Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Clarissa Project: The Secret Origin of Ms. Megaton Man!

Reposted from the Megaton Man blog!

Starting out as Stella's Ann Arbor roommate sidekick in Megaton Man #4 (June 1985), Clarissa James has evolved into one of the most prominent characters in the Megaton Man narrative.
A sophomore infatuated with Yarn Man in Return of Megaton Man #1 (July 1988) and subsequently present at the birth of Megaton Man and Stella's son Simon in Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988), Clarissa realizes she has Megapowers and dons the primary-colored costume to become Ms. Megaton Man in Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (April 1989). Initially attributed to a sexually-transmitted Megavirus, Clarissa learns that the true reason for her Megapowers derives from the fact that she is the "love-child" of Silver-Age Megaton Man Clyde Phloog and an African-American hippie mother in Bizarre Heroes #13 (September 1995), making her the second cousin once removed (or something) of Trent Phloog, the Baxter-Age Megaton Man. In the current work in progress (release date TBD), we will see Clarissa emerge as one of the most powerful Doom Defiers, the Megatropolis team that emerges after terrorist attacks deplete the city's Megahero population.

Clarissa James in her very first appearance, registering for her sophomore year in Ann Arbor with Stella Starlight (Megaton Man #2, Kitchen Sink Press, February 1985). Original coloring by Ray Fehrenbach.

Originally, Clarissa was just a sidekick whose sole purpose was to show former See-Thru Girl Stella the ropes on campus as she adjust to post-Megahero life (from MM #2; recolored in 2015).

Clarissa was also a highly studious student and something of a Megahero skeptic, or at least someone who thought of Megaheroics as a distant distraction. In any event, the notion of giving her Megapowers was the furthest thing from my mind, and in fact, she doesn't appear again in the first ten issues of Megaton Man. Nonetheless, the collegiate iconography of Ann Arbor already seems to subconsciously foreshadow her Megaheroic future (from MM #2).

Once Clarissa realizes who Stella is, she is somewhat starstruck by her celebrity status (from MM #2).

With Trent Phloog, as a de-Megapowered Megaton Man, Clarissa has joined the communal Ann Arbor household by the time of Return of Megaton Man #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, July 1988).

By this time, Clarissa has become the roommate of Megatropolis exiles Stella (now far along with her pregnancy) and Pamela Jointly, as Trent struggles with his returning Megapowers (from Return #1).

Infatuated with Yarn Man, Clarissa cannot restrain herself when Megaton Man's pal appears at the doorstep (Return #1).

Fun with Clarissa and Yarn Man from Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988).

Protecting civilian Trent from a toppling stack of firewood, Clarissa strikes a Jack Kirby "Big Barda" pose, and realizes that she now, somehow, possesses Megapowers. Subsequently, Stella sews her a primary-colored costume patterned after Megaton Man's.  From Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, April 1989), originally in black and white, colorized in 2015.

Clarissa assumed that her Megapowers were somehow sexually transmitted from Yarn Man, but learns from her African-America mom that she is in fact the "love child" of Clyde Phloog, the Silver Age Megaton Man. From Bizarre Heroes #13 (Fiasco Comics Inc., September 1995), originally black and white, colorized in 2015.

Clarissa in Megatropolis Central Park with Megaton Man, Rubber Brother, Phantom Jungle Girl, and Yarn Man, as a bronze monument of the allegorical figure Columbia, a pre-Liberty national symbol for America from the 19th century, comes to life. From "Megaton Man and the Liberty Alliance: Columbia Rising," in Liberty Annual 2010 (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund/Image Comics, October 2010). Coloring by Paul and Mary Fricke.


Clarissa gets tested by Preston Percy, Yarn Man, and Rex Rigid in the headquarters of the Megatropolis Quartet (unpublished).
What I like about drawing Clarissa is that she is a much more dramatic superhero character, and a nice foil to the irreducibly comedic Megaton Man! -- Don Simpson.


More about Clarissa James!

All coloring by Don Simpson except where noted.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Body Image: Missing Winnie Wertz!

Clarissa ponders shape and size while waxing nostalgic for the days of yore when Gargantuella was a Doom Defier! Inked on Clearprint Design Velum, from the work-in-progress Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis graphic novel. More previews on Megaton Man's blog!

CJ rummages through the closets of the Doom Defiers beach as as Preston Percy looks on.

Clarissa stumbles upon some useless electronics and some even more useless old comic books!

The woeful tale of Winnie Wertz is told.
Clarissa takes consolation in the art of sequential narrative!

Preston is unmoved by the story or the display.

To glimpse some of the original pencil roughs, go here!

To see an early conception of Winnie Wertz, go here!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cape Catch-Up: CJ Soars!

This sequence from the all-new fifth issue of Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis (which I plan to release as a graphic novel, not individual issues, publication details TBD) features Clarissa James, Ms. Megaton Man (who has the distinction of having the most nicknames of any of my characters -- Missy, Sissy, CJ) coming to the rescue of the beleaguered Man of Molecules. I began penciling this sequence in summer 2015, and finished in February 2016. Some adjustments were made, primarily on tier 4A, in which I altered the background. (More previews over on the Megaton Man blog!)

Light blue Col-Erase and graphite pencil (with some Pilot Razorpoint pen) on bond layout, 11" x 14".


Original figure with background penciled in; the action in the background, however, no longer seemed appropriate considered the way the preceding tiers worked out.

New background penciled today!

Foreground and background fused together in Photoshop. The tiers will be inked on Clearprint Design Vellum over printouts of the roughs.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Points from the Paint: Clarissa vs. Fanny!

Here is a couple of unpublished pages from c. 1993 featuring Clarissa James (Ms. Megaton Man) and Donna Blank, the Phantom Jungle Girl, shooting some hoops on some suburban driveway. This sequence was intended to be a part of Bizarre Heroes, and I don't know why I was too lazy to ink the sparse backgrounds and finish them up (including the last panel with Jasper Johnson, Rubber Brother). This scene offers some important backstory to the Phantom Jungle Girl and her historical origins and I still may use it as a flashback scene in some future project.

What is unusual about these pages is that they are largely inked with a Hunt #102 crowquill pen and some brush on plate finish Bristol, which inks a lot smoother than the usual medium surface Bristol I used with brush. It is also significant that my female characters tended toward more realistic proportions much earlier than my male characters. Prior to this, I tended to make everyone cartoony so as to match the unwieldy proportions of Megaton Man, a tension that I struggled with for far too long. One of the reasons I always found some release in drawing Ms. Megaton Man was precisely this release from the feeling that everything in the Megaton Man narrative had to appear exaggerated and humorous. By this time I was growing comfortable with the idea that things could be light and humorous (and character-driven instead of parody-driven), and drawn in a less forced way.


Friday, August 14, 2015

1989 to 2015: Early Ms. Megaton Man Sketch Finally Finished!

Here's a newly inked and colored pin-up of Clarissa James, Ms. Megaton Man, and Stella Starlight, the See-Thru Girl, developed from a 1989 sketch. I scanned the original, fleshed out in pencil and Sharpie pen, then further refined on canary yellow tracing paper, and finally inked on Clearprint Design Vellum.

1989 is significant because this would have been one of the earliest Ms. Megaton Man sketches. The fact that I can still make something of the pose shows how significant the character was for my development. Ms. Megaton Man allowed me to get closer to something like a realistically-proportioned superhero style and away from the humorous style that I never found satisfying for the secondary characters surrounding Megaton Man.

The final colored in Photoshop
The rough sketch blown up next to the pencil elaboration

The final ink on Clearprint next to the refined rough on canary yellow tracing paper
The original 1989 sketch. Something about this gesture seemed worth developing further!
Final linework on Clearprint Design Vellum
The sketch elaborated with blue and graphite pencil, and tightened with Sharpie fine line pen .03 mm

The drawing refined on canary yellow tracing paper

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Is Two Ms. Megaton Man of Color In Color Two Too Many?

Clarissa James confronts Aja, new mascot of the Megaton Mice, who has similarly donned the familiar red, yellow, and blue leotards of the Megaton Man franchise. This scene is from #6 in the new Megaton Man series I am planning.


Colorized tight rough sketch (not final art).

Kozmik Kat, mentor of the Megaton Mice and Aja, tries to keep the two Ms. Megaton Mans apart.

The original sketchbook concept and the tightened rough on canary yellow tracing paper.

The original sketchbook rough on the right, with the scanned and blown up print-out on the bottom left, with the final ink on Clearprint Design Vellum on the top left.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Secret Origin of Clarissa, In Color!

Here's the moment of truth from Bizarre Heroes #13 (Fiasco Comics Inc., September 1995), in which Clarissa James learns that she is the love-child of her African-American mom and Clyde Phloog, the Silver Age Megaton Man! (What can be said? Opposites attract!) In color for the first time.