Science, robots, and monsters… oh my! If any of that peaks your interest (which it should!) then you’re in for a real treat with the new genre comic Robot God Akamatsu. Rocking an action packed story and face pummeling visuals, creators Frankie B. Washington and James Biggie (yes, they’re every bit as cool as their names suggest) sculpted RGA as a heartsick ode to the mech filled robot genre of the late 70′s and early 80′s. Absorbing the influence of timeless manga visionaries like Go Nagai and Leiji Matsumoto, RGA definitely delivers on its promise of nostalgia, and in the process it become so much more.
Well, luckily for us, Washington and Biggie took some time from their busy schedule to answer a few questions, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
What would you guys say is your BIGGEST inspiration? Godzilla, Transformers, Voltron?
The biggest influences for us would most definitely be the works of Go Nagai, the pioneer behind the piloted super robot. It was his innovative approach to robot design, character development & story that led to the development of MazingerZ, Getter Robo, Gaiking, Grendizer and a score of other properties. He was the catalyst that began a movement that led to other creators such as Leiji Matsumoto (Planet Robo Danguard Ace), Jim Shooter, Dennis O’Neil & Bob Budiansky (Transformers Generation 1), and the amazing comic book team-up of Doug Moench & Herb Trimpe for Marvels Shogun Warriors. These are probably the strongest influences as RGA was being fleshed out from prelim to final art. Of course there are other iconic figures like Godzilla and other daikaijus which play into our pool of reference as well.
The art style is stylized but rather refined. How long did it take you guys to decide on what kind of look you were going for with this web comic?
Right out the door I wanted to go with a pseudo manga approach, meaning that I did not want the characters to look like manga characters but instead I wanted the reader to experience the energy that manga art tends to have. I also wanted to utilize some of the techniques that were used in the animated super robot shows. One amazing technique is the painted still shot/keyframe. Which was utilized to emphasis a strong moment of intense drama. Almost like a snapshot at the moment when a daikaiju is rampaging thru a city and people are fleeing in terror. If you’ve seen any of the old robots shows this technique was used a lot and one that I sorely miss in the new animations that are out.
What was your original motivation to make this comic and tell this story with these characters?
The overall motivation for us both is that we’re looking to create a property that can evolve from one media to the next (video,film, games,merchandise). We’re both professionals in the art field, have families, mortgages and a overwhelming desire to see how far we can go in the next 5-10 years of our careers. It is this passion that brought us together and which led to the development of the Robot God Akamatsu IP. The web comic is a form of direct marketing and a way to get info out about RGA and the story to readers. We feel strongly that the greatest ally for creators is the fans and the web is a great way to get info out to people all over the world.
The RGA story is one that is using the techniques of the “old school super robot shows” – Which is simply the heroes/villains journey and their eventual confrontation. Not a complicated plot, just one that people can grab onto and pick sides on who they want to cheer for. There are actually fans for Megatron and the Decepticons. So we believe that by laying out a straight path and sprinkling a few things along it will help add some extra spice to the overall flavor of the saga.
Our characters are a representation of America and the vast global community. By using diverse characters we are both pushed as creators to learn about others- Our commonalities/differences and even about ourselves. We hope that this is the underline message that many get from the RGA experience.
Make sure you check out the first 4 chapters of Robot God Akamatsu (absolutely free, of course!) and let us know what you think! And make sure you head out to see creators Frankie B. Washington and James Biggie at this year’s Wizard World Philly May 31 through June 3.