Last week we announced the winners of our latest redesign contest, Shadowman: In A New Light. And in the end, only one could be the winner, and it was frequent P:R artist Tony Aros who beat out over 80 other entries to claim the prize. Aros, who works at the Kentucky comic store Collector’s Universe, spoke with us after the dust settled about the design choices he made that ultimately built up to be the winning design. We talked about classic Shadowman imagery going back to the comics and video games, as well as other dark heroes in comics lore, and even a James Bond villain or two.
Here, once again, is Aros’ winning image:
Chris Arrant: First off – when you heard about the Shadowman: In A New Light redesign contest, what were the first thing that came into your mind for the visual of Shadowman?
Tony Aros: I really wanted the design to be sleek and ominous, with an other-worldly quality. I also wanted to include the white skull face, glowing eyes, and glowing logo belt so that it would make for a very striking, unique image whenever he emerges from shadows. Batman doesn’t have to be the only hero that can strike fear at first sight!
My first exposure to the Shadowman character was as a kid playing the N64 version. I remember thinking how cool of a character he had been, with roots in the supernatural and voodoo. I sadly had lost track of the character until this past year, when Mr. Zircher’s redesign caught my eye while at work (at a comic shop- perfect job for a comic geek). To research for this contest I’ve gone back and caught up on some of the history of the character over the years- origins, powers, etc.- which really informed what direction I wanted my visuals to take.
The big departure of this from the standard Shadowman design is the Baron Samedi-like mask you have. Where’d the idea for that come from?
You nailed it right on the head; it was Baron Samedi. More specifically, Baron Samedi as depicted in the James Bond film Live and Let Die. In redesigning a voodoo-influenced character, that was the first place my mind went. It’s such a striking visual that I had to find some way to incorporate it into my design.
I have to ask about the cape – the cape is like something you’d see in a flying squirrel, seemingly able to glide. What’s your thoughts on the cape and the functionality of it?
I originally wanted to make it a full cape, but I wanted to set him apart from a certain Caped Crusader. I also thought Jack could use it to quickly wrap around himself to help him blend into the shadows. It would also make Jack seem bigger and more imposing.
The silhouette this would give off is interesting – a figure with the gliding cape and then that glowing emblem on the belt. Can you tell us about the glowing emblem and what this silhouette would be?
The glowing emblem was definitely inspired by Spider-Man’s glowing Spidey-signal belt. I always thought that was cool as a kid, both as a way to blind/surprise criminals as well as a “signature” of sorts. Plus it just made for a cool visual- it let crooks know who was about to take them down. Also, in Shadowman’s case, the bright glowing emblem would help to illuminate and cast a large, imposing shadow on the walls behind him, adding to the scare factor. As for the gliding cape, I originally had intended for it to elongate and stream-line his shadow, so that it would cast an especially long and big shadow down alleyways and over foes. BUT after reading some of the critiques I’m definitely starting to see how it might cast a strange silhouette! If I could go back and tweak anything about my design, I would probably have extended the glider cape to where it connected in some way between his legs.
The thought crossed my mind- but before even thinking about the emblem, I already decided I wanted his cape and the suggestion of an under-cape to spread downward from his neck across his chest, which didn’t leave much room for a chest emblem. I also wanted to avoid the round, glowing chest emblem, which reminds me too much of Iron Man’s chest-piece; and my inner-child had its heart set on the Spidey-signal belt.