Monsters: Magellan and Arturo
Appearances: "The Edge of Civilization" Midnight, Mass. #2-3. July - August, 2002. Midnight, Mass. - Here There Be Monsters #1-6. March - August, 2004.
Jesus Saiz: Penciller, Jimmy Palmiotti: Inker, Ken Bruzenak: Letterer, Noelle Giddings: Colorist, Digital Chameleon: Separations, Tomer Hanuka: Covers, Zachary Rau: Assistant Editor, Heidi MacDonald: Editor
Paul Lee: Artist, Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh: Colorist, Janice Chiang: Letterer, Tomer Hanuka: Covers, Zachary Rau & Joan Hilty: Editors
When creating the monsters for Midnight, Mass., I decided that there would be three kinds: monsters from folklore and mythology; modern monsters that I would create that served as avatars for modern conditions such as work stress, consumer greed, automobile accidents, technology, pesticide use, and so on; and monsters of a general nature who have been around for a long time, but are made up and not something akin to Goblins, werewolves, giants, or things of that nature.
Magellan and Arturo belong to that latter category.
I also wanted to distinguish them by not making them specifically mammalian, reptilian, plant-like, or some other obvious deviation from the established Kingdoms of life on earth.
For Magellan, who was meant to be something of a rebel leader among monsters, I wanted to give him strength and majesty -- the suggestion of him being a warrior prince. I wanted to suggest something lion-like with his features without being literal. So he's big, with widespread features on his face which is surrounded by a halo of head tails, meant to suggest a mane, without being made of hair. I also wanted him to be bright red, the color of violence, passion, rage, blood, and the red carpets and capes of fairy tale kings. He was also meant to be the only thing colored red in the comics other than things that were meant to be associated with him, so that subconsciously the reader would connect these elements to Magellan without realizing it. My first drawing of him can be seen above.
Personality-wise, I wanted to get away from monsters that simply growled and roared (though he does some of that too, and it's sometimes a sense of shame for him, and sometime pride, that he does it). I wanted him to be smart, articulate, able to use tools, read, and also perform magic. Aggravated by the long held tradition of monsters being outcasts confined to the woods, caves, mountains, and other places outside of human habitation areas, he craves what humans have -- houses with electricity and running water, refrigerated food, and so on, and after initially buying a home of his own, from which he is driven, he decides to lead a monster revolt against the humans in order to take entire towns by force.
Above is Jesus Saiz's initial sketches of Magellan, and below a finished page from issue #2.
Arturo was meant to be more of a contrast with Magellan than a sidekick. The above photo from photographer Daniel Lee of human/snake hybrid is what started steering me towards the character that eventually became Arturo. I liked that the creature above doesn't really have reptilian features, but suggests them and also still looks human at first glance. I really liked the widespread layout of the facial features, but envisioned the hair as being something more akin to coral -- bony outgrowths coming up from the skull.
Arturo became a lanky, sarcastic, youthful character who smoke cigarettes, drank alcohol and watched tv. There was something about him that was somewhat endearing, probably because it was attached to a monstrous figure, though it would probably have been more annoying if it were attached to a human character. I really liked that he had these more endearing traits so that when he did something terrible and violent it was shocking and also served to remind the readers that even though these monsters are unlike typical monsters in how they act and speak, they're still monsters and do monstrous things.
I also decided that he should be green as a contrast to Magellan, and to give him a colder look that matched his hidden violent nature.
Arturo was actually meant to be killed off at the end of the first issue of Midnight, Mass. - Here There Be Monsters, but he ended up so completely stealing that issue that I became too fond of him to want to get rid of him. Part of that came from Paul Lee's partial redesign seen below. The finger/crag leg like growths where the coral like structures were, gave him a lot more expression as did the slight changes to the eyes and mouth. Arturo became a lot of fun to write and his character wound up developing a little more complexity than I'd planned for and provided for a lot of comedic moments throughout the series, but also some jaw dropping moments of horrible violence.