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Steamroller Man
Issue Three
Issue Three, Page Five

Steamroller Man

Starting from Comic #90: Issue Three, Page Five
Issue Three, Page Five
If you’re wondering why this page took so long, it comes down to the element of my process that’s both a boon and a curse. From the beginning, I have just been making this story up as I drew each page. I know how the story will end, and how I want each issue/chapter to end (at least I think I do), but the twists and turns of how it gets there are formulated, and often reformulated, every few pages. This means that sometimes I will be torn between going with my original idea, or going with a bright, shiny new idea. Delays happen when I have to think through the wider story implications of the new idea - “if they do this, then how do they get where they need to go for the next scene?”... “If they could have done this all along, why didn’t they do it earlier?” It can be a rabbit hole of possibilities. That’s what happened with this page. It was a mental tug-of-war between the most expedient way to get the characters to where they needed to go, versus a way that was going to be more complicated, but more imaginative and fun for me to write and draw.

As I’m sure most creators do, I have a notebook filled with ideas for characters, gags and stories. There are so many that I’m almost certain I’ll never use them all, but I occasionally look for opportunities to bring them into the spotlight by having Steamroller Man cross paths with them. Whenever I am feeling uninspired to work on the comic, I find that bringing in a new character suddenly makes the story fresh again for me, and gives me a little jolt of creative juice.

Night Knight and Sleep Tyke were added to the story in this fashion back in issue #2. Originally, though, I was going to introduce them amongst a larger group of characters who were all riffs on various archetypal detective characters from comics and pop culture, called the Detective Collective (the “Super-Effective” descriptor was a late addition). At the time I second-guessed the choice due to my reluctance to draw and wrangle so many characters. So I narrowed it down to Night Knight and Sleep Tyke, but I have been looking for an opportunity to show off some of the others, ever since. I found my chance on this page!

The Five O’Clock Shadow is an homage/parody of pulp-style characters like The Shadow, The Question, and The Spirit.
Dutch Masters, Private Investigator was originally going to be a hardboiled Sam Spade-type, but as I was drawing him I thought it might be funny to give him an 80s TV cop-show vibe - hence the mullet hairstyle, the Magnum PI-style Hawaiian shirt and the Miami Vice jacket with rolled up sleeves.
Solvitron 9000 was originally going to be a completely different character from my list, but I grew less enthusiastic about her as I was drawing the image. So I thought it was a funnier idea to have one of the city’s greatest detectives be an old 1960s era reel-to-reel computer that is completely immobile and produces punch cards to communicate.
My original idea for Penny Lincoln was a Nancy Drew-type of “girl detective” who solved crimes with the aid of the ghost of her ancestor, Abraham Lincoln. I thought it would be fun to depict her in the style of a Hanna Barbera “teen gang” cartoon (Scooby Doo, Clue Club, etc), so I added a dog and handsome but dorky companion to create The Gettysburg Gang. I actually tried to ape the art style of master HB designer Iwao Takamoto here - I’m not sure how successful I was, but it was a fun panel to draw.

I haven’t even mentioned the final panel, which foreshadows the reveal of yet another character from my book of ideas! He’s a fun one, but you’ll have to wait until the next page to find out about him!

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At the beginning of this month I got the unexpected and exciting news that Steamroller Man was in the Top 5 most popular comics on the GlobalComix platform in the month of August! I was amazed to be ranked so highly, so if you have taken the time to read the comic there, thank you! If you haven’t heard of GlobalComix, I highly recommend the site as both a creator and a reader. They have a great interface and are very supportive and responsive to their creator base.

Thank you for reading and spreading the word about Steamroller Man, as always!

Find my links to read the comic around the web, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram here.

Reader Comments

Can't really think your way out when you've got THAT distracting you.
Amazing!!!
I wish I could go back to the 70’s and promote the idea of Penny and the gang to ABC. I didn’t need an explanation to know what you were going for.
Five O’clock Shadow….masterful concept. You could easily spin off with that character.
Inspiring. I gotta get back to my drawing board!
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Issue Three, Page Six
I had SO much fun drawing this page! I was able to complete it relatively quickly, probably because it was a single image and I knew almost exactly what I wanted to do with the composition from the very beginning. That, and also I tend to work faster when I’m having fun!

This is probably one of my clearest homages to the work of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. My absolute favorite Marvel comics villain is M.O.D.O.K. - I’ve always loved everything about him, from his grotesque appearance (you may have noticed I have an affinity for characters with oversized heads), to his arch dialogue (usually screamed at full volume to his opponents), to his goofy name being an acronym - I LOVE punny acronyms!! The letters in his name have varied slightly over the years, but they originally stood for the “Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing”.

Originally, I was going to have Night Knight trying to figure a way out of the trap-door shaft, and Steamroller Man would keep trying to get his attention - “hey, what if we --” “I’m THINKING, please don’t interrupt” - then Steamroller Man would find a button that said “FREIGHT ELEVATOR”, and push it and the floor they were standing on would start rising up. That never felt quite right, firstly because it was not that much fun, but secondly I kept wondering why Sugar Daddy would have dropped them down there in the first place, if they could easily return by just pushing a button. There would have to be something at the bottom of that shaft that Sugar Daddy would use to finish them off… perhaps a failed experiment from the past…

At first his name was going to be M.A.L.O. - a pun on his marshmallow head and the Spanish word for “bad”, which I quite liked. It would have stood for “Modified Artificial Life Organism”. I thought the malo/mallow pun may not have landed with everyone as clearly as I wanted, and it didn’t seem quite a clear enough homage to M.O.D.O.K. It needed something to reference the “Only for Killing” part (surely the goofiest part of his name). So then it became M.A.L.L.O.W. - “Modified Artificial Lifeform Living Only for”... what? Warfare? Wickedness? I initially considered those but ultimately tossed them. They were a little too serious. I needed something a little more goofy and silly; he was a creature with a giant marshmallow for a head, after all. I was running the possibilities past my family, and my wife really laughed hard at “Walloping”, so I knew that had to be the one.

So he was going to be M.A.L.L.O.W. As I was drawing the image, though, doubts started to creep into my brain. Does this drawing even look like a marshmallow? Is everyone going to get this joke? Will people know what “mallow” is if it doesn’t have the “marsh” in front? But what could “M.A.R.S.H.” stand for?? I also started to question my design for the character. Another muscle bound male with a big head - it seemed too similar to Steamroller Man. It occurred to me that an extra set of arms would fit with his penchant for walloping his foes, while also giving him a distinctive silhouette.

Finally, I had one of those moments of creative inspiration that usually happen while falling asleep, washing dishes or taking a shower - “M… A… Multi-Armed!” I’d cracked it!

Hope you enjoyed this page as much as I enjoyed making it! If you like Steamroller Man, tell a friend!

Find my links to read the comic around the web, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram here.

Reader Comments

Oh my goodness a new bad guy lol :D
DAMN that acronym was impressive!
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