Saturday, December 1, 2007

Santa's Little Helper


This is Gadfly Lad, a character I created for my Blockade Boy blog. He's a shrimpy nineteen-year-old detective, with scant body hair, a peachfuzz mustache, and scraggly sideburns. In other words, he looks like I did, back in college. Plus, he slicks his hair down with about a gallon of gel every morning. He's from the planet Imsk, a famous location in Legion of Super-Heroes lore. Like all natives of Imsk, he can shrink down to doll-size -- and even smaller! He's already pretty petite, though.

His costume references the one Shrinking Violet wore, during the Legion's 1970's incarnation... y'know, the one with a lot of exposed cleavage, and a very stylized arrow pointing down to her lady bits. Gadfly Lad's outfit parodies the hyper-sexualized costumes that super-heroines are sometimes drawn with, with the added twist that he doesn't have much to show off. Oh, and his flying harness is based on this model, from a WW2-era Justice Society of America story:


I don't think any of my readers have figured that part out, yet. Or at least, they haven't said anything.

Gadfly Lad is very smart, but he's not well-versed, socially. This has led him into acting like a know-it-all; a world-class eavesdropper and buttinsky; and a "rules Nazi" on par with the worst cases from the world of D&D. And because he's not all that comfortable talking to people face-to-face, he's prone to addressing folks from over their shoulders.

I created Gadfly Lad specifically to spark conflict with Blockade Boy. As a former space-pirate and a habitual trespasser, Blockade Boy isn't much for rules. He's fearless, very opinionated, and a bit of a bully at times (although he'd never admit it). So I thought it would be fun to put Blockade Boy and Gadfly Lad in a setting where they're coworkers. When Blockade Boy was a space-pirate captain, he could "pull rank" on his crew, in order to get his way. He can't do that with Gadfly Lad. And it drives him apeshit.

In his current storyline, Blockade Boy has gone undercover as a futuristic mall Santa Claus. Guess who got tagged to play the requisite "elf"? So now these two jerkwads have to spend lots and lots of time together. And since Santa "outranks" his elves, Blockade Boy has pounced on the opportunity to push Gadfly Lad around.

Since my whacked-out future/alien version of Santa owes more to Zeus and Odin than it does to Saint Nicholas, I decided that the elf would look a bit like one of Odin's ravens. It also gave me an excuse to keep Gadfly Lad in his flying harness, just like Blockade Boy managed to work a recolored version of his force-field bracelets into his Santa costume. This would be the second time I've drawn Gadfly Lad, and the first time I've drawn him "realistically."


Since I normally draw, y'know, attractive people, it was fun to depict somebody with a less-than-ideal body type. Gadfly Lad is small, but wiry. He's a "hard gainer", as the gym queens say. Also, his hands and feet are much larger, proportionally, than the average. (I accidentally made the feet two different sizes, but c'est la vie.) This is a little bit like my own physique -- not that I have large hands, but my wrists are ridiculously thin and delicate-looking*, so my stubby paws look huge by comparison. Just as in the cartoon version, Gadfly Lad sports a large, round noggin. I probably made it a little too big, to be honest. Without the body hair, he'd look like a little kid.

The costume's beaky mask is based on the "long nose" masks popular at the Venice Carnival. The straps for the flying harness have been incorporated into a variation on traditional German lederhosen. The hair is spiked up, like ruffled feathers -- by Blockade Boy, who trapped a shrunk-down Gadfly Lad in a jar and poked at his coif with a toothbrush. (Blockade Boy: dickish control freak.)

I needed reference photos of wiry, shirtless guys to add just the right amount of realism to my Gadfly Elf. A Google search on "Iggy Pop" did the trick!

iggy and the stoogesiggysplay

I also realized that Iggy's scoliosis/Elephant Man posturing was the kind of thing I had already pictured my wriggly, anxious Gadfly Lad doing. (See my original cartoon of him, which I created in October.) It was truly serendipitous.

*I've stopped wearing watches, because even the smallest men's watch is way too loose on my wrist. And no, I'm not about to wear a woman's or a child's watch. Wiseass.