Saturday, June 19, 2010

Muppet Batman Sketchbook

Before the final reveal of Joker and Harley Quinn, I stumbled across these old papers--a kind of sketchbook of part of the "creative process" that I go through when I make these things. It's not just tearing action figures limb from limb and then reassembling them to make new toys. It's mostly that, but not just that. I probably drew these in between calls at a previous job, so be kind. I know they're disproportional and not in scale with each other and everything else--I'm a doodler, not an artist. In any case, it's interesting to see what worked and what didn't--who survived, and who didn't.

The first sketch was Batman and his allies--from the beginning, I wanted Batman and Robin to be Link and Dr. Strangepork from "Pigs in Space." Their allies started out with Kermit as Alfred, and Fozzie Bear as Commissioner Gordon. I still like those ideas--especially Fozzie as Commissioner Gordon. Fozzie didn't end up as any character in the final collection, although I suppose he could have made a creepy Joker. Comedy gone bad. Very, very bad.

Anyone who knows about my love for both Catwoman and Miss Piggy is probably somewhat disturbed by this fusion of the two. Due to the lack of female characters, Catwoman had to either be Piggy, Janice, or Camilla, so my choice was clear. Scooter-as-Riddler survived to the final cut, but the other two here, Gonzo-as-Penguin and sax player Zoot-as-Two-Face did not. I still like the idea of Gonzo as the Penguin, especially since I don't have any Gonzo in my final lineup. And...I just realized how much that little sketch of Gonzo looks like FDR. Awesome.

This sketch is the last one that has rejected versions of characters that didn't make it--my favorite too, Beaker-as-Scarecrow. Tall, lanky, and with the potential to be ubercreepy, I love this version of Scarecrow. But I didn't have a Beaker to spare (he's one of the rarer figures), and I did have a headless Animal. So...still creepy, but wow, that Beaker would have been sweet. Everyone else made it through to the final cut.

Here's the final five after recasting and revising them. I do love Rowlf-as-Alfred, both because it brings my favorite piano-playing dog into the fold, and because I like the idea of man's best friend being a gentleman's gentleman. Kermit became Commissioner Gordon probably for the simple reason that he was already wearing a trenchcoat. Sculpting a Muppet Penguin from scratch to be The Penguin was a stroke of genius that coincided with my burgeoning self-confidence in my sculpting skills (misplaced self-confidence, but it hasn't hurt anyone yet). When Beaker fizzled, Animal stepped in, in that inarticulate way of his...and Floyd became Two-Face when a Zoot became too hard to acquire. In Batman: The Animated Series, Harvey Dent and Pamela Isley have a fling before they become Two-Face and Poison Ivy, respectively; Floyd and Janice have a thing goin' on themselves, so I thought keeping them together would be sweet. I'm mushy like that.

Coming soon: Joker and Harley Quinn!

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