This is part 5 of the production journal for the GunEngine Zero project, which I plan to launch in April of 2022. See the previous newsletters to read about how it all started.
Let’s just get one thing perfectly clear: the 80s were the pinnacle of human civilization. It’s been all downhill ever since.
Of course, I’m biased, having experienced my formative years in said decade. But, I think, if you trust the science, you can’t deny it.
So I’ve always wanted to make something that paid homage — a love-letter, if you will — to the decade that gave me Ghostbusters, Thriller, GI Joe, Member’s Only jackets, Trapper Keepers, Big Wheels, Mr. T and the Sears Wish Book.
(Did you know that there is a website with PDFs of the Wish Book going all the way back to the 30s. Warning: clicking this link might send you on a nostalgia trip so traumatic it’ll leave you a sobbing heap!)
Specifically, what I’m referring to is the tone. I feel that pop culture from that era was quite a bit more whimsical than it is today — a simpler portrayal of the world that both kids and adults could access. Almost like presenting the world as a cartoon.
Maybe that doesn’t make any sense to anyone other than me. So let’s move on!
Another aspect of my life that I always wanted to mine for story material was the time I spent on Tybee Island. This is a small island off the southeast coast of Georgia (near Savannah) where my family visited occasionally whenever we came back to the state to visit my grandparents on our summer vacations. A lot of memorable moments happened there but I won’t spoil them now because some of them will be sprinkled into the GEZ storyline among the various characters.
However, one I can share is from the summer of ‘84. I was insane for Ghostbusters that summer. I used to call the local radio station every hour to request they play Ray Parker Jr.’s song (oddly enough, titled “Ghostbusters”) and I would crank it full-blast.
(My grandmother told me a few years ago that she still remembered me playing “that damn song” all summer long.)
Well, later that summer, the family (including our cousins) spent a few days on Tybee Island and we were walking past a t-shirt shop when I spotted an airbrushed Ghostbusters logo hanging on the wall. Now, understand that my family was firmly entrenched in the lower middle class socio-economic strata at the time so I was not in a financial position to make purchases willy-nilly. If I got the shirt, it would most likely be the only thing I could get that entire summer.
And I did mull that fact over. For about an hour. Then I went back to the shop and got my custom airbrushed Ghostbusters t-shirt and wore it ragged for the rest of the summer. I wore it every day, washed it in the sink when it got too funky then let it dry on me as I wore it with a smile on my face.
I don’t remember what eventually happened to that shirt. I imagine I must have been sitting on the beach, watching the sunset and contemplating the question, “what would a god say?” as it turned to dust and blew away in the breeze, much like Peter Parker in Avengers: Infinity War.
The last piece of the puzzle was my love of Japanse sci-fi/robot/mecha as I’ve mentioned several times before. I’ve always wanted to create a sci-fi/superhero character with the visual aesthetic and narrative energy of the crazy stuff they make in Japan. They are very adept at (and unafraid to) combine intense action with high emotion. Of course, they can sometimes go a little overboard with both but, hey, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet.
And the more I thought about reworking the ROM reboot into GEZ, I figured it could be the property in which I could incorporate all of those aspects: the all-ages tone, the 80’s setting and the hyper-cool Japanese mecha/robo-style hero. Of course, I won’t just be copying and pasting those things into the story. There will be some unique elements and twists you (hopefully) won’t see coming.
So this is GunEngine Zero: sci-fi/drama/action/adventure story for the modern cynical adult that has the embers of their childhood still burning deep inside.
In the next newsletter, I should be able to share some more artwork from another artist I met recently who is taking his shot at the GEZ characters. Also, I guess I’ll finally give the full story breakdown so you can see how all the pieces of the puzzle really fit together. (I was going to do that in this newsletter but I’ve already droned on for too long.)
But I’m not sure if I’ll have time to put out another newsletter this month. So, if I don’t see you again until January, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
And be sure to leave a light on for Santa!
~ Michael T Gonzalez
BACK ON THE INSTA!
Just another reminder that I’ve decided to jump back onto Instagram.
I’ll be posting preview artwork for the various upcoming projects as well as doodles that I make. If you want to check me out there, it’s “rainyroad_media”.
Click the image above to go directly to the store!
I decided to add a GunEngine Zero t-shirt to my Store Frontier store. This is the art by Joaquin Guerra. Available in 3 different colors and up to 3XL!