Character Designs: Young Justice #11

I had a chance to design some characters for Young Justice #11. Most of the major characters featured in the comic have appeared on the Young Justice animated TV series so there are existing animation model sheets to follow, but occasionally DC Comics characters who have NOT appeared on the TV show appear in a story, and then it’s up to me to design them for the comic. These character drawings are done to give the comic’s editor as well as Greg Weisman and others working on the TV show a chance to approve or request changes to the designs before I start drawing them in pages of the actual story.

This issue featured Ra’s al Ghul trying to launch a weapons satellite into orbit, hijacking a launch overseen by Green Lantern supporting character Carol Ferris. Both those characters had already been designed for the show, but the comic featured Ra’s’ daughter Talia and his personal bodyguard Ubu, and Ferris Aircraft technician Thomas Kalmaku, all of whom were left to me to interpret in the style of the animated Young Justice.

For both Ubu and Talia, my vision of them is formed by their first appearance in Batman #232, as drawn by Neal Adams. That was the jumping off point, but I wanted to create a unique take on both characters that fit within the “Young Justice” style. The show tends to interpret costumes as not just tights, but with seams and indications that they are constructed to incorporate armor, padding and other functional elements. Ubu and Talia are both first seen in the story in the context of a commando raid kind of operation, so I wanted to give them looks that had a paramilitary feel blended with their traditional comic book appearance.

Talia al Ghul

Talia al Ghul



These drawings also indicate my suggested colors, and you’ll note that I used green on both characters. I wanted to make them look like they were connected, while stopping short of putting them in matching uniforms. I also wanted to put some color on them given that we were also going to have Batman and League of Shadows warriors, which makes for a lot of gray. Green seemed like a nice option for breaking up the gray, while still having a paramilitary/night-ops sort of feel. I gave Talia a white belt and holster as those elements had been a part of several of her comic book looks, and I gave Ubu huge fists, as I not only wanted him to look powerful, but the script called for him to make a two-fisted swing at Batman in one panel, hammering the ground like the Hulk, and I thought huge fists would help sell that move.

YJ #11 page 4

YJ #11 page 4

There’s not as much to say about the design for Tom Kalmaku. He was only going to be seen clearly in one panel, and he was seated in a NASA Mission Control center, so I just put him in a business shirt and gave him an ID badge. The shirt was partly untucked to give him some character, but it’s a detail not visible in the finished comic.

Thomas Kalmaku

Thomas Kalmaku

I had a great time drawing this issue, and I hope you check it out, either in digital form or at your local comic shop!

As always, questions and comments are welcome.


  • By YJfan, December 28, 2011 @ 11:28 am

    Really loved the art in the issue, particularly the funeral scene! I also liked the work you did on the redesign for Talia! Was the choice to use black and green based on Cheshire’s outfit, since she too works for the Ra’s and the League of Assassins?

    And you mentioned the TV’s production staff having to OK your designs. Does this mean that they may end up using Talia and your design on the show at some point?

    Sorry for the questions! XD

  • By Christopher Jones, December 28, 2011 @ 11:53 am

    First off, don’t apologize for the questions! I encourage questions!

    I enjoyed drawing that funeral scene, I just wish I could have done a full-page shot of the gathered mourners. But I didn’t and you work with what you’ve got.

    I didn’t have Cheshire in mind when I was designing Talia’s outfit. I think I’ve associated green with Ra’s al Ghul going back to his first appearance in Batman #232, and that was probably as much of an influence on my thinking on Talia and Ubu as anything.

    The TV episodes get planned SO FAR AHEAD, that if there were any plans on the horizon to use a given character they’d already know about it and it would be designed in-house by the animation folks. I’m getting a crack at the characters who are appearing in the comic by virtue of the comic expanding our view of the “Young Justice” universe. For the TV people to even consider basing a character’s appearance on something I’ve done in the comic, it would have to be because that character has been written into a story that isn’t even in the planning stages as yet.

    I’m not sure how set the stories are for the proposed Season 3, or the chances for a Season 4 beyond that. Season 3 should get the show to a number of episodes for a viable syndication package, so the odds of it getting extended beyond that get increasingly dicey. I’d guess that that having the show revamped into a “sequel series” would be as likely as having it simply continue, similar to what was done with the subsequent Ben 10 series. But that’s just me speculating, I have no insider info on the matter. And as I’m sure Greg Weisman would point out, that’s not up to anyone involved in the show creatively. That’s a decision for the suits at Cartoon Network.

  • By tlhInganHom, December 28, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

    What about Talia’s other outfit?

  • By Christopher Jones, December 28, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

    There wasn’t as much attention paid to what Talia (or Ubu for that matter) were wearing at Fortress al Ghul at the end of the story. I wanted to preserve a bit of the “Arabian Nights” quality to Talia’s attire, again from that first Neal Adams drawn Batman storyline, but I also didn’t want to over-sexualize it. My thinking was that Talia enjoys loose, flowing clothing especially in warmer climates, but she wasn’t going OUT OF HER WAY to attract male attention. And so I designed the outfit that I did!

  • By Yojimbo, January 3, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    Do you know if Carol Ferris’ business attire was purposely colored the same color scheme as Sinestro’s first post GL costume?

  • By Christopher Jones, January 6, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    You’d have to ask colorist Zac Atkinson to know for sure, but I think that’s just a coincidence. OR you’ve shrewdly guessed our subtle foreshadowing that Carol Ferris rather than becoming Star Sapphire, will actually beocome the Sinestro of Young Justice continuity! But the safe bet is on coincidence…

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