Before I started making this comic of my own, I practiced drawing by making fan fiction comics. One of these was Masters of the Universe-themed. To me, Masters of the Universe always represented those original mini-comics. I was five years old when I saw the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Conan the Barbarian. This strongly influenced how I perceived He-Man toys and the cool illustrations on the toy packaging.

When He-Man then got its own TV series, I was disappointed that it was not as intense as the Conan the Barbarian movie. Thus, my play with He-Man toys modeled more of the Conan the Barbarian movie than He-Man's animated series. My Skeletor action figure was one of the first '82 models and had a rubber head instead of hard plastic. So, I cut the figure's mouth with a knife so that the character appeared to open its mouth when the head was squeezed. I administered red watercolor inside the figure's head, and then I created the impression that Skeletor was vomiting blood when He-Man struck him with a power punch. As John Milius did in the Conan movie, I also added plenty of fake blood to my play scenes.

I also built cardboard castles with trapdoors. I placed the figure on top of the trapdoor, pulled away the safety catch made from an ice cream stick, and the trapdoor opened, dropping the figure into a pot of water, a cardboard-built cage, or a spike mat made from matches. He-Man thus offered me a lot of creativity in play during my childhood. With each play session, I came up with a story in my head that had a clear plot. The villain wanted to achieve thing X, and then the heroes had to try to save the day. 

Now, about 35 years later, I returned to He-Man and drew a comic on the subject for my own pleasure. I practiced my drawing skills, but also storytelling in the comic format. Although I have consumed comics all my life, it is not self-evident that I would be able to produce quality storytelling in the comic format myself. Of course, I had previous experience, as I had made one comic with a childhood friend. In addition, I made storyboards for game trailers and cutscenes at a game company. Film editing skills were also useful. However, the visual narrative style of comics is stylized, and the entire page layout in my chosen genre must be built to be impressive. It is not enough that the images in the panels are good. So, for a while, I made He-Man and wrote a story where Trap-Jaw goes to the tavern to meet Tri-Klops and tries to lure him into his evil intentions. And as you can guess, I took off the gloves completely and illustrated the comic as brutal as my Conan the Barbarian-inspired plays were.

If we consider how much the Conan the Barbarian movie I saw in early childhood, as well as the Masters of the Universe toys, influenced me, that's a big question. These were very grand productions, and they inspired me to draw and develop stories as a child. In addition, I felt the need to seek out other similar productions, such as the Slaine comics. Who knows, maybe the defiance and emphasis on power in those works also influenced me to become enthusiastic about thrash metal as a teenager, where raw power and exciting cover illustrations also spoke to me.

My fan fiction He-Man comic has something in common with my upcoming comic, but also many differences. My drawing style has evolved, and I believe I now create higher quality illustrations. Also, the fanfiction He-Man was not scripted the way this current book in progress is. In fanfiction, I just drew a few bullet points in my notes and started drawing. Now, I fully utilize my screenwriting education and draw based on the script I wrote.

However, the He-Man fanfiction gave me a lot of insight into how to move events forward using the means of comics. When to capture events inside panels and when to lift characters out of the panels and play with the page layout. In unclear situations, guiding arrows have usually been used to indicate which panel comes next. In the case of the He-Man fanfiction, I came up with placing speech bubbles in such a way that they guide the reader's gaze to the desired next panel. I also use this technique in my current project.

Earlier, a few days ago, I drew a collapsed, abandoned castle. While drawing the castle, I cursed that I didn't have much insight into how to design a castle visually. Then I drew the castle anyway, and it all came out without any reference. I think my childhood He-Man and Conan experiences brought that out. Maybe in the end, it was I who finally received the power of Castle Grayskull.

I have the power!

All images above illustrated by me.