Friday, January 7, 2011

Character Design _ SONS OF BA'AL

For my latest freelance gig, I'm illustrating a comic adaptation of the AMERICANS UK's song "Sons of Ba'al" for their anthology ROCKTRONIC MIX TAPE #2 (now available for purchase online HERE!). Very cool to be a part of the 10th Anniversary of this band. It's my favorite song of theirs, mixing glammy Bowie swagger and Ramones goonish-ness at full throttle. Frontman/ writer Jef UK envisioned the comic as an epic biker battle.

Below you can see his descriptions of the characters along with my thoughts and initial concept sketches. I tried to subvert expectations and you can get a sense of how I tackled the assignment. Great collaboration and, like playing with action figures, it's the most "boy" thing I've ever illustrated.

SONS OF BA'AL: a rock n’ roll, demon, motorcycle gang.


Demon Jef UK – big horns, wicked grin, wears goggles and leather, carries a big knife strapped to his waist. He rides a cool bike with a sidecar.

My initial reaction was to undercut the badass by also making him seem a little goofy and laconic. A belly, biking spandex, and flip flops to enforce the idea that he doesn't give a meatball about what you think.

Cyborg Demon JTR3
—his motorcycle attaches to his torso, some sort of demon space gun replacing his right arm.

I think at the time I read the script I also I saw a documentary about killer wasps who were just brutal to their bumblebee prey. Rather than bulk him up I wanted JTR3 to be bug-like with slender arms. The visor is also taken from a robot that appears in Americans UK's ongoing comic series drawn by Paul Ciaravino.

Hot Demon Chick
—jet black hair, small horns, tall boots and small clothes. Tattoos galore. What a hottie. She rides in Jef UK’s sidecar, but usually by standing on top of it like she’s surfing, sorta. She uses a glowing laser Frisbee as a weapon, and has several hanging from her belt. I’ll call her Demona in the script.

I've never, ever, drawn "hot chicks" before. I plumped her up a little and drew the title as a tattoo instead of a leather jacket logo. The font is actually based on one my friend drew over and over in grammar school. At first I toyed with the idea of having her totally bottomless but the posing started to get weird when I had to be concerned about hiding her business.

: the Sons of Ba’al’s mortal enemies.


God—Old man, bearded and burley God rides a Harley, wears a gold and white helmet of Roman design. Shirtless with a white fringe vest. Symmetrical gold eagle tattoo design on his chest.

I like Jef's description as containing conflicting imagery from different cultures. Rather than the white-bearded "God" I wanted him to have a dark, curly, Middle Eastern beard. He's equal parts Dr.Teeth and Brian Blessed from "Flash Gordon."

—Death is sleek, like a Japanese rider on a Japanese bike, fully covered in high end racing gear, all black, wears a black helmet with a skull painted on the visor, red eyes glowing through. He uses a hand held scythe as a weapon.

Done. With a ridiculously large scythe. There's so much phallic imagery in this thing. One detail that gets lost is that I want to the painted skull to be specifically based on the dimensions of a baby skull. It's all about attention to detail.

The Sea
—the Sea is a woman. Her outfit and motorcycle should evoke the oceans somehow, sort of like a He-Man vehicle would. She has a trident strapped to her back.

Rather than a squid or mermaid sea monster, I drew inspiration from goblin sharks, deep sea anglers, shrimp, and eels. A few of my favorite things.

I should be wrapping up the strip next week and I'll give a holler when it's available.


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