It’s always interesting to me to go through old folders of images and projects to see how my approach has evolved. Zap! has been in my drawers for quite some time now, and was a collaboration between myself and my friend Sean McClain early in my career. The project started as a comic strip, but because we had contacts in the animation industry, we later developed it as an animated television series and feature film.
We got quite far into the comic strip idea, with Sean writing, and me illustrating. We completed almost 30 strips, with many more just penciled. After many months of labor, love and enthusiasm we shopped the project. We received some positive feedback and even got a few bites but in the end the project never took off. As disappointing as it to not see it in its full form, I don’t regret a minute of it.
I don’t know why I picked Zap as the main character. He’s not the most powerful of the superheroes, and has the power to create electricity. Given that Zap is young, naive, and impetuous, electricity was the perfect power for him, with electrical power able to be used for good (if properly controlled), and can wreck havoc if poorly used, it felt like the perfect recipe for some hilarious scenes and some serious moments of introspection.
Doing the comic strips allowed me to refine the characters from their original concept sketches. It’s the same process as doing comic books – the more you draw a character and breathe life into it the better it gets until finally the character finds its own shape and voice.
(Left: Catmandoo, Right: Shuri)
I wanted the rest of the baby superheroes to be reminiscent of superhero characters that people were already familiar with, like Hocus, the baby version of The Shadow, and Catmandoo, with a faint reminder of Wolverine. Shuri was interesting because she drew more on those Japanese Sci-Fi TV series from the 1960’s. And of course as many super heroes have side kicks we had TB, a cuddly living and talking teddy bear who was the wise voice of reason for Zap but could also transform into a giant super weapon loaded with guns and missiles.
(Left: TB – regular form, Right: TB in fighting form)
The animated and feature film version of Zap! was going to be developed for kids but Sean and I wanted the comic strip to reach a young adult and adult audience. We wanted the strips to be funny but also a vehicle to make social comments and the idea of a school for baby super hero seemed to be a great place for both. As many project that go to sleep and resurface many years later it is still my hope that Zap! will one day come fully to life, but until then, hope you all enjoy.