Superhero by Superhero: Fast Food

Fallen Superhero: Fast Food

Model: Matthew Ison (aka Ice-man)

So here’s a lil’ gem that fell from the heavens. Creating Fast Food was one of the most exciting, spirit crushing, then exciting again experiences of the whole shoot.

Eric and I were in Louisiana shooting superheroes. One night while indulging in Caffe Cottage’s $2 Crown special, we met a guy we’ll call Mr. X. The X is for Xtra Large. Fun guy, jolly, and a dream come true for our lil’ project.

We toyed with the idea of a superhero made out of old computer parts, from the 80s. We called him Commodore 640…. as in 640 pounds of Fallen Superhero badassnessness.

Commodore 640, Kevin Smith would love him

He would have a virtual reality visor, the VR 360, so he could fight crime while he played World of Warcraft. Of course, he would always suffer because of his slow internet connection…. he still uses a dial up modem. How awesome would that look, a big dial up modem with an actual old phone plugged into it. And Mr. X had access to all the old computer gear we needed. Winning! It was a great idea but it all fell apart so fast it felt like we’d woken up roofied and raped, and not in the good way.

It seems that Mr. X failed to tell us, or any of his friends, that he had to go to court for a DUI. He thought he would just go in, pay a fine, then go back to business as usual. Instead, he went back to business as UNusual. They locked his ass up for 30 days. and we didn’t find out until 5 days into his incarceration because he didn’t have our phone number on him. We learned of his misfortune through one of his friends and, as you are probably feeling in your stomachs as you read this, our hearts were broken. Our dreams of an obese superhero made of the ultimate computer geek components fighting crime poorly because 98% of his attention was focused on his online avatar were dashed in an instant.

He had already tried on the XXXL lycra bodysuit we bought for him that we were going to build off of, AND broken the zipper trying to get it on. What to do? Then we met the Ice-man. Matthew Ison, a big fan of me and the Ponceman, had been chatting with us on blogTV and really wanted to meet us. He lived in Lake Charles, a little over an hour away from Lafayette where we were stationed as we cranked out our superhero shots. He and his wife Kristen came out to meet us and hang out the day we shot my superhero, VAGABOND, cooking eggs with his Power Thumbs™ out at Lake Martin. When we saw him the lightbulbs went off. He was definitely large money, but had an extra cool quality working for him. He had this crazy curly mullet of a hairdo and the most nifty goatee…. he’d died the tips of it red…. the same red that the lycra bodysuit was. He also really dug photography so it was a natural fit.

At this point, the character Fast Food had been in my brain. A character that was faster than The Flash, but people would prefer to wait the extra few seconds for him to save them because he was just so much more attractive by American magazine cover standards. The Twinkie and Mini Diet Coke Utility belt with the giant asthma inhaler was an inspiration that worked out even better than I’d imagined it. And Matt was down to step into the superboots. The ripped zipper played into an earlier idea I had for a superhero who started as a child but never upgraded his costume. Basically you end up with a grown man in a stretchy suit made for a 10 year old.

Matt was really perfect for Fast Food. He told me he had always been “the fat guy” and this was a way he could show people that he was actually okay with being the fat guy. He was going to channel some sexy into the character. If you’ve seen the pics you know, mission accomplished.

Other serendipitous happenings that came about because of Matt fill the finished book. Conehands’ monster truck, Southern Sunshine, and the trash can graveyard, the retro office pic of Fast Food that became the cover of the book, and the Fast Food mobile all came from Matt hooking us up. That’s one of the beautiful intangibles that pepper the entire project, little connections that turn into big connections that end up making the art you are creating bigger and better than it would have been had you not met “the fat guy” that landed on the cover of said art piece. That’s why this project  is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

In writing Fast Food’s story, Adam totally felt the character. He took everything we had created, the backstory, the locations, even the asthma inhaler on his costume, and took it to 11. He tapped into another one of those human qualities that everyone can either relate to personally or has had to deal with through family or friends.

Adam wrote this about Fast Food, and I think it really speaks volumes about the character and the reason he is such a beloved Fallen Superhero:

“With incredible speed, a love for the Bee Gees, and a nod to The Fonz, Fast Food is an image of brokenness, shame, and addiction, that reminds us all how quickly our vices can catch up to us.” – Adam Mock

NEXT UP: Stress Bitch

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Superhero by Superhero: Shock Mama

The Most Powerful Superhero in the Universe….
unfortunately, she’s agoraphobic

Fallen Superhero: Shock Mama

Model: Amanda Lyon

What can I say about Amanda other than she was birthed to be a superhero. Just look at her. The face, the hair, the curvy goodness. She is a rock goddess.

I met Amanda at Caffe Cottage. She was bartending and she also happened to be Ainnsley’s roommate at the time. We became friends instantly. She’s the kind of person you just want to hug all the time.

So, one night whilst sucking back cocktails at Caffe I asked her what kind of superhero she would want to be. She said she wanted to be electric and Shock Mama was born. I grabbed a napkin and sketched out the basic look. Satellite dish skirt and wrist guards, the sexy boots, and that hair. Her excitement was…. well…. electric.

When it came time to fabricate her costume my mother went balls to the wall crazy with joy. She had a corset that was perfect for Amanda and she pimped it out Shock Mama style. It totally made the costume go from cool to muthafuckin’ badass!

Original napkin sketch
NOTE: Her arms out like an airplane because she’s CRAZY

A lil’ inside scoop about my mother. She designs and creates Mardis Gras costumes, ballgowns, gothic vampire fashion and other goodies for a living. She’s very glittery and glamorous in her work and it was a perfect fit for this project. She has a room full of material. Tons of it is metallic or holographic or whatever else you would want

Mom had this metal wire, 6 gauge wire, sitting on a shelf and I went nut with it. I made Shock Mama’s pimpin’ satellite collar with that and this crazy cool metallic paper she had lying around. That stuff plus a glue gun and a tiny pair of pliers made the collar come to life.

As far as Shock Mama’s backstory goes, Amanda said she wanted to be crazy. I thought, how about a mental patient superhero. Then the idea of her getting her powers from the mental care facility struck me. She was getting shock therapy and the technician stepped out to take a call…. and never came back. There was a power surge and our poor little schizophrenic sweetheart was transformed into Shock Mama. The down side was it made her agoraphobic. Then, with the Reagan cutbacks, her mental hospital was shut down. So how do you kick a superhero out? You don’t. So now you have Shock Mama, the most powerful superhero in the universe, wandering around day to day in an abandoned mental facility. If any crime or super villain happened to do their bad business in that mental facility, Shock Mama would dispatch them with little to no effort. But, she’s stuck, trapped by her own fears, unable to help anyone despite her limitless powers.

Location Location Location – Amanda happened to be in the theatre department and said, “I think I have the perfect place to shoot.” And because of that we basically found the ultimate place to double as a mental hospital that was shut down in the 80s. The theatre department at UL. Everything you see is as it exists. The place is still in use, all the time, but hasn’t had a facelift since the early 80s. The creepy locker room with the metal cubbies, the bathroom with the nuclear radiation showers, all of it was perfect. Combined with Amanda’s amazing looks and ability to appear crazy, we cranked out yet another homerun of a Fallen Superhero.

And the bonus was, we shot everything in 5 hours. I’ve never moved so fast on a shoot. It was just me and Eric. we had streamlined the gear and our method of loading and unloading to a fine art. We rigged lights to the ceiling, lit an entire gymnasium, and found every shot faster than we’ve ever done. It helps when you have Eric’s insanely tuned eye. He sees a location and instantly knows if there’s a shot there or not. And with a model like Amanda moving as quickly and professionally as she did we barely broke a sweat.

NEXT UP: Fast Food modeled by Matthew Ison

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Superhero by Superhero: The Mighty Maven

Most powerful superhero in the 1950s.
Unfortunately, she was a female.

Fallen Superhero: The Mighty Maven

Model: Peggy Grigsby (aka Mema)

The Senior Citizen Superhero. She’s badass, stylish and she’s gettin’ too old for this shit. The Mighty Maven is another favorite, mostly because she’s played by my grandmother, Mema.

I wanted to do a superhero that suffered from chauvinism, but chauvinism that was widely accepted as the way things should be. America has a huge history of wrong ideas accepted as the norm. From slavery to lead paint the fruit was ripe for the picking. The fact that women, until very recently, were supposed to stay in the kitchen and have babies became the basis for the Mighty Maven’s backstory. She could stop a bus from going off a cliff with her little finger, but the US military didn’t want that kind of publicity. They would kindly say “thanks,” followed by a “now get back in the kitchen, we’ll take credit for this.”

With her Bazooka Blaster Quad Cane

The design was a classy, elegant superhero. My mother had the dress and cape already made. We modified them slightly to add that superhero zing. My sister stepped up and designed and fabricated her symbol. We went with the classic, long ballroom gown gloves and gauntlets that were more like fancy gold bracelets. Tights and psychedelic boots rounded everything out with the finishing touch of the classic ’50s era thin superhero mask. And sticking to the militant minded 1050s we made her a Bazooka Blaster Quad Cane, for the superhero that needs some walking support.

I grew up with Mema, she was VERY present in my childhood. In many ways she was more of an influence on me than my parents were. I lived with her from the time I was 14 till I moved away to Austin when I was 19. She has a very dry, biting wit. She’s also someone that doesn’t take any crap from anyone.

Gettin’ her Gazelle on

The shooting was pretty painless. The kitchen and the Gazelle shots were both done at my parents house in Lafayette. We actually shot them around midnight so that beautiful daylight you see streaming in from outside is all the brilliance of Eric Curtis’ lighting. The night shot in the garage is also at my parents’ home. The drooping fan blades and all the other “props” are all really there, all actual items found on location. The park shots were done at Chargois Park in Lafayette. The water-tower shot has one of the only photoshopped photos in the book. We added the smoldering squirrel to the image, only because it was too difficult finding an actual smoldering squirrel for the shot. And if you look on the swingset you will see my sister, Stacey, her daughter Mya, who is also in the “Passing the torch” shot, and Josh “the Ponceman” Perry swinging on the monkey bars.

So, the Mighty Maven was cranked out in a few hours. 4 shots from 11PM to 1AM, and 2 shots about 3 months later from noon to 2PM. Pretty efficient shooting. And the generations from Mema to Mya captured is an extra sweet personal bonus for me.

NEXT UP: Shock Mama modelled by Amanda Lyon

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Superhero by Superhero: 420BLNT

A man who would rather oganically farm than fight.

Fallen Superhero: 420BLNT

Model: Cosmo Johnson

This was a no brainer as far as picking a person to make a superhero out of goes. Cosmo was MC Outdoorz in the FuelTV show I wrote and produced segments for. Stupidface, available on itunes. It starred Cosmo and his sidekick DJ Ponce, played by that sexy bitch, Josh the Ponceman Perry.

This is a superhero Eric totally took the lead on. He bought this skin tight body suit that serendipitously accentuated one of Cosmo’s largest features, a do-rag, a space helmet and a big-ass pimp clock set to 420. The idea of the brother from another planet was a driving factor.

One thing that was batted around was the notion that everything on Earth that is considered offensive or racist would be the opposite on 420BLNT’s planet. I still love that idea but it definitely was more of a statement about our screwed up society and the power we give words.

P to the imp

Design was all Eric on this one. It’s militant with a little Flava Flav thrown in for good measure. Adam really nailed the idea of alienation. But not being alienated from a new world but from your own world. The choice of pacifism versus conquest ended 420BLNT’s acceptance by his people. The thought that his name, the random result of the classification system on his home planet, somehow gives him street cred here on Earth was brilliant. Again, I give Adam props for having an odd brain that makes me chuckle a lot.

Here’s a little writing insight from Adam:

“I think 420BLNT was originally called 420KRYP.  We ended up changing his name because we thought it would be funny to push the idea that his name on his planet was an indicator of his ability, but here on Earth, it was an indicator of his lifestyle.  Cozmo Johnson did a great job of emoting a look of “What the hell happened to my life?” in all the images.  He’s constantly reflecting back on how it used to be.

A tale of rejection, 420BLNT was a guy who did the right thing, he would not be part of an invasion of another galaxy.  And for that, he would be exiled.  For many of us, sometimes when we choose to do the right thing, we find ourselves with a different set of friends, a different landscape in life, and sometimes, we find ourselves alone.” – Adam Mock

Eric had a bear of a time wrangling Cosmo for the shoot. What was a one day shoot turned into a few days shoot because, well, Cosmo is a hard man to schedule. If you shoot at 9am you can almost guarantee there about 3 hours of waiting till he’s done with some other list of tasks he’s decided he has to do before shooting can commence. Sometimes only those tasks can be tackled while the sun is up, leaving the shooting for some later date. Eric soldiered through these obstacles though and captured some truly captivating images of a man who doesn’t belong anywhere, yet is accepted where he ended up.

UP NEXT: The Mighty Maven

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