Over the past ten years the realm of comic books and superheroes has grown exponentially in main stream culture. To some the fantastically clad caped crusaders are a recent fascination that has captured the minds of fans both young and old alike. To others, the world of comics is a life-long love affair that stemmed from that first viewing of Christopher Reeves in the iconic red cape, or the powerful turbo-whine of the Batmobile. Every fan has their own story as to how they fell in love with the genre and I had the opportunity to sit down with one such fan who has turned his love for all things comics into a full-time hobby of bringing his favourite fictional characters to life.
Meet the man who has dedicated countless hours, sleepless nights, and endless amounts of modeling clay to bringing the fantastic to life. Andrew Speranza is the founder and creative mind behind A.S Creations. He specializes in building to-scale models and replicas of the most well-known superheroes and other iconic fictional characters.
Having a stead-fast love for all things Batman since he was four, comic custom designer Speranza took up the his sculpting tools one day and got down to work. Self-taught from the get-go it has been a steady march of progress since he casted his first wearable latex Batman cowl. With each new creation he has perfected his technique to the point where some of his life-sized figures have often been confused for the real thing.
When asked which comic franchise he prefers, Marvel or DC, it was no surprise that Mr. Speranza tips his creative hat to the DC world. For him it will always be Batman. When asked why a straightforward response summed it up nicely.
“He’s one of the top five major superheroes that doesn’t have a superpower but is a successful crime fighter none the less. Batman has the cape, gadets, the iconic ride. He’s rich, lives the high life, and yet has another alter-life. He fights crime. There’s a much darker side to him. With Batman it’s truth, justice…beat the bad guys to a pulp…”
With the release of the Christopher Nolan origins triology a whole new wave of creative inspiration has come in the form of some of his best selling creations. Last year’s Bane’s mask was a fan favourite at comic conventions in Toronto and across southern Ontario. After taking a look at what he was able to magic up it comes as no surprise as to why it became impossible to keep up with the demand.
What Batman fan wouldn’t want one?!
Some of A.S. Creations most impressive and elaboration creations are of a Marvel origin. With the upcoming third installment of Iron Man 3 all things Iron Man are going to be hot ticket items this summer. And by hot, think more along the lines of blazing arc reactor powered power repulsors hot. That would be the only way to describe the popularity of the hand-crafted wearable Iron Man masks that range from classic Tony Stark polished ready-wear to what Iron Man would look like after he crash landed into the Manhattan pavement after saving the world for the umpteenth time.
Like Tony Stark, nothing is ever simple. Life-sized Iron Man busts, complete with a glowing arc reactor, are a much-loved a fan favourite. It is a long process to create one of these busts from start to finish and it is a labor of love that is appreciated by many. The only thing these true-to-life figures don’t do is fly or let loose snappy one-liners that could trip up most Super-villains. Hey, it’s Iron Man.
Creating such highly detailed artistic pieces is a serious undertaking. Each new design, be it a bust or a mask, needs to be created from scratch and the average time to complete a new piece can be anywhere between 35 – 40 days from start to finish. On average it takes one month to sculpt, one day for the mold to set, and a day to paint.
To sculpt, a generic head and shoulders torso bust is used for the base model. Sculptor’s clay is added while each section is shaped and sculpted. Once the major pieces are done the fine detailing is added. The next step is to create a two-part mold out of a cement base. From this mold latex copies of the design are pulled. Each first latex copy is kept aside as a “Master Copy” which will be used as a generic mock-up for future designs or reissuing of an old one. Each latex takes around a day to dry and once dried it can be removed and then painted.
The painting process is done mostly through airbrushing for a number of reasons. Air brushing cuts down on the drying time, allows for easy access and handling during the painting process, and it is easier to cover up any mistakes that may occur. Also airbrush paint when applied to latex will not crack or fade over time so every A.S. Creation is a life-long investment .
This year A.S. Creations will be hitting the road and making appearances at a number of comic conventions across Southern Ontario. If you happen to be in the Toronto area during the weekend of March 9-10, why not swing by the Metro-Toronto Convention Center for the 2013 Toronto Comic-Con. Andrew Speranza will be here along with a number of his creations for the public to purchase and enjoy up close. If this weekend is a bust never fear for A.S. Creations will be attending the 2013 Fan-Expo,Toronto’s biggest Comic Convention. So if you’re in the mood for getting your fandom on, drop in and say hello! Tell him the Librarian sent you.