All Alone in the Night - Time-lapse footage of the Earth as seen from the ISS (by Bitmeizer)
Here’s some concepts of villainy for Randy Cunningham - McFist and his henchman the Viceroy.
I don’t remember the exact description I had for McFist but I knew he was supposed to be some kind of corporate jerk, probably former military, with his defining feature being a robotic arm controlled by a fish brain. Pretty sure it was a fish brain. McFist I think saw the biggest changes from sketches to how he appears in the show, with concept stage McFist being a stocky block of a man. Looks like he slimmed down in the end, but here he’s a bit more of a cybernetic monster jerk. I can’t recall if the fish brain’s old-school arcade joystick made it into final animation, but I thought it was funny that that arm would be controlled with as simple an interface as a joystick.
Viceroy was actually one of my favorite dudes to figure out and I think he remains relatively unaltered from concept to final animated form. Described as kind of a super-genious henchman dandy, I ended up going with something inspired by Richard Ayoade’s Moss from the IT Crowd, and Sam Jackson’s Mr. Glass from unbreakable.
Here’s Randy and Howard in some of their original early sketch form. I actually dig these versions a lot for all the differences from what people usually associate with ZIM’s designs. Most of what I submitted on this show was a lot more rounded out and bendy, where ZIM’s earlier design was all about the angles and hard edges. I just figured a different show should look like a different show!
I had Randy as a ginger and more of a regular looking kinda dude, and his colors in my sketches are way different than what he ended up as. In the final product he’s got blue or purple hair, but I liked having him looking a bit more cohesive palette-wise, and a bit more normal to contrast with the crazy superthing he turns into.
Howard’s a little different as well. In the concept stuff he’s modeled more after certain friends I had growing up, horror movie/metal fans mixed in with a whole mess of Nick Frost and a whole lot of cargo shorts. His final form seems to have taken on the ginger quality I originally gave my Randy designs!
For the most part, I only designed the main cast of the show, and one incidental human and the monster he turns into. The rest of the incidentals weren’t my responsibility but the hope was that they’d follow the overall ideas given in all of my concept work with an emphasis on not going to some of the ZIM/ME design tropes like overly hard angles where a flowing line might be more attractive, or the square pupils. Just looking at Randy’s early stuff you see there are lots of more curvy bits, the nose, the rounder eyes and the bends in the arms and legs.
Metal/horror Howard, we salute thee.
These were my first sketches of possible Ninja designs for Randy Cunningham. I always want to go for a little more inhuman on stuff, so Randy as a Ninja in these early designs was a bit more covered up in my favorite sketches, but with the big eyes glowing or showing through so he could still be expressive enough. My favorite is definitely the one with the orange exclamation mark-ish shape on the forehead.
What I was given was a very general description of “Looks like a ninja” so it gave me a chance to do whatever the hell I dreamed up, so the scarf thing was one of the first details that popped into my head. It was one of those things that I can thank video games for as I was picturing the behavior of the scarf being something out of Capcom, a mix of Strider and fighting FX from street fighter. I imagined that rather than always having to make physical contact with his rather small fists and feet, randy would sort of project his energy through the scarf which would flare out and follow the direction of his attacks.
I was also obsessed with that detail on his gloves, the orange armor bit that covers two of his fingers. I just liked how it broke up the black and essentially looked like chopsticks. Somewhere out there someone doesn’t like Japanese food, so that bit didn’t make the final design. The scarf stuck, though, in a less bulky form than how I was using it, however.
It’s an interesting job dreaming up BODIES for characters without knowing the character of the character. if that makes any sense. Most of this stuff I did without knowing too much about what the show was going to be as I was just doing design and wasn’t involved in any of the writing or any such thing. Weirdly enough it was part of why I agreed to it! It was a cool change to focus on the design of an animation project, and I’m glad the Titmouse guys approached me about doing it.
Still, I think I prefer seeing something to completion and if there’s anything that makes me regret not being in charge of the final designs it’s that I can’t kill the person who hates orange chopstick armor!