Creating An Immortal
Once upon a time, I was young. I was in high school, and I was bored. The Matrix came out for the first time, and I was doodling, as I used to always doodle – in class, hardly hearing the teacher lecture, and hardly taking notes. I hardly believe I passed the test the week after that day, but I at least remember this: slim dark sunglasses, a long khaki trench coat, and an asymmetrical blonde haircut, swaying by the wind – standing straight towards the artist (in this case, me).
The sketch was done in a number two pencil. It was filled with wrinkles and shading, his expression was stoic, and while the rest of the page was blank white, the solemn character gave an atmosphere of anticipation. It was as if he was waiting for someone, it could’ve been God or Godot, it didn’t matter – he was waiting. And as I continue to stare at my creation, it was as if he was speaking to me somehow. It felt a little delusional and narcistic, but I wanted to use him as my self portrait, an anthropomorphic spirit of my angst. It wouldn’t have been the first time I had done this, I mean, when I was in my junior high years, I had a cartoon Shaolin Monk to be my deamon, and when I was a child, I would make Dark Wing Duck my superhero name. So it felt too natural to continue this habit.
I wish I could say he was my imaginary friend. I personally think it would’ve been awesome to have my own Chuck Norris to help me climb a rope during P.E. But alas, he was just it. So, I named it Black Shade.
I began to draw Black Shade as an Action hero, jumping buildings, doing gun ballets, and blowing things up, like a good American badass should. I began reading comic books and trying out different styles of art, attempting Miller’s Daredevil and manga toning. Without a computer, I tried it all by hand and blade – purchasing sticker tones from downtown, while inking with my 1.0 ballpoint pen. It was old school. At the time, only half of the U.S. population owned a computer, and even less had internet. I personally had a 56k modem, using a backdoor hack code through my landline phone service to connect to the web. It wasn’t the easiest thing to work with, but what I had was what I had. While my friends were gaming FPS style on their T3 modems, I was creating half my tones on MS Paint – digitizing my pages with my cousin’s scanner. God, it was tedious. I envy the children of today. An iPad could finish ten of the pages in a day that I would’ve labored over in a week or two. And without a job, my funds ran out quick, and sadly, my project dwindled into mere sketches.
It wasn’t long until I removed myself from the dream of becoming a comic book artist, and began to try my hand at writing a novel. Needless to say, I could never get past page 18, and I jumped quickly into screenwriting, thanks to the popularity of Sundance. The pages piled, and old folders got fatter with my portfolio, and soon I reserved an old backpack to be my vault. Black Shade had a better yearbook than me, when high school ended.
And since, the character has been with me for about twenty years. From surreal short stories, to the dark fantasies of Project Italy, Black Shade has been my own personal hero. The immortal of Fate Pendulum.