Thursday, July 12, 2012


Illustration--a craft of which comic book art is a subset--is a profession in which you are encouraged and paid to steal.  We call it "swiping," to be nice about it, or "using reference," but it's stealing, it's allowed, and we're taught to do it.  We steal images for our use to make our work look more convincing.

However, there are some things you can't steal or swipe, even for reference, because there are very good laws against appropriating people's registered trademarks.  In that case we employ another trick:  Reworking something so that it is not a recognizable trademark, but if you're savvy enough you can still figure out where it came from.  I always envied the logo of the defunct Saturn automobile company.  I always thought that design should be the symbol or emblem of a super-hero, not a car.  But I couldn't just lift the logo from Saturn as it was designed:

To use it for my own character-design purposes, I had to transform it a bit.  And that's how I came up with the costume of this Quantum hero--The Satellite!

The Satellite is not a character that I created just to steal (or adapt) someone else's ingenious graphic.  For a long time I have searched for just the right character with whom to do an African-American version of my most prevailing hero archetype:  the Prince.  Quantum Comics will be full of Princes.  They're as common to my work as Princesses are to Disney movies.  The Prince may be defined as the most exceptional of men (even by the standards of Quantum Comics heroes), the man you most want as a champion, a rescuer, a leader, and a lover.  Lucky Vega, who will become Lucky Star, leader of the Environauts, is the most prominent of the Princes.  Wild Jon is another.  It was important to me to bring on a Prince who's black.  I put a great deal of time and thought into coming up with exactly the right character with which to do this.  I wanted him to be a character who would reflect all of my hopes for blacks in America to see all the beauty and greatness in themselves, to see themselves as not just rappers and basketball players and gangsters.  I took extra care in creating the Satellite--and his civilian identity, Max Thoroughgood.

My concept for Max is that he is a life-loving playboy from the richest African-American family in the country.  The secret of his family's wealth is that long ago they discovered a massive meteorite laden with extraterrestrial gold ore, and have used the sale of portions of the alien gold to build their fortune.  However, some of them have also resorted to less than scrupulous means to maintain and grow their empire, rather like an African-American version of the Ewings of Dallas, and when young Max finds some of the skeletons in the family closet, he's ashamed.  Not so ashamed that he completely gives up his hedonistic ways and his prolific pursuit of women (yes, he's one of the straight ones), but ashamed enough to want to find ways to redeem his family honor and turn his fortune to something good.  To that end he uses his genius with material science and engineering to create a super-suit and become a hero!  And he has an even loftier ambition:  to use some future upgrade of his suit to become the first man to orbit the Earth without a spaceship!

The Satellite's suit contains a technology that works in much the same way as the powers of another hero, the Quantum.  It is lined with an array of transducers that can store and process energy from any source and use it for a variety of effects, including flight, and has musculoskeletal enhancers to give Max superhuman strength when he's wearing it.  The suit is made of a diamond fibre and boron carbide combination with self-sealing resins that also makes Max invulnerable like a suit of super-armor.  Max's genius makes the Satellite one of the major players and heavy hitters in the Quantum Comics universe.  The Satellite:  a hero sure to put you in orbit!


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