Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Oh, no you di'n't!!
Yeah, I did.
I got about halfway through this before I realized I'd have to have balls of steel to post a drawing of the Flash on my blog. I had so much fun with the Hulk drawing and post that I decided to do another post about a fondly-remembered TV superhero show. It didn't even occur to me until I was well into it that Mike was so closely associated with DC's FLASH comic that I was inviting a lot of comparisons I'd rather not face. I thought about it long and hard and two facts made my mind up for me. One, the Flash was my favorite DC character long before Mike got the assignment. (Imagine how excited I was when he did...then double it.) Two, this drawing is not of DC's version but of the character in the TV show.
The Flash TV adaptation was announced around the time I graduated from college. Mike was on the five-year plan so he was still in school. I was bunking with some college friends in the same apartment complex Mike was living in. Right across the parking lot, in fact. I'd gotten a terrible job working in the office of a catering company on the VCU campus and spent most nights over at Mike's and his roomie Ron's place. (They were using my TV so if I wanted to watch something I'd have to do it over there.)
It was a miserable time in my life. I'd just been unexpectedly and unceremoniously dumped by my longtime girlfriend who'd then moved into the same apartment complex (maybe to torture me?) I had a job I hated. And I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I'd studied film in college mostly as a way to create an identity separate from Mike (Iong story) and after graduation, I realized I had no talent for it and didn't like the lifestyle. Besides, I had no idea how to get started. So, having next to nothing going for me, having no self-esteem and spending my days dodging an office full of horny women hellbent on grabbing my ass at every opportunity*, THE FLASH came along at just the right time.
I was very excited and Mike and I both looked forward to it with great anticipation. It was hot on the heels of Tim Burton's BATMAN film, which I was obsessed with at the time. Judging by the character design, lighting and theme music (by Danny Elfman), the producers were trying to capitalize on BATMAN's success. CBS made the unwise decision to put the show on opposite FOX's SIMPSONS and NBC's THE COSBY SHOW. I guess they were hoping it would be their tentpole show. Unfortunately, those two ultra-popular shows pretty much crushed THE FLASH right out of the gate and, despite a promising two-hour pilot movie, the show ended up being preempted most of the time and finally cancelled.
I think part of the downfall of the show (besides lousy scheduling) was the fact that the producers decided to go at least partially campy with it. That's too bad because the show really had a lot going for it. John Wesley Shipp was excellent as Barry Allen/The Flash and really looked the part. The guy was built like a tank which makes the Flash costume design so baffling. They added all these weird padded muscles that were completely unnecessary considering Shipp's impressive physique. And it was made of an odd foamy-textured material that looked almost like red felt and had an inconsistent color to it. Still, most of the time Shipp looked pretty cool in the suit anyway. The supporting cast was also excellent. Amanda Pays as Tina McGee and the baby-faced Alex Desert as Barry's lab assistant Julio were a lot of fun. And Mark Hamill turned in a memorable if campy performance as the Trickster. Unfortunately, after a few episodes, it seemed the writers weren't quite sure what to do with the character and the expectations set by the pilot movie started to drop. The show was dropped by CBS with completed episodes still unaired. You can find the complete series on DVD. I got mine the minute it hit the shelves.
Around the time THE FLASH was heading toward cancellation, I quit my job at the catering office and got a job working for VCU and it was there that I met Suzanne. So all was not lost!
I don't know if it was the significance of the character dawning on me or all the memories of what was going on in my life around the time the show was airing or if it was just because I was busy and didn't have a lot of time to focus on the drawing. But I'm really disappointed in how it came out. I liked the Hulk drawing so much, I was hoping I was on a roll but I ended up rushing the inks. I tried to cover up the bad quality by coloring it but that didn't work so I've posted both versions in the interest of full disclosure. I think this drawing also showcases my lack of anatomical knowledge. VCU used to have a weekly life-model drawing session for anyone who was interested, but I've lost my contact there and haven't been in years. I desperately need it. Anyway, that's all for now.
* I'm not kidding or exaggerating. I've never exactly been what you'd call a chick magnet and I was very young at the time so I'll admit the first few days it was very flattering. But after a few weeks, it got downright annoying. I don't believe sexual harassment is the quite the same thing when it's reversed as it was in my case but it's still a problem and I probably should have done something about it. But, as I say, I was young, naive, missing my girlfriend and so, unfortunately, I guess I was grateful for the attention.
Posted by Matt Wieringo at 4:23 PM