Try as you might, you won’t be able to sell Matt Conrad on Superman .
“You can’t relate to a character that has every power,” Conrad (senior-food science) said.
It doesn’t take much to realize that Conrad is more of a Marvel comic book kind of guy. If you’re lucky, you’ll find him strolling around campus dressed in a hoodie made to look like Captain America’s costume, and he can go on for several minutes talking about his favorite superhero, Spider-Man .
“He deals with real world problems every day,” Conrad said of the webslinger. “He has to pay bills just like the rest of us.”
Conrad’s adoration for Marvel’s cast of characters is unmistakable, and there’s no doubt it came in handy when crafting the winning entry for the Make My Marvel T-Shirt Design Contest.
The contest, announced in early August, challenged Marvel fans to create a design for an Avengers -inspired T-shirt to be sold in the company’s online store. For most artistically inclined comic enthusiasts, this would be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their worth, but for Conrad, the decision to enter did not come so easily.
“I never really considered my artwork to be that great,” he said. “I’m still nowhere near as good as I’d like to be.”
From there, it was up to his friends, who pointed out that the Aug. 26 deadline was his birthday, to twist his arm.
“I figured, ‘What the hell?’ ” he said.
And so he went straight to work. His initial try, which took him a week to complete, featured the six Avengers characters from this summer’s hit movie surrounding the infamous “A” logo in a splatter-like fashion.
“He did a bunch of sketches at work in between orders,” said Daniel Chen (senior-aerospace engineering), who worked with Conrad at Insomnia Cookies over the summer.
It wasn’t until Conrad finished photoshopping this image that he came up with the idea for a new design: an amalgamated torso comprising recognizable parts of each Avenger.
The effort took no more than an hour-and-a-half, and though he still liked his first attempt better, he chose to take advantage of the contest’s unlimited submissions policy and submit them both.
When the latter design was selected as one of the five finalists, he was surprised.
“It was a last minute thing, and it wasn’t even the design I liked the most,” he said.
During the contest’s voting period, Conrad watched as his entry fluctuated between first and last place, and by the time voting ended on Sept. 7, it looked as if he finished in second. However, just last Monday after waking up from a nap, he saw the email on his phone confirming his victory, and immediately ran downstairs to tell his roommates of the news.
“I couldn’t sleep anymore after that,” he said.
One of Conrad’s roommates, Edward Owen , couldn’t be happier for his friend, and is looking forward to buying a T-shirt himself.
“We were all in there together rooting for him,” said Owen, Class of 2012. “Basically everybody got online to try and support him and we’re really glad it all worked out.”
Despite this victory, Conrad has no plans to pursue a full-time career as an illustrator. Aside from taking an introductory drawing course at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, he has no formal training, but he still wants to hone his skills until he stacks up against the likes of artistic giants Mark Bagley (his personal favorite) and Todd McFarlane .
“Just having my design on Marvel’s website is good enough for me,” he said.
The T-shirt featuring Conrad’s design is now available for pre-order on marvelstore.com for $19.50 .