Tanz from 2015
TANZ is one of my oldest characters, designed when I was about ten years old and has been a constant presence throughout my life as a person who draws pictures.
Every time I felt like I had attained a new level of artistic ability I'd make sure to do a new Tanz, his design contstantly evolving alongside my own skill.
This trend fell off a bit once I got a computer and was able to colour and complete my pictures digitally because I was also conceiving a cast of new characters (such as Professor Fandango and the 2nd crew) and they were becoming my new main focus, but every now and then I go back to Tanz and tweak him up a little bit.
The thing is...the design for this wicked witchdoctor did not spring out of my mind miraculously, it was "inspired" by a character I saw in a cartoon, and it was only when I looked that character up again this year (2022) did I realise just how inspiring it was.
To implicate myself further, there was also a secondary cast of Tanz variants, each less original than the last.
If you're familiar with 1990's cartoons you might recognise the 'Evil' and 'Hideously Evil' counterparts as coming from The Ren & Stimpy Show, though that cartoon pays off the setup by revealing that the hideously evil silhouette is actually hiding a lady version of Ren.
As a young insecure man however I opted to retain the edgier solid black form for Tanz.
The four more diverse personas are actually lifted from Dragonball Z.
Before the cartoon had landed in the UK I saw a poster of it while on a foreign holiday and assumed (understandably, be fair) that they were alternate forms of the same character. Looking back it was probably Goku, Gohan, Vegeta and Gotenks but you have to admit they're pretty similar from a distance (you have to. I don't make the rules.)
Kalon's long hair and armour are the main takeaways, I think I was actually a bit more imaginative when putting together the other designs and Lingo became the main envoy of this group, showing up in my art as late as 2003.
The whole lot of them were scrapped shortly afterwards.
Over the years I refined Tanz's design, but only slightly. It was mainly the shape of the mask that got the most attention, perhaps because another trait shared between Tanz and Voodoo Man was that their face is the mask so I made it look more like a head (and since Tanz's mask is much smaller, it perhaps seemed more natural that way.
As I was also starting to run my pictures through this newfangled computer I was also able to start colouring him more conveniently. The mask retained the colours from its original real world inspiration but Tanz did start to differ from Voodoo Man a little bit here as I used more realistic colours, particularly in the skin which was not blue, but did get progressively darker over the years.
Despite this, the similarites are still obvious. The hair, the wand and in particular the two bones sticking out of the mask. Whenever I had tried to alter the design more significantly (such as when I experimented by replacing the hair with a plume of colourful feathers - a sketch that I can't find and was never coloured anyway but it didn't look good,) I still couldn't remove those bones. Without them Tanz didn't look like Tanz, but with them Tanz looked like Voodoo Man, because that's where I got them from!
Then it was a few more years before I returned to Tanz, and when I did (in 2015) I made a few more significant changes, as seen above.
This included a more compact body with tidier details and a more distinct mask, both in shape and detail. I was now drawing the wood grain on directly, instead of using Photoshop effects which were way too subtle.
I also totally replaced his skull wand with a more plain stick, but adorned it with a new character - a magical familiar of sorts - the Cuckoonut.