The earliest comic heroes often shared very similar characteristics. Capes were still a thing. Everybody was super-strong. They all seemed to be eager to join the Army to fight Nazis, and when the Spark Man debuted in Sparkler Comics in 1941, he pretty much ran through all the most common tropes.
With a name like Spark Man, you can probably guess what came next. Yep, like so many others, he hitched on to another common theme of the time — Electricity-based superpowers.
Unfortunately, the Spark Man, again like so many other test characters from the era, didn’t stand out from the pack. Aside from being a run-of-the-mill Joe, he had another strike against him — he wasn’t very well supported from the artistic or narrative fields.
As a result of this, the interest in the Spark Man ended just about as soon as it started (but not exactly in the way you might think). That short lifespan, and the years of disinterest that followed allowed the Spark Man to fall into the Public Domain, and now he’s free to use by anyone.
The Spark Man analyzed
His public domain status is what interested the Comics on the Brain team. That led us to study the character and decide how he might look and act if he were revised into a more modern version of himself.
The original Spark Man was, believe it or not, a classical violinist who somehow figured out a way to “absorb” electrical energy. Then our professional musician invented special gloves that allowed him to discharge that absorbed electricity. Aside from the rather odd jump from violinist to electrical engineer and inventor, shooting lightning is a decent enough power.
But … as we said above, that wasn’t enough to launch Spark Man into the stratosphere. Despite all the opportunity to zap bad guys, those pretty cool superpowers weren’t cool enough according to his publisher. In what could be the oddest turn-around of the Golden Age, the Spark Man gave it all up. Yep, he actually stopped being a superhero. Instead, he joined the U.S. Army and became a regular Nazi-fighting soldier.
Not a super-soldier — No shocks for the SS troopers, o lightning raining down on the Blitzkrieg — he only had bullets backing him up. All he did was punch bad guys, throw grenades and rattle out shots with his rifle.
So, get this — Our classical violinist gave up his music to become an inventor. He gave up being an inventor to become a superhero. Still not satisfied, he gave up being a superhero to be the 1940s equivalent of G.I. Joe.
Talk about a rollercoaster ride of indecision. One might say he’s a guy who’s a bit hyperactive. A guy who can’t make up his mind. A guy who goes whichever way the wind takes him.
The Spark Man’s New Look
Taking on the challenge of redesigning the Spark Man, I wanted to keep a few of his superhero elements (and drop most of the rest). The main thing I liked about him was his helmet, so I modified it a bit and added some lightning touches, and his spark-plug gloves.
After that, I ditched almost every other bit of visual element and created the new, improved Spark Man.
As you can see, I originally tried a red and yellow color combo, but he ended up looking too much like the Flash. I also developed a simple “S”-shaped lightning bolt (also while avoiding a Nazi SS lightning design).
The new colors are gray, white, blue and yellow. A perfect combo for an electric hero!
Who is the Spark Man?
When Omar Kavak’s teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he started with “Musician,” but he didn’t stop there. He also added “Inventor” and “Soldier” and “Doctor” and “Animal Scientist” and “Ambulance Driver.” He added more and more, but after awhile, his teacher just stopped listening. In fact, the more Omar thought about his future, the more he wanted to try a little bit of everything.
It’s not that Omar couldn’t make up his mind, it’s that he saw opportunities everywhere. He wanted to help people, but also fight the good fight. He wanted to be smart, but he also wanted excitement. He wanted to try everything.
And to be clear, it wasn’t a matter of being indecisive. It was about the quest for knowledge, and that’s just what he did — he always sought new ideas and new experiences.
After a good decade of this schizophrenic lifestyle, he stopped and looked at where he was. An accomplished musician. An inventor. An ex-soldier. A rescue worker.
And as he took inventory of all this, he realized he had to do more. He had to, yet again, make a step into an entirely new area — becoming a superhero.
With that realization, Omar set down this very unique career path: He already had the skills and passion. He had his inventions. It all meant one thing: He was going to be a professional superhero. Now understand this, he wasn’t doing this to get rich or to be famous, he was just following his dream.
So, Omar made a plan. He had already devised his own superpowers, so he was good there. The rest, however, wasn’t so easy: He also had to figure out how he might earn a living from superheroing. And what about insurance? Or staying fit and learning how to fight people that could do crazy things like summon tornadoes or turn into Centaurian Mastadons? And what about a 401K for when he retired? Should he have a sponsor? Or start a Kickstarter?
With all these decisions and possibilities running through his mind, Omar figured he needed to finally get focused. He hired a job coach. He made a business plan. He went to work on living his dream.
The dream of being a superhero