Hey, remember the time DC Comics redesigned their entire superhero line to make it relevant for our times? Well, Project Rooftop has been doing the same thing for years, allowing fans and artists alike to compete for the chance to brag about how they won Project Rooftop. Seriously, though, the site regularly picks a subject (Dick Grayson as Batman! Supergirl with pants!) and challenges its readers to come up with the best redesign possible.
At this year’s HeroesCon, Project Rooftop hosted a spirited discussion, showing off some of site co-founder(and frequent contributor) Dean Trippe’s favorite art, as well as chatting with the genesis of the art with other contributors on the panel. A few general observations, and then some art with artist commentary:
- The site started with the “Draw Batgirl” meme, which went from a personal challenge to Trippe to redesign Batgirl in an hour on Livejournal, to over a thousand Batgirl drawings in a week (including versions by Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan Lee O’Malley). Comics journalist Chris Arrant, interviewing Dean Trippe about Draw Batgirl, joked about doing more frequent redesigns. Dean countered that they should call it Project Rooftop, and the site was born.
- Project Rooftop seems to frequently predict trends, from having a Dick Grayson as Batman contest months before Nightwing took over the cowl, to a revised Stephanie Brown also months before she came back to life.
- One of the impetuses for the site is that superhero fashions, according to Trippe are, “Always ten years out of date, because that’s what people were wearing when the artist was in college.” Joked panelist Maris LASTNAME, “In ten years, all superheroes will be wearing jeggings.”
- Some tips for prospective redesigners:
1) Include other shots from different angles of the costume, it helps flesh out the concept.
2) People will enter contests for a long time before they win something. People work their way up from not being seen, to runner up, to winning all the time.
3) The important thing to remember is that the superheroes have been around for seventy years, and everything – from radio, to TV, to movies – goes back to influence the comics. Trippe always likes it when a design is easily translatable to multiple media.
- And finally, it’s hard to leave hair sticking out of an adult costume without it feeling like Gambit from the ‘90s.
…And now here’s some of the designs from the panel, with the creator’s commentary:
“I’m all about taking slutty characters like Black Canary and making them… Pre-school. That’s my jam.” – Maris Wicks
“I always put a raised collar on my guys, now I can’t do it. Jim Lee ruined raised collars for me.” – Joel Carroll
Wicks’ Vampirella, on the other hand, was approached from the perspective of not knowing anything about the character, so trying to think of, “What would I want to read?”
IRON MAN DESIGN
Ming Doyle approached Iron Man from the perspective of, “Tony would be more than willing to shell out his image for products.” It’s the Ultraman TV show version of Iron Man, and the figure is floating, because Stark would use his tech to make the toys that much cooler.
WONDER WOMAN REDESIGN
Wicks’ Wonder Woman has an invisible pony!
When Mike Maihack is resigning something, he often thinks, “What would I want the cartoon show to be like?” He also hates this design (though everybody disagreed).
Joe Quinones on his Wolverine design: “He’s Canadian!”
“I wanted to play with the S-shield, make it more credibly alien. And I wanted to play off the noble, aristocratic aspect. The contest was simply to redesign Superman, but I couldn’t stop there.” – Ming Doyle
The panel was followed by a QuickDraw, where audience members were challenged to redesign Green Lantern – not necessarily Hal Jordan, but it had to be human! You can check out some pictures of QuickDraw’s in progress below, and you can also check out plenty more Project Rooftop at their website, http://www.tencentticker.com/projectrooftop/