Thursday, March 20, 2014

Packages from Planet X (The idea)

The idea for Packages from Planet X came about after several weeks of research and revisiting what I liked as a 10 year old kid: Sci-fi, comic books, Super Heroes, Robots, Space Ships, Aliens, monsters, and anything to do with Outer Space. I did a bunch of research on Planet X which had an interesting mythology...  a mysterious roving planet inhabited by ancient aliens. So there was this nugget of an idea, but it needed more thought. I put Planet X in my mental parking lot and waited for something to connect it to later...

While flipping through some comic books for ideas, I came across one of those old novelty toy ads in between the superhero action... think X-Ray vision glasses and the Surprise Package.  What exactly was in that package?  For fifty cents, it was no doubt something really cheap. But what could be in that package? What if they came from some place really bizarre? What if they came from a place like... Planet X?  That's when the concept came together. 

I initially envisioned PFPX as a feature animated film, so the designs were less cartoony. Dan was much younger, average and nerdy. I liked the idea that he was not a hero, but he had the potential to be heroic. Most kids are that kid, so it's relatable. Dan's character evolved from there. Above are some of my early attempts at finding Dan...

The direction changed a few times. The designs became more heroic and Sci-fi.

Here is a younger Dan with a vest that came in one of the packages. Maybe it had certain powers... I turned the vest pockets at angles to form a subtle "X."

Below is an older version of Dan. We narrowed in on this version for a while.
I also added the subtle "X" to his shoes. From the side they look like upside down "V's,"
but from the top they also formed an "X."

Some early versions of Dan with Troll, who is Dan's best bud.

My initial version of Amanda (below)

Early on, there were two rival comic shop owners dueling over the Packages from Planet X. One (below) acted as the antagonist trying to get his hands on the packages for "not so good purposes," while the other acted as a mentor to Dan, Troll and Amanda. We narrowed down to having just one comic shop owner named Gary, who was clueless about the packages, but gave Dan and Troll advice from a comic world view. His wacky advice based on issue 108 of the X-men, for example, sometimes helped our trio solve the latest dilemma. Both characters were inspired by comic shop owners from my home town, particularly Gary, who was the owner during the time I frequented the store to buy my monthly dose of the Uncanny X-men and other favorites. Both characters were eventually dropped from the line-up. Rather than having dueling comic shop owners, they became rival scientists (Uncle Rory and Copernicus.)

The character below started out as a somewhat creepy and unsettling Tiki that would just silently "be there" in the background at the most unexpected and opportune times, which always startled Dan. Initially the first package from Planet X, he was the "instruction manual" for the packages delivered in a monotone Tibetan Monk-like voice. I thought it would be a cool and even funny alternative to the overused and sometimes annoying comic relief sidekick e.g. Jar Jar Binks (the absolute worse ever).  Tiki evolved into a totem pole with three distinct personalities that always gave conflicting advice. Hence the name Thriki. He was ultimately replaced by the character CuRT.

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