Friday, January 11, 2013

Early He-Man - Dragon Concepts

The other day a friend suggested that I start a new blog dedicated to showcasing the art I created for the original He-Man series of the early 1980s. Got me thinking about prepping artwork for it. In the meantime I can feature some of the images here.

This is one of the very first production drawings from He-Man. I did it in either very late 1982 or very early 1983. I'm not sure which year so I'll go with the earlier date. My assignment was to come up with concept designs for dragons that He-Man could fight or that could be turned into individual characters. I thought I'd be efficient so I sketched a composition in which many dragons would be featured and any one of which could be further developed. I had a little fun and placed He-Man in an impossible situation. 

This is the very first time the drawing has ever been published. Very few people have ever seen it. I have an extensive archive of art from He-Man and She-Ra and Bravestarr that's been waiting to see the light of day for a long time. Since 2013 will mark the 30th anniversary of the broadcast of the TV series I think it's a good time to get started on showing some of it.

I worked on animated projects prior to breaking into the animation industry proper. Developing the original He-Man series was my first job in an actual animation studio. It was called Filmation and they did a lot of cartoons throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s until they closed in 1989. I was one of three artists on the development team and the only one still alive. Looking back I realize how much I had to learn. Wish I could do things over again but alas... we know how that goes. I'm sure the He-Man fans out there will appreciate the significance of the drawing. Clicking on the picture will give you a better view.


Joel Valdez said...

Wow! This piece is awesome! I love it

Savannah Dittman said...

Love it :)

fanimation said...

Love your Dragons and I loved watching the He-Man cartoons back in the 80's! I just watched an episode of He-Man called "Dragon Invasion" on Netflix, I really see your dragon art design in the final animated must have been very cool to be a part of a creative team like that! Can't wait to see more He-Man art Charles!

Michael_Manley_426 said...

Given how Filmation (and most other animation studios in that day) worked, must've been depressing to see these kind of designs have the life sucked out of them and dumbed down for the final product.

Charles Z said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Michael, yes indeed, it was difficult to endure Filmation. A lot of artists experienced creative frustration. I could only hang in there for 6 months at a time and then I'd have to leave to find a challenge. But Filmation was always available to fall back on. I really enjoyed working there but it was too stifling. The entire industry in the 1980s was geared towards toys and that made it worse. No matter where you went there were very few places that were not producing toy based content.

I could write extensively about what was happening back then. I got involved and helped the US government with their efforts to pass the Childrens Television Act of 1990 which changed the TV animation landscape for ever and for the better. For me, my experiences in the '80s were so profound it altered my relationship with animation and eventually led to migrating towards video game design which at the time was new territory and ready for pioneers.

Emerson said...

Mr., this piece is awesome too. What a work!! Amazing! It fells so good that you are still wanting to work with he-man-related material, Mr. Zembillas. It would be so fantastic.

Thanks for posting your amazing artwork!

Charles Z said...

Thanks Emerson. There's plenty more to follow. The period when I created this drawing was a golden time. At first I was working alone in an office at Filmation. There were two or three others working on He-Man at the very beginning. Then I was joined by a young guy named Bruce Timm. We became good friends and I was stunned by how excellent of an artist he was. I was inspired by having someone that talented in the room we shared and it started to show up in my work. That's what was happening at the time this drawing was done.