Mighty Morphin' Cool Down
size. 13x19 in
by. Marcelo Biott
city. Chicago, IL
Welcome to Ice Cream Social, the summer's socially distant group art show, featuring creators and makers from all walks of life, coming together to share their love of the greatest treat known to man. Each week through Labor Day, come chill with new artists as they discuss a wide range of topics spanning their personal journeys, art, pop culture, and, of course, ice cream! This week, we sit down for dessert with comic book creator and digital artist Marcelo Biott, creative director and brand manager of Deli Fresh Threads, Biggie, and jack-of-all-trades and ad agency veteran Wally Tautz.
I try to pour myself into all of the details.
Very much so. It's one of my biggest inspirations.
How did you find a passion for this corner of the nerd universe?
It felt like I was born into it. My first memory was of the Ninja Turtles and once Power Rangers came onto the scene with five bright colors, instead of four, I was hooked. From there as I grew up my world opened up to other toku heroes with Kamen Rider becoming a strong favorite.
In the 90’s comic books and Power Rangers were the things that I cared most about. I looked at them for reference and story inspiration. I even made original Power Ranger comics on notebook paper back when I was in 4th grade. I was always making comics and redrawing panels and characters from old Power Rangers, X-Men, and Spider-Man issues.
Then in the past ten or so years I came across a video called "Legendary War." It was every Power Ranger from every era even before they were in the U.S. fighting in one gigantic battle. Again I was hooked and I feel like I’ve watched almost every piece of toku that has come out since. The bright colors, heroes fighting villains for earth's fate, and most of all heroes trying rise up against any challenge to build themselves into a stronger and better person. That’s where my passion for toku comes from.
It shows, especially in your web comic, InfraCity. You've published over 260 pages online in the past seven years. Is there a set endgame?
There is for right now. I’m currently working on ending Season 1 to give both myself and the heroes of InfraCity a little bit of a break. I have other stories that I have in my head and some collaborations that I want to focus on.
I do want to go further with the InfraCity story as I want all of my characters to continue growing. I want to throw new challenges in their direction and see how they deal with it. So far, I have stories set up for 3-4 seasons, and arcs for all the characters.
That's terrific. I've only just begun reading myself, but your love of the genre shines through. How do you stay motivated to continue panel after panel?
What keeps me going panel after panel is that I just really love making comics. I love reading comics, making comics, and talking about comics. It's the one thing I’ve practiced the most in life. Comics are something I’m truly passionate about. I went to school for art [studying Illustration at the American Academy of Art] and ever since I’ve always been working on growing and getting better at it. I’ve always joked that it’s the one thing that I know how to do.
Creatively speaking, do you have any other influences that inform your work?
I’ve always been inspired by comic books, honestly. Growing up I read so much from 90’s X-Men to Mike Allred’s Madman! I was always trying to replicate what I saw on the page or even trying to make my own spin off stories.
Ever since then I’ve just been looking towards whatever I can consume to inspire me further. My influences range from Van Gogh and Winslow Homer to Bill Watterson and Walt Simonson. I love painterly abstract styles of Giorgio DeChirico and then admire the brush and line work of Becky Cloonan. These artists and their stories push me and influence me to work further and develop new techniques for tackling my art.
It's refreshing that you mention artists that exist outside of the disposable pop sphere of influence, like Winslow Homer and a proto-Surrealist like DeChirico. We live in the most consumer-driven age in the history of man. Do you think the future of art history continues to focus on these types of artists, or will we see a place in textbooks for the commercial, IP-driven work of the Simonsons and Cloonans of the world?
I think that we will see a mixture of both. Time goes on and we see a further combination of the art that people see. As the medium grows and people’s eyes open more and more to where these commercial properties came from, I feel as if you have to look at the history. You have to pay attention to the names that have contributed to the growth of stories and characters that people have come to love.
That said, let's pay a little more attention to your digital illustration, Mighty Morphin' Cool Down. How long does a piece like this take? What's your development process?
I’ve been working more on expanding my portfolio with digital art. A digital piece like this takes about 6-10 hours because I try to pour myself into all of the details. Working digitally gives me a lot more options on an illustration. Even with the variety of tools I can use in digital art, I have always practiced traditional methods. I’m a big fan of using watercolor and inks and I’ve worked with that medium for about 15 years now. For me working with those materials feels a little bit faster.
My comic work is a combination of both worlds as I do my pencil art and ink over the page with brush and pens. After that, I transfer it digitally to color and letter it on my computer. And at first, that was so I could get a little experience working digitally. But I love that tactile feeling of putting something on paper.
There is something to be said for the finality of tactile art. No Command+Z to save the day. Shifting gears, let's get back to Power Rangers and ice cream. Is this Kimberly, the original Pink Ranger? What flavor is she enjoying here?
It is the original Pink Ranger, Kimberly Hart. She’s eating some Vanilla Ice Cream with Power Ranger colored sprinkles!
Okay, so Kim and the rest of the original team (plus Tommy!) just stamped out Rita's latest beast. They're heading over to Ernie's for some frozen treats they've all earned. What's the rest of the crew's favorites?
Hmmmm. I feel like Jason would be buying for the whole team and get himself a sundae with some red cherry syrup on top. Trini would get some lemonade ice cream and pass Billy his scoop of Blue Bubblegum. Tommy would be sitting back relaxing with Zack and eating green tea and chocolate peppermint, respectively.
Didn't even cross my mind that they'd go with color-coordinated flavors, but of course they would! I always thought Goldar was a peanut butter swirl dog myself. And how about you? What's your ultimate sundae?
I’m a totally sucker for a classic vanilla, chocolate, and banana sundae with chocolate fudge and nuts.
And if you heard the bells of the ice cream truck?
My ears would perk up, I would look for any loose change or bills around the house and I would run outside.
Probably get one of those Spider-Man pops. That's always how I start summer with an ice cream truck.
You really can't go wrong with bubble gum eyes. Let's wrap up with some rapid fire questions. Sprinkles or jimmies?
Rainbow or chocolate?
Cup or cone?
And the trickiest of all... sherbet or sherbert?
Finally, the ultimate topping?
That melty chocolate that hardens over the ice cream.
Excellent choice, Marcelo. Thanks again for being a part of the inaugural Ice Cream Social. We'll see you for The Series II of the ColleXion. In the meantime, may the power protect you.
Literally defined as "special effects," tokusatsu is the Japanese term for live action TV or film with a heavy use of special effects.
The original Super Sentai series – the basis for American Power Rangers' series – debuted April 5, 1975, as Himitsu Sentai Goranger, and ran for 84 episodes, spawning over 40 seasons.
Kaiju films like Godzilla are also part of the tokusatsu sub-genre. Dating back to 1954, The King of the Monsters has been the subject of 36 films, including four Hollywood theatrical releases.
With Power Rangers: Dino Fury debuting in 2021, there will have been 14 Pink Rangers through the various iteration of Power Rangers.
A non-union show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers paid the cast $600 a week, which included stunt work and appearances. The actors receive no royalties from re-runs.
The Power Rangers have had no less than five different ice cream bars from Popsicle, including the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, as well as later installments, including Lost Galaxy, Lightspeed Rescue, Time Force, and Wild Force.
What did the doctor say to the sick Power Ranger?
It's morphine time.