Inside The Design of THE PRIDE's Heroes Ahead of COMIXOLOGY ORIGINALS Debut

The Pride
Credit: comiXology Originals

With The Pride returning under the comiXology Originals banner this Wednesday, series creator/writer Joe Glass and new series artist Cem Iroz is talking about the various heroes' original designs and their upgrades heading into season 2.

Credit: Gavin Mitchell

FabMan
1st Appearance Design: By Gavin Mitchell

Joe Glass: When we first designed FabMan, the idea was to have a character that visibly evoked both the Superman-archetypal hero and a Golden Age sensibility, but also that spoke to the character. That would immediately visually establish them as gregarious, flamboyant, camp and extraordinarily out and proud. Obviously, the rainbow cape, pink hot pants and sleeveless outfit all went into this, so we can present a character that not only might get written off as a stereotype by non-LGBTQ+ people but also gets waved off by many within the queer community too.

As a camp man myself, I felt it was important to honour the flamboyant, camp history of queer identity, as many of those kinds of people fought to get us where we are now, and yet are treated as stereotypes to be locked away and thrown out by many, even within our own community.

FabMan is as much about ‘not judging a book by its cover’ as much as he is about being immediately recognisable as a superhero and a very gay one at that.
 

Credit: Cem Iroz

Brand New Look! Design sheet by Cem Iroz.

Glass: The first thing I came to Cem with all the character’s new designs was that essentially it was about the team trying to look more legitimate and serious as a group. Not uniforms, because that wouldn’t be right, but to speak more to a Big Time Superhero sensibility.

This meant the hot pants had to go, but we aimed to keep some iconic elements to the character, such as the rainbow cape and the triangular ‘F’ symbol. The colour scheme was also something we kept, with Cem adding in white elements too.

Cem Iroz: As Joe mentioned, this time the team needed to look a lot more like a united group so I tried to keep their designs more alike with similar cuts in costumes to give the readers “Oh, the costumes made by the same person.” since it was the same person in the story who did the new designs. With Joe’s suggestions on Fabman, I tried to keep changes simple. Changed the belt with similar logo and connected the cape to the chest emblem also gave the cape a triangular cut as a node.

 

Credit: Christian Wildgoose

Wolf
Original Costume – Design Sheet by Christian Wildgoose

Glass: Wolf was one of the hardest character designs for me and Gavin Mitchell to come up with. He went through loads of iterations. Ultimately, the main goal for Wolf was to be the polar opposite of FabMan, while still avoiding going full grim ‘n’ gritty. Something that would evoke a more street level hero, and so we got to what became Wolf’s fur trimmed biker jacket and jeans combo.

I wanted Wolf to be one of the few characters to use some kind of face mask too, as he’s one of the few heroes in The Pride with a secret identity.

Credit: Cem Iroz

New Look Design Sheet by Cem Iroz

Glass: Cem really went all out with this one, which was necessary. To make Wolf look more like a big time superhero, we went with a more structured, armoured look, more reminiscent of a superhero movie costume.

The mask has also become more complex, while still saying ‘wolf’.

Also, one of the elements I did want to keep was the fur, which Cem turned into kind of a fur cape.

Iroz: Well, Wolf was one of the toughest designs I did (I should say second toughest though). I wanted to make his look a lot more like a wolf so the claws on his hands and feet were natural and the new mask was just a no brainer. I also wanted to show his techy side so his new mask became more than a mask, it became a gadget. The emblem, for me it was the toughest thing to design for Wolf. Wanted to do a simple but futuristic and also recognizable emblem for him. The odd thing was, the inspiration for this was not a wolf related thing but a vampire movie (hence the teeth of emblem).

 

Credit: Christian Wildgoose

Twink
Original Appearance – Design Sheet by Christian Wildgoose

Glass: Twink’s original costume came mainly out of necessity. In the first volume, Twink is new to the whole superhero thing, and his power-set has a habit of wrecking clothes that aren’t too stretchy. So it came to thinking what is simple, has a good possibility to be in a gay superhero (or gay man, period) like FabMan’s closet, and could just be grabbed to make an ersatz superhero look? The answer: a wrestling singlet!

Green was simply chosen because given Twink’s nature as a redhead, and his chrome-like skin, green just looks good on him.

Credit: Cem Iroz

Twink New Look Design Sheet by Cem Iroz

Glass: As a result, naturally Twink’s new look would need to look structured and more thought out than the original, and so Cem came up with this. Not a million miles away from a wrestling singlet, so still implying flexibility. The gloves were also a neat touch from Cem, as he made them padded so that if people get smacked in the face by a solid metal fist, it’s not gonna hurt...quite as much.

Iroz: Twink’s design came out of Joe’s one word: flexible. So I did some research on the new sportswear prototypes. Where to put pressure on muscles to relax them while moving and all. So the cuts on his legs wasn’t random. But the upper body cuts were made to resemble a “T”. Like Joe mentioned, not all bad guys are made of bullet proof skin, so added pads to his gloves and boots to minimize accidental fatal blows.

 

Credit: Gavin Mitchell

Stand
Original Design by Gavin Mitchell

Glass: Stand, who in The Pride’s first volume went by the superhero name White Trash, was a very simple design to be honest. A tantamount street-level hero, we wanted to keep him in ‘normal’ clothes. Being inspired by queer model and artist Trevor Wayne, we initially leaned into his street, edgy looks that inspired his moniker. Wearing simple jeans and a vest, WT would be a brawler type, which comes across in his rough and tumble appearance.

But like all things The Pride, we wanted to twist what the reader might think on first look on its head. So WT was a sweet, kind and enthusiastic character, who was easily excited and generally positive, despite a rough upbringing.

Credit: Cem Iroz

Stand New Look Design Sheet by Cem Iroz
Glass: For the new volume, Stand is going by a new moniker and is trying to give off a more serious and professional look. Now that the Pride has gained attention and notoriety, Stand saw how important it was to give the right message. As such, he’s ‘rebranded’ himself – still the same old hero from the streets, but now taking things seriously and acting smart about things.

Cem gave him a clean, smart look that looks like it has an eye to the future, which works in a simple, matter-of-fact way.

Also, cutting down on the number of visible tattoos that artists have to draw is a godsend.

Iroz: Joe’s new take on White Trash was that he is getting serious as a superhero. So, wanted to give him a clean slate. For me it was redeeming himself and also his look. Wanted to show his new personality clearly so I gave him a look that can be described as “Life is not just black and white, there is also grey.”

 

Credit: Maxime Garbarini and Hector Barros

Frost
Frost Original Look – Image by Maxime Garbarini and Hector Barros

Glass: In Volume One, Frost went through perhaps the most drastic change in design. Initially a blonde, Gavin and I had designed her to lean much more into a sexy visual, but it was a combination of not feeling right for the book and being a little too close to Emma Frost from the X-Men books. Instead, we changed direction and went with a Greta Garbo inspired suit look, that worked much better for the character.

Frost is strict, at times domineering, and proper. Having her play superhero in a full pant suit with waistcoat felt perfect.

Credit: Cem Iroz

Frost New Look Design Sheet by Cem Iroz
Glass: Frost as a result was perhaps a little more difficult to come up with a new costume for. We didn’t want to lose the visual identity already established, but we wanted it to read as more ‘superhero’. Cem came up with this design, as looks more like the original pant suit transformed into a spandex style superhero look, with the added jacket to give an added layer and structure to Frost’s appearance. We’ve also lightened her hair with a lighter blue fade, just to give the character a little more colour, while still keeping her iconic look.

Iroz: From the moment I saw Frost’s previous look, I never thought about getting rid of her classy style. It was a unique style among the team. So instead, I wanted to improve it. I added crystal like shapes to make her superhero look more in unity. To make her classy look a tad more I added a tailcoat and long upper collar with similar crystal like shapes.

 

Credit: Gavin Mitchell

Muscle Mary
Muscle Mary Original Design Sheet by Gavin Mitchell

Glass: Muscle Mary again was a design we came at quite easily for the first volume. Looking to hit the female superhero archetype imagery hard with a Wonder Woman-inspired look. We kept it simple and straight-forward so it was immediately clear to readers what to expect with Muscle Mary. Over time, the design slightly shifted too, depending on the artist involved, so that Muscle Mary become thicker and larger and more muscular.

Credit: Cem Iroz

Muscle Mary New Look Design Sheet by Cem Iroz
Glass: The immediate direction I wanted to go was losing the skirt. I wanted us to lean more into Muscle Mary being the team’s tank, and so we armoured her up and upped the warrior woman look, while also taking a modern view at that. There’s nothing I hate more in fantasy than a chainmail bikini or boob armour on a warrior woman, so we wanted to make something practical and tough, that still evoked the Muscle Mary that everyone has come to know.

Also, in the process of the first volume, we revealed that Muscle Mary’s labrys axe was magical and capable of changing its shape, becoming whatever weapon or tool she needs. So we’ll see it make a few changes over the new series.

Iroz: Now this was the toughest design I made. I wanted to show a true warrior. The main thing I was going for was to show her like the toughest among the team. The lion emblem meant to show her pride and courage. I also engraved it to the arm protectors. To keep the unity of the design I added a sapphire to her tiara-like headpiece and her labrys axe. The inspiration for her armor was a mix of gladiators and knights.

Glass: And that is it!

The rest of the team have either largely stuck with their original looks (Cub and Bear) or are the fabulous Angel, our superhero drag queen, who changes her costume pretty much every issue (sometimes multiple times in an issue!). Because what says ‘drag queen’ more than a good costume change! Expect many new iconic lewks from her in this volume of The Pride!

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