, like superheroes joining forces after their in-fighting wrecks a city or two.

Not bad for eight pages.

Line Olsson is an illustrator, chalkboard artist and cartoonist. Her of exaggerated, intricate approach to sequential storytelling makes Line a perfect fit for Agent K, who Line describes as “a badass action hero.” We “jammed” on this project whenever possible, drawing and inking over each other’s work.

Materials used for this story
10″ x 15″ live area on Strathmore 500 bristol paper
Blick Black Cat india ink
Short-handle round #2 sable brush
Ruling pen (borders)
Speedball nib #515EF (thicker lines)
Hunt 22B (medium lines)
Speedball B6 (bold lettering)
Ames Lettering Guide (3.5 two-thirds calibration)
Adobe Illustrator (“Inky Stories Presents” logo)
Adobe InDesign (page layout)
Adobe Photoshop (production, coloring)

That’s probably everthing you need to enjoy Cupid’s Got A Death Ray! Thanks for sticking around and cheering me on.

— Dave M!, blogging from 1369 Coffee House, Inman Square.

Stop That Panzer Woman!

(PG; Superhero) Agent K’s first solo mission: stop an alien invasion by going deep undercover in a UNIX war zone. Armed only with her wits and laxtex super-suit, the High-heeled Heroine faces a global-scale army with nothing to lose.

This is a prequel to “The Null Device,” in which the mysterious Agent K had a relatively minor role until the end. She was nothing more than my desire to draw a latex bondaage scene at first. As the story developed, keeping her as just a damsel to be rescued seemed so wasteful. By then, however, there wasn’t any room to flesh out her character. And I didn’t know her yet. Until last year, Agent K was a bondage drawing looking for character.

Years later, I wrote the next Agent K story Enter…General Zaq!” This began as a comparison between modern and classic comics. That began as a film noir, but developed in an Agent K superheroine story. While its premise is a bit convoluted, it does enhance her character. She had to be clever, to figure out how to win when the first plans failed. Since the entire story’s a fight scene, her character is only defined by action and banter.

“Stop That Panzer Woman!” tries to address unanswered questions: If she’s such a bad-ass, how did she get captured in “The Null Device?” Did she tell her father, the Director, about her adventures? Where does she live? Why does she fight at all…especially in tights and 6-inch heels? While a lot of these questions are still unanswered, “Stop That Panzer Woman!” passes the Bechdel test in flying colors.

Influences on Agent K’s superheroine persona are from the Golden Age (Miss Fury, The Black Cat,) Silver Age (The Black Widow, Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl, Honey West, Emma Peel from The Avengers,) and modern Goth heroines (La Femme Nikita, Charlize Theron’s Aeon Flux, Trinity from The Matrix, Selene of Underworld.) Their common priority is proving their toughness and intelligence, while taunting and looking fantastic.

Hopefully future stories will define her private and social personality. What does she think is funny? What’s her biggest nightmare, her worst fear, what drives her every word and action? I’m waiting for that “character writes herself” trope to kick in, but will probably have to discover the answers through a lot of writing and observation. Short of that, let’s hope this story is at least entertaining.

Materials used for this story
12″ x 18″ live area on Strathmore 500 bristol paper
Blick Black Cat india ink
Short-handle round #2 sable brush
Ruling pen (borders)
Speedball nib #512 (straight lines, details)
Speedball B6 and B5 1/2 (classic lettering)
Ames Lettering Guide (4.0 even-spaced calibration)
Adobe Photoshop (production)

That’s probably everthing you need to enjoy Stop That Panzer Woman! Thanks for sticking around and cheering me on.

— Dave M!, blogging from 1369 Coffee House, Inman Square.

Batgirl: The Dark Knight Damsel Returns

(G; Superhero) A 55-year-old Barbara Gordon comes out of crime fighting retirement.

My entry for this year’s Dark Knight on a Dark Night exhibit at Hub Comics. Original art is ink on paper, 16×20 inches, all traditional, clumsily colored with Photoshop and a Wacom. Digital print by Colortek of Boston.

Frank Miller’s graphic novel series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is about a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne pulled from his ten-year retirement as Batman in 1986. My version stars a 55-year-old Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, as played by Yvonne Craig. Her physique is based on how Yvonne looked at 55 years old, and the current Cynthia Rothrock.

Pose and sequence are inspired by Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (first issue, page 34). Dimensions are wider than the normal 2:3 ratio to fit the 16×20 inch picture frame. The wider image allowed me up to realign the TV news panels from vertical to horizontal. The Batgirl logo is an emulation of Batman: Dark Knight Returns, designed by Richard Bruning. When I asked him what fonts he used, he said “BATMAN” is likely Univers, and “The Dark Knight” is Empire. My script is a gender-swapped version of Frank Miller’s. I put Batgirl’s rant in thought balloons instead of caption boxes; like the original, our heroine isn’t narrating from the future. I’m convinced the only reason Miller put Batman’s thoughts in boxes is because 1980s editors felt thought balloons looked too juvenile. In another departure from the original, I put the TV monologues in old-school electronic speech bursts in the panels for a cleaner, more coherent page design.

Materials used for this image:
Blick Black Cat india ink
Short-handle round #2 sable brush
Ruling pen (borders)
Speedball nib #512 (straight lines, details)
Speedball B6 and B5 1/2 (lettering)
Ames Lettering Guide (4.0 even-spaced)
Adobe Illustrator (logo)
Adobe Photoshop (production, color)

If I don’t see you at the opening, see this in person at Hub Comics until February 2015, or checkout the high resolution version right here on Inky Stories.

— Dave “Damn, Yvonne!” Marshall, blogging from Bull McCabe’s Pub in Somerville

Batgirl in “Time Crash”

(G; Superhero) With the help of a time-traveling alien, Barbara Gordon visits her older self.

My lastest drawing Batgirl in “Time Crash” is in Dark Knight on a Dark Night, an annual exhibit of Batman-related art hosted by Hub Comics. Opening reception December 20, 6:00-8:00pm. Art will be on display though January 2015. See you there!

In the meantime, please enjoy Yvonne Craig explaination of her character’s sexy but illogical fighting style in a 1983 Comics Scene interview:

Kicking thugs in the face or knocking them over the head with break-away objects was as tough as Batgirl was allowed to be, since [show producer Howie Horwitz] was insistent she not be modeled after Honey West (Anne Francis) or The Avengers’ Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), two contemporary TV heroines he felt were lacking in femininity. Batgirl was not to do any karate, kung fu, any sort of martial arts-type stuff. That wasn’t ladylike to him.

Full art and more background info on the comic page.

— Dave “Batgirl’s Lovely Assistant” Marshall

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