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Friday March 6, 2009 4:10 am

WATCHMEN WEEK: Dave Gibbons’ Ultraverse & Hardcase




Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Editorials

Hardcase
When Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse was pulling itself together in 1992 and 1993, co-founder James Hudnall’s concept for Hardcase was to go back in time. Specifically to 1938 and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s original idea for Superman – a guy who was really strong and could leap tall buildings but wasn’t necessarily indestructible. Then take that basic idea and mix it with the show business elements; more like The Player and less like The Fall Guy. Hardcase would be based in Los Angeles, move in show biz circles, have an agent, and pound a few people into the ground. Hardcase was once a member of a team known as the Squad, but by the time he debuted in the Ultraverse, everyone in The Squad had been killed except for him.

When putting together the character designs for Hardcase, Editor-In-Chief Chris Ulm (the guy who thought up the original Ultraverse idea in the first place) had only one artist in mind: Dave Gibbons. That’s because of Ulm’s long-standing love of Watchmen and Gibbons’ designs for all those characters. In the Comics Buyer’s Guide #1010, Ulm said that Gibbons had a strong design sense and was chosen to get the character’s looks firmly established for subsequent artists. Gibbons had other commitments that prevented from a regular stint on Hardcase. To the right is the finalized b&w version of Hardcase, scanned from an old photocopy from a Malibu Comics press kit circa 1993. I used to have a whole stack of photocopies of Dave’s original pencil sketches but much like Mad Max, they live on only in my memories. (I do have a couple of odd color pieces that I might post in subsequent days.)

If you’ve missed some of Watchmen Week, you can still make up for your error here:
Watchmen Week, Part 1
Watchmen Week, Part 2
Watchmen Week, Part 3
(Hardcase © Marvel Comics, Inc.)

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