The above image is the original cover for Wonder Heroes, a superhero web serial written by Steve Ahlquist. About a year ago, Steve contacted me to ask if I would create a cover for his serial. It was about to been appearing at JukePopSerials.com. This was on the same day I was leaving an extended trip away from my computer. Fortunately, I’d already read an early draft of the story and had an image in mind so I was able to create a simple illustration pretty quickly.
This July, Steve contacted me again. He was working with a company to license Wonder Heroes for film, television, toys – the usual capitalist extensions of literary franchises. Would I be interested in creating the visuals for a marketing package for the Wonder Heroes intellectual property?
I said yes. Although I wouldn’t be working directly with Steve, I would be working with Steve’s characters and creations. Steve writes fun and imaginative stuff. I always enjoy creating illustrations from his work. It’s the sort of stuff that I wish I had thought up.
A major task was designing a new cover for the serial and new looks for the Wonder Heroes characters. Originally Wonder Heroes was a riff on Japanese superhero TV shows. In order to separate Wonder Heroes from its inspirations, the marketing company wanted to focus on the Wonder Gauntlets that gave otherwise ordinary people their super powers. I did a series of concept drawings of the gauntlet until we narrowed it down to a single design that I then refined and re-refined. The final result, and new cover for the serial, is below –
In addition to an identifiable (and marketable) look for the Wonder Gauntlet, I was asked to visualize the main character and some of the villains that the Wonder Heroes face over the course of their adventures.
The Neboukichan are giant crystalline robots that were buried in prehistoric Japan. Worshiped by a Kaiju cult, they are awakened to destroy the world.
Spratsis 3 of 8
Spratsis 3 of 8 believes that the Wonder Heroes killed his brother and seeks revenge against them. He and his crew of scavenger space rats salvage, retrofit and re-engineer any and all technology that they can get their paws on. They’re filthy but very resourceful.
Klotax Midiclorian is a disgraced member of a warrior race. He was defeated by one of the original Wonder Heroes. With that hero gone, Klotax returns to Earth to challenge the hero’s replacement and regain his honor.
The Retrotoxin Rocketmen
The Retroxin Rocketmen might be robots. They might be extraterrestrials in power armor. Either way, their goal is to toxiform the Earth into a poisonous environment more suited to their liking.
Susan Daystrom / Wonder Hero Imperial
Susan is the main protagonist for the serial. She is a college student who is chosen as a possible replacement when most of the original Wonder Heroes are killed. Wonder Heroes are normal humans who have bonded with the alien Wonder Gauntlets. The gauntlets are incredibly advanced pieces of extraterrestrial technology given to the Earth so that we could protect ourselves from the many, many alien races that might do us or our planet harm. Since those in charge of the Wonder Heroes project don’t know how the gauntlets chose their hosts, they drafted nearly a hundred possible candidates and had each try on a gauntlet until each gauntlet made its selection.
If you haven’t read Wonder Heroes, I recommend it. It’s a fun adventure story.
I’m hoping to hear from Steve, sometime soon, that a comic company has licensed the Heroes and they need an artist to draw the book. I’d enjoy that.