My friend Michael Visnov and I grew up trading comics, superhero Slurpee cups, and just about any other comic-related item you can imagine with each other and with like-minded friends. We couldn’t get enough of those worlds and still can’t. So when Mike offered to try his hand at some character concept sketches for The Commons 1: The Journeyman, I was only too happy to set him loose on it.
The best part is that he got started without reading the book and after reading only a few of my character notes, which means that some of his stuff looks nothing like my imagined version of Ken and doesn’t really fit the character. But it doesn’t matter because it’s so much fun, and we’re all left to picture our favorite characters however we like. (That’s one of the reasons I’m always annoyed when book covers adopt the art and cast of their movie adaptations. I like seeing my versions of the characters while reading, and I don’t mind if my imagination alters them as I go.)
I’ll say up front that my favorites are in Concept Sketches 2, seen in the gallery above (click on it for a larger version). I see Ken as number three with number one’s Wayfarers and number two’s eyes when the shades are off. But the rest is a blast. Skeletal Ken (who really would make a great boyfriend for Barbie, no?). Billy Jack Ken. Ben Grimm Ken, even though Ken doesn’t smoke. Just because. And Ken played by Ted Cassidy (who is best known as The Addams Family‘s Lurch, but who will always be treasured for appearing in one of the best fight scenes ever filmed); Abe Lincoln Ken (because I mentioned to Mike that Ken could be thought of as the late president with a willingness to break bones when all alternatives are exhausted), and Liam Neeson Ken (who would crush the role, I think).
Number three comes the closest to illustrating Ken’s character. He’s the philosopher who dispenses relationship advice to a waitress when she wonders if she might deserve better than her current boyfriend. He’s a master of diner puzzles, despite his mitt-sized hands. And when we first meet him and the angry monk Po in a truck-stop restaurant, he does his best to convince the gang of bullying skinheads targeting him and his friend that the brawl they seek will not go well for them. When the skinhead leaders insist, Ken and Po are forced to prove their point with pain.
But all of this art is wonderful, as are the other sketches I’ll highlight in future posts.
What do you see?