March 31st, 2010

Sad Chicken

Ibuki #1 Commentary

Now that Ibuki #1's been out for a few weeks I thought it might be neat to do a little 'Writer's Commentary' kind of thing. I've seen a few other people do this for comics they've worked on and I've found it fascinating so hopefully people who read and enjoyed the issue will feel the same way. If not, at least I'll have some of my own thoughts about it organized in one place.

Street Fighter Legends:Ibuki #1

PAGE 1: Geki was a ninja from the original Street Fighter video game. Almost nothing is known about him in the official canon. Ken, Matt and I were talking about how we needed some kind of mass threat, the Street Fighter equivalent of 'storm troopers' and I don't remember who suggested it, but expanding the Geki character in to a clan of similar ninjas came up. We ran it by Ono-san (the producer of Street Fighter IV) and it was approved. When I was coming up with the Ibuki storyline and doing research on the character, that Geki clan gave me a good conflict for some ninja vs ninja battle stuff. I hope people like the back story and way it all plays out in issue #4.

PAGE 2: Doing the foreboding bad guy introduction is a staple of action/martial arts movies, so putting this one together was fun stuff.

PAGE 3: Yuta is the young ninja who shows up just for a moment before some of Ibuki's matches in Street Fighter III. He pops on screen for just a handful of frames holding a punching bag that Ibuki hits before he zips off and the match begins. I've fleshed him out a bit as a fellow student. Don-chan is Ibuki's tanuki companion and general comic relief.

PAGE 4: Omar's storytelling and expressions on this series have really been great.

PAGE 5: Sanjou is just a background character who is in Ibuki's stage in the Street Fighter III video game. Without any canon personality to work with, his intense stance and expression in the game gave me ideas to create his demeanour.

PAGE 6: I knew I wanted a cel phone to make an appearance in the story. I didn't realize how fitting it would end up being and how useful a plot device it would be until later on while writing issue #3. It's a symbol of Ibuki's modern ties, a distraction and a temptation. I know so many people use text messaging instead of phone calls, so it's also appropriate and feels teenager-y.

PAGE 7: The crazy dialogue page. Omar rolled with the punch well and Marshall did a great job getting all the lettering in there. I tried to cut sentences here but each line seemed to build well and communicate personality and purpose. Sanjou cares a great deal about Ibuki and lets her get away with things because she's so talented. I wanted him to have a clear sense of authority but also stress that he wasn't enforcing these rules without explanation.

PAGE 8: Establishing that the Glade of Ninjas is secreted away from the city. The Japanese sign says ‘HERITAGE JAPAN WILDLIFE PRESERVE. ABSOLUTELY NO TRESPASSING’. I thought about how Ibuki would be able to get to school and the idea of her secretly vaulting on to the bus amused me and seemed sufficiently ninja-like.

PAGE 9: I indulged in a bit of projecting here. I always spell out my texts with proper grammar and sentences wherever possible. So does Ibuki. :) Sarai is Ibuki's best friend from SFIII who shows up in her ending. Her role in this story has expanded a bit from my original story proposal, which has been nice.

PAGE 10: Here's where I got to indulge my anime tendencies pretty hard. I love cheesy school drama-comedy anime like Kimagure Orange Road, Ranma 1/2 and others so getting to do the cliché "new student makes a crazy intro speech in front of the class" scene kicked ass. It sets up Makoto's personality and motivations right from the get-go. Writing the student banter was also a hoot. Omar drew me beside Sarai in panel 4, looking high school aged with my glasses from back before I got laser eye surgery. Awesome.

PAGE 11: The bento food spells out 'Ibuki'.

PAGE 12: Lunchtime confrontations are another school-based anime cliché I wanted to mix in. It shows that Makoto's not just a big mouth. It also served the purpose of bringing Ibuki and Makoto in to conflict with each other.

PAGE 13: An after school fight? I'm hitting all the clichés hard here, but they're fun and set the stage for more action to come.

PAGE 14: The Geki finally make their presence known and texting comes in handy again.

PAGE 15: Smoke bomb teleportation is a wonderful thing. Between Sanjou using it earlier in the issue and Ibuki popping away here, it's a great ninja device.

PAGE 16: One of the most dynamic pages I've ever seen Omar draw. Note perfect.

PAGE 17: A lot of action to express in one page, all spaced out moment-to-moment in the panels. Omar delivered the goods.

PAGE 18:
"Holy crap, you're a ninja!" Is my favourite line of the issue. Speaking of ninjas, who is this new guy out of nowhere? That won't be revealed until issue #4, but I hope people like it. If you know your Street Fighter continuity it should all work itself out quite well.

PAGE 19:
I wanted to make it clear that Ibuki didn't need this mystery ninja's help. She's no damsel in distress.

PAGE 20:
Things finally slow down and the sun going down echoes the fact that this chapter is coming to a close.

PAGE 21: I originally had it obvious who this fighter was right from the get-go, but Matt (my editor) wisely recommended building it up a bit...

PAGE 22: ...and paying it off with a full page splash of Elena.

The trio of girls all have distinctive personalities which have made writing their interactions a blast.

Hitting the marks of what has already been established as canon for Ibuki by Capcom while crafting a brand new story has been a thrill. The fact that I'm collaborating with Omar, a fantastic artist and close friend, has made that experience even better.

I hope you're looking forward to issue #2 coming in late April.