Oct 7, 2014

How He-Man made me 'me'

I'm going through a bit of a He-Man kick at the moment, of which I do so about once every 10 years.
I don't know how it happens, it just sort of clicks and then I'm obsessed with it all over again. It usually lasts about 3 months, then I'll move onto the next re-discovered obsession.
But for the moment, it's all about He-Man, Skeletor, Stratos and my personal favourite character, that aquatic fiend Mer-Man!
Some of my very earliest memories, and certainly some of my fondest ones, involve He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I was at the perfect age and definitely the target audience for the He-Man toys and cartoons. And I happily obliged by gobbling up as much of the franchise as I possibly could.
I can vividly recall He-Man-themed birthday parties, running around the back garden with my brother, and fellow fan, Ryan, with plastic replica He-Man swords in hand. I can still see the toys aisle at the department store we used to go to and the lines of MOTU figures on display.
And those mornings when the cartoon was on. I can still almost feel the carpet beneath me as I sat in front of our huge old TV, with the twisty dial to go through the stations. There were a couple of Christmas' there that were pretty He-Man intensive. There's a few photos of our old living room after the tornado that was Ryan and I had torn through all of the presents. There's MOTU toys, wrapping paper and my brother striking an uncanny He-Man pose. I must try and find that photo.

I think that my most vivid He-Man memory, though, is the one where I recall getting Mer-Man and just loving how he smelled. Something about that particular figure made it smell different to the others. I can still remember sitting on the back seat of our car and looking at the Mer-Man figure, still in his packaging. That night, I put the figure of Mer-Man on my pillow with me and fell asleep quite the happy little lad.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was obviously a big part of my formative years. I believe that its early influence is still evident in me to this very day. Granted, I'm still a fan, so it affects me aesthetically in that respect, but I think it has deeper roots too.
As fans of the Filmation original cartoon will know, the episodes ended with a character essentially summing up the moral of the story of each episode in an outrageously overt manner. Sure, it was corny, but one wonders how much of my own moral code is based on those little monologues?
My parents managed to instill in my two brothers and I a good grounding in morality. We weren't religious at all, but somehow we grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong (the shock and horror!). But I'd say that, at an impressionable age, what kid wouldn't be influenced by He-Man's treatment of those around him, be it friend or foe?
I certainly was.

He-Manic morality aside, I think the biggest way that MOTU influenced my young and impressionable mind was through the themes and settings it contained. Masters of the Universe is essentially a sword & sorcery story. As proof, the two main combatants utilise both of these very things. He-Man, with his brute force, uses his SWORD in a variety of ways (as a weapon, a shield, a deflective devise and whatever other needs require it for.). Skeletor, that dastardly fellow, is pretty buff too, but he relies on his skills in SORCERY in battle.
Also, the setting for the original series is a land called Eternia. It is a place of wild and wondrous beauty, populated by a huge variety of beings and creatures. Essentially, it's a fantasy setting, much like Middle Earth, or Narnia for that matter.
These settings and these sorts of beings are still very much the type of thing I am still drawn too... and like to draw! In fact, I would go as far to say that the reason I am a fan of fantasy things is because of MOTU. It's possibly also the reason I tend to dislike Science Fiction, but that's the subject for another post, methinks.

So, couple together the fond memories, the moral compass and the aesthetic appeal, and you get a strong connection to the subject at hand. That's why I still have lots of the action figures, the original theme song as my ringtone, a healthy stack of comics, DVD's and books and a big chunk of my head and heart for it. I, in some way, am a product of that world.

I'd love to do a whole series of illustrations depicting the MOTU characters; but for now, this is all I have time for...

Back soon, by the power of Grayskull...

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