Now available from our online store are a pair of framed prints by artist Lee Sullivan; each one featuring ten favourite ‘Goodies’ and ‘Baddies’ from the Gerry Anderson universe! Lee was kind enough to share with us some of his insights into the creation of these fantastic limited edition prints!
These prints started life in another guise entirely, way back in 1999. I was commissioned by Doctor Who Magazine to produce a police line-up illustration to accompany an article titled ‘The Usual Suspects’ based on the poster for the film of the same name, which in turn was based upon the line in the classic Humphrey Bogart movie Casablanca spoken by Claude Rains: “round up the usual suspects.”
That version featured the first seven Doctors, but in the intervening years it has taken on a life of its own, being remade and remodelled many times for different purposes. The lineup has grown to include all the official Doctors, plus occasionally some unofficial ones too from time to time. So far from being a one-off image, it has become something of a ‘signature’ piece for me.
It had crossed my mind several times to rework the idea using other popular characters, but being a naturally lazy person, I tend to generate art in response to people commissioning me, which is where Jamie Anderson enters the story. I’ve produced quite a few Anderson-related artworks over the years and have worked on several projects directly with Jamie recently, and it was he that suggested a pair of ‘Anderverse’ versions of the Usual Suspects, one featuring Goodies and one gathering Baddies from the most popular series, ranging from Supercar to Space:1999.
This seemed like a great idea, but there were some interesting problems to sort out. Which of the many characters to choose and what should they be doing was not so difficult, as each programme has a central hero character and a pretty obvious villain, and weapons were an obvious prop for most of them to use, though Mike is holding a Supercar cup from the range of merchandise of the period.
The most obvious problem was trickier to solve. Putting the characters side-by-side as they were portrayed onscreen would be impossible because of the enormous differences in proportions, not just between the live action actors and the puppets, but even the pre-and post-Captain Scarlet puppets were completely different to each other. So we took the decision to make the puppet characters as ‘realistic’ as possible, giving them human proportions.
This was fine in principle, but another issue, particularly with the early puppets, was how exaggerated their features were, and it was interesting to have to redesign Mike Mercury and Steve Zodiac’s faces to look both recognisable and like a real person. Although many other comic-book artists had already done this in publications like TV21, I tried to bring my own interpretations to the characters. Masterspy proved a real challenge, as he still had to look larger than life whilst being believable as a human figure. I tried to get as much reference as possible regarding the puppets’ relative heights and then tried to make educated guesses at their ‘real-life’ heights.
Joe 90 was another tricky figure; I took his exact proportions from the puppet, but once he was alongside a re-proportioned Scott Tracy and Ed Straker his head was actually larger than theirs, which was in part due to my using ‘comic-strip’ proportions for the human figures. That’s because when you draw human figures for comics, generally one stretches the length of legs so that they are roughly equal to the length of the head and torso, which is hardly ever the case in reality but looks odd in drawn form, so heads become slightly smaller than they really are. With a bit of juggling, and a fair amount of artistic licence, Joe eventually assumed his Most Special position in the heroes line-up.
Penelope was also a late reworking, as initially I’d used the groovy red and white Mondrian-inspired costume she wore onscreen, but for considerations of legal prudence we changed the colours; my wife came up with the suggestion that we should substitute Lady P’s favourite colour instead, so pink it became.
One of the nice things about working digitally is that the various elements can be kept as separate layers, so we can use the images of the characters individually or in different combinations and add new ones for new line-ups. I’ve also worked at a high resolution, so the images can be blown up (no Captain Scarlet jokes here) to use for display purposes at conventions etc – so I anticipate these drawings may have the same longevity as their Doctor Who counterparts! I’m really looking forward to the possibility of creating series-specific lineups, specifically for UFO, where my continuing fascination with Gay Ellis may finally get an official outlet. But which version of the costume? So many dilemmas!
The Official Gerry Anderson Store is very excited to announce the release of these two long-awaited official and exclusive limited edition prints. These original limited edition designs created by comic strip and concept artist Lee Sullivan feature a ‘usual suspects’ line-up of 10 Gerry Anderson Goodies and another print features 10 Gerry Anderson Baddies. Both prints are available here individually and for immediate shipment. They are hand-signed and numbered, limited to just 250 of each worldwide.