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Brutal: Crafting the big guy


(Above: Ed McGuinness’ tight-as-hell pencils to the Brutal cover, originally intended for issue #1.)

Let’s face it: most of the characters in Hero House just look like a bunch of dudes. So I knew that Brutal–the President of Epsilon Epsilon Psi and the only non-human-looking member–would have to be memorable. Which is why he went through more designs than any other member before Mike and I finally hit on one we liked.

First things first, here’s Brutal’s description from the issue #1 script:

BROTHER BRUTAL stands in the center, a mammoth, strong-looking man at least eight feet tall in a suit with horns growing from his temples.

Here was Mike’s first pass:


I wasn’t crazy about the demon nose, and the horns weren’t quite where I wanted them to be yet – I wanted the horns to basically look like Brutal’s big gnarly eyebrows.

The next couple of sketches got a bit closer:



I wasn’t quite digging the inhuman eyes, though. Around this time I also came up with the idea of giving Brutal a scar down the middle of his face between his horns, as if his skin had sort of split open when his horns first started growing in. You can see a bit of that in the penultimate sketch, where Brutal is wearing a very sporty vest…


Add slightly broader soldiers and voila! The finalized design sketch:


I think the scar ends up being less pronounced in much of the final art, but I think we accomplished what we set out to do – to create a visually memorable character that when you see him (or even his sillhouette), you’ll immediately think of Hero House. It’s why Brutal was going to appear on the cover to issue #1, before we decided to release as an OGN. Plus, as a bonus, he looks like he was born to be drawn by Ed McGuinness.

I’d like to take this opportunity to officially apologize to Mike for being such a hardass about Brutal’s design all those five years ago, but I’d like to think it paid off.

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