This is a scene I’ve been wanting to do in some form or another since we started Black Snow. One of the main appeals of doing a superhero comic for me has always been to show the heroes in unexpected mundane everyday situations. By making them more “real” you make them more awkward and funny. You know, because the practical and logistical ideas of superheroes in the real world are absurd.
One of the ultimate real world humbling mundane situations I’ve always wanted to do was a superhero working a day job at some place considered to be menial labor. No offense to all the fine fast food workers out there, but I’m pretty sure even the majority of them know they are considered to be extremely low on the job totem pole.
So showing a superhero humbled and taking orders from “normals” and being forced to take crap from dweeby young managers is pretty much the epitome of what I’m talking about.
I didn’t know exactly which hero, or comic it would be, but I knew it would be a fairly comedic scene.
So here it finally is, Elephant Boy working the window at Checkers. Now I’ve never been to a Checkers, I only know them from online research, but I wanted to pick a chain that was in Detroit and not super huge or well known. From what I saw Checkers is a fairly large chain, but it’s not close to any of the top fast food restaurants, and is still fairly regional.
An interesting thing about them is that the majority of their restaurants don’t have public interiors, so you order at a window and eat outside at a table. Not incredibly uncommon, but certainly uncommon and old fashoined enough to be interesting. These types of restaurants are usually known for being pretty cheap and serving a fairly low class of clientele, unless they have the kitschy cult following that drives people there, which is sometimes the case.
For me the window ordering presented a pretty unique and somewhat difficult visual. I like it because it’s something you don’t see a lot, certainly not in superhero comics, but showing interaction between people through a window presents some technical hurdles.
I think it turned out well, and was a really good scene to build up some more personality for Elephant Boy. I’ve worked retail jobs in the past, and his angry indifference is a feeling I can definitely emphasize with.
Visually it looks really good to me. That top establishing shot is based on a Google street view of a real Checkers location in Detroit. Still trying to keep the comic authentic (which is quite a goal since everything I know of Detroit comes from research and I’ve never been there). Even the misspelled upper sign is a real touch.
I like the way the customers turned out. They were based on some real life Detroit citizens I found online, and another attempt at legitimacy with more black characters. The manager, who was described as an annoying pimple faced teen, is based on a certain celebrity who seems to be the ultimate annoying teen at this time (though I don’t think he has pimples).
So now that I’ve actually done the scene, did it live up to my expectations? Yeah, I suppose it did. It’s quick, funny, kind of sad, progresses a storyline and gives some depth to a character that never really had any before. So I’d say it was a success.
Is it still something I’d like to try again in another form in the future? Sure, why not. It could be done in many different ways (I originally had pictured it much more silly with the hero wearing his costume under the uniform and using powers at some point).
So on to the next scene (or perhaps the next comic, wait and see!).