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Elastic or Super Stretching: A list of elastic heroes part 2

Flexibility when big, life changes happen is a helpful character trait to possess or develop. This first blog post lists and compares several of these characters in the order they were first published (by publication year). This is part 2 of a two-part post.

I think flexibility is the main reason why super heroes with elastic or super stretching powers are fascinating. They embody adaptation. They can work around most physical obstacles, rising to impossible challenges. At the same time, they look unusual and strange. They connect to the sense of being an outcast or an outsider that comic book characters explore (the X-Men being a long standing example).

Dhalsim, 1991

Dhalsim from the Street Fighter series has less extreme and flowing stretching powers. He can’t elongate his body into a sheet, but his arms and legs still spring out, which is an effective fighting tactic in the two dimensional world of Street Fighter. Some writers have criticised Dhalsim’s cliched and racially stereotyped design; Dhalsim is a practising yoga master from India. He wears skulls and breathes fire. These characteristics show Dhalsim’s elastic design was not deeply thought out or planned when he, and the cast of Street Fighter 2were initially created. He is one part of an ‘international’ cast of characters. Looking for depth, flexibility, and outsider status would be difficult considering the stereotyping behind his design.

Luffy (Monkey.D.Luffy), 1997

Monkey D. Luffy is the pirate captain of the Straw Hat pirates from the long-running One Piece manga. He has several traits in common with Plastic Man. Both have morally chaotic decision making skills, and extreme, stretching abilities. They also have a sense of humour and optimistic buoyant personalities. Luffy has the middle initial of “D”, which marks him as an outsider in the One Piece world. Another elastic hero marked as an outsider.

Mrs. Incredible, 2004

In 2004, Helen Parr appears in the Disney Pixar animation The Incredibles. Similar to Mr.Fantastic, she is a strong family figure, and like Mr. Fantastic, would make tremendous
sacrifices to protect her family. Her elastic powers are also similar to Mr. Fantastic. Mrs. Incredible also made a significant sacrifice in her life when she gave up being a hero entirely to raise a family.

Jake the Dog, 2008

In 2008, Jake the Dog is the first prominent, non-human shape shifter and elastic hero. His story arc progresses from a more carefree adventurer, to concerned parent. He shapeshifts not just to fight and carry Finn around, but also to adapt to his changing responsibilities. He starts in the same, chaotic place as Luffy and Plastic Man, but transitions to become more similar in character to Mr.Fantastic and Mrs. Incredible.

Ms. Marvel, 2013

Finally, in 2013, Ms. Marvel arrives. Her abilities include shapeshifting and stretching, similar to Plastic Man and Luffy. Kamala Khan fights prejudice and stands out as a diverse role model. Another elastic hero with outsider status, who is an authentic American Muslim character, concerned with the safety of everyone in her New Jersey community. The depth and thought behind Ms. Marvel’s design and writing contrasts with the ideas and stereotypes hastily used to create Street Fighter character Dhalsim. Ms. Marvel needs to be flexible to take on prejudice in her community toward Americans who are also of the Islamic faith.

An interesting trend observed just from the publication year is the increase in shapeshifting and stretching characters since 1997. Moving into the 21st century, flexibility is an increasingly valuable character trait. We can see a bit of our own struggle to be more flexible with the demands of contemporary life in these characters.

So, are these insights valuable, or just over thinking? You can head back in time, and read about elastic heroes before 1990 on the Wallflyer.

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Elastic or Super Stretching: A list of elastic heroes part 1

Flexibility when big, life changes happen is a helpful character trait to possess or develop. This first blog post lists and compares several of these characters in the order they were first published (by publication year). This is part 1 of a two-part post.

I think flexibility is the main reason why super heroes with elastic or super stretching powers are fascinating. They embody adaptation. They can work around most physical obstacles, rising to impossible challenges. At the same time, they look unusual and strange. They connect to the sense of being an outcast or an outsider that comic book characters explore (the X-Men being a long standing example).

Plastic Man, 1941

In 1941, Plastic Man arrives in Police Comics #1. He is the earliest hero in American comics publishing with stretching powers. A reformed thief, Plastic Man has an overwhelming sense of humour. This brightness was later contrasted with depths of sadness when the character appeared in several Justice League of America story arcs during the 1990’s. Flexible and elastic characters can change with the times. They embody adaptation.

Reed Richards, Elongated Man, 1961

Almost exactly 20 years later, in 1961, two more elastic heroes appear. One more arrives for DC, and a prominent stretchy heroes appears at Marvel Comics. These two heroes are the detective Elongated Man, and the super scientist and Fantastic Four team leader Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). Richards is a character with strong family connections. He would literally stretch to great lengths to defend his family. Elongated Man is also a character with strong family connections. Like Plastic Man, he is also the survivor of almost overwhelming tragedies, having lost his wife Susan Dearbon (before New 52 relaunch at DC comics) and almost losing Susan again (after the New 52 relaunch) in Secret Six.

Elastic-Girl, 1963

Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol appears in 1963. She represents the outsider interpretation of elastic and stretchy heroes. Also experiencing loss and tragedy, she and her team died in a battle to save a small fishing village. Like Elongated Man, she has returned following the New 52 relaunch, however.

Flat Man, 1989

In 1989, a hero with limited stretching or elastic powers called Flat Man appears at Marvel comics. Flat Man joins the Great Lakes Avengers, who are often sidelined or maligned by the Avengers, or the X-Men. Combined with the Flat Man’s character development – gaining the confidence to admit to himself that he is gay and eventually come out to his teammates – the outcast status appears in connection with another elastic hero.

Are these ideas of flexibility, of overcoming obstacles, and being an outcast justified and relevant, or just overthinking? Part two on the Wallflyer will cover heroes after 1991 – Dhalsim, Mrs. Incredible, Monkey D. Luffy, Jake the Dog, and Ms. Marvel.

Update 22/2 Link to part two added to the last paragraph.

Taptastic Logo, copyright.

Independent Comics from Mars – Long Exposure

At the request of the creator, no art content is reposted in this short update. Instead, this short, art update includes just a tweet from artist Mars linking to their Independent Comic published on Taptastic.com – Long Exposure.

The webcomic features a highly expressive art style. Character facial expression and anatomy is very thoughtful. Their facial expressions capture boundless personality. Very slight touches of colour highlight and draw attention to specific movements and gestures. That is, until the colour choices begin to play a key role in the a specific character’s arc in Chapter 2.

The diversity involved in the character story arc is also impressive, featuring LGBTIQ themes. The comic also confronts high-school bullying head on (content warning for anyone reading on).

You can read Long Exposure on Taptastic, For more information on Mars’ artwork, you can see their work on tumblr, and twitter.

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DC Comics imprint Young Animal to publish Bug! The Adventures of Forager

Calling out to Comics foundational creator Jack Kirby – on the 100 year anniversary of Kirby’s birthday – Forager Bug arrives under the DC comics imprint Young Animal. Bug! The Adventures of Forager is a six issue mini-seres set to debut on May 10, 2017. The creative team stepping up for the project are Michael, Lee, and Laura Allred. I’m looking forward to the colouring, and universe exploration settings, following the creative team’s work on Silver Surfer for Marvel comics.

On the origin of their interest in the character, Lee Allred says:

“Ever since Mike and I read a battered copy of NEW GODS #9 in the waiting room before guitar lessons, we’ve loved Forager the Bug..A kinetic action hero on one hand, an alienated, introspective youth on the other—he’s the quintessential Young Animal character.” -Lee Allred, DC comics interview.

For more information on the character, DC comics has a Media Release. And Comics Alliance has a history of the character.

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Collect a free bottle cap for Pokemon Sun and Moon from Nintendo

Nintendo announced on the official Pokemon website that a distribution event for a free bottle cap for Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon will run from  February 13 to March 5.

The distribution takes the form of a download code, which will be available from GameStop Worldwide, and EB games in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

You can use the bottle cap to raise your Pokemon’s stats to the highest possible number:

  • Pokemon must be at level 100 for the bottle cap to work.
  • Exchange the bottle cap with the hyper training expert in Hau’oli City Shopping Mall.
  • The Expert will ask which of your Pokemon’s stats (HP, Attack, etc.) you wish to raise to the maximum level.

Seribii.net has some information on other locations the Bottle Cap will be available around the world.

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How to write a comic script with Justice League of America Rebirth #1

The Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 has some layered character writing that shows internal struggle. I’ve written a brief recap of key moments for three characters: The Ray, Lobo, and Killer Frost.

The Ray is a new super hero, protecting Vanity City, Oregon, but two sentences of conversation set him up as an outsider.

Two parents on the street see him flying overhead, and acknowledge he saves lives, but admonish his possibly dangerous light powers. When offered JLA membership, listening to the mission of the JLA, which is human heroes and not gods, Ray says

“I don’t know if I’m human…and I’ve never been part of anything”.

-The Ray, JLA Rebirth #1

People see Ray as an outsider, and he views himself as something other than a human. Othering the Ray is one way to present an LGBTIQ character in a comic script. The Ray’s struggle of being left out plays out later in a scene with the entire team assembled. He tries to enter the conversation, but is quickly silenced by Lobo (“Adults are talkin’ kid”).

It’s no surprise that one of the teaser panels for later JLA issues is the Ray attacking Lobo. The conflict Ray feels of being an outsider, an other, silenced by Lobo, informs his actions.

Lobo presents as a harder, tougher, and unstoppable force of masculinity, which expertly covers interests that would not been seen as masculine- intelligence for complex science, and attention to detail.

He’s violent, loud, and takes any oppurtunity to put down his team mates. Intelligence and attention to detail are not typically masculine behaviours. Yet, when Lobo sees the skill in quantum physics from the Atom, Ryan Choi, he shows interest and respect, clashing with his careless, aggressive persona. His word choice softens slightly when talking to the Atom. It’s an example of character showing layers that conflict and clash.

Killer Frost also shows layers. Her name and appearance implies something frozen, emotionally locked, with cold affect. She attempts to be a warmer, more heroic person overall, despite her Killer Frost history.

While powered up with the ability to freeze water in the air, sculpting ice at will, Killer Frost craves heat. She tries to warm up to her team mates, but is judged as dangerous because of her struggles with heat addiction. She is a character facing a tough, self-improvement challenge. Showing restraint when judged for her past, and warmth despite being treated coldly by others. There are some layers here, and a comment about the judgment of others by their presentation, and their past.

In a team book, where space for development is constrained, JLA: Rebirth #1 character writing is a good example of showing inner conflict where space is limited.

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How to paint Super Sculpey with masters series miniature paints

After writing a post on Victreebel’s Pokedex entry, I was inspired to sculpt my own Victreebel miniature. This post is a recap of the sanding and painting, with some basic ‘how-to’ information in the last few paragraphs on priming surfaces and painting.

I’m using a Super Sculpey product for this project. I’m also using Masters Series Paints, and some Norton brand, wet and dry sandpaper I found at a local hardware store in 600, 800, and 1000 grade roughness.

The sculpture aspect of shaping Victreebel was not the key challenge here. My
experience base is making figures and sculpts out of clay and plasticine. The
real challenges was trying to be patient, and work slowly.

I did not succeed in having patience this time.

I baked the clay without taking time to smooth over the surface. It emerged from the over perfectly baked, but also a bit lumpy, rough, and dotted with finger marks.

The solution to this issue, was to practice sanding the polymer clay to
create a smooth surface.

Using a plastic container (which used to hold butter) as a water dish, I soaked the miniature and sandpaper in water. Then, I gently sanded Victreebel, turning the miniature back and forth under the sandpaper.

I moved upward through the sandpaper numbers, from harder to softer – from 600 through to 1000 – until the surface lost its rough texture, and the finger marks faded out.

For painting Super Sculpey, an undercoat will help, after sanding. Layering washes of colour will build up a solid coat, and reduce brush strokes.

Super Sculpey needs an undercoat with miniature paints, which I discovered. I specifically used Master Series Paints. Priming the surface with a brush on primer produced a more vibrant and full colour, even with just a wash layer.

Wash layers are a mix of pure paint, and then water, such that the painting a streak of colour on a paper towel leaves a line of colour that slowly changes to a pale, washed out version of the colour.

One of the first painting techniques for the miniature is to apply a black wash to the places where two parts of the miniature join, or where two different colours meet. In this case, it is Victreebel’s body and leaves, its mouth and top leaf, and the vine, which I made separately to glue on later.

After blocking out the joins with a black wash, and priming, I applied layers of washes to build up a solid coat of paint.

Without the primer, it took 4 layers to get close to a solid, lemon yellow colour for Victreebel’s body. For the leaves, I experimented with the primer, and the pale, meadow green colour. The result was a solid colour block in two layers.

For more information on the Master Series Paints, their Reaper Mini website has a list available paint by series, and a useful colour identification tool.