Welcome back to The PREVIEWS Party, the blog that looks at the coolest, new comic books and graphic novels available to pre-order from this month’s Previews magazine.
Later this summer, Archaia will be releasing Cyborg 009, a re-imagining of Shotaro Ishinomori’s manga classic. The PREVIEWS Party had the opportunity to interview illustrator Marcus To and colorist Ian Herring about updating this classic tale for a modern audience.
The PREVIEWS Party: For those who are not familiar with Cyborg 009, what is it all about?
Marcus To: Cyborg 009 is about 9 individuals whose lives have been drastically altered and remade for evil purposes and their struggle to take back their lives and find the hero inside them.
Ian Herring: Cyborg 009 is about a group of people taken from around the world and turned into living weapons by an international arms organization called the Black Ghost. They rebel with the help of the scientists and escape the Black Ghost’s control.
The PREVIEWS Party: How did you go about adapting Ishinomori’s style into the modern look you developed for the book?
Marcus To: I really didn’t feel like there was too much to change from the original material; every theme and character personalities are still very relevant today. All I really had to do was pick those themes and characteristics that made Cyborg 009 so successful over the years and add it to my own sensibilities and drawing style. I kept in mind not to overtly push my look onto the book and tried very hard to stay true to the designs and feel that Ishinomori set years ago.
Ian Herring: I referenced one of the more recent Cyborg 009 animes which had clean, bold characters on top of painted backgrounds. The flashback scenes are more textured and are going for a more traditional colored look that I found in some of the Cyborg 009 posters, covers, and other work by Ishinomori such as his Legend of Zelda work.
The PREVIEWS Party: Ian, the original series had color covers, but its interiors were black and white. What was it like bringing this world to life with color?
Ian Herring: Even though the originals were in black and white, there is a lot of Cyborg 009 material that is colored. The characters’ costumes are a great start to any page, and every color is a reaction to those bold reds and yellows that were part of the originals.
The PREVIEWS Party: Marcus, this book has a ton of action, but it also has smaller, emotional moments with the characters. How do you balance those out when drawing the book?
Marcus To: I feel that, with every story, you need that human element to make you care about why the characters do anything at all. The action has no impact if you don’t care about the outcome. Before we even started the script, I talked to FJ about making sure we were on the same page with the emotional moments being a strong part in the book, and I felt with Bradley and FJ’s help, we accomplished a good balance of both action and slow moments that makes this book something that will make this quite different than what’s on the stands right now.
The PREVIEWS Party: What was the collaborative process for this book like between the two of you and with the writers F.J. DeSanto and Bradley Cramp?
Marcus To: I asked to have Ian on the book because of our prior work together on the Flash. We have a really open working relationship where we discuss ideas for how to create the look that both of us want in the book. I have complete confidence in Ian’s skills as an illustrator in his own right, so I don’t usually talk to him about what I want, but we discuss more about how the feel of each scene should be and colour choices to accomplish that. As for FJ and Bradley, they had enough confidence in both of us which allowed us, including Jon, to take their vision and create a look and feel that is something different that stands out on the shelves.
Ian Herring: Marcus and I work across the room from one another. We would consult each other on many of the pages to figure out what was the best approach, artistically and technically. Sometimes, Marcus would have a specific idea and ask the best way to pull that off in colours. We would look over the pages together once completed and see what we could do to push them further. FJ and our editor Stephen Christy would always be ready with the direction they wanted, summed up in a phrase or two which would always be helpful. We all shared a Dropbox where we could reference the finished pages and tweak them as we go.
The PREVIEWS Party: Since this is The PREVIEWS Party, what other upcoming books are you excited for?
Ian Herring: I’m always curious to see what the Turtles are up to next in the main series.
Marcus To: I’m too busy these days to read. 😀
The PREVIEWS Party: Okay, pitch time! Why should everyone run out and pre-order Cyborg 009 right now?
Marcus To: Cyborg 009 will be the purest superhero book you’ve read in a long time. You have the chance to be at the ground level of a rebirth to a classic favorite. The “prettiest” book you’ll read all year!
Ian Herring: A lot of time has been spent making sure this appeals to longtime fans and newcomers alike. Also, it has a cool guy walking away from an explosion within the first 10 pages!
The PREVIEWS Party would like to thank Marcus To and Ian Herring for taking the time to answer our questions. Cyborg 009 is in this month’s PREVIEWS catalog along with a great interview with writer F.J. DeSanto, so make sure that you pre-order it. There is even a special preview issue available in comic shops or on ComiXology. If you want to learn more about the book, check out Archaia’s website.
Until next time, keep reading.
– Jason Enright