Starting in October, VIZ will be releasing original comics based on the hit Cartoon Network series, REDAKAI. 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.
Yesterday, we talked to writer Aubrey Sitterson. Today, we're talking to one of his collaborators, Nate Lovett.
ANIME VICE: What’s your role in this rather sizable endeavor?
NATE LOVETT: I'm primarily the penciller on the sections that were done by the Wright Height Media team. In Volume 1, I got to do a little bit of everything though, from layouts, to pencils, to inks, to even a few colors. Volume 2, it's strictly pencils, for now, with some of the layout here and there.
AV: What were you doing before the REDAKAI card was dealt to you?
NL: I’d done a little bit of everything. I've gotten to do other comic work, like XOMBIE: REANIMATED from a few years ago, based of the popular web series. I've also done a lot of concept art for various projects like toys, games, and even other cartoons. But most recently I was working on my own comic project GEAR MONKEY with Aubrey Sitterson, who just so happened to have written Volume 1.
AV: Wright Height Media is, of course, an outfit directed by the infamous Ray-Anthony Height. What's it been like working with the Ray-man?
NL: I've known Ray, thanks to the internet, for almost 10 years now. We first met way back on penciljack.com, and I remember really liking his stuff the first time i saw it. Since then we've seen each other various places online, like deviantart, and basically kept up with what each other was doing that way.
When Ray announced what he was planning to do and started his search for artists to join him, I knew I wanted in, so I dropped him a line, and that was that. Overall Ray and I have really clicked when it come to working together. We both tend to see things the same way, so it's not often that we disagree on something. It makes producing a comic together really easy, because there's less hurdles and bumps to deal with.
AV: What have you enjoyed the most about illustrating the adventures of young Master Ky? Any players out of Team Stax and the various groups of E-Teens that you particularly like drawing?
NL: I'd have to say I've enjoyed drawing Boomer the most. I think it's because he tends to be the one that gets the most animated, and anytime I can exaggerate facial features more than usual, I'm all for it.
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? Have they had any influence on your art?
NL: I actually had to look otaku up, if that answers that question, but that doesn't mean I'm not a fan of any. I'll be honest, I haven't read a ton of manga, but I have watched plenty of anime. But manga wise, I'm a fan of the old school AKIRA books and I did read the FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST series. I actually read it because to me it was one of those shows that i had to find all sorts of stuff on.
AV: Well, "otaku" can apply just as well to anime as manga - - it's a really wide umbrella of fandom. What are some anime series that have especially struck you?
NL: Well, there's FMA which I already mentioned. I'd also have to say COWBOY BEBOP, I love that show, FLCL was a lot of fun. I always dug all of the GHOST IN THE SHELL stuff. Then there's the stuff I grew up with like ROBOTECH, DBZ and whatnot. Then there's pretty much anything Miyazaki has done, though that's not so much a series.
I've always been a big animation fan, no matter where it came from, and it's something that I'm actually passing onto my son.
AV: Has your son been watching REDAKAI? What does he think about his Dad getting to work on such a butt-kicking project?
NL: He actually has. I remember when we first found it on CN, he had to watch. He's going to be five real soon, so he's getting into all of those type of things, BAKUGAN/BEYBLADE/etc, and this was right around those so he was all into it.
Then, when i was first starting to work on it, he came into my studio, and saw what i was working on, and got really excited. He started going on about things from the show, and it's the type of stuff that I kinda knew, but it had just soaked into him that he knew who people were, and the Kairu stuff and whatnot. It was crazy, but he soaks up so much information on all sorts of things that it shouldn't have really surprised me.
AV: REDAKAI itself seems to wear an anime influence rather openly on its sleeve. With shows like AVATAR and PANTY & STOCKING demonstrating a real cross-pollination of style on both sides of the Pacific, do you think there's really no longr much of a separation between Eastern and Western pop culture today?
NL: I wouldn't say it's no longer there, but it is starting to blur thanks to the internet especially. It’s easier now to get almost anything from around the world, and I think that helps bridge things, but I think that separation will still be there for a while. Both cultures have such rich and deep histories involving comics/manga and cartoons/anime that I'm not sure it ever will be one, but I do think each will have a good chunk of the other.
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 Nate Lovett experience?
NL: Well the best place to go right now would be my Deviantart page, though I also have a website that needs updated at www.natelovett.com. You can also follow me on twitter. Also around the end of the month my GEAR MONKEY project with Aubrey Sitterson will be coming out through Double Feature.
I think that's about it, for now anyways.