Frequently I'm asked about the history of Micro-heroes since I got in on the ground floor and have been participating in the Micro-hero community since its inception. Let me take a chance to address some of those questions here -
WHEN DID MICRO-HEROES ORIGINATE AND HOW?
Micro-heroes first appeared on Alvaro's Comic Boards during the summer of 2001. The original version [left] were first made by Donar [Gavan Carstensen] and based on templates from http://Stortroopers.com [the website of a company marketing an applet which used Java to make similar graphics]. Donar considered naming them 'Pocket Powers' but instead settled on 'Micro-heroes.' The Micro-heroes (each of which at that point in time generally had a small animation) quickly caught on as avatars on the message board with several creators [including Torch [Rich Bellacera], Whirlwind, OMike [Michael Bradley], AG [Scott], 1401, Jay Phoenix, Archangel [Chris Lund], Erik!, Ralph Haring, Lightningstrike [Mike Berry], Michael Kaiser and myself] plying their talents to turn the templates into a virtual army of comic book characters.
Originally, many of the Micro-hero makers concentrated on making characters which had not been done by others, but they quickly found themselves adopting the stance that multiple versions of characters were fine and that the enjoyment of making them was more important than worrying whether the quality of your work matches up to or exceeds with the quality of someone else's.
DO PEOPLE MAKE SUBJECTS OTHER THAN COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS?
Over time micro-heroes creators have reached far beyond comic books for inspiration. All areas of pop culture - including movies, television, toys, professional wrestling, video games, historical figures, sports and music - are among the many influences, with innumerable sites popping up all over the Internet, and it's been that way since the beginning. Some of the very first micros on the Stortroopers templates included the band KISS, Star Wars and Star Trek characters, the Micro-hero creators themselves, and a variety of subjects. A diversity of subjects has always been encouraged by the Micro-heroes community.
WHY WAS THE TEMPLATE CHANGED FROM THE ORIGINAL ONE? WHO CREATED THE NEW TEMPLATES?
In November of 2001 the fledgling Micro-hero 'community' ran into some serious trouble when Stortroopers.com e-mailed a 'cease and desist' message to each of them ordering them to abandon the original template in an effort to protect their copyright. Soon after this, Donar created the Lilguyz Yahoo group, and after a brief discussion among the group members, Torch [Rich Bellacera] and I then went about creating a new template. First, I made a very rough design inspired by Mike Zeck's depiction of the Super Adaptoid in the original edition of Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Rich then modified the original template and created a female counterpart (and eventually teen and child templates as well). Donar left the group shortly thereafter as the struggles with Stortroopers had sapped his interest, but Whirlwind, Rive, Urban, Brad Monge and Namor [Jeff Sequiera] and other joined the group as the new templates proved popular. Soon after this I began creating templates inspired by the comics art of some of his favorite artists, beginning with Jack Kirby and including John Byrne, George Pérez, Neal Adams, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, Jim Starlin, Dave Cockrum, Walt Simonson and Bruce Timm .
Left to Right - Revised template, first Jack Kirby template, first John Byrne template, Carmine Infantino template (first three-tone template), revised John Byrne template, Bruce Timm template, revised Jack Kirby template.
WHERE CAN I FIND AN ARCHIVE OR TEMPLATES? WHERE CAN I FIND A TUTORIAL?
The Micro-heroes archive has had multiple unofficial homes, beginning with Johnny Patches's Micro Template archive (which is now inactive). Another early archive was Ze Ball Beaker Micro-Heros Site. The first 'official' Lilguyz archive was the Brad Monje's Official Lilguys Micro-Hero Archive. Eventually, Ben Cooper, a longtime Lilguyz member stepped up and started the Foxgnaws Micro- and Pixel-Hero archive which now has over 20,000 micros in its collection, his archive also include two micro-hero tutorials for beginners looking to get started making their own.
WHAT ARE PIXELHEROES AND HOW DO THEY RELATE TO MICRO-HEROES?
Eventually an offshoot of pixel art known as Pixelheroes [left] began after a template was created by Cooper. Pixelheroes often appear in the Lilguyz Yahoo group, usually as the work of one of the regular contributors to the group. Additional Pixelhero templates have been created by Urban and The Collector. Due to their small size, making accurate representations on the Pixelhero templas can be very challenging.
ARE THE ORIGINAL TEMPLATE AVAILABLE FOR USE AGAIN?
In 2006 the original template became available for use again when Stortroopers.com placed them under a Creative Commons License, allowing their use for non-commercial purposes. With this news, members of the Micro-heroes Yahoo Group resumed making and posting them to their own group.
WHAT IS "FRANKENSTEINING"?
"Frankensteining" is a term used to describe Micro-heroes, dollz, or other similar graphics, that have been created by using multiple parts of previously created graphics. It is much like the old fashioned "paper doll", where bits and pieces of clothing are layered over the top of a picture. Many Micro-hero creators begin by using this method, although everyone is encouraged to move beyond this stage and create their own unique styles. Many people do employ this method however, and the goal is to enjoy what you are doing. Generally, it is acceptable to use what others have created within limits. You should remember to credit those whose work you have used, and Micro-heroes which incorporate a large portion of their appearance from other Micro-heroes with only minor coloring changes and/or editing are usually looked upon as derivative. Some creators do not mind how parts they have made are used, but other creators are quite adamant about being given credit.
WHAT MAKES ME THE AUTHORITY ON MICRO-HEROES ANYWAY?
I've been making micro-heroes since late 2001, shortly after they first appeared on the original Stortrooper template. After making them en mass early on I've honed my craft a bit and improved my technique to the point where I can now make passable "artist-inspired" templates [usually as an homage to my favorite creators]. As a charter member [and moderator] of the Lilguyz Yahoo group, I was involved in the creation of the 'Lilguyz template' which [in one version or another] is generally the one in use for the majority of Micro-heroes being made today.
SOURCES: The Micro-heroes Yahoo Group, Alvaro's Comicboards.com, Stortroopers.com
Above left to right - Examples of original version micro-heroes by Robert Bradley [the Black Knight, the Black Widow, Hercules, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Goliath, the Wasp, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Vision, the Black Panther, the Beast and Wonder Man]
Above left to right - Examples of pixelheroes created by Ben Cooper [Thor, Iron Man, Yellowjacket, the Wasp, Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and the Vision] and Robert Bradley [Hulk, Rick Jones, Quicksilver, Edwin Jarvis, the Swordsman, Hercules, the Black Panther, the Black Knight, the Black Widow, Mantis, Moondragon, the Beast, Hellcat, Wonder Man, Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Martinex, Yondu, Starhawk, Aleta, Nikki, the Whizzer, the Two-Gun Kid, Ms. Marvel, the Falcon, Jocasta, Tigra, She-Hulk, Captain Mar-Vell, Pulsar, Starfox, Mockingbird, War Machine, the Sub-Mariner, the Thing, Doctor Druid, Moonknight, Marrina, D-Man, Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, USAgent, Quasar, Human Torch I, Sersi, Sandman, Spider-Man, Living Lightning, Crystal, Thunderstrike, Machine Man, Justice, Firestar, Triathlon, Jack of Hearts, Ant-Man, Kang and Ultron], and Ryan [Yellowjacket II, Gilgamesh, Firebird, Stingray, Rage, Spider-Woman II, Swordsman II, Darkhawk, Magdalene, Deathcry, Moira Brandon, Iron Man (Teen Tony), Masque and Silverclaw]
Above left to right - Marvel characters by Robert Bradley [first row - Howard the Duck and Professor Charles Xavier; second row - Doctor Doom, the Hulk, Daredevil, the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, the Beast, Marvel Girl, Angel, Cyclops, Iceman; third row - Shang Chi, Magneto, Captain Mar-Vell, Killraven, Luke Cage, Adam Warlock, the Punisher, Deathlok, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, the Two-Gun Kid; fourth row - Nick Fury, the Rawhide Kid, Werewolf by Night, Spiderwoman, Nova, Moonknight, Dracula, Ghost Rider, Kid Colt, Son of Satan, the Man-Thing, Iron Fist, Black Bolt and Ka-Zar]
Above left to right - DC characters by Robert Bradley [first row - Catwoman, the Atom, Hawkman, Nightwing, the Martian Manhunter, the Flash, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Zatanna Zatara and Supergirl; second row - Commissioner James Gordon, Firestorm, Doctor Fate, Blue Beetle, the Elongated Man, Sgt. Frank Rock, Lois Lane, Metamorpho, Powergirl, the Joker, Adam Strange, Batgirl, Jonah Hex, Harlequin, Lex Luthor, Hawkgirl, Jimmy Olsen, Plastic Man and Deadman]
A LITTLE ABOUT ME
I'm Robert Bradley and I live in Phoenix, AZ. Besides making Micro-heroes I also spend a good deal of my time doing basketball historical research, and am the founder and President of the Association for Professional Basketball Research, authored the book THE COMPENDIUM OF PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL RESEARCH and co-wrote/researched the chapter on pre-World War II basketball leagues in TOTAL BASKETBALL: THE ULTIMATE BASKETBALL ENCYCLOPEDIA. My latest book - THE COMPENDIUM OF PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL: SECOND EDITION is currently available from Xaler Press.
My comic book interests should be obvious if you looked around my site. Mainly Marvel Comics from the Silver Age and Bronze Age, but also DC comics from the same era. I'm a huge AVENGERS fan, collecting the title since 1974 [I started with AVENGERS #129 and GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #2, both of which I bought at the corner convenience store and still have in my collection]. I'm also a fan of THE FANTASTIC FOUR, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, THUNDERBOLTS, YOUNG AVENGERS and THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.
Left to Right - Avengers created by Robert Bradley [back row - Goliath and Pulsar; front row - Rick Jones, Black Widow, Black Knight, Ms. Marvel, Hercules, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Vision, Wonder Man, Black Panther, She-Hulk, Beat, Edwin Jarvis]
All Characters and other related properties and images are © by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, America's Best Comics, Darkhorse Comics, Epic Comics, Archie Comics, Charlton Comics, First Comics, Image Comics, Top Cow Comics, Bongo Comics, Harris Publications, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Hanna Barbera, NBC Universal, Disney Enterprises, Inc/Pixar Animation Studios, Dreamworks, Lucasfilm, Universal Studios or Paramount Pictures.