Like most writers, I hit a block on a plot twist in the middle of chapter 2.
Oh well. Lets switch gears, I say, and spend some time on the draftboard.
My protagonist has to be physically attractive, because I am using conventions found in pulp and action comics.
I am intermingling this setting with grittiness and realism, so I gave him a couple of traits that make him not as attractive, such as a hooked nose and lots of small scars everywhere. And body-hair. Take that hairless perfectly sculpted superheroes.
Now in all honesty, this is a character that was already born more than 15 years ago. Even back then I already had some character designs for him.
For example, this character design was done in the mid 90’s.
This character is interpreting/impersonating a comic book hero. I paid homage to Will Eisner’s The Spirit and fashioned him simple, with the domino mask and usually with a suite and tie. And getting his clothes torned off quite a bit.
I made many drafts and images of the character
And made a lot of concept art for him.
Now, almost 20 years later, the story holds, but the character goes over some slight changes.
Next phase on fleshing him out, now that I have a starting point, is an exercise in realism. I place him in the world I have concocted, and give him a background story, how he grew up, what has he seen and what has molded him.
He was orphaned very early. Not for dramatic effect of vengeance, ala Bruce Wayne, but because in his dystopian future, his parents couldn’t survive. Period.
So he grows up in orphanages. Thus he is street savvy, a bit cynical. But somewhere in his genetic makeup there exists a desire to do good. He doesn’t give it up completely…he just buries deep within his soul, because the world he has to live in is not kind to heroes or those of altruistic nature.
He grows up disenchanted, but with the buried sense that something has to change in his world. He joins a company that is experimenting with a marketing/pr stunt, where they genetically alter a bunch of volunteers in order to make them viable “superhero” characters.
My character is one of the 10% who survive the program and is supposed to make staged appearances as PR stunts for his company, as a masked comic book hero of yesteryear.
Since he is taking on the role of a popular superhero, so he is a man in character. But he is also very cynic and jaded, so he will take to wearing the domino mask with a grain of salt. Way too often he will just pull it over his head, like a guy rising his eyeglasses.
After his gene therapy didn’t kill him and made him stronger, his metabolism is accelerated so he loves wearing those T-shirts called wife-beaters. His physique is athletic, but the wife-beater gives him a certain sleazy look. A little secret he will keep to himself is that he knows that accelerated metabolism will likely mean accelerated natural death, and he knows his life will be cut short. So, he is inclined to bouts of melancholy.
His company wants him to look heroic, but he will often end up beaten, bloodied, bruised, and with his clothes torn. His company also wants him clean shaven, and hairless, like a cartoon comic book character, those bodybuilder -types of man-child that don’t even show hair in their legs. But he will skip the waxing often. More so after certain event grants him leverage to act more freely than before.
So, I spent a few days (evening hours) honing down the face.
You can see the general gest. Hair slicked back naturally. A color that is not blond, but more like light brown. (Color not relevant, because the initial concept is black/white/halftones.)
I wanted him to look young, but then the concept of accelerated metabolism lined up with the idea of an older soul in a young body, so event though he is in his mid twenties, he may look a bit older, curt, jaded.