So it's dirty confession time. For as much as every superhero movie geek creams in their pants over him, I really can't stand Christian Bale as Batman. That raspy voice that is one part Suzanne Pleshette, one part strained vocal chords completely drives me crazy. He annoys me so much I can't bring myself to see Dark Knight Rises for knowing that I'd have to endure Bale.
So instead, I just sit around and cast the remakes overs beers with buddies and in what is the dorkiest (but completely true) scenarios- the more beers the easier convinced I am that I would be the biggest, baddest, most kick-ass superhero of them all. Never mind that I punch like your abuela or that if I wore tights it would look like sausage casing. It's my drunken delusions and it doesn't have to make sense. (Trust me ladies, I'm not the only guy who thinks these things with one too many cervezas.) The uber-cool thing is, now this image need not only live in my clouded brain, for Hollywood has come to the rescue!
The Hollywood I'm referring to isn't full of shattered dreams, smog and hookers...no, this is the much closer one that's just full of German and Canadian snowbirds. For within its hallowed city limits, is the studio of The Comic Factory who work to turn your ideas of superhero grandeur into amazing pieces of art that would make Stan Lee shout "Excelsior" in pleasant surprise.
Whether you want your face pasted on to Spider-Man's body (move out of the way Toby and Andrew) or would like to see your kid as a miniscule crusader, the talented team can make it happen. Founded in 2011 by Ana Sanchez and Assi Gal, the company has 10 full time artists on staff and an official seal of approval from Marvel. It all started when Sanchez and Gal's initial company, AllPopArt.com which makes artful paintings and illustrations based on customer photos, started introducing a 'put your face on a superhero' package. Soon the popularity grew and thecomicsfactory.com was born.
The process of being turned into a super hero is relatively easy, a quick visit to the website will give you a boatload of options in how to incorporate yourself into one of the very cool existing designs with the option of it being by yourself, with your other half, your kids, or even along with your pet. Designs start at $99 and you can choose from an existing Comics Factory character with the face of your favorite person on it or for added cool factor, a famous superhero made to look like, well, whoever you like. Imagine Wolverine with the cabeza of your primo from Hialeah or an imposing Magneto with your boss's mug.
Yet, for the ultimate in awesomeness let the team of illustrators go off the beaten path and create a totally customized character of your own design. Bring to life that inner caped crusader. If you can think it, they can do it. Case in point, a few months back I penned a column on "How to Build a Better Super Hero" telling Hollywod (this time the one in Cali) just what it needed to do to reboot our superhuman friends for film.
The Comics Factory managed to take my words of wisdom, and a photo of me, and created a superhero version of myself that is totally rad. Never mind that at 5'9 and over 250 pounds I'm more Chris Farley than Captain America, in my portrait I'm a chiseled, bronzed god that could leap over building in a single bound. I'm just waiting for Joss Whedon to call about the film adaptation.
Still, other than my own vanity and delusions of grandeur, the Comic Factory team has done a variety of customized characters for people -- from the guy who overcame a slew of surgeries and whose spouse wanted a "Bionic Man" version of him to the newlywed couple who wanted to see themselves as zombie killing mercenaries on their wedding day. Let's just say, there's no request too detailed or offbeat for these artists.
The whole process takes about a week and pricing begins at $350. Comics Factory illustrator and social media manager David Babich says its a pretty straight forward and personal process, "Each idea is hand sketched and digitally hand illustrated by one of our comic book artists. Three days after you submit your order and photo, we show you a proof online for your approval or modifications and work with you until you are happy."
Of course, the superhero du jour changes all the time due to whatever is most popular at the moment, so they've been churning out a lot of Avengers and Spider-Man themed illustrations this summer. Though Hollywood blockbusters come and go, Spidey remains the most popular character. The majority of the portraits are given as gifts (turns out not everyone is as self involved as me. Who knew?!) so the studio gets really busy around the holidays and we can see why... We can't think of any better offbeat and unique gift for someone special. An awesome way of letting your man know that even if he is balding and with a beer gut he's still a superman to you or thanking your lady for putting up with all your shit by letting her know shes wonder woman in your eyes.
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What makes the Comics Factory even neater is not just the wonderful art they churn out but the fact that they get it and love what they do. This isn't just an amalgamation of talented illustrators, but comic lovers themselves. As Babich affirms, "We looked up to superheroes since we were kids and as we grew up they continued to represent all the honorable things that we should strive to be."
As an added bonus, we have it on good authority that a badass superhero alter-ego will help you get a lot of tail at Supercon. Need we say more?
Kareem Tabsch is the co-founder and co-director of O Cinema.