Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Hero: Max Palmer

Was a time that Maximilian Palmer looked at his acceptance letter to the city’s art high school as if it were a dream come true. Unfortunately for Max, things haven’t been going so well.

Max Palmer is an unassuming, quirky kind of kid who wears his heart out on his sleeve. He’s resourceful, brave and has a strong sense of responsibility. He’s also the hero of the comic, around whom the entire story is centered.

Making new friends, fitting in and impressing sinister painting teachers are all hard enough, but Max has also attracted the ire of an upperclassman who seems to hate him for absolutely no good reason.

Oh, and an entire race of alien monsters want him dead so they can conquer the solar system.

Growing up isn’t easy, as the old adage goes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Coming to SNES in the year 200X...?

When I decided to spice up Max Palmer's troublesome teen years with some supernatural nonsense, my brain listed the same 6 things it always does:

1. Dinosaurs
2. Robots
3. Zombies
4. Aliens
5. Bigfoot/Nessie/Mothman/etc
6. All possible combinations of the above

Aliens were the most logical thing to face off against Max. I realized immediately that I already HAD a group of aliens from a project I had given up on because it hated me that I could fit in quite nicely. That project being a failed hack of Earthbound (one of my favorite games of all time that actually includes 98% of the above-listed sillyness) I had tried to make called 'Invasion of The Space Slobs'.

What does all of that gibberish mean. Well. Earthbound was released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo, and collected a cult following, despite poor sales in its day. The gentlefolk over at have kept the fan fervor alive since the internets were still a babby with annual festivals of fandom, unofficial merchandise, and the biggest whopper I've seen them put out, a full translation of Earthbound's Japan-only sequel: Mother 3. One of the particularly neat things those guys have put together is a little tool called PK Hack, a program in Java that allows one to edit a rom image of Earthbound, allowing them to create their own adventure in Earthbound's engine. Well, within certain constraints... which is something I didn't realize when I started using it.


I dreamed up a story in the spirit of Earthbound that starred, surprise, my friends and myself facing off against of bunch of sloppy aliens trying to conquer Earth. I had the entire progression of the game planned out, walking along the same line as Earthbound for the most part, just changing the appearance of most things like enemies and towns. It didn't work out. I kind of just expected it to work, and while PK Hack is capable of a lot of neat things, it just couldn't do what I wanted it to and kept breaking my rom, so I kind of gave up. It sucked, because I did a LOT of concept and sprite work for it...






HOWEVER. I took the Space Slobs and worked them in with Max Palmer and suddenly I had a concept that I was genuinely EXCITED about.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

INCEPTION. We have to go deeper...

I wanted to draw a comic book. I knew I would never finish something in full color, so past ideas, imagined in vibrant cel-shaded deliciousness, were out. I had a character concept floating around in my head for a while of an unassuming, timid kind of kid surrounded by crazy people, so I started there.

The character started in this idea I had for a story about a 3rd grade boy whose best friend was an over-the-top evil genius. The evil friend I mostly cut out, leaving only the boy behind. But he couldn't be in the 3rd grade, I wanted the story to be a sort of coming-of-age sort of ordeal as he entered his teen years, in the wake of some huge upheaval in his life.

Which made me think of my experience as a freshman in highschool. Instead of going to the same school my friends did after the 8th grade, I decided on an art school further from my home than I had ever been on my own, in the heart of the city. The experience, to save you a lengthy description, was traumatic. My view of the world for the first fourteen years of my life meant precisely dick the minute I started at CAPA, and trying to figure it all out made me crazy.

I wanted this boy to go through the same thing I did. I wanted him to narrate and analyze and philosophize in the way I had imagined him, in the way I can only do in retrospect. However, I wanted him to be unassuming and pensive where I was kind of loud and opinionated. I ran through some of the memories that stood out most in my head and said 'What would he have done...?'

Maximilian Palmer was eventually born.


(His head is too long, his eyes are too big... but I do intend to have him roll his pants up like that.)

... but teenage dramas are boring. I had plenty of other ideas floating around to make things more interesting, thankfully. Exaggerations of reality that my friends used to believe, like possessed, devil worshiping teenagers who gather in the forest and sacrifice pets. Monsters living in the creek by my house. Also, aliens. I wanted to include aliens.


The combination of these ideas is what I'm working with now. Max Palmer is a fourteen year old boy who has to keep the supernatural at bay while he tries to sort out his suddenly chaotic social life, as well as never bring home any D's. It's still a work in progress... I'll update when I have something worth mentioning.