Gabe Perna’s visions of villains

First published April 6, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Question: Whose idea was it for you to sculpt your own visions of these comic villains?

Gabe Perna, sculptor: It was one of those things where I just kinda started one and saw that I was having some fun. I wanted to make a sculpt that was sort of “museum bust”-like, with the sides and back truncated, in a larger scale than some of the stuff I had been doing at that point. No sooner than I finished the first one, I had started the second. They were quick and a real blast to sculpt. I showed ’em to Randy of Killing Time Kits and that was that!

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If you’re looking to kill a little time by building a model, Killing Time Kits has three killers worth considering. They’re the unique visions of DC Comics villains by the sculptor Gabe Perna, dubbed “some of Gabe’s best work” by Randy at Killing Time, which is saying something.

Darkseid by Perna

“THE MONARCH”

Inspired by DARKSEID, ruler of the planet Apokolips

Painted by Dan Cope

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Bizarro by Perna

“ME AM #1”

Inspired by BIZARRO #1, an imperfect duplicate of Superman

Painted by Dan Cope

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Killer Croc by Perna

“CROCODILE JONES”

Inspired by Batman enemy KILLER CROC

Painted by Joe Dunaway

All three museum-style resin busts are about 10.5 inches tall, a little larger than 1/4 scale, and sell for $60 plus shipping. They all come in two parts and are unpainted.

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Gabe and Randy are two more guys I encountered through the Clubhouse Internet modeling community. Randy started out like me, a fan of garage kits (although he’s more talented), then he branched into kit production after a couple years or so. Gabe came along a bit later and quickly drew a lot of attention because of his striking style of sculpting. For some reason, both of these jokers struck me as guys a person could get along with, and I found out for sure that was true when I met them last year at WonderFest in Louisville, Ky.

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Here’s more of my e-mail Q&A with Gabe:

Me: What hours of the day do you sculpt, and do you have any kind of snack or drink on hand while you’re working?

Gabe: I keep the worst sort of hours (in a traditional sense). I generally stay up hammering the clay until about 5:30 am and rise again at about 10 am. I rationalize the long hours, because I’m mainly sitting on my duff for the better part of the day.

As for fuel – it’s all about coffee for me. I’m fairly certain that 75 percent of what’s running through my veins has also run through my coffee pot. Sometimes I’ll go nutty on Red Bull, too. It doesn’t really give me the pep it should, but I really like the taste of it. Odd, considering I hated it the first time I tried it…

Me: How do the people closest to you support your sculpting, assuming they do?

Gabe: One of the main reasons I do what I do is because my wife, Regina, pushed me into it. Honestly, she has more faith in me than I do – so I live under constant paranoia of letting my wife down. I couldn’t get by without her!

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This is a good place to mention that I also met Regina last year at WonderFest, and I’ve read some things she’s had to say about Gabe in some Internet forums. From what I can tell, Gabe is a long, long way from letting her down.

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Randy of Killing Time was also kind enough to answer a few questions through e-mail.

Me: You and Gabe have collaborated on a number of projects in the last couple of years. How did this collaboration/friendship begin?

Randy: Friendship first and foremost. We razz each other continuously but it’s in fun. Gabe and I started talking a few years ago on the Clubhouse because of a mutual interest in some old British sitcoms. It grew out of that and we found we had a lot in common. Once I decided to start making kits, he was the first person I asked about commissioning a piece. I was awestruck by his Lobo and I wanted to see a few other characters done in the same style.

Me: You got involved in producing garage kits fairly recently. What inspired you to take the leap from kit builder to kit producer?

Randy: There were characters I wanted to see but no one had done. There are a dozen Batman standing on a ledge kits; same with Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, etc. … I wanted to see some new faces. Doing a lesser-known character doesn’t always work out. Those five characters are done because they sell.

Me: I know you’ve got a lot of new stuff in the works as WonderFest approaches. Can you give me a preview of what’s coming?

Randy: Gabe and I are branching away from the comic book figures for a while and into horror kits. We’ve both got a dark side, an enjoyment of the the sick and grotesque, and neither of us will shy away from producing a figure just because it’s disturbing. Things like the old Fewture kits, that were disturbing yet so beautifully done you wanted it. Over the years Gabe has started a dozen pieces along these lines and abandoned them in favor of more mainstream work. We’ve decided to go ahead and do the nightmare.

However, since I deal with other sculptors, Killing Time will still release comic-related kits … and Gabe has not abandoned heroes, just taking a break to do other things.

My big summer release is a scene from when Bane broke Batman’s back (sculpted by Mike Baldwin). Several years ago I was asked what type of kits I’d like to see done. The characters are more than just an image or icon. They had history and what I thought would be really cool would be a kit that shows a defining moment in that character’s life. Bane breaking the Bat is one of those moments.

I hope to do more kits of defining moments, but I’ve learned not to plan too far ahead.

One of the first from Gabe’s horror line is a bust of a zombie, called “Patient #13”. The zombie is just gross. It’s large, about 1/3 scale, missing parts, and should be a blast to paint.

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