Josh recently has the chance to talk with Joe Badon about his upcoming Kickstarter project Terra Kaiju, a 25 page comic that should excited any fan of giant monster movies. You can check out the Kickstarter for the project here after reading the interview.
We The Nerdy: So tell me a little about Terra Kaiju.
Joe Badon: Terra Kaiju is set in feudal Japan. An endless, embittered battle between two neighboring villages ravages Japan’s countryside. The battle will be decided by pitting the village gods against one another.
At the heart of the story is our hero, Kohitsuji. He is young samurai who must sacrifice his life to his village’s sleeping god, Terra Ramu.
Kohitsuji’s soul is then infused into Terra Ramu, thus awakening him for battle.
Terra Ramu, a 100 foot terra cotta samurai god must then defend his village from Hebragon, an ancient flying serpent demon god.
That’s the story in a nutshell!
WTN: Can you explain a little about the book’s unique format, what encouraged you to pursue such a style?
JB: As far as the landscape format, after reading books like Rocketo and Mouse Guard, I loved the feel of that format. I think it gives it a more serious, high brow tone. Ha! Whatever that means!
WTN: You’re clearly a big fan of kaiju movies, what sort of influences in particular inspired this book?
JB: Daimajin (1966) was inspiration #1! The film heavily inspired me. I love the idea of a giant Samurai Kaiju and I love the idea of a Kaiju film set in feudal Japan.
The film is basically my love letter to Daimajin, which I feel is the best Kaiju movie ever.
I also pulled ideas from GMK (Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidora: Giant Monsters All Out Attack!). Also, the movie Tsu Hon Wu inspired me.
WTN: Do you have an interest in wider Japanese culture? If so how has that impacted Terra Kaiju?
JB: I’ve always had a dating relationship with modern Japanese nerd culture, I guess. My favorite animated film ever is Akira (although I feel most anime is cookie cutter and uninteresting). My favorite band ever is The Boredoms and, of course, I love Godzilla.
I am fascinated how Japanese culture takes Western culture and filters it through a lens that I don’t have and the end results is something mutant and beautiful.
Godzilla himself is influenced by Beast From 20,000 Fathoms but obviously filtered through a much darker lens (at least the first film was).
WTN: What sort of things have influenced your visual style?
JB: I grew up really loving the visual styles of the 70’s fringe comics like Zapp Comix. In highschool I was entranced by Marc Hansen’s Ralph Snart and Keith Giffen’s Trencher.
Later in life, I’ve been influenced by Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack, El Mico, Paul Pope, Skottie Young and Sam Hiti. Recently, I’ve been loving all the new indie comic artists out like Andrew Maclean, Alex Ziritt, Lee Milewski, Joie Simmons and a ton more of the “new guys” on the scene.
Matt Kindt has also been a big influence. I also have heavily studied 50’s and 60’s cartooning and coloring styles. My father has influenced me a lot. Growing up he painted with stencils and spray paint and later began to do splatter paintings. This encouraged me to keep an open mind to fringier art forms. Jackson Pollock style splatter paintings has been fused into head.
For Terra Kaiju, I referenced a bunch of ancient Japanese art and color pallets. I guess I have tried to take all of those influences, put them in a pot, stir them together and boil them down into a cohesive style.
Also, movies have a HUGE impact on how I view paneling, camera placement and storytelling. Especially Wes Anderson, David Lynch, and The Original Twilight Zone.
WTN: How does also being the artist of the book affect how you tell the story?
JB: It’s great! I get to call the shots! Being a freelance artist, it’s helped me greatly to see how other writers construct a story. It’s also freeing to be able to tell my own story.
For example, there are plenty of Christian undertones to the book. Not overt and it’s not preachy at all BUT Kohitsuji (our young samurai) is a sort of messiah character, a chosen one, who must give up his life so that others may be saved. As much as this book seems like it’s just a Kaiju brawl, there are messages of sacrifice-for-the-greater-good, forgiveness and (ironically) anti-violence. All of these thematic undercurrents are ideas that I feel I can only convey by writing and drawing my own story.
WTN: Is there anything special about the soundtrack that accompanies the book on kickstarter?
JB: I’m a musician on the side. I do it mainly to get out my creative wiggles sonically.
The soundtrack will basically be 3 or 4 instrumental pieces that I’m working on that you’ll be able to listen to while reading the book to give you a more immersive experience. I’ve always loved the idea of a multi-media art experience. For example: a mechanical art installation that you have to pull levers to make it work OR one of those old 90’s VCR board games so you have video and audio involved while board gaming. I LOVE that kind of thing.
WTN: Are you planning any further projects after this one?
JB: I have a few freelance comics that will be coming out in 2015.
Frankenbabe, an undead stripper fighting evil, (written by Matthew Johnson and art by me) is coming out through 215ink Comics in the Spring 2015.
I have an undercover project coming out in 2015 (that’s pretty big). That sounds elusive enough, right?
WTN: Any final remarks?
JB: Elephant Man is on Netflix streaming. Go watch it right now!
Well you heard Joe, get watching Elephant Man! When you’re done though, make sure to check out the Terra Kaiju Kickstarter here and you can even learn more about the book on Facebook and follow Joe on Twitter.