You can ask any comic book creator and they will probably agree that one of the coolest things about writing a new series is getting to create new characters. What will he or she be like? What will be the driving characteristics that will lead him/her to pursue their ultimate goals? Will they be funny? Ambitious? Tortured? A practical joker?
The creative team doesn't only need to conjure up an origin story for the new character that will stimulate their reader base, they also need to develop a vision for what the character will look like, and realize that what they wear will be something of a reflection of who they are. If race, for example, is a subject of focus for the character, then the creative team should reflect that through the art and dialogue, as well.== TEASER ==
Sometimes the responsibility of the character design is split between both the series' writer and its artists. Other times it's left entirely up to the book's artist to determine how the character should be artistically portrayed. In fact, the character design isn't something we usually consider when we read a comic book. How do elements of the character's costume and overall design play into the character itself? Generally, a lot of thought goes into character design. Take for example, artist Sara Pichelli's character sketches for the new Ultimate Spider-Man starring Miles Morales. The initial concept art for Morales' character needed to encompass a variety of different characteristics. Does Morales have a lot of self esteem? What does his personal style say about his character? Marvel recently published some of Sara's concept art (which is fantastic, by the way) to give fans a closer look at the kind of character Morales is in the Ultimate Spider-Man book.
The image below if the first character sketch for Miles, before Bendis decided to make him younger.
“In this pic Miles looks older, because the first idea was to have the new hero the same age of Peter Parker, but then we changed our mind, so this could be his older brother! What a pity—he was hot I think. Nice coat [by the way], don't you think?”
Not only does Pichelli portray Miles as much older, but she also gives two examples of how a character's posture can be very revealing. While he's seemingly proud in one pose, he's also slouching and depressed in another.
Another aspect of figuring out who the character really is are concept designs of what he would do on his day off. Does he head to the library to hit the books, or does he go skateboarding down in the park?
“At one point I decided to give Miles a dog; please don't ask—there was no reason to do it but I just liked the idea. Jokes aside I was trying to figure his personality out.”
The image of Bendis' new 'Spidey' with his pet dog and his skateboard are also very revealing. It says a lot about the way Pitchelli sees the character as well as what some of his extra-curricular activities might be.
Pichelli's most interesting character designs are those of Miles as a 12-14 year old boy and the images where she experiments with his different hairstyles. Pichelli's character study of Miles Morales is very interesting, more-so because it's so obvious how much thought she put into the physical characteristics of Morales that are pertinent to the character's race. Sometimes in comics we will see Asian characters or black characters, but notice that the character designs lack certain attributes that are relevant or applicable to the characters' race. Storm doesn't always look as African American as she should.
Pichelli takes a lot of time and a great deal of thought to creating Morales to be as part black, part hispanic as possible, and it's great. Be sure to check out the rest Sara Pichelli's character designs of Miles Morales and let us know what you think. Be on the look out for the all new Ultimate Spider-Man starring Miles as the new Spidey on September 14th!