Saturday, August 9, 2014

Big Bad Bitter Beetle Battleships! © 2009 - 2014

Big Bad Bitter Beetle Battleships! © 2009, 2014:
A Storyboard by Johnathan "Mr. Reese" Whiting


The following is a storyboard I drew back in 2009 for a comic idea I had about some flying superheroes fighting an air battle against a bunch of beetle-like flying ships.

"What is a 'beetleship?'" you may ask. Well, I'll tell you. A 'beetleship' is exactly what it sounds like: a flying, fighting airship in the shape of a beetle, and more specifically resembling a scarab (one of those really big beetles that the ancient Egyptians worshiped). (See also Disney's Aladdin:

Some of my beetleship designs:

"Where do these beetleships come from? They were created by a mad wizard named Pazuzu (named after the mythical Babylonian king of wind demons: who resides in a floating island made of gold, similar to the "City of Brass" from the 1001 Arabian Nights (see

My conceptions of the wizard, Pazuzu:

 "Who flies these beetleships?" I'm glad you asked. They are flown by small golden robots who are also beetle-like in design (with arabesque influences).

My designs for the golden robots (based on Ottoman-Turkish armor):

 "Who is fighting the battle with these beetleships?" For now, we will refer to them as "Zero" and "Double AA." Double AA is the cyborg-looking dude with the gun arm, who I have introduced previously on this blog: Zero is the anime-looking dude with the long hair, white cape and sword. I also presented concepts of this character earlier on this blog where he is known as the "White Warrior" (see and the "White Ghost" (see respectively.

Well, now that we've covered the basics, let's get to the fun part: the pictures!

Zero Vs. the Beetleships (Concept):

The above picture was the first concept image I drew for the following story. It shows Zero in the upper right hand corner, standing on a friendly ship that he's protecting, while beetleships stream towards him from the floating golden island. The same scene is shown from two different angles (above view and side view) in the bottom right hand and bottom left hand corners of the page.

Zero and Double AA Face-Off Against the Beetleships (Cover): 

The above was the next concept drawing I did for the storyboard - specifically to act as the cover for this story if it were to ever be made into a comic book. The design resembles a Yin-Yang and contrasts the different styles of the two main characters in this fight. Zero can be seen as being a more fantasy-type hero, what with the sword, the long hair and cape, and the power of flight without any visible means of support. Double AA, on the other hand, being a more sci-fi character, has more technological powers: rocket boots, a gun arm, a space-suit, and some kind of unknown energy spewing forth out of his left eye...

Zero, although anime-influenced, clearly has a more Caucasian/Northern European appearance, whereas Double AA has a more Greco-Roman look - specifically based on Michelangelo's David (see

The Beetle Battle Storyboard: 

Page 1: 

Here is the beginning of the actual story. We join our hero, Zero, mid-action as he races to stop a beetleship from destroying the friendly flying ship that contains his allies.

Page 2:

Continuing from page one, Zero is just about to reach the offending beetleship, when it is struck down by a startling bolt of energy! Where could this unknown energy have come from?!

Page 3:

While his ship flies safely away into the distance, Zero looks around to see from where the mysterious energy bolt originated. We see a close up of some kind of energy weapon...

Page 4:

Double AA has arrived! But is he here to help, or did he intend for that energy blast to hit Zero, and accidentally misfired?

Page 5:

Zero and Double AA have a stare-down/stand-off in the air. Who will make the next move?

Page 6:

It's Zero! He points with his sword to the direction the friendly ship just went, indicating that he is going to follow it and protect it from the beetleships, also inviting Double AA to join him. Double AA stares back at Zero with an unreadable expression.

Page 7:

Suddenly, Double AA takes action! He zips past Zero like a bolt of energy! Zero is taken by surprise.

Page 8:

Zero stares after Double AA, then decides to follow him.

Page 9:

Zero catches up to Double AA, and they race head to head against the enemy beetleships! They briefly glance at each other, then split off in different directions.

Page 10:

Zero and Double AA attack the airborne armada of beetleships from different angles.

Page 11:

Double AA speeds head-on towards an oncoming beetleship, while Zero attacks one with his sword from above!

Page 12: 

POW! WHAP! On the left, Zero slices through his beetleship with his sword, while on the right Double AA pulverizes the oncoming beetleship with a fierce energy-powered uppercut!

Page 13:

After destroying each of their respective beetleships, Zero and Double AA go on to battle the entire beetleship armada: slicing, hacking, shooting, destroying! All while the beetleships just keep coming in wave after wave. Will the beetleship battle ever end? Only time will tell...

Page 14:

This page, that also would have served as the cover for this story, was to follow Page 13 in the actual story, as it represents Zero and Double AA deeply entrenched in battle with the beetleships. However, due to it being more of a representational design, I don't think now that it would fit very well in the storyboard itself, as it would have interrupted the actual flow of the panels with a confusing panel layout. As a cover, on the other hand, I believe it does a good job of capturing the essence of this story, as it compares and contrasts the differences in appearance and fighting styles of these two characters in their war against the beetleships, as well as hinting at the rivalry between the two of them in the close-ups of their heads.

Page 15:

This was supposed to be an alternate layout to page 13 that showed Zero and Double AA fighting beetleships in each panel. I never got around to finishing this page, and moved on to drawing other things. However, I later drew many supplemental drawings to this storyboard seen in the "Extras" section and other following sections of this post.



Lightning Bolt:

This black lightning bolt design was going to be used for a higher-contrast version of Page 8 above, which I never ended up finishing.

Flying Hermes with Sword: 

This drawing was a precursor to the story above. I was interested in Art Deco style hood ornaments at the time (as can be seen by the following picture of the winged lady), the idea of a warrior with a sword flying through the air helped inspire me to draw the storyboard above.

Auburn's Winged Flying Lady Emblem:

This page's main drawing is of an actual hood ornament from an Auburn automobile. I was reviewing my brother's book of classic cars at the time of drawing this storyboard, and many of the Art Deco designs were a big inspiration for me; especially for the classical/technological look I was going for with Double AA. In the upper left-hand corner is a flying superhero (possibly Zero) - a possible additional panel for the storyboard.

Close-Up of the Winged Lady:

Check out some other cool Art Deco hood ornaments and "Flying Ladies" here:

Flying Superhero:

This was a full page rendition of the small thumbnail of the flying superhero from the previous page.
It was a study for a possible additional panel with Zero flying to the rescue.

Zero Flying - Anatomy Study: 

An anatomical study of Zero flying. Not very accurate to actual anatomy, but it works for comic book anatomy.

Page 01 Color Test:

A colorized version of page 01. Not meant to be a representation of what the final colors of this story would have actually looked like, but more to add contrast in order to be able to see more clearly what is happening in the panels.

Close-Ups of Zero and Double AA:

Two excerpts from the cover and page 15. I spent a little more time on this page with the details of the character's faces than I did on the other pages, specifically to show the rivalry between the the two of them and the uncertainty of each of them about the other's motives. Despite their mistrust, however, they put their differences aside and work together to vanquish their common foe: the beetles.

Extra Panel for Page 7:

Close-Up of Extra Panel for Page 7:

Old Design of Double AA:

I've had these characters in my head for a long time, so I've done quite a few drawings of them over the years. Here's a drawing of Double AA from a few years before I drew this comic storyboard. The page notes were revision ideas for future robotic parts of this character:

Close up of Yin-Yang Symbol (the symbol is supposed to go on his back):

Close up of his head and shoulders (I was going for a greco-roman "statuesque" look with this character):

Newer Design of Double AA:

This more-refined design of Double AA shows off his powerful energy weapon.




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