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.


Josh said...

The drawing looks great to me. I was in 3rd or 4th grade when The Flash was on. I got a Flash action figure at one point that looked just like the one that guy is holding in the time travel episode. I also have the complete series on DVD. I bought it last year I think.

Randy said...

Really cool drawing! I remember the show well. Hard to imagine The Simpsons being on that long ago. ha

Christian D. Leaf said...

It was a good show and gone before its time. Had that large-eyed British lass, who was in LEVIATHAN, and I also had a crush on.

Nice drawing, too. Stop beating yourself, sucka.

Adam Hutch said...

Great Flash and Hulk Matt. Don't be so hard on yourself. They came out great.

I used watch the Flash in Junior High. It was a fun show, and it had a pre-Det. Munch Richard Belzer as a recuring news reporter.

rhombus said...

Great job with the Flash, Matt. Flash was one of my fave characters when I was first learning about comics too. In fact my earliest memory of drawing a superhero was of the Flash. What I'd give to find THAT drawing now...

I agree that the suit from the show seemed over-padded, and as I recall the late great Dave Stevens did the design for it. Am I remembering that right?


Warren said...

I think your drawings are fine. I don't see any mistakes that I don't also see in most other comic book artists' work. I think some of it just goes with drawing super heroes. If you draw them too proportionately correct they look booooring.

I loved that Flash show. It was way ahead of its time. My son was little at the time and my wife sewed him up a mini-Flash costume. He'd run around the yard at super-speed and fight evil!

*sigh* Those were some good times.

Leanne said...

Great drawing, Matt! I loved the Flash TV series. I remember being really disappointed when it was canceled back in the day.

I'm definitely going to have to check out that DVD set.

PJ said...

First of all never let comparisons stop you from doing what you enjoy. Life really is too short.

The drawing looks good, the only thing I think throwing it off is the left foot. It’s not even the whole foot either just something with the way you’ve rounded off the front.

Besides, if I really wanted to give you grief... I’d bug you about updating the masthead because we are long past Halloween! ;)

Matt Wieringo said...

Ah! But remember I said Halloween lasts until sometime around April for me.

Okay, yeah, I know. I'm actually working up a new one now. Just no access to a scanner while I'm taking some time off from work. Next week, I promise. :)

Warren said...

Can't wait to see the do-over! :)

renecarol said...

I think your flash is great Matt.. I've been really busy with Christmas, Nutcracker on Ice (today's the big day), and Lexie Christmas Choir concert at school. Thus really slack on checking blogs or even blogging myself. But I had to say this is really good.

Tom said...

Your artwork has just kept getting better over the past year Matt, I'd love to see what you could achieve if you went into comics fulltime. I miss Mike (though obviously nowhere near as much as you do) and judging by how much you've improved recently I think you are capable of living up to his legacy. Yes Mike's work was awesome, but that was after years of experience in drawing comic books, he put out quite a lot of duff work early on in his career and developed his talent to become a star. And he didn't even have the work of a brother to guide him! I wish he was still around though.

Anonymous said...

Santa's a werewolf?
Ho! Ho! Hoooooooo!

I don't think I could've handled that as a kid...;)

Well, I wish everyone here a Merry Christmas, and a safe Holiday!

Brian said...

Matt, that Santa Werewolf is incredible. The expression on the kids face is worth the price of admission alone and I love, love, love the coloring.

Josh said...

My guess about the costume is they wanted to go with a rubbery material like the suit Michael Keaton wore in the '89 Batfilm but John Wesley Shipp's musculature wouldn't show through that stuff, and cloth might look rediculous, so they had to mold some muscles into it. I don't know why they had him wearing red boots on the costume but it worked.