Starting in October, the VIZ Kids imprint will be releasing original comics based on the hit Cartoon Network series, REDAKAI, in addition to books like VOLTRON FORCE, MAMESHIBA and MR. MEN. The anime-styled show follows a group of plucky kids, Team Stax, who are racing to find the all-powerful Kairu energy before it falls to the evil overlord Lokar and his minions, the E-Teens.
We’ve had the totally rad opportunity to chat with some of the writers and artists who’re bringing these adventures to print. Every day this week, we’ll be running an interview with these talents.
Today, it's Terrance Griep.
ANIME VICE: What’s your role in this rather sizable endeavor?
TERRANCE GRIEP: When the dust settles, I will have scripted three different stories.
AV: What were you doing before the REDAKAI card was dealt to you?
TG: Ha. What lovely wording!
I had been working as a full-time writer for 10 years before I joined Team Redakai. I've written all kinds of things - - books, magazines, websites, and comics--but my best-known comic work was for DC Comics. Those assignments included stories featuring Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Riddler, the Question, and Scooby-Doo, among others.
Also, I work as a professional wrestler on the independent circuit in the Midwest which has helped with some of the trash-talking that Team Stax and their opponents perpetrate.
AV: You're definitely the first wrestling comics writer we've ever come across. As you're aware, pro-wrestling shares has much in common with superhero comics. Many of those same commonalities can be then also found in "fight shonen" series like DRAGONBALL Z and YU YU HAKUSHO - - really, they're only missing chair-shots, championship belts and some delineation between "shoot" and "kayfabe."
What's your take on the sort of unifying principles of storytelling connecting these three areas of entertainment?
TG: I think the parallels between super-hero comics and pro wrestling are particularly striking (so to speak): overmuscled, spandex-clad figures engaged in larger-than-life battles of good versus evil. I think it's that notion - - good versus evil - - is at the crux of all three concepts. This real world of ours is so nuanced and so complicated and so exasperating that I think a primoridal struggle becomes elegant in and highly appealing because of its simplicity.
AV: What have you enjoyed the most about handling these adventures of young Master Ky?
TG: I write for my 10-year-old self who would have gone in-a-good-way INSANE if he'd encountered this concept. I think turning into a good monster is something every boy wishes for.
Or am I revealing too much?
AV: Any players out of Team Stax and the various groups of E-Teens that you particularly like writing?
TG: I've fallen in love with Zane, Ky's opposite number, his "evil twin." The most interesting part of the overarching storyline is the fact that Ky and Zane were once friends and colleagues, and Zane fell from grace. As I write Zane, I try to remember that he must possess some good, or Ky wouldn't have befriended him, and Ky's mentor, Master Boaddai, wouldn't have trained him.
AV: The key angle on Zane's character, by your description, is this "heel turn" he's taken. The premise of REDAKAI also stresses that the all-powerful Kairu can be a force of benevelent guidance or terrible destruction depending on the virtue of whomever's wielding it. Do you figure there's some underlying theme here about how even the greatest heroes are only ever one step away from becoming the bad guys?
TG: I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but I like that interpretation a lot. Sadly, when one continues to think along these lines, one can't find a single example going the other way. That is, Zane is something of a fallen angel, but no evil character has redeemed himself to become good.
The theme you describe probably applies most to Maya. Lokar has described her as his "favorite" member of Team Stax, implying some kind of relationship between the two.
AV: Obviously, though this project’s being produced stateside, VIZ has a staggering catalog of imported manga. Are you an otaku? What are some of your favorite manga titles?
TG: I fully realize that a different aesthetic is at play when I mention this, but I SAW IT by Keiji Nakazawa is my favorite manga work, one which recounts the cheerful subject of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It's a remarkable story which makes remarkable use of a remarkable medium. I also dug out VAMPIRE KNIGHT by Matsuri Hino - - a wholly contrasting take to jolt Redakai's concept of monsters!
AV: Have they had any influence on your work?
TG: These and other works reminded me that Japanese presentation of graphic literature is much - - what? Slower? More detailed? - - than American work, so I adjusted my unexotic style to fit.
AV: Realistically, who would your wrestling persona, the Spider Baby, ally with if he ever wandered into the world of REDAKAI? Team Stax? One of the E-Teens? Or would he be an independent antagonist to both sides?
TG: When I first started poking through the reference material that Joel Enos, the Unsung Hero of Team Redakai, kindly provided, Team Battacor--described therein as "dumb jocks"--spoke most eloquently to me.
(This is probably because, as a ten-year-old boy, I was bookish and shy and longed to be a dumb jock--I suppose you could say I grew into it.)
What SpiderBaby would do is re-assemble Team Battacor, renaming them Team Spidacor. Then, unlike Lokar or Master Boaddai, SpiderBaby would accompany Team Spidacor on their missions. Then we'd set about collecting all the kairu we could and holding it hostage.
AV: Say these books, or even this interview, get some readers curious to check out more of your work. Where can they get the rest of the Terrance Griep experience?
TG: Like most successful pro wrestlers, I'm an accomplished self-promoter, and ALL of that self-promotion gets filtered through here.