Recently I took on a very personal project – recreating one of my favorite Wonder Woman images in a tribute to the late Michael Turner. Read on for costume, concept and shoot details – and of course…photos!
This project has been a long time coming. I have always loved Wonder Woman in all of her incarnations, but when I laid eyes on Michael Turner’s Wonder Woman, I was in love. While Alex Ross and Adam Hughes do a fantastic job of bringing Diana Prince (or whoever is currently filing Wonder Woman’s shoes) to life, Turner sold me on the idea that even an Amazon could be feminine. While Wonder Woman was usually portrayed with hulking shoulders, a square jaw and hard face, Turner brought pulled her back a bit, and instead brought out her strength and fight in her eyes, her determination and in her poise.
After Michael died, I knew I wanted to pay tribute to him. Seeing as I am not a fantastic traditional artist, I decided to try and recreate one of my favorite Wonder Woman images of all time. In order to recreate it, I recruited the help of Michael Novak, a fantastic photographer who knows more than a thing or two about great lighting.
When it came time the capture the shot, Novak took no shortcuts. All in all I think shooting the pose took an hour. After every shot he would stop, look at the result, and make changes to the lighting or to my pose accordingly. After a while my arms started to hurt a bit from being suspended in the air, but it was well worth it to get the shot. While not perfect, I am very very happy with the end result of the shoot.
Having the pose dead-on meant that we didn’t have to do much in the post-processing department. However, once we did get the image into Photoshop we did some fine-tuning to make the image pop. Obviously, in the absence of an actual glowing lasso, we added the golden hue after the fact. We also brightened up the colors a bit, and removed a harsh shadow from my eye (which is why it might look a little grey in that area). After adding a smidge of texture to the background, we were done! Like I said, I am very happy with the results, and I think Michael would have been too.
After getting “the shot” we took a few more Wonder Woman images in his honor. One of my favorites was holding a white rose, which reminded me of another Turner cover I had seen.
We also took some more traditional Wonder Woman images, with a projection of the Minneapolis skyline in the background. You can see all the remaining images below.
Costume Details: As far as the costume is concerned, I used my original Wonder Woman costume and modified it further. I created the wonder woman crest out of Wonderflex, which I layered after making a mold of my chest (which burned, don’t try it at home kids). I created a new belt out of Wonderflex as well, but while it looked much more realistic, it caused more problems than I anticipated. The long and short is that it didn’t hug my body right because it was too ridged. Still, it looked much better than the original one did.
For the photos, I also had to turn my skirt into something resembling the bottoms from the image. For that I carefully folded and secured all the extra fabric behind me, so you wouldn’t end up seeing it in the shot. Its not perfect – in fact it looks a bit like I am wearing a diaper – but it looks far better than the skirt would in terms of accuracy. I also finally added the tiara to my costume, also made out of Wonderflex and secured behind my hair. I didn’t end up adding the red star, but I am sure I will at some future date.
I figure a good place to end this post would be with some thoughts I put together after hearing the news that Michael had passed. The context is from a thread in the Aspen forums, where other fans were sharing their grief in his passing. More than anything I hope it illustrates that Michael will truly never be gone.
“It is still a bit bizarre to read these comments, knowing what they imply. How can Michael be gone? I sit in my office every day – which is entirely dedicated to his work – and ask myself that. How can the man who created such beauty be gone? Losing Michael was tragic. It was tragic for his family, tragic for his coworkers, tragic for the comic book industry and tragic for his fans. True, the comic industry will never be the same without him, but look what he left in his wake. Michael changed the industry. The comic book world was destined to transform the moment he put pencil to paper. Just look at the number of people who cite Michael as the reason they pursued a career in comics. He inspired the next generation of individuals who are going to push the industry beyond its limits. He awoke the imaginations of those who are going to inspire us in the coming decades. He did all that before he hit forty.
It is funny reading these comments because many of you tell my story. When I got the news of his death I momentarily felt selfish in my grief. Michael was my hero. He was the sole reason I am into comics. I felt butterflies at the thought of talking to him and I cried when I finally got a chance to meet him face to face. I felt such a deep connection with his work that it felt personal. How strange is that? Reading through these comments helps to illustrate how many people felt that same way about his work. How many people were moved by his art. How many people felt a personal connection through something printed on a page. That is magical. That is what he gave us. In that sense Michael is not gone. No, we won’t be seeing new art coming from his studio, but you can’t take back what he gave us. You can’t take back the passion and enthusiasm he instilled in all of us. For that reason, Michael, you will never be gone.”
Rest in piece Michael.