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Continuing The Avatar Legacy: An Interview With Avatar Co-Creator Mike Dante DiMartino at SDCC19

This previous weekend at SDCC, I had the honour of interviewing Mike Dante DiMartino, also called the co-creator of Avatar: The Final Airbender, and The Legend of Korra. This was big for me, as Avatar was a staple of my childhood. Hell, it’s been a staple of my complete life. It’s an enormous cause why I needed to get into storytelling and writing. We talked somewhat bit about Ruins of the Empire, the second and present Korra comedian revealed by way of Darkish Horse that ties up some unfastened ends from Kuvira’s story arc from the top of season four. We also touched on what it’s like to write down your characters in several mediums, and the most effective ways to deal with world-building. So, with that being stated, don’t anticipate any questions about what occurred to Jet, how quick Aang’s hair can grow or how fast the spirit of the Avatar is reincarnated. Mike gave some actually insightful solutions to the deeper questions and in case you’re a writer like myself, you’ll find them fairly invaluable.

Black Nerd Issues: Animation and comics are comparable in lots of respects. And comics are in a approach a part of the animation process. How does your strategy to writing these comics differ out of your strategy to the writing the present?

Mike Dante DiMartino: Yeah, that’s a very good question. In some methods, it’s comparable. Like figuring out plot and character arcs and feelings and all that stuff is completely the identical. But the storytelling medium is sort of totally different as a result of you’ll be able to’t depend on movement. You’ll be able to’t rely on sound results or music or actors talking the strains the best way you think about them. So there undoubtedly was just a little bit of a studying curve for me. Like, how do I translate what I’m used to writing for animation into panel by panel comic guide issues. So I felt like I acquired good experience doing Turf Wars. And I felt like as soon as I acquired to Ruins of the Empire, I used to be like “Oh okay, I get how to do this now.” So I felt like the first one might have been a bit clunky in some locations because I had by no means written a comic book earlier than. But in addition, my past experience doing storyboarding for animation—I feel like that undoubtedly helped bridge the gap, as a result of I all the time assume in photographs or footage. So I undoubtedly use my writing previous and skills mixed with my inventive expertise. But yeah, it’s a stability. I just try to get a stability so that every web page feels totally different.

BNP: Going again to a number of the first Avatar comics like The Promise and The Search, I know you didn’t write those, however Gene Luen Yang consulted with you guys. Are any of the comics that have come out since then stuff that acquired left on the slicing room flooring from the exhibits, or are all of them stuff that you simply all the time meant to do in another medium?

MDDM: No, I mean when the present ended we didn’t have something that we—I mean beyond like what happened to Zuko’s mother which everybody questioned about (laughs). That was like the one-story factor that we needed to do at some point. It wasn’t like we had plotted out an entire bunch of stuff afterward. It was identical to, this opportunity came up, and Gene brought numerous cool concepts to the desk. We had some ideas about like, “Alright now that the war is over, how do you actually pick up the pieces and rebuild these cultures and society and stuff.” We had basic areas that we might need to discover however there wasn’t a whole lot of story that we had not gotten to in the present that we’d need to do in the comics. However for The Search, that was one we knew we needed to do, however we didn’t need to do it like right after the show ended. In order that’s why we did The Promise first.

BNP: So with Ruins of the Empire, what’s it about Kuvira that made you need to revisit her for this arc?

MDDM: I found her to be one of the fascinating characters we had as a result of she like started out with Su sort of on the great aspect, you would say. And then sort of steered the Earth Empire into a not so great spot. And you saw glimpses of her remorse at the top of the collection. So I simply needed to dig into that more, relatively than like creating—I mean there’s a new villain in this story named Commander Guan. And there’s still extra to do with Korra, we’ve acquired tons to do together with her. But we’re like sort of focusing on Kuvira as the primary character on this story. Korra continues to be the protagonist and out there preventing for stability and all that stuff. However sort of the emotional private story was rather more Kuvira’s in this one. That’s what’s cool concerning the comics too vs. doing the TV present. You possibly can decide one of many aspect characters and it’s now their story.

BNP: I discover that exhibits and films which might be continued in other mediums like comics or novels can typically fall into the lure of just giving the fans no matter they want. I don’t assume that the Avatar comics do this. However I additionally know that is probably not the simplest thing to juggle. So in the spirit of stability, how do you handle to each attempt to make the fans completely happy whereas additionally making an attempt to inform the most effective story attainable?

MDDM: I feel it’s been a challenge with the comics to ensure that every arc or each three-volume factor seems like its personal story and seems like nothing that we did already in the show and it’s exploring a brand new facet of the world or a character. For Ruins of the Empire, that was extra like type of wrapping up some stuff that was left like “What is it gonna look like when the Earth Kingdom actually tries to become a democratic society?” And “What happens after Kuvira gets sent to prison?” Because she has all these private connections with individuals.

BNP: Do you have got a favourite facet of writing the comics that’s perhaps totally different than what you like about working in animation?

MDDM: I mean I’m an enormous reader and I really like books usually. Comics also. So simply having like a bodily factor that I can look at the photographs and see the characters and the word balloons and the whole lot is cool. It’s just a cool medium. I actually like challenging myself to tell tales in several—I mean it’s all storytelling however it’s totally different mediums. You need to work out what does this medium do the perfect that one other one can’t. So yeah, I feel like the comic I assume is a lot more of a private expertise since you’re sitting there with the guide—with the paintings your self.

BNP: Certainly one of my favourite issues to do usually once I read is to attempt to discover a rating that matches the feel of the guide that I’m reading. And with Avatar I can simply throw on Jeremy Zuckerman’s score and I’m good. It’s dope because this music was made for these characters. So holding that comic and being immersed in that music undoubtedly feels personal on the viewers aspect of issues as nicely.

BNP: So here’s a broader query. Out of the exhibits, and all the comics, who’s been your favorite character to flesh out from like the start to now?

MDDM: Zuko is awesome. Because he had a lot of ups and downs. And a whole lot of stuff to study. So he was an excellent character to dig into. And then I like Kuvira too. The characters which might be like—I feel it’s simply extra reasonable when characters do great things they usually do dangerous stuff. Like how do you reconcile that? They’re not identical to all evil or pure evil. Regardless that the Hearth Lord is arguably pretty evil (laughs). Even Aang couldn’t convey himself to—like his answer wasn’t just to identical to kill the guy.

BNP: I’ve all the time beloved how he was so conflicted with that. As a result of all his previous lives and all his associates have been telling him to kill the man (laughs).

BNP: I’m pretty positive you’re aware, but like you understand how like the totally different parts are virtually akin to like zodiac indicators or character varieties now? Like in the actual world? Have you ever seen any of that online?

MDDM: I truly haven’t however I’m not stunned.

BNP: So like for an example, at Black Nerd Problems, every time somebody new starts, they should say what Hogwarts home they’re and what factor they rep.

MDDM: Oh, I see what you’re saying!

BNP: So what out of the 4 parts do you assume matches greatest with who you’re?

MDDM: I’m so Airbender (laughs). And not simply because I have a shaved head. However identical to with trying to find stability and peace. Making an attempt to respect individuals and all of that.

BNP: I feel my mentality is extra Airbender, but perhaps a few of my temperaments are extra along the Earthbending spectrum.

MDDM: Properly that’s the thing, we’ve all obtained pieces of all of it!

BNP: So with the Avatar world being fleshed out as superbly and seamlessly as it is, I used to be wondering in the event you had any ideas for writers that could be making an attempt to construct a world that feels real but may discover the task to be daunting when it comes down to making all the things work.

MDDM: That’s an excellent query. I don’t know if I completely know how one can do it (laughs). I feel my recommendation can be like—whenever you’re starting out, individuals assume like—I’ve gotta work out each rule and every culture or like—simply you assume you need to work out each detail of the world. Like, once we began out, we had to determine the fundamentals. What the magic is, what the individuals’s powers are. The conflicts, you recognize. However it’s extra about who the characters are and why are they in conflict. I really feel such as you need a specific amount of the world-building, however you don’t need—it shouldn’t be the thing that hampers you from writing the story because like you’ll work out that stuff as you write the story, and as you go alongside. And clearly we had different individuals contributing by way of all these years to the mythology but like—you understand even now with just like the Kyoshi novel—the author F.C. Yee, he added like so much new mythology stuff that like wasn’t stuff that Bryan and I have been like, “You have to put this and this”.

MDDM: It’s identical to, you sort of make this cool sandbox, after which you already know, stuff has to like make sense within that sandbox, but so long as you’ve gotten a very good template—it’s virtually like arising with a template. There’s four nations. There’s 4 parts. After which you can start digging in and get extra particular as you develop the present or ebook or whatever it is.

Ruins of the Empire: Part Two hits cabinets on November 12, 2019.

The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire Half One is accessible now! @rightstufanime reviewed it here: https://t.co/eboG4crMTH By Michael Dante DiMartino, @VViiNNG, @lokhelle.

And sure indeed, Part Two is now up for pre-order: https://t.co/sxgl52lC6u #korra @NickAnimation pic.twitter.com/UhhzA3poVl

— Dark Horse Comics (@DarkHorseComics) Might 28, 2019

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