"Iron Man Gets the Shakes and Other Superheroic Animated GIFs"
December 1st, 2011
December 1st, 2011
Lovingly crafted by comics creator Kerry Callen, the image is one of four he made to test his hand at injecting movement into iconic superhero art.
“I picked the Iron Man cover just because it was so goofy, I’d thought it would be fun to animate,” Callen told Wired.com in an e-mail. “Even though it has the simplest motion, it’s the only one where I tried different approaches before settling on the silly solution I did.”
The jittery makeover of the 1979 “Demon in a Bottle” cover seems like the perfect complement to the Iron Man story arc, which follows Marvel Comics’ playboy industrialist as he struggles with alcoholism. Callen also animated covers from The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Justice League of America, carefully picking images that suited the project.
“I wanted to find covers that would ‘loop’ as an animated image,” Callen said. “Secondly, I wanted variety. I chose one with a flowing motion, one with flashes of light, and one that spins. Each is basically a different exercise in execution.”
In Callen’s reworking of the Justice League No. 6 cover, subtitled “Wheel of Misfortune,” DC Comics superheroes including Aquaman and Flash finds themselves strapped to a spinning torture device.
In his animated version of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns cover, Batman swoops across a lightning-streaked sky.
And in Callen’s take on Amazing Spider-Man No. 33, Spidey is trapped under debris as water flows into a flooding laboratory.
Despite the incredibly vivid look of the moving images, Callen said creating the animated GIFs “wasn’t difficult at all.”
“I used Photoshop to cut the images apart and redraw areas as needed, then animated them,” said Callen, who has worked in the graphic-design field for 25 years and lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It’s hard to say how long it took me,” he continues. “I started a couple of months ago and did 15 to 30 minutes here and there, while watching TV sometimes. The easiest one probably took three hours, while the Spider-Man cover probably took 10 hours. There was trial and error involved in some cases.”
Callen published the GIFs on his blog, May Contain Content, where he regularly posts comic parody and commentary.
The superhero animations flowed from Callen’s work several years ago on motion lenticular images.
“Some people call them ‘magic motion,’ as seen on greeting cards and such,” Callen said. “I really enjoyed doing very simple animation, and recently had the urge to do something similar. I’m a comics fan, and it occurred to me that I’ve never seen famous covers animated, so I thought, ‘Hey. I could do that!’”
Previously, Callen wrote and illustrated the Halo and Sprocket comic book series, which followed the adventures of a single woman, an angel and a robot. (“If you can find the first collection, Halo and Sprocket: Welcome to Humanity, it’s more fun than a barrel of cover GIFs,” Callen says.)
Callen said he’s toying with the idea of restarting Halo and Sprocket and has other animated comic book cover ideas banging around in his head.
“They’re too fun not to do again,” he said.