"How do Earth's Mightiest Heroes spend their time when they're not saving the world?"
If you enjoy superhero comics and movies, you'll know that amid all the action and drama, we're often given a fun glimpse into the more everyday parts of superheroes' lives. Seeing these extraordinary characters dealing with quite ordinary situations can make them more relatable - that's where my page Avengergram first began.
Avengergram is a series of online comics using one sixth scale figures made by Hot Toys. I initially started sharing photos online around three years ago, and after the success of a few funny panels over the years, I opened an Instagram account and Facebook page.
My first few ideas were based on pranks, misunderstandings or just everyday superhero problems. It's great how expressive these figures can be!
As my collection grew, I wanted to furnish the Avengers ordinary world, so I bought, made and modified lots of props to make their home seem all the more grounded. I found items of furniture in toy shops, markets and online, and put together places for the Avengers to interact. If I really wanted to take them somewhere else, I would photograph my figures in front of a computer screen, as you can see with Thor in a hardware store below. I was never very good with Photoshop, so this was an easier option. The only photo manipulation I initially did was using simple IPad apps to remove the seams on Hulk's arms, to adjust the light, or to add basic effects.
Over the years I've also definitely taken inspiration from scenes from the Marvel films and trailers. These issues seemed to be even more successful, as everyone seems to enjoy making fun of these great movie moments. The comic you see below of Spidey's "Hey everyone" debut was even shared by Stan Lee himself on his Facebook page recently! The guy is a legend!
I'm also a big comic fan myself, so some of my issues took direct inspiration from the original source material. Most comic collectors will know that amid all the complex story and over-the-top action, there are a lot of funny and silly moments - it's not just Deadpool that cracks jokes! Once again, I was amazed when my photo of the Avengers in hospital, that you can see below, was shared on Facebook by Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr!
The Avengers have also observed the different holidays and festivals over the past year. I made a whole series of Christmas issues, as well as Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn festival, Halloween and more. I've also tried to keep some of my issues topical by responding to movie announcements or other news.
Some of my more popular issues recently are my Civil War comics, which demonstrate that Tony and Cap's rivalry is often based on quite petty disagreements. I've satirized the trailers, the posters, or just put the Avengers in other competitive situations.
Most of my Avengergram comics are created indoors with props and other small backgrounds, but after taking a few shots outside, I realized how great my photos could be out in the real world. With that in mind, I took Spider-Man, my most flexible, funny and familiar character, on holiday with me. What seemed like a ridiculous idea at the time turned into a few full albums of amazing photos in London, Greece, Korea and Hong Kong. I got some funny looks from passers by, but a lot of other tourists also wanted photos of my traveling companion, and my posts online even got attention from toy sellers.
As well as my regular issues, my most recent Avengergram project has been a few 'versus' series, in which I pit two of the Avengers against each other in an action packed album of battle photos. This really stretched my very limited photography skills, as well as adding a big challenge of posing the figures in realistic action moments. It was tough, and needed some extra photo editing, but the results were great. I also decided to start building larger background dioramas. So, with some foamboard, polystyrene, hot glue, paint, and a lot of patience, I built a modest alleyway, followed by a pretty grand Sokovia church. I posted some albums of the process, and the response from my Facebook followers was really positive. I still prefer my funny stuff though, so each of these fight albums has it's own comedic elements.
Now, with over 200 issues, Avengergram is still going strong! It can be a struggle to find new ideas and the time to put them together, but I get encouragement from the people who enjoy my photos, and most of all, from my wife, who is always on the lookout for small props to buy me. There are plenty of other great toy photographers out there too, and communities like One Sixth Republic on Facebook are a nice place to share ideas with other collectors. It's a great hobby that I really enjoy, and that I'm glad I can share!
Thanks for reading. Please visit my Avengergram Facebook page or Instagram and take a look through my different albums. Enjoy!