Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Elders of the RuneStone...the Early Years Pt. 3

And now for the third installment of the gritty, no-holds-barred behind the scenes look at how the story of Elders of the RuneStone has developed over the years.

So far we've covered four of the main characters: Dain (Gremlin), Kat (Catalyst), Zeniff (Adder), and Jenny (HardTap). Now on to the fearless leader of the team, Scott (Gar)! I always had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted him to look -- T-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes. Just your average guy who wouldn't call much attention to himself except for the fact that he's twelve feet tall, has no pupils in his eyes, and has no nose. While the extreme tightness of his wardrobe has changed (see this circa. 1994 drawing), his ability to kick butts hasn't.

I switched back and forth between giving him a white shirt and a tanktop, but after consulting with Robert later on, we wanted to avoid any comparisons with the Hulk. So I gave him his black shirt that I just think looks slick. Other elements of his costume will be tweaked as the story goes on, but I can't give out details at the moment. :)

So what makes Scott / Gar special, other than the missing nose thing? (For some reason that's how I always wanted him -- it makes him look more inhuman, which I really like.) Comics are full of big, super-muscled guys. "Hey Quinn!" you may say. "He's no different than the Hulk!" There's that "h" word again. And yes, he does get extremely strong when he's got adrenaline flowing through his veins, i.e. when angry or scared. To that legitimate claim I ask this: What defines a comic character? To me if you want any sort of lasting coolness for him or her then it's much more than what their powers are. Scott is more than a guy who's super-strong, he's a guy who is very religious, reflective, and concerned about doing the right and moral thing. His abilities make him a juggernaut of destruction, but he has to balance that with his respect for human life and the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." Unlike the Hulk when he is transformed he retains his gentle, thoughtful nature (though he is indeed influenced by his adrenalized, fight-or-flight mentality that contributes to his powers). It's a balance that he must constantly struggle with, using his strength for good without losing control or giving in to a gnawing destructive appetite. He's a natural leader, a gifted tactician who is the heart and moral compass for the rest of the team. So for me, Scott / Gar is very different than most other superhero powerhouses. Again, as stated in my previous blog "The Human Element in Comics", the big question is whether a character is one with super-powers who happens to be a person, or one who's a person who happens to have super-powers. Elders of the RuneStone is very much the latter, and I think that's what makes it cool.

So onward to one more character: The powerful villain Monolith. I can't say much about him since who he is is wrapped up tightly in the mystery that drives the story, but I can give a few interesting tidbits. He actually started out as a villain for a completely different comic book character I had created in 6th grade, a martial artist lizardman named Slythe. I'll talk more about Slythe at another time, but his main nemesis was a dark sorcerer named the Reaper, who always kept his face hidden under a creepy hood. After I found out Marvel already had a villain by that name, I changed it to the Dark Hood. Part of the Slythe story had him being kicked by Slythe into a vat of acidic chemicals, which mutated him into a huge buff monstrosity. The part about his big size remained, but again his name continued to change, even after I decided to let go of Slythe, focus on RuneStone, and make the now-titled Dark Spectre the arch-nemesis for them. Eventually I settled on his current name, since "monolith" accurately describes him as larger than life, not only in size and strength, but also in intelligence, political power, and evil. I pretty much always pictured him as big and green with sharp teeth, but again that was too boring, not enough to really make him stand out in someone's mind. It wasn't until I was serving a volunteer mission for my church from 1998-2000 that I got the idea to give him long, jet black hair and my favorite part, the white skin pigment that runs down his face and body whenever his passion for killing is being indulged. (See the attached doodle -- "concept art" is just a fancy term for the same thing) Just imagine walking down a dark alley and seeing a huge hulking silhouette waiting for you, with only glowing red eyes, pale yellow teeth, and white dripping pigment visible through the shadow. Scary stuff!

So there you have it. There's much more to the story of the development of the book, but you'll have to wait until the comic has been going to get in on more of the secrets! Speaking of which, keep an eye out for the first installment of Issue 1, which will finally be available for FREE download within a couple weeks! We're very excited, and hope you'll join us as we start on the adventure for real!