Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Missile Mouse - The Design History

I've been ultra busy these days so I don't get to blog as much. But the book is coming along well. There's lots of new characters I'm adding to the missile mouse universe and I'll be posting those in the coming weeks.

I came across some old folders of artwork I did about 10 to 15 years ago. In it were a bunch of Missile Mouse drawings. It was fun and painful to see all the variations and evolutions he's gone through over the years. I thought I'd post the pictures here with a brief explanation of each drawing. Hopefully you'll enjoy this stroll through time as much as I did.

1992: This is the first drawing of Missile Mouse I ever did. I was watching Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers after school and every drawing I did seemed to be some variation on the theme of rodent adventurers. I remember seeing The Rocketeer in theaters and LOVING it. And every Sunday I eagerly rushed for the funnies to see if Calvin and Hobbes would be a Spaceman Spiff adventure. This drawing was my attempt to take everything I loved at that time of my life and distill it into one character.



1993: I can see some Stan Sakai influence in this drawing. I did this for my high school newspaper. I updated his spaceship and blaster design, but MM still looks pretty much the same as the original design.



1994: Fearing he was looking too "cute" I can see I began to stretch his proportions out a little here.



1995: I finally settled on colors for him. Proportions are that of a human. Also little technical details seep in like knee pads and the jet pack harness straps around the legs.



1996: I was heavily influenced during this period by Dave Johnson and Masimune Shirow. MM exchanges cute for kick butt. Emphasis on technological details and physique.



1997: Continuing with the ultra humanized technical MM. First time I can recall drawing him with out his helmet on.



2000: For a few years I tucked Missile Mouse away and focused on other stuff. Then one day I thought I'd take a whole new approach to his character design. I believe I was influenced somewhat by the Stuart Little movie that came out in '99. Gone was the helmet, human proportions, and technical detailing.



2001: These two illustrations introduced a couple visual staples that would stick with the design. The jet engine based rocket pack, and the snub nosed blaster, and the large hairless ears. Also, going back to the extremely cute proportions.



2002: I decided it was finally time to draw a Missile Mouse comic. The plan was to make a short 25 page ashcan and take it to conventions and sell it on my site. My design theory was to take the technical cool stuff I applied to the character designs from the late nineties and apply them to the cuter designs I did in 2001. He went through a couple phases in this stage, but through that I nailed down a few other components: the belt buckle, the blaster, the jet pack, the boots, gloves, and suit.



2003: I did a follow up short story and changed the suit ever so slightly by replacing the open collar with a round neck opening, complete with draw strings. It stood for several years and can be seen here, here, and here.



Today: This is the design from the Guardian Prophecy in the Flight Explorer book, and is where the design stands for the graphic novel. I took away the draw strings and gave him an updated symbol akin to the tri-triangle design from the original 1993 design. I'm completely happy with this design, but recognize it could still change as the character and the universe grows. I found this sketch I did a couple years ago which might be a good direction for the future.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Eat This!

Missile Mouse doesn't normally carry grenades. Not that he doesn't like them. It's just that they're bulky, and heavy, and a little inaccurate. That said, they're extremely effective in difficult situations. No one understands difficult situations more than MM. In the image below he's about to give a drognardian hopper something to make his bad breath go away...forever. That little Altoid of death happens to be a V50 made by EG (ExplosiveGalactique). Typically MM would prefer a surgical shot to the head with his trusty blaster. Quick and easy. But when you're transport ship is shot out of the sky, and the only thing that survives the crash landing on a drognardian infested planet is a crate of V50s you're not going to complain. You make do.

This was a commission I did a week or so ago. You can get one like it by ordering one here. If you want.

Been super busy. Work steadily progresses on the Missile Mouse graphic novel. I'm trying to ink 2 pages a night, which at times is difficult, but satisfying to know I'm staying on track. When I announced I was working on this book I said I'd post some designs and concept work to tide us over until the release of the book. Next week I plan to deliver on that promise. I'll begin posting some character designs and background info on the key players in the book. So stay tuned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sniper Rifle

This is a recent Missile Mouse commission I did. MM is armed with the Plasmatic CS-53*. The official sniper rifle of the Galactic Security Agency. It's a plasma based weapons system hence the coolant canister attached to the underside of the rifle.

*CS stands for Clean Shot and 53 represents the rifle's model number in that series.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Packin' Heat

I drew this as a type of model sheet for me to refer to as I draw Missile Mouse over and over and over again for the graphic novel. I pretty much have him down pat and could draw him in my sleep, but still it's good to keep this in front of me to make sure I don't stray too far from what the original design is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Missile Mouse Graphic Novel

I'm excited to announce that I'm working on Missile Mouse's first graphic novel: The Star Crusher. Publishers Weekly has the details here:
Jake Parker Two-Book Pact
The Flight generation—cartoonists included in artist/editor Kazu Kuibishi’s acclaimed anthology of color comics—continues to prosper in the new graphic novel era. Cartoonist/animator Jake Parker has signed a two book deal with Graphix, Scholastic’s graphic novel imprint, to produce two graphic novels starring Missile Mouse, a cute crime fighting mouse character that will star in Parker’s two sci-fi adventure graphic novels.The deal was negotiated by agent Judy Hansen of the Hansen Literary Agency. Missile Mouse was introduced earlier this year in Flight Explorer, an anthology based on Flight with comics created for young readers, published by Villard. Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher, the first of the two graphic novels, will be published in 2010. Parker’s work has also appeared in Out of Picture, another color comics anthology that collects the comics works of animator that is also published by Random House/Villard.

So that's what's replaced my social life for the past 6 months, and why I've had Missile Mouse on the brain so much lately. I'm super stoked to be doing this book. The more I live in the Missile Mouse universe as I create and draw it the more I want to share it with everyone. I know 2010 is a long way off, but I'll be posting little works in progress, concept art, and few pages here and there as we barrel towards the release date. To start off here's one of the panels from early on in the book:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Sometimes a speeder just isn't a reliable form of transportation. In which case using indigenous creatures suitable for riding is the preferred alternative. Here MM has found some sort of double toed ungulate that seems to be part fungus and part slug.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Missile Launcher

Another Missile Mouse drawing. I'm going to have to start coloring these at some point.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Speeder Ball

A Galactic Security Agent is trained to be expertly proficient in handling all kinds of vehicles. From sophisticated fighter ships to your average commuter speeder there's nothing they can't turn into an efficient pursuit vehicle. However, if given the choice, I don't think Missile Mouse would have picked the Speeder Ball SB5 as a get away vehicle. It's handling is poor, acceleration rivals that of a Gorgonian sand slug, and it's noisy. But when you're in a pinch some things have to suffice.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Double Gun Jump

Thanks again to all of you who ordered the sketchbooks. You should have received them by now. They were fun to sketch in and I hope you like the sketch you got.

I did this drawing tonight to wind down. I was so tired I didn't want to draw it. But once my hand started sketching I couldn't stop and it gave me a little art boost of energy. I love it when I get those.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bug Monster

Missile Mouse rigged this electrocution staff to work with a standard fusion generator, since he couldn't find any fully charged batteries for the thing. This will amp up it's power by a good 500% turning it from a stun device to a lethal weapon. One powerful enough to take out the bug monsters he keeps running into on this planet.

I drew this while talking on the phone with my friend today. We had a nice conversation ranging from the effectiveness of using flashbacks as a plot device to slavery and the founding fathers. It's always a treat when Kohl calls.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Serpent Monster

Thanks to those of you who ordered the Art Digest. If you like any of the stuff here on my site I'm pretty sure you're going to like the book.

I hadn't drawn a finished inked Missile Mouse in a couple weeks so I took a few moments today to do this drawing just to keep my reflexes sharp. MM climbed to the top of this rock formation to see if he could get his bearings straight on this new planet he discovered. Little did he know that he disturbed a sleeping serpent who made a home in a comfortable crevice atop this precarious perch.

Special thanks goes to my 7th grade English teacher, Ms. Glenn, who taught me the alluring art of alliteration.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flight Explorer, Missile Mouse, and Language

Over at All Ages Reads they give a nice review for Flight Explorer. However she brought up a good point about the language in my Missile Mouse story and it's appropriateness for the classroom. In Tracy's review she says:
"On the Flight blog, Kazu wrote, “After hearing from many booksellers and librarians that there weren’t very many high quality all-ages comics available for their youngest readers, we decided that a volume of Flight containing only the stories with the youngest readers in mind would be a great solution to the problem.” Hurray! What a fabulous idea!

Um, well, it would have been, with one – actually two – very small exceptions. While the stories in Flight Explorer are imaginative, colorful, well-written, and appeal to not only kids but to everyone, I cannot bring it into my classroom or give it to the school library.

In the story Missile Mouse, the eponymous character says, “Holy crap!” and “Oh crap.” That’s it. The same word, used twice, has cut this book out of many classrooms and libraries in America."

I regret that word is in there. When I wrote and drew Missile Mouse it was originally for FLIGHT 4, a book popular with teenagers, college kids and adults. When Volume 4 got too cumbersome Kazu felt this would be the perfect time to make EXPLORER (an idea a lot of us had been pushing for since the first few volumes of Flight came out) with the stories he felt were best suited for younger audiences. My Missile Mouse story was one of the stories chosen for the book and because I was so focused on other stuff I didn't think to go back through and recheck the content for a kid audience. It wasn't until last week when I ordered the book off Amazon (still haven't received my comps) that a coworker was reading through it and said "Hey there's the word crap in here, you don't mind you kids reading that word?" I couldn't believe it. She passed me the book and there it was, I had totally forgot about it. Then after reading through it again I found the second crap, again totally forgetting it was there too. Had I remembered this I would've changed it to "cripes!" or "trousers!" or something funnier. I'm going to push changing the two craps in the second printing of the book.

Anyway, in the bigger scope of things kids have their whole lives to be adults. Anything I can do to protect their innocence is a net gain for society. Because children who are allowed to be children grow up to be adults who act like adults. That's why as creators for children we should be mindful of what we are creating for them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Monster Evolution 02

Here's the last batch of sketches for this monster. As you can see for a little while there I toyed with giving him legs, but they just didn't seem to fit with what the monster will be doing in the story. "A" and "B" felt a little too serious, and "F" was a little too obscene. So I settled on "G." It's a more refined version of where I was going with "X" in the previous batch. I would have loved to have spent another week on this guy's design, but I have a schedule to keep in order to finish this story on time.






Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monster Evolution

For the past few weeks I've been trying to come up with a space monster design for Missile Mouse. These are pages from my sketchbook showing the evolution of the beast from "A" in the first image to "X" on the last image. I want the monster to be alien and sluggish, but I feel like all of these skew a little too the goofy side of the spectrum. I feel like it needs to look like a more formidable opponent. Maybe I'll change my mind, but for now I'm not quite satisfied. I'll post another batch of designs when I get closer to the design I want.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Flight Explorer In Stores

While I haven't seen it personally in stores (neither the Barnes and Noble, nor the Borders near me have ordered it) I do know that Flight Explorer is in stores as of last week. I bought mine from Amazon and was super stoked to be finally holding it in my hands. Each story in this book is a little gem. These guys are all the best of the best from the Flight series and pulled out all the stops for Explorer. The book is also a bit smaller than the Flight books. It's more of a digest size and I can see it fitting snugly in a backpack or bookbag. If you have a son, daughter, niece, or nephew pick up a copy for them. I think of it as a gateway comic, perfect for exposing kids to the world of graphic story telling.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Karonians

Planet T13-006, as it is known in the Galactic Security Agency's archives, is inhabited by a primitive society of humanoids called the Karonians. Strong, stout, and adaptive, the Karonians have manged to survive and even thrive on a exceptionally hostile planet. In my story for Flight Explorer, Missile Mouse crash lands on this planet and meets Kumo a Karonian sent from his village to search the deserts for food.

Karonians have two enormous fleshy lobes that extend out the back of the head. These store fatty deposits allowing Karonians to survive weeks with out water or food. Karonians also have a tale which is used for balance.

Kumo is outfitted for the hunt. His garb is minimal so as to not interfere with the active nature of tracking, shooting, and retrieving the kill. He carries a leather quiver (A) with 7-8 arrows in it. The arrows (B) are made of hard and light swamp reed. The point is sharpened bone. The chemicrifle (C) is an ingenious device that exhibits the intelligence of the Karonian race. The sphere houses chemicals that when combined during trigger release create an explosion expelling the arrow out the barrel. His dagger and sheath (D,E) is more utilitarian, than defensive. The sharpened bone blade is lightweight and strong.

Kumo's village is strategically located between a mountain range and a small forest of massive trees. The mountains provide protection from the fierce desert winds. The trees provide shade, shelter, and nourishment. The village consists of several thousand people and is lead by a Prophet Seer. He provides direction, council, and judgment for the people of the village. The village is also protected by a Guardian. The Guardian is a warrior chosen by the Prophet to protect the people from outside threats. Among the Prophet's prophecies is the coming of a new Guardian that would deliver their village from the clutches of an evil demon. The demon, having killed the bravest of the village, has left them without a Guardian. When Kumo finds Missile Mouse amongst the twisted wreckage of his crashed fighter craft, it is the fulfillment of prophecy and an exciting yet sacred moment for him.

Links: Flight Explorer


Monday, March 24, 2008

Fighter Design 02

Previous post: Missile Mouse - Fighter Design 01

Early on in my Missile Mouse story for Flight Explorer, MM's ship gets badly damaged and he has to bring it down. Normally he would have been able to land the thing without any extra damage to the ship. However, the ship's hydraulics were blown out and he couldn't switch to atmospheric mode. The resulting drag on the ship made nearly impossible to make a smooth landing.

atmospheric mode

In space mode the craft is open to allow ventilation and cooling for various high performance components.

space mode

Links: Missile Mouse - Fighter Design 01
Flight Explorer

Friday, March 21, 2008

Missile Mouse Pin Up

I was invited to give a demonstration at Kids' Comic Con down in the Bronx next weekend. Unfortunately, I have a scheduling conflict and I can't make it. However, I offered to do a Missile Mouse pin up for them to give to one of the kids. They accepted and this is what I drew:

If you're in town and you have a kid, Kids' Comic Con is the perfect place to expose them to comics in a friendly age appropriate environment. With comics professionals in attendance, workshops, exhibits, panels and more I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday with your kid.

Link: Kids' Comic Con

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Cephalodians

The Cephalodians are an aggressive and competitive race in the Missile Mouse universe. 90% of their planet is covered with shallow warm oceans. This resulted in a large amount of biodiversity, and consequently extreme survival instincts developed in it's inhabitants. Being the most evolved life form on the planet the Cephalodians have a high degree of intelligence. They were one of the earliest races in the galaxy to explore space. Towards the end of my Missile Mouse story in Flight Explorer we meet one such Cephalodian: Gorgo.

Gorgo has an ax to grind with the Galactic Security Agency and would love to knock off one it's agents. Specifically Missile Mouse, who, more than once, has foiled his diabolical plans.

Below is a Cephalodian Commando Droid. Gorgo got his hands on the latest model, the C-12. At nearly twice the size and 4 times the blast power the C-12 is the most powerful CCD Missile Mouse has ever encountered. However, bigger, does not mean better, and Missile Mouse realizes that he is able to exploit one of the CCD's engineering flaws. A small exhaust valve in the back of its head leads directly to the central fuel cells. A perfect shot could easily bring this otherwise formidable warrior down.

In designing the Cephalodians I found that I wanted a unifying shape that made them and their technology easy to identify. I find that when designing anything, using bold, recognizable shapes can go a long way. Block those in and then add the details on top, aways making sure the little stuff doesn't over power the core shape of the design. Can you guess what shape I chose to help identify the Cephalodians?

Below are a couple of pages from my sketchbook with my initial thoughts about where these designs should go. At first I thought it would be cool if the robot that attacks MM transformed from a box. A nice idea, but didn't seem alien enough. (I might still use that idea later though.)

Here's the sketches for Gorgo. Since I design the CCD first and gave it one big eye, I thought it would be cool to apply that to the design of the species that designed the CCD.

Link: Flight Explorer