After some weeks of work, the final result was the image above. I would like to point out that this picture has both a bearded Grim Reaper and a bearded spaceship. I... should probably stop drawing things now.
For his beardatar, Brian selected the ever-classy Manny Calavera from the legendary PC adventure game Grim Fandango -- which, I shamefully admit, is the only game on this list I haven't personally played. Mind you, I'm fervently awaiting the day when GoG will help me correct this grievous personal failing, but at the very least I'm able to show my appreciation through fanart. That counts, right?
Wes selected Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy VII, which I thought was a joke until I realized the hidden genius of his choice. Of all of these characters, I fervently believe that Vincent is the one who most benefits from having a beard. Sadly, I fell a bit short of the Yoji Shinkawa-esque visions I had planned, but these were still a lot of fun to do. Thanks to Brian for the brilliant suggestion of weaving belts into the beard.
It's a little weird drawing a beloved character from your childhood, but that's exactly the situation I faced when Imran chose Mega Man. I somehow felt that I was failing the Blue Bomber in every sketch, and it didn't help that my messy style jostles uncomfortably with the anime cleanness of the source material.
Finding the right beard for Mega Man was also a little tricky; there's a fine line between something that looks comical and something that simply looks out-of-place. This immediately disqualified more realistic-looking beards, but I thought there was a little bit of potential to the Dr. Light puffball and the spiky anime beard. Eventually, we settled on a style I lifted straight from Alan Moore. I think it sort of makes him look like a little robotic berserker.
I actually think I could have done a passable job with Mark's first choice, Bayonetta. No really, hear me out! It's well-established that Bayonetta can effectively "shape" her long hair into whatever she wants -- hell, many of her standard attacks involve summoning huge demonic fists woven from her long-flowing locks. So it would actually be a fairly paltry matter for her to wrap her hair around her head in such a way that it resembles a mock-beard.
(Okay, okay, so I guess the world really doesn't want or need something as disturbing as a Beardanetta, but I'm just saying -- purely mechanically, of course -- that it could work.)
(WHAT, STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE I'M WEIRD.)
Anyway, Mark's real choice, Vic Viper of Gradius fame, turned out to be an inspired selection. Of course, it also left me with the task of figuring out how to put a beard on a spaceship. Somewhere along the line I got the idea of transforming parts of the ship itself into giant bladed tusks of hair, but we decided it would be simpler and funnier just to stick the damn thing right on the nose of the ship.