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More MST3K comic; this time a portrait of original mad scientist Dr. Laurence Erhardt. For my comic I thought it might be neat if he were the one running these new comic-book experiments on the ‘bots, during Mike or Joel’s downtime. The actor who played Erhardt, J. Elvis Weinstein, left the show after its second season to be replaced by TV’s Frank; a brief milk-carton gag noted that Erhardt was “missing” and the character was never heard from again. I decided that he took off to run an evil comic shop (aren’t they all?) from which he re-establishes contact with the Satellite of Love.
I drew the first verstions of my ‘bots around 7 years ago, but hadn’t actually drawn Larry yet; this is me doodling now while looking at screengrabs and pondering the future of this project. I’m not really happy with it yet, I’ll keep playing with it.
Speaking of the future, the response here on Tumblr and elsewhere to my posts about this has been phenomenal. Many thanks to fuckyeahmst3k and the rest of you who’ve clicked, reblogged, and sent kind words! You’ve all convinced me that I need to finally make this comic happen, so that’s officially the plan now. Stay tuned!
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Some ‘bot illustrations from my unfinished Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan comic; there’s more info on this project in my previous post. These guys are composed from the library of ‘bot images I created for the host segments set on the Satellite of Love’s bridge. Like the cheaper cel animators of old, I can quickly assemble full bots from my library of body parts, tweaking the angles and facial expressions to suit the scene as needed, with far less hassle than it would take to draw new bots each time. Because of the simple geometry and design of the original puppets, this turned out surprisingly easy to get going.
I have so much love for the brilliant cast and crew of MST3K; not only did Joel Hodgson build unique, workable, and appealing puppets from miscellaneous bits and pieces of junk, but thanks to his and the performers’ talents these little guys managed to be so damned expressive! Bringing out the characters’ on-screen personalities in these flat vector drawings is so much less arduous a task than it could have been thanks to the brilliant and talented people behind them. I’m still tweaking these designs and adding more poses to my library, but they’re reasonably close to being finalized.
Some MST3K fan artists have taken more complete advantage of the medium to regularly show off the ‘bots in ways rarely seen on the show; Crow walking around on visible legs, Servo’s arms actually working, etc. I generally prefer to keep my MST3K stuff closer to the show’s original spirit. The ‘bots I draw still mainly hang out at a countertop because in my mind’s eye, there are still puppeteers hidden behind it.
While these illustrations are my work Mystery Science Theater 3000 and all related characters remain © Best Brains, Inc., who reveled in the fact that we could see the strings.
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Around 6-7 years ago I had the idea to do a fan comic based on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I scanned in a page of a ridiculous old comic book I had (pixelated out here to protect the guilty; it’s a mainstream book under copyright) and proceeded to give it a bit of MST3K treatment. After trying a few different options I came up with this layout scheme, enabled by vastly increasing the whitespace between panel rows to make room for the audience; I think it’s sufficiently within the MST3K spirit while limiting the amount of the original comic blocked by my ‘bots and keeping their word balloons (wordless and not the final design in this example) easily distinguishable from the comic’s own.
The comic, like the movies in genuine MST3K, would feature host segments set on the Satellite of Love bookending and interrupting the experiment. I decided to just use the ‘bots, without Mike or Joel, for a few reasons; three characters proved just too crowded in the “theater” both spatially and narratively, Crow and Servo’s classic interplay practically writes itself, and the geometrically-composed ‘bots are so much simpler to do relatively few stock illustrations of which I could then easily tweak into any pose I need. I took the Filmation/Hanna-Barbera limited animation route, inspired by my old pals at Sealab 2021, to cut way down on the amount of grunt work; humans just don’t survive that process as well as ‘bots, a fact far more evident in my host-segment illustrations than these silhouettes.
This is one of many projects I started and got really excited about ages ago, but ended up putting on the back burner. I’ve always really wanted to dive back into this one, though; I think it’s got lots of potential, and I don’t just mean for lawsuits.
Speaking of which, I should mention that although these illos are my doing, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and all related stuff is ©Best Brains, Inc., who have always been delightfully blase’ and non-litigious regarding nonprofit fan works.