Art from Stranger Things Season 4
As with my original post from a few years ago, I am once again a bit late in writing about Stranger Things. This time though, when it comes to Season 4, at least I’m only a couple of months behind the actual release and pop culture/meme frenzy. As I’ve previously discussed, I am a huge fan of Stranger Things. I don’t watch many shows, as my free time tends to be consumed by drawing, website tinkering, gaming, and other general life/parental things. But Stranger Things is one that I am absolutely all about – in fact, when Season 4 came out, I actually binge watched everything but the finale in one weekend. I know opinions about the show, including hierarchy/rankings of the seasons, tend to run the gamut. I am of the opinion that this latest season is not at all a drop-off in quality compared to earlier in the show’s run.
Naturally, as I tend to do with things I’m interested in, I’ve been inspired to put pencil to paper and sketch some things from Season 4. To set up the artwork though, I think it makes sense to talk about some specific aspects to the fourth season. To do so, by necessity, there will be spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4! So, spoiler warning for everything that follows. As I mentioned previously, this show scratches a significant nostalgia itch for me. As someone who has moved into that “middle age” zone, that puts me right in the age bracket of those who have memories of the 1980s in my formative years. Watching the kids from Stranger Things navigate the same time period I did just catches my interest in a hard-to-describe way. The music, the clothes, the callbacks to pop culture of the decade…it’s great.
Anyhow, that’s on the show itself. What’s so great about Season 4? For one, it finally answers a lot of questions that have been lingering throughout the show’s run. I’m not going to get too in depth on those spoilers, because it’s really worth seeing as the show presents it. But I will say that I hope a bigger “Big Bad” is revealed in the final season. I was hoping for something more along the lines of a cosmic terror rather than what it looks like. What they’ve done does make sense, but I just hope there’s a bit more to unwrap. The way they’ve set things up, I am at least hopeful there will be more creatures from the Upside Down to deal with. But I hope they aren’t all controlled by one particular force (if you know who I mean).
Another great, but ultimately somewhat bittersweet, thing about Season 4 is the debut of new characters. This show has always done a great job rolling out interesting new people, such as Max, Robin, and Murray. And this season is no different, with a couple of great new characters. I found Argyle, Henry Creel, and Yuri to be very interesting in their own right…but to me, Eddie Munson was the huge hit. In my opinion, similar to Robin’s impact in Season Three, Eddie stole every scene he was in. In particular, we were gifted with Eddie Munson shredding guitar in the Upside Down, which is one of the coolest, most “metal” scenes in any show:
Unfortunately, when it comes to Eddie, you could certainly feel the direction his story was headed. His character arc seemed to have a predictable path to it: Endearing outcast -> victim of circumstance -> misunderstood pariah on the run -> reluctant hero -> sacrifice despite everything. It was a really touching ending though, and Dustin’s scene with Eddie’s uncle was incredible. You combine two major Eddie scenes with another featuring Max and Lucas…this was surely one of the most emotional conclusions I’ve seen. It even topped the end of Season Three, when we thought Hopper was gone and everyone was splitting up.
So, with Eddie Munson now being up there in my Stranger Things character hall-of-fame, I had to draw the guy. The top candidate was naturally the scene of him rocking out in the Upside Down. But I also want to capture him with some other characters, preferably without being surrounded by difficult-to-draw red lighting.
My thoughts on how these drawings turned out are a bit complex. I’ll start with the easier of the two; Eddie rocking out. I’m actually surprised that this one turned out the way it did. Since the background is integral to show where he is in the scene, I couldn’t chicken out and just draw the character. But the red lighting proved not as difficult as I thought it would be. In hindsight, an Elden Ring inspired drawing (that I’m still not totally satisfied with) turned out to be good practice. I took lessons learned from that sketch and turned this Eddie drawing into something solid. At the end of it, I had an uncommon level of positive feelings about it – usually, I am a bit more self-critical. Not a masterpiece, but still something I like.
The other drawing is an entirely different story. The outlines and early stages of these characters were so promising. I had the basics down fairly well on all three of them, and felt certain this was going to be the better of the two. As I progressed though, Robin (left) and Eddie (right) started coming together…but Steve gradually became worse. Particularly when it came to facial features around his nose and mouth. The paper’s “tooth,” which is a description of the rough surface available to grip pencil material, is not unlimited. Although I do try to layer pencil wax very thickly, I don’t often run out of tooth. But in this case, around Steve’s face, I reached a point where I couldn’t layer any more pencil. At that point, it became a muddied mess.
In hindsight, if I’d just left Steve’s face alone about halfway through, it would have been just fine. But I actually damaged the paper from overworking it! I’ve very rarely done that. The version I’m sharing here is not the final – that was actually bad enough to where I’m embarrassed to share it. Because this entire hobby is a learning experience, I will try to take a lesson from this however I can. Specifically, where exactly that “Stop Here” line exists, and that sometimes artwork just doesn’t become what you’d planned.
I’ve also embedded a couple of the slideshow style time-lapse videos above. One interesting insight from YouTube; I’ve had these videos up for about a week, and this drawing of Eddie, Steve, and Robin that I am some thoroughly unsatisfied with has performed much better than the other. It’s got roughly seven times more views at this point, which is honestly a little mind-boggling to me. Either it’s just satisfying YouTube’s algorithms better, or unbiased strangers just apparently prefer it. Whichever is the case, I find it pretty surprising.
So there we have it! The third Stranger Things drawing/post combination is in the books. Whenever the last season arrives, which will probably be quite a while, I wouldn’t be surprised if I shared some more artwork. So more to come…eventually.