Wednesday, May 30, 2007


PROF. FLEETWOOD is the mentor/ benefactor/ father figure to the group of musical heroes known as COLLIDE-O-SCOPE. He used to have a normal human head until his arch-nemesis cast a spell on him which turned his head into a squid. Immediately following his grotesque transformation, the Professor had a bit of a mental breakdown and adopted the moniker PROFESSOR SQUIDHEAD, becoming an evil mad scientist who left his adopted family and clashed with them on several occasions. Before being brought back to his senses by our heroes, PROFESSOR SQUIDHEAD was responsible for the creation of the OCTOPRIMATE ROLLER DERBY team THE SKIDMARK SISTERS, which was the result of some bizarre psychological side effect his newfound "mad scientist" persona had when combined with repressed memories of his father pressuring him towards athletics during high school (don't ask).

Anyway, having regained his sanity, if not his full humanity, PROF. FLEETWOOD eventually returned to the mountainside headquarters/ laboratory that he shares with COLLIDE-O-SCOPE, though his head regrettably remains a squid. His frequent attempts at reversing the spell have been fruitless, and he hopes one day to track down the elusive dark wizard responsible for his condition, which he sees as his only hope to regain a normal noggin.


BRUCE is very fit with somewhat overdeveloped arms and legs due to the physical efforts of drumming. He sports a wild and uncontrollable flame of light brown hair which seems to be resistant to any manner of combing or gelling. BRUCE drums with a wild-eyed abandon and works up quite a sweat! His partner in timekeeping is the recently-deceased spectre-of-the-skins, KIT CADENCE. KIT has become conjoined with BRUCE, and “haunts” him, unable to be separated from his flesh-and-blood partner, and he is actually the spirit of the ex-husband of BRUCE’s current girlfriend!
Before BRUCE was recruited to join COLLIDE-O-SCOPE, he fell in love with a woman named April, who had just lost her husband KIT in a tragic accident. Due to the somewhat mystical nature of the accident, however, KIT’s spirit was unable to move on to the afterlife. KIT’s ghost had no apparent purpose and no idea what he was supposed to do as an invisible, intangible spirit, so he hung around April, deciding to watch over her as a sort of guardian angel. When April started dating BRUCE, however, KIT became enraged and jealous, growing in power to the point where he could affect things on the physical plane. He tried several times, in his fits of desperation and anger, to get rid of BRUCE, convinced he was not fit to woo his beloved April.
BRUCE’s unnatural powers of luck saved him from certain death, however, and KIT became so delirious in his rage, that he turned on APRIL, believing her to be unfaithful to him and convinced that she was responsible for his death. BRUCE enlisted the help of a local priest, Father Chuck, to ward off KIT and bring him back to a state of rational thought before he went too far over the edge. Father Chuck had never encountered such a spiritual conundrum before, and concluded that he could not send KIT on to the next life, and could not even restore his sanity unless KIT’s spirit was bound to that of an earthly mortal. BRUCE volunteered to be KIT’s “anchor”, and so it was done. KIT was returned to sanity, now bound to BRUCE, realizing that BRUCE was a good man after all, who would take care of April.
Coincidentally, KIT was also a drummer before he "passed on", so the two now form an inseparable dual drumming dynamo, packing twice the percussive ability and speed of any one man, which enables them to handle the massive spread of drums they employ in their rhythmic arsenal.
Because of the dual onslaught of BRUCE’s hyper-speed coupled with KIT’s ectotheric power, the two can build up percussive rhythms of variable frequencies that can heat materials to the boiling/ combustion point, or resonate a “phase-frequency” in certain objects. They are still exploring the limits of this heretofore undocumented ability.
BRUCE and KIT’s sprawling drum set contains almost every type and size of snare, tom, cymbal, chime, bell and bass imaginable, and any single man would cower in fear at the thought of commanding such a setup.

KIT is an insatiable pack rat who is always keeping an eye out for cool doohickeys to add to his collection of curious and interesting objects and odd percussion tools. He always carries around a pair of drumsticks, constantly testing out the sounds of any object that catches his eye (to the annoyance and irritation of those around him).
BRUCE is unnaturally strong -- thus, traditional drum sets cannot withstand his brutal barrage of percussion, and the membranous drums in his arsenal have to be fitted with special heads custom made from stretched Wooly Mammoth skin extracted from glaciers, rhinoceros hides, and other extremely durable materials. Sadly, and perhaps due to his spectral nature, KIT seems to have some sort of bad mojo when dealing with any machine more complex than his studio headphones. SPITFIRE and PROFESSOR FLEETWOOD have banned him from the garage and the lab due to his ruining several complex projects.


ALITA TOCCATA -- Keyboards/ Electronica
Alita was born to a wealthy family who turned their noses up at anything less than classical music and opera. Naturally, she rebelled against this during her high school years, hooking up with a local Rockabilly group, as well as a British-style new-wave ensemble. Her parents practically disowned her, and she hasn’t really cared to look back since (or so she claims).

ALITA has sense memory, which allows her to instantly gauge the function and history of any mechanical object simply by touching it. This ability not only gives her an edge in the garage fixing gadgets and vehicles, but also allows her to quickly master any musical instrument. Because of this, ALITA is essentially able to play every instrument known to man on at least a novice level, and has taken to learning each one, in alphabetical order since she discovered this gift at the age of 12.
Although she doesn’t dress the part (except when working in the garage), ALITA is rather tomboyish, and, since she excels at mechanics, can often be found down in the workshop/ garage, fixing Professor Fleetwood’s abused equipment or keeping the band’s various vehicles in repair. SPITFIRE will sometimes help out if ALITA needs an extra hand, but she usually doesn’t, especially since she has three of her own! Perhaps another of the growing number of mutation side-effects of Roca Lago’s magic spring water, ALITA was born with three arms: two left arms and one right. This has proven invaluable in tasks ranging from handling her multiple keyboards during a performance, to fixing cars, to driving the Collide-O-Scope van while simultaneously fending off attacking hordes of SludgeNinja with her katana sword!


Juancarlos Delgado (“Shrubb”) -- Bass Guitar
Enigmatic, Hispanic and very hairy, SHRUBB’s face is permanently hidden by his shrub-like head of hair (hence, his nickname -- get it?) -- the only “facial feature” visible is the pair of special goggles he wears. SHRUBB’s fashion sense leans towards the early 70’s as he is usually found sporting bellbottom pants, apple hats, army jackets, puka shells, and huckapoo shirts (and Angel Flight suits when he’s feeling fancy). Tall, lanky and stoop-shouldered, SHRUBB is very laid back and relaxed, and he rarely speaks except for the occasional brief sentence, usually in Spanish, all of which makes it quite difficult to read his mood/ feelings. Very dependable and loyal, he will rarely protest or argue, deferring to the authority of those around him that he trusts.
How can SHRUBB see through that head of hair? Why, he’s got X-ray vision, of course! Not just x-ray, mind you, but SHRUBB can see in a much broader range of extra-spectrum sight, allowing him to see things others would never be aware of. He can even see when someone is lying! His “magic goggles” have even tapped into his brain through some sort of symbiotic link, and the lenses often display onomatopoeic phrases related to SHRUBB’’s state of mind. How did SHRUBB come to possess these stupefying shades and why does he hide his face? That remains a mystery for now. His bass-playing prowess, however, is not a mystery, and SHRUBB can more than handle any style of bass-playing with ridiculous ease, from lightning fast metal, to slap-funk!


FUSELLA “SPITFIRE” HOTSPUR -- Rhythm/ Lead Guitar/ Vocals
Fusella is as her nickname implies, and she’ll probably sock you in the jaw if you call her “Fusella”! She is hot-tempered, quick to speak or act first and think later. Foul-mouthed, and brash, SPITFIRE is slow to give thanks, admit mistakes and offer congratulations, yet she likes to feel useful, so will often offer her assistance where needed, but only if she is asked first.
SPITFIRE’s body is decorated with “living tattoos” based on the Chinese zodiac, but they are no longer visible unless she “activates” them. She can an animate and detach these tattoos from her skin to become tangible, three-dimensional helper beasts, each with different useful strengths and characteristics. Once the tattoo-beast’s task is done, she can reabsorb it back into her skin. SPITFIRE can animate more than one tattoo-beast at a time, but each one takes a bit of her life-force with it, weakening her a bit until it is reabsorbed.
All of the tattoos were created by the same man at the same tattoo parlor -- an ancient Chinese man who spoke in confusing proverbs and riddles. The power to animate the tattoos was not available until the final tattoo was completely healed. Upon removing the bandage covering this last tattoo, all of the beasts briefly sprang forth from her skin at once, sending SPITFIRE into a near coma. Once she was released from the hospital, SPITFIRE went back to find the strange Chinese fellow, seeking answers to what he had done to her, but the shop and the old man were gone, leaving only an empty building that looked like it hadn’t been occupied in years. Since then, SPITFIRE has never released more than three beasts at a time, fearing for her life if she does.
Spitfire often becomes conflicted with identity issues due to the wide range of abilities her zodiac animals grant her. As she is able to temporarily assume their attributes upon reabsorbing them, she has trouble defining where they end and where she begins.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The Ringling Senior thesis show was overall very impressive. My contribution, which I've been posting bits of here, seemed to be well-received, although I felt that it was not as polished as I wanted it to be. This past year has just been a hectic mess for me, and everything I did seemed to be terribly frustrating, requiring much more effort and stress than it should have. I think the lack of sleep and constant creative overdrive causing me to neglect any sort of social or family life over the past couple years just built up to the point where I needed to stop and rest, but I couldn't pause until the deed was done. Henceforth, my COLLIDE-O-SCOPE senior thesis project had to be birthed a bit prematurely -- I wanted to do so much more with it, but time and the forces of the universe would not allow it. I plan to continue to fine tune this showdog and actually produce illustrated stories and some assorted merchandise featuring these characters and concepts. I put a lot of effort into creating an actual cohesive storyline for the concept and solid backgrounds for the characters and how they interact, which took time away from actual visual artwork, but it was necessary if I wanted to round this thing out.

Anyway, here's the first part of my Senior thesis presentation, starting with the band members themselves. First up: ATOM ALLEGRO, lead guitarist/ vocals for COLLIDE-O-SCOPE!

Before I get to Atom's background, here's the pitch for the concept of the whole COLLIDE-O-SCOPE mess:


Welcome to Roca Lago, the musical mecca of the world and home to the highest population of musicians, the largest number of bands and the most recording studios in the world! Due to a mystical underground spring which supplies Roca Lago with its drinking water, the entire population has been gifted with at least a moderate level of musical talent and hundreds have become masters of the craft -- some of the animals have even started to display some musical talent! In a city full of proficient musicians, what kind of band could capture the hearts and minds of an overwhelming majority of the population, becoming the greatest band on Earth, and several other planets?! Why, it’s COLLIDE-O-SCOPE, silly!!
Look out! From their not-so-secret mountainside headquarters carved into the interior of Anchor Rock Mountain, COLLIDE-O-SCOPE divides their precious time between crafting and performing the most complex and mind-blowing hard-rockin’ songs known to man, exploring the arcane limits of science and the unknown with PROFESSOR SYD “SQUIDHEAD” FLEETWOOD, and protecting the world from the forces of evil and sinister dipstick chumpwads who would seek to enslave/ destroy/ devour mankind or who generally have a stick up their asses about the whole music scene and/or humanity in general. Their success and mass popularity has spawned COLLIDE-O-SCOPE action figures, comic books, breakfast cereals, jammies, video games, hygiene products, etc., but they don’t let that get in the way of their musical integrity and hardworking can-do attitudes.
More on the band in a bit, but hey what’s the deal with that crazy underground spring? That sure sounds like a load of crickets, huh? Not so! In fact there’s a very good explanation why something as simple as an underground spring would bestow such musical prowess upon those who would drink from it. There are many legends and tall-tales to explain the nature of the spring’s magical properties, ranging from the spilled blood from the warring gods Apollo and Athena seeping into the spring to a tale of the Aztec god of hell seeking to drown Quetzalcoatl in an underground lake, extinguishing creativity in mankind. Though science has yet to discover the real answer, you can blame it on Satan! The truth is that the spring runs up through the exact spot where Lucifer and his choir of rebellious angels crashed to earth upon being expelled from heaven. Their descent was sudden and forceful, and the heavenly instruments of the fallen angelic musicians became embedded deep in the earth. Dazed and dumbfounded, Lucifer and the ex-angels emerged from the earth and wandered about for a while in a senseless stupor. When they regained their composure, they discovered they were without the instruments they could have used to sway humanity easily and immediately to their side. Due to their previous state of confusion and bewilderment, they were unable to remember exactly where their fall landed them, and Lucifer has been on a desperate search to discover this hidden cache of powerful heavenly tools. Recently, however, odd occurrences in the southwestern town of Roca Lago have begun to provide Lucifer with clues as to where his missing musical instruments might be.

When Roca Lago was founded, the citizens had no inkling of the angelic stash buried far beneath them. Years later, they tapped into the spring as their primary source of drinking water. Though it took several generations of buildup and genetic mutation, the population soon began experiencing unexplained musical proficiency, until, just a few generations later, the offspring of those lifelong residents became truly and unarguably gifted. Once this odd effect was discovered and attributed to “something in the water”, musical hopefuls flocked to the area, gorging themselves on Roca Lago’s strange water. They were disappointed to discover, however, that there were no instant magical effects and that the abilities of the residents were only the result of long-standing local genetic lines all drinking the water -- there was no “instant magical musical drink” to be found flowing from the faucets of Roca Lago.
Not everyone in the city of Roca Lago is a professional musician, but all of them play an instrument or two as a hobby, or in an informal garage jam band. Music shops are ubiquitous, there’s a street band on practically every corner, and certain sections of the city are even devoted ghettoized in line with certain styles of music (i.e. the Country/Western Boroughs, Rockabilly Road, Disco Heights, Zydeco Alley, etc.). Every year, on the town’s birthday, the entire population gathers together downtown and sets the world record for the world’s largest group musical performance, all playing a single composition in unison which can be heard for miles around. It may seem fairly obvious, but Lucifer will figure it out sooner or later, and come to Roca Lago looking for his instruments... and COLLIDE-O-SCOPE will be there to stop him!


Atom Allegro -- Lead Guitar/ Rhythm/ Vocals
Atom (yes, that’s his real name) comes from a long line of lead guitarists, each better and faster than the last. Growing up, Atom’s father, Alex, was his best friend. The elder Allegro taught his son everything he knew about rock guitar, even allowing Atom to join Alex’s band when their rhythm guitarist fell ill and had to quit. Atom soon surpassed his father in musical prowess, however, which pleased Alex and was a source of great pride. Disaster soon struck, as the lead guitarist of a rival band executed a scheme to cause an evil underspirit from the dark dimension to possess and ruin Alex Allegro. The scheme worked, and Alex became unnaturally jealous towards his son, sabotaging his performances and eventually threatening Atom with physical violence. Atom discovered the source of his father’s drastic change in demeanor with the help of Professor Syd Fleetwood, but not before Alex, under the demon’s influence, had laid a fatal and irreversible trap for Atom and the rest of the band. Alex was able to overcome the demon’s influence through his willpower and love for his son at the last minute, however, saving the lives of Atom and his fellow bandmates by sacrificing himself to the catastrophic snare. As his mother had passed away years ago, Atom soon found himself with no family, and no will to continue with the band. Professor Fleetwood took Atom in as his adopted son and nursed him through the grieving process, teaching him about science and allowing Atom to accompany him on his various expeditions and experiments. Soon, the desire to take up the guitar once more returned to Atom, if only to honor his father. Atom began seeking out new bandmates to start up a brand new super-group, gradually gathering together the members of the greatest band on the planet: COLLIDE-O-SCOPE! Residing with Professor Fleetwood in their mountainside mega-complex, COLLIDE-O-SCOPE divides their time between touring the world with their kick-ass concerts, exploring the mysteries of the planet (and beyond), and combatting the forces of evil and ennui that would seek to bring harm and disharmony to mankind!

"It Ain't Over 'Till the Student Loans're Paid Off..."

Well, it's finally over -- my long, strenuous trudge through the gauntlet of Art School is at an end. I successfully graduated (with honors) from the Ringling School of Art and Design (now the Ringling COLLEGE of Art and Design) on May 11th. I took a few weeks off for a much-deserved (and needed) vacation and general unwinding, but now I'm ready to get back to real life. Was 4 more years of schooling worth it? I'd say yes and no, for a variety of reasons I'm not going to get into here -- I would encourage anyone to do the whole higher educatio thing BEFORE getting married and starting a family... it only makes it much more difficult and stressful.

What will I be doing from here? Well, my wonderful freelance career is going to take up the bulk of my time, though I'll desperately be trying to get a well-paying steady job (with sweet benefits) at someplace I can actually flex my artistic muscles. I'll also be making the rounds at a few comic conventions to my skills and sell a few buttons/ t-shirts/ stickers while I'm at it. First stop on the POP-MONKEY U.S. TOUR is HEROES CONVENTION in Charlotte, NC!! I'll be appearing there at the Pop-Monkey Illustration tables with my good friends and super-talented fellow Ringling graduates , and EMILY GROSS!! Right now, I'm finalizing the designs for the shirts and stuff I'm going to have to sell, so I'll post those once I get them finished. Heroes Con will certainly no be the first comic convention I've attended (I've been to at least one, sometimes 2 or 3 a year since I was 13), but it will be the first show I've actually had a table at! This will be sort of a trial run for me, to get a real feel for it, and if all goes well, I'm also planning on hitting the BALTIMORE COMIC CONVENTION later in the year (September, I think).

The image accompanying this post is the final design for one of the buttons. His name is JIM-JIM THE DANCING PINK BULLY. So, stop by Heroes Con and say hi to us, and buy some cool stuff!