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SYFY WIRE The Karate Kid

First Look: IDW's Cobra Kai comic re-tells The Karate Kid from Johnny's POV

By Josh Weiss
William Zabka Cobra Kai

IDW Publishing is looking to SWEEP THE LEG with a brand-new comic book series that ties into YouTube Premium's Cobra Kai series. Titled Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues, the upcoming comic is written by Denton J. Tipton (Goosebumps: Horrors of the Witch House) and drawn by Kagan McLeod (Draw People Every Day), and SYFY WIRE has your exclusive first look!

The four-part limited series thrusts readers back in time with a retelling of 1984's The Karate Kid from the POV of that movie's antagonist, Johnny Lawrence. Years later, and the character (played by William Zabka) was expertly transformed into the protagonist of the Cobra Kai series, which sees him facing off against his old rival, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio).

"I would go back and watch different scenes [from the film] multiple times just to get the perfect tone of the scene and I also used the screenplay. I read that extensively," Tipton, who's been a big fan of the first film since the age of eight, tells SYFY WIRE. "I honed in on [those scenes] to get the dialogue [right], because there’s always gonna be some differences between the script and what actually shows up on film, so I had to tweak the dialogue a bit."

IDW provided us with an exclusive interior page from issue #1, which goes on sale everywhere next week. As you'll see, the page recreates the beach bonfire scene from the original film, where Johnny beats up Daniel. Since we're now seeing things from Lawrence's perspective, we get a glimpse into what happened moments before he rode his dirt bike into the middle of the party.

Cobrai Kai comic IDW

McLeod was specifically hired to draw this book thanks to his standout work on 2011's Infinite Kung Fu, which he both wrote and illustrated.

"It’s kind of fun to do stuff that references [the movie]," he says. "Everything played out in the original source material and [we’re] taking it from a different perspective and retelling it. That’s kind of cool. I feel my drawing style came more from MAD Magazine than comics, the movie parodies especially. It’s got a little bit of that kind of look to it ... I love doing likenesses. The characters are established and the audience knows them, so the most fun part was trying to get a version that is my own, but is familiar enough in terms of the physical likeness of the characters. It’s also challenging, too. That’s why I like it — it’s hard. They’re real people, not standard comic characters."

Working with Columbia Pictures as well as the producers on the '84 movie, Tipton was able to build his story from a wide variety of resources, including a number of elusive scenes that never made it into the finished cut.

"I love to research, I love digging into the background of things, and learning how they came to be," he adds. "[As for those cut scenes] I know there’s the 'Blueberry Pie Incident,' which is kind of the famous one because it was in the novelization. Then the novelization had some screenshots from the movie and that part of that scene was in the book, I believe. I don’t even know if it’s on any of the extras on any of the DVDs. I have not been able to track it down."

For some added context, the "Bluberry Pie Incident" is an unused moment in the script where Johnny tricks Daniel into sitting on a piece of pie at the school cafeteria. Yet another brawl breaks out between the two boys when LaRusso smears some of the desert on Lawrence's clothing.

Here's the previously-released front cover for the debut issue:

Cobra Kai IDW comic front cover

Issue #1 of Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues goes on sale next Wednesday, Oct. 9. Cobra Kai was recently renewed for a third season, which is expected to arrive sometime in 2020.