Here’s an art project I’ve been wanting to do for ages.
From fifth grade (when I was friends with a girl who had a prodigious Marvel comics habit, and the X-Men cartoon was on TV) through middle school, I created a league of superheroines and supervillainesses.
(No dudes; they were boring, and there were enough of them already.)
The league was called MASK, after the mysterious founding superheroine, who we see here.
The first character drawings I created (with outlines traced from How to Draw the Marvel Way!) vanished at some point, but I still have the later, more original drawings, dating from 1995 - 1997.
I actively roleplayed these characters with various friends over the years. There were no comics, per se, but the games were dreadfully fun.
In sixth grade I went on to a new school and lost touch with my X-Men expert friend, whom I’ll call “Erin.” A fellow member of our little superhero friend-group wound up in my class, and one day she brought Erin along for a visit. Erin had always been a little snarky and edgy (as much as is possible in fifth grade…), and by seventh grade she had apparently completed her metamorphosis into full-blown Sullen 90’s Teen.
I approached her, nervously engaged with her withering glare, and told her that I still drew superheroes.
"That’s really sad," she snarled.
I promptly shriveled up and blew away.
Erin’s remark hurt me terribly, although it didn’t deal a mortal blow. How could it? I was the kid who drew cartoon strawberries on her jeans with fabric markers while the other girls were discovering purple lipstick. My own superpower was a total inability to edit my behavior in order to mimic my peers.
By ninth grade I had moved on from superheroes. But I didn’t stop drawing, or reading comics, or playing pretend, or caring. And, in retrospect, I can look past the personal wound of that moment, scan for clues, and feel some worry for Erin; no happy kid adopts a defensive crouch that deep.
Recently there’s been a wonderful trend of superhero comics starring strong, cool, smart, appealing-but-not-fetishized female characters, who probably would’ve thrilled my middle-school self to the core. Kelly Sue DeConnick and G. Willow Wilson in particular are creating heroes that I’m certain are inspiring a new generation of girls.
I’m not normally a superhero artist, but I felt this was as good a time as any to pull out this old work and try redrawing it. A time-travel tribute to the spunky, passionate, weird little kid who hung in there and kept going with this stuff, and who has plenty of supportive company these days.
I’ve got a couple dozen of these profile drawings, and I’ll see how many I can get through in my spare time.
To kick off, I’ll give a brief account of the superlady you see before you.
CODE NAME: MASK
REAL NAME: ???
MY RECOLLECTION: Mask is the founding member of the superheroine league, also called MASK, but with capital letters for some reason. Although she recruited every member (most of them as teenagers, a la Xavier’s School for the Gifted), nobody in the league knows Mask’s real name or background. She seems to be a telepath, and maybe telekinetic, but the full extent of her powers remains a mystery.
Secretly, she was an embodiment of Lachesis, one of the three Fates from ancient Greek mythology (the OTHER thing I was obsessed with at the time). I can’t recall how this actually impacted the storyline other than her ability to foresee major events and a kind of Doctor Who ability to regenerate in a new body, but it was a big reveal.
DESIGN NOTES: I think this is the earliest of all the drawings I still have. The pose is very stiff, although the character was also very emotionally understated, so I think I was partially trying to convey her reserve. It looks like I colored it entirely with felt markers; later drawings have a lot more colored pencil in them.
Mask’s “mask” is a relic from fifth grade drawings. As I recall, originally the mask extended way off her face, a bit like Jean Grey’s. The graphic yellow streak was the emblem of the league.
The fact that Mask is wearing a choker just proves that it was the 90’s and, although I still wore tapered jeans from Lands End, I wasn’t completely impervious to girl fashion trends of the moment. Man, I wanted a choker.
I think you can see the influence of Star Trek in her bodysuit. I grew up in a Trekkie household during Next Gen years, so geometric shoulder patterns were a known aesthetic.
In other news, look at Little Dylan, not afraid of drawing hands! Or kneecaps.
In the updated version: I got rid of the choker because it is now 2014. The only other substantive change I made was to add some of that bright yellow to her boots so the mask and the suit aren’t completely unrelated, and add a LITTLE energy into her pose. In terms of body-type, I decided my younger self was going for a look that was fit but not super-sexy or extra muscular, so I decided she’s a bit like a gymnast.
I also made her sleeves a little over-long; I imagine her tugging them down over her knuckles when she wants to looks extra mysterious. The choker of 2014, perhaps.
NEXT UP: T’LALET.
I should dig out some of my old notebooks. But a lot of my own stuff from high school lives on in my head, constantly being refined and becoming more awesome. Maybe some day, I’ll sit down and share it with y’all.
Don’t throw away your childhood things. Instead, let them grow up with you.
(via mudron)Source: dylanmeconis