If you could have any super power, what would it be? Super speed? Super strength? The ability to eat whatever you want and always remain fit? Personally, we’d go with teleportation: the ability to instantly be anywhere.
Most people could probably think of their Top 5 or even 10 super powers, but what about your Top 365? Everett Downing decided to take on this Herculean task, knowing full well that with ‘great power, comes great responsibility.’
Downing is an animator for Pixar Studios, and has had the unique opportunity to work on hit films like WALL-E and Up. A few years back, in an attempt to get out of a creative rut and return to drawing for fun, Downing started a side project. He set out on a quest to create 365 entirely new superheroes. Some ‘side’ project.
Originally, the aim was to create a new character ever day, but that was a bit too daunting – even for someone with super drawing abilities. Now, roughly three years later, Downing is up over 300 characters and is well on his way to his goal of 365.
365 Supers, Downing’s blog that displays all the superheroes he has created, is an impressive and entertaining sight. Although, ‘superheroes’ may be a slight misnomer. ‘Super humans’ is probably more accurate, considering it is highly unlikely that characters like ‘Fright Knight’ and ‘Deathgrip’ would be willing to help get your cat down from a tree.
Super humans like ‘Cut-Lass’ and ‘Whistlin’ Dixie’ are undoubtedly fun, creative, and original. Others, like ‘Big Brute,’ show a slight resemblance to superheroes you may already know, but are impressive in their own right. (‘Big Brute’ could probably pass for a jacked-up Batman. Big Brute = Batman + Bane?).
Downing’s creations are all one-shot wonders, done in a single attempt, and he knows that displaying them for all to see could be a bit of a leap of faith.
When I’m working on films for Pixar, I’ve got this filter of amazing artists and directors that help ensure my work is awesome. They can tell you ‘Uh–no that stinks. Or why don’t you try ‘XYZ’?’…When I do my own work, I’m much more free to explore what I want and make whatever decision I feel suits me. Of course when you put yourself out there like that you run the risk of presenting raw material. You also run the risk of sucking really badly.
Anyone who has checked out 365 Supers would surely agree that Downing doesn’t come close to ‘sucking really badly,’ regardless of whether it’s a black and white hand-drawn sketch or a full color comp using Sketchbook Pro. Over the course of the project, Downing has used low-tech instruments like regular old pen and paper, as well as more advanced drawing technologies like tablets, which now make it easier than ever to create.
As Downing closes in on his goal, he has realized two great truths about everyone’s favorite caped protectors. First off, first impressions are crucial to grabbing an audiences attention.
But in the end, it’s all about the origin story. If Bruce Wayne became Batman because he was bored or Spider-Man for the hell of it, I guarantee you they wouldn’t be bankrolling all these multimillion-dollar franchises.
Check out the gallery below to see some of Downing’s creations, including his very first superhero ‘Blue Diamond,’ and visit his site to see all 300+. See if you can develop a back-story for each character before clicking on them.