The age of self-publishing has witnessed a surge of original content from artists around the world paying tribute to the franchises and genres they love. One of the more shining examples available now is the recently published indie comic Primal Warrior Draco Azul.
Featuring professional-level artwork (and a cover drawn by Jeff Zornow, who has some experience with kaiju due to his work on Godzilla: Rulers of Earth), Draco Azul tells the story of an ancient robot who protects the citizens of Mexico from a plethora of kaiju attacks. Fans of Japanese monster movies and the giant robot subgenre will definitely want to check this out.
SYFY WIRE recently sat down for a chat with creator Andres Perez to gain some insight into this splendid little publication.
Can you talk about the history of Draco Azul? What inspired you to create this character, and how did you go from having an idea to publishing a full-fledged comic?
It all started in 2013, when Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim came out. Del Toro's movie really touched me on a personal level, since it was this huge, passionate love letter to giant robots and giant monsters and I, too, am a fan of giant robots and giant monsters. After seeing his movie and watching interviews in which he talked about his inspirations (Mazinger Z, Tetsujin 28, etc.), I became inspired to look even deeper into the giant robot manga/anime subgenre and create something of my own.
The following year, I came up with this concept of a blue robot (blue happens to be my favorite color) with an aesthetic modeled after the art style of artist/writer Go Nagai, who was behind Mazinger Z as well as Gaiking. My friend Dillion McCandless helped me work out some designs and illustrations, and I named my character Draco Azul. He became something of a "mascot" for me, if you will.
Originally, Draco Azul was just going to remain my "mascot." But as time went on, I started toying with the idea of creating a story for him. Two more friends of mine, Christopher Martinez and Jonathan Clode (the team behind Night of the Fire-Beast), gave me the idea of realizing Draco Azul's story in the form of an indie comic book. Jonathan, who, by the way, was also involved in the Eisner-nominated comic To End All Wars, showed me the ins and outs of comic scriptwriting. And through his guidance, I learned enough to write a full script.
Eventually, I acquired help from a team of fantastic and super-talented artists, and together we were able to make this comic of mine become a reality.
Now, the story of Primal Warrior Draco Azul is set in Mexico. Why did you choose this location? Why not Japan or New York or the usual stomping grounds for giant monster fare?
It kind of adheres to the idea of "write what you know." I come from a Mexican-American background, so I thought it would be interesting and worthwhile to put some of my own cultural heritage into my comic — and thereby share my cultural heritage with others. I wanted to portray Mexico and Mexican culture in a more positive light than what we usually see in mainstream media. I didn't want the images to be tinted orange like you often see in movies; I didn't want the characters to wear tattered clothes or consist of stereotypes like mariachi players; and I certainly didn't want Draco Azul himself to resemble a "Mexican" robot, like, say, Tequila Gundam.
Continuing with that idea, I primarily set the story in Mexican locations that don't often get shown in media. The action of Issue #1 mostly occurs in big, cosmopolitan cities like Cancun and Acapulco (there's much more to Mexican civilization than dusty farming communities in the desert). And in establishing Draco's past, I drew a connection to the Mayans, as that's such an integral part of Mexican history.
In Issue #2, we'll be moving away from the cities and into small but still colorful towns, but my goal from the start was to show rarely seen, real-world Mexican locations as they actually are—and in the best way possible.
Did you draw upon Mexican mythology when creating the monsters that Draco Azul fights?
Not really. With the exception of the flashback scene where you see Quetzalcoatl and the Chupacabra, the monsters come from my own imagination and were mainly inspired by Western and Japanese media. For example, Tsuburaya's Ultraman franchise has all these monsters that seem to be patchworks of different animals thrown into a blender, and since the kaiju in my comic are alien in nature, I found it appropriate to take a similar approach and just make them bizarre and otherworldly. And in the case of the main antagonist monster from Issue #1, he's something of a mix of the Gill-Man from Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) and the Kraken from Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans (1981).
Needless to say, I was also heavily inspired by the Godzilla series and tried to emulate that same sense of power and ferocity as the monsters wreak havoc.
As for Draco Azul himself, one of his most noticeable characteristics is the big red scarf which he can use as a weapon in battle. What inspired this design choice?
The basic idea for the scarf came from Ken Ishikawa's manga series Getter Robo and one of the animated series adapted from it. One of Getter Robo's most unique traits is his cape, and in the anime Getter Robo: Armageddon there's this scene where Getter Robo uses his cape like a lasso against an enemy robot. I thought that sequence was really cool, so I decided to give Draco Azul a similar weapon. As for envisioning the scarf as well as its use and abilities, I drew further inspiration from things like Cyborg 009, The Shadow, Spawn, and Strider Hiryu. From all of this, I got the idea of a red scarf which trails behind Draco Azul as he moves, which can actually move on its own (like in Spawn), and which can be used as a weapon against enemies.
The cover for your comic was drawn by none other than Jeff Zornow, whom kaiju fans know for his work on Godzilla: Rulers of Earth. How did you get Zornow to illustrate the cover for your comic?
I mentioned Christopher Martinez earlier. He's friends with Jeff Zornow and not only suggested Jeff to draw the cover but also put me in touch with him. And much to my delight, when I asked Jeff if he would be interested, he immediately said yes. He was very enthusiastic, very professional, and very easy to work with. Provided his schedule allows it, I look forward to working with him again in the future.
How many issues will there be in total, and when can we expect Issue #2?
Tentatively, there will be eight issues. As for the second issue: As of the time of this interview, we are currently at the coloring stage. After that's done, we will move on to lettering and formatting. My hope is to have the second issue complete and ready to purchase either before or during the spring of 2020.