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 with some never-before-seen, exclusive art from the books.
Previous interviews were with...
Today, it's Zack Turner.
ANIME VICE: What’s your role in this rather sizable endeavor?
ZACK TURNER: In the first volume of REDAKAI (written by Auburey Sitterson,) I was given the task to bring life to the home world of the Gilfreem called Gilfrea, and tell the backstory.
AV: What were you doing before the REDAKAI card was dealt to you?
ZT: Before REDAKAI, I was working on an independent book called FENIX GEAR, which was self-published by the writer Josh Breidbart. As well as working with Tom Pinchuk on several other projects, including coloring UNIMAGINABLE, drawing a short called ADVANCE to be published in the NEW BREED anthology and a collaboration which is still in progress called JUMP.
I also started working with Josh Breidbart on our second project, called UNLIFE, which is published on the internet for free. It’s for teens and up!
AV: What did you enjoy most about illustrating the adventures of young Master Ky?
ZT: In the first volume, I got to design all sorts of alien creatures including the Sraukur King, and I was really was free to let loose and create this amazing world of fish-like people and design their culture.
AV: Which players out of Team Stax and the various groups of E-Teens did you like drawing the most?
ZT: Boomer is my favorite member of Team Stax to draw. He really stands out because of his stature and his nose. I also really like drawing Maya. I've only had the chance to draw a new team of E-Teens, which I'm sure we want to keep a surprise (I think.)
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?
ZT: Former or Recovering Otaku, I'd think.
I grew up watching all sorts of anime such as SLAYERS, various GUNDAM shows (Mostly WING, and G GUNDAM), FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, GHOST IN THE SHELL, DRAGON BALL, RANMA 1/2, and a few others, as well as being a fan of the various sentai teams, and KAMEN RIDER.
AV: What are some of your favorite manga titles?
AV: Have they had any influence on your art?
ZT: They have, but a lot of it isn't so much influence on my style, but on how I tell a story through my art - - how the characters interact and how to give the characters a life of their own by letting them be a bit more cartoony instead of just stone-faced.
AV: You're wearing a couple more hats than a penciler usually would in your portion. Can you break down your artistic process for us a little?
ZT: Yeah! This book I get to flex my art muscles a bit! For my chapter, I'm doing all art duties from pencils to letters. I've been working digitally on REDAKAI.
First, I do a rough thumbnail/sketch of the pages in Photoshop. I then tone the page in grays so that my editor can have a clearer vision of my pencils (and so that I have an idea where I can place my light sources). Since I'm inking my own pencils I can go straight to inks. In there, I go to a tool called Clip Paint Lab - - which, to my displeasure, is completely Japanese - - to lay down my inks. After which I go back to Photoshop and expel rainbows from my stylus. Then… letters!
AV: REDAKAI seems to be wearing its anime influences rather proudly on its sleeve. After other American cartoons like TEEN TITANS and SAMURAI JACK have also borrowed much rom across the Pacific, do you think the lines separating Eastern and Western pop culture are steadily blurring?
ZT: Yeah, I think you could say that.
AV: Say you were able to get your hands on your own X-Reader - - what sort of monster would turn into?
ZT: Probably some sort of huge, tall, fur-covered monster with gigantic hands and feet… wait, that's pretty much me every day. Hahaha.
AV: From the line work to the coloring, your art has far more of an animated look. Is there a conscious choice on your part to draw more from toons-in-motion than toons-in-print, as it were? How would you describe your illustration philosophy?
ZT: Yes, I'd say so. The thing about comic is that while it is a static medium more or less, you need to pack EVERY panel full of soul and life. If the readers are looking onto mere two dimensional characters figuratively they don't have a lot of attachment, you have to make them feel related to these characters even without words.
The way animation brings things to life isn't just the motion, each single frame implies life. Even the most mundane panel can be packed full of life. If the panel calls for action you have to push that panel even harder and make it even larger than life, so ideas like squash and stretch, and exaggeration is essential.
That or I'm a closet animator.
AV: Lastly, 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 Zack Turner experience?
ZT: If anything I'd love for them to check out my webcomic UNLIFE, you can pick up my last major work FENIX GEAR, and you can check amazon or your local comic shop for UNIMAGINABLE (of which I was the colorist). You can also check out my personal site zackri.net, and find more links to my art and *ahem* unique perspective.