Colby was always interested in superheroes, and was inspired by the "Batman" movie directed by Tim Burton. The idea of a superhero that was powerful from his innate humanity and intelligence was always more interesting to him than an over-powered character with supernatural abilities. However the idea of combining a starfish with a human was an idea he developed early on while reading a book on sea life. The starfish is already anthropomorphized; it can appear to be a small person with arms and legs. Being able to regenerate injuries and use powerful tentacles to climb and grab things with tremendous strength sounded like a great start for science-based superhero character.
In 1984, Colby's brother introduced him to the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". TMNT were published as a comic book in 1984, and Colby was impressed that a completely new set of superheroes could be introduced and self-published. He liked the unlimited potential of mutation - a scientific principle already proven in evolution. If two organisms could be mutated together, it would literally create new possibilities with characters, abilities and ultimately... incredible adventures.
The third part of the Starfishman inspiration was underwater exploration. One of Colby's favourite movie genres is the underwater adventure. "The Abyss", "Leviathan", "Deep Star Six" and of course the classic TV series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" (1964) were exciting shows that used the mystery of the deep, unexplored oceans. Almost like outer space, the oceans are a source of limitless adventure. Colby knew his superhero character must find his adventures in this deep, mysterious environment.