If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Google+, then you’ve probably already heard me going on and on about my new comic, SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V #1. For those of you poor unfortunately few who don’t (and why don’t you?! Following me is easy — the links are there on the right side of the screen, ready and eager to be clicked!), then you are in for a treat..because, right here and now, I’m going to lay it all out for you and give you the Secret Origin of SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V!
So, sit back, prop your feet up, and grab your favorite beverage, because you are in for the story of epic proportions!
As a kid growing up in Hawaii in the 70s and 80s, one of my biggest loves was what the Japanese call “Super Robots.” It is a science fiction genre all to itself — different from sentai like the Go Rangers, or henshin heroes like Kamen Rider or Kikaida, and even removed from the mecha of things like Gundam or Macross. Super Robots were giant robots (it’s right there the name) piloted or controlled by a human, generally in a futuristic setting, although not always, and usually pitted in combat against monstrous creatures who threaten humanity, the Earth, and even the universe itself. Shows like Voltron, Mazinga Z (Tranzor Z here in the US), Getter Robo, Giant Robot, Grendizer, and about a thousand others, made up the genre. One of my favorites was called COMBATTLER V, which never made it to the US as a cartoon, but was part of the amazing SHOGUN WARRIORS comic that Marvel did in the 1970s. Before I focus on the SHOGUN WARRIORS and their influence on me, let’s take a look at COMBATTLER V for a second.
Pretty cool, huh? Well, that was from a 2012ish re-imagining of COMBATTLER V, not the cartoon I knew as a kid. Still, the excitement was there from the beginning. If the robot hero of that sequence seems familiar to you, then it is probably because he/it was one of the stars of the highly under-rated comic that Marvel put out back in the late 1970s in conjunction with toy manufacturer, MATTEL. The comic, written by Doug Moench and drawn by the legendary Herb Trimpe, was based on a line of Super Robot toys imported from Japan that stood 24″ tall…and they were AMAZING!
Sadly, the comic only lasted 20 issues before it was cancelled. Those 20 issues, and Trimpe’s fun and funky artwork, left an indelible imprint on the minds of kids who read comics at the time. Even now, nearly 40 years after it was cancelled, the SHOGUN WARRIORS comic has die-hard fans. As a fan in his 40s who bought the comics right off the spinner racks of his local 7-11 back in 1978, and who gobbled up every single issue, those comics, along with the various cartoons and toys, are burned into my heart and the very core of my being.
One of the things I had always dreamed of was doing a SHOGUN WARRIORS comic, but that dream was slowly pushed away into the back of my head since, here in the US, the super robot fad never took as large a foothold as other imports from Japan. It didn’t help that no one in the US seemed to have rights to any of the characters…and my dreams of drawing or writing the further adventures of RAIDEEN or DANGARD ACE faded away, replaced by elves, super heroes, and a certain pair of brothers trying to keep themselves amused on a hot summer day.
Enter the Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015. Flying out to what had become a regular stop for me — the Amazing Cons are fantastic shows and their staff treats me better than any other convention crew out there — but it wasn’t anything overly exciting. I’d been doing the show for 5 years and, as fun as it was, it was routine. I’d hit the show, hang out with a thousand or so of my fans and then fly back home a few days later. Fun? Definitely. But I’d fallen into a routine. Luckily for me, when the Amazing Con’s driver showed to pick me up at the airport, sitting in the seat next to me was a man in his mid-70s. Being the friendly sort that I am, I introduced myself. That’s when I got the shock of my life. The jovial man sitting next to me (and doing his best to rile up one Mark Bagley) was Herb Trimpe…the man who had been responsible for some of the coolest comics of my childhood: the Hulk, GI Joe, and, you guessed it, Shogun Warriors.
Meeting and chatting with Herb for a few hours that day reawakened my love of the old material and set the groundwork for my latest work. The man’s sincerity, his wit, and his talent, convinced me that I should dip back into my childhood and, for the first time in a very long time, sit down to write and draw a comic that was, first and foremost, for ME. Something I had a passion for and something I would love.
What came out was a series of sketches of my own super robots. Let’s take a look at some of those first drawings:
My goal with the designs was to do something that fit into that old school, 1970s style of Super Robot, and to do it as less of an homage, parody, or pastiche, and to do it more as “what if I’d been in the 70s and creating characters then.” I didn’t want to do a knock-off. I wanted to do something that was cool, fresh, and felt like it could have fully existed at the time. In fact, once I’d done my design work, my entire mentality followed that mantra. I wanted readers to pick up the book and say “this is something I read as a child, right?” It should be familiar without being a rip-off.
I think I did a pretty good job at it overall.
The two questions I get most about the book are: “Why the heck is it so damn big?!” And “What happened before this?!”
Two fair questions, so let me address them one at a time.
First, “Why the heck is it so damn big?!” If you haven’t seen the book, the physical size of SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V #1 is HUGE. It is 9″x12″ and towers over normal comics. Take a look:
See what I mean? Now, why in God’s name would I do that? Because of Scott McCloud, Frank Miller, and Geoff Darrow, that’s why. The books “Destroy” (by McCloud) and “Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot” (by Miller/Darrow) were my inspirations. I mean, if you’re going to do a book about giant robots beating the living hell out of one another, then why WOULDN’T you do it oversize? I thought it would be more impressive and more fun at the larger size. Will it hurt me in the ability to sell to retailers or through the comic book direct market? Probably. Will fans who see me at shows flip out over it? So far the answer there is a huge YES! Everyone who has seen it has gone nuts over the book. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s over the top, and it’s fun. Exactly the way it should be.
Second, “What happened before this?!” The second most common question relates to how the book starts. Things begin at what can only be described as the climax to the story. At the very height of the action and excitement. There’s no slow build up, and no first or second act. SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V #1 is ALL third act, and that was completely on purpose. My intent was to give readers the exact same experience they might have had as a comic fan (or even cartoon watcher) during the 70s, back before DVRs and easy-to-find comic shops or eBay…where you might have not found every issue of a comic (and rarely the first issue) or you may have missed the premiere of a new cartoon.
I wanted to give them the experience of stumbling onto something new and seeing the coolest part of it possible. As a kid, I found that one of the coolest things — finding something new and then going out to learn more about it. So, to do that, I started at the very height of my story and then tried to put enough bits in there to keep a reader from being completely lost…to give them enough story and information along the way without stopping in the middle of the action to explain it. I wanted to give you a random episode of an awesome cartoon and see if I could still make you fall in love with it.
I hope you’ll take a look at it and give it a chance. It is tough for an indy book to get any attention in today’s market — if you’re not out from Marvel or DC, or don’t have a hipster book from Image, then chances are likely none of the comic “press” out there will consider covering you. If you like the book, or know of someone who might, then pass along a link to this site.
Anyway, check out the below preview and keep a watch for issue 2. I’m working hard on it now and it should be out in early November 2015 (I’m aiming to put a new issue out every 2 months!). Oh, and BUY IT NOW!!!
TV, Film, comic book, fantasy & steampunk writer/director, known best for bad horror movies about giant scorpions, killer pigs & dinosaurs in the sewers.
You can find his work on Smashwords or at his Amazon Author Page.