SciFi Japan

    Exclusive: Matt Frank Goes Behind the Scenes of Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1

    Gigan and Megalon stir up trouble in feudal Japan in a sample of Matt Frank`s artwork from Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1. Image courtesy of IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.

    Source: Matt Frank Official Site: IDW Publishing Special Thanks to Bobby Curnow


    IDW Publishing Godzilla artist Matt Frank (Godzilla: Rulers of Earth) has offered SciFi Japan readers an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1.

    Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1 subscription cover by Matt Frank. Image courtesy of IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.

    Premiering August 24th, Godzilla: Rage Across Time is a five part comic book mini-series featuring Godzilla and other Toho monsters during different eras of Earth`s history. Each issue is produced by a different creative team, with Matt creating the artwork for issue #1. He also co-wrote the story -- in which Godzilla invades feudal Japan -- with author Jeremy Robinson (Project Nemesis). Matt has kindly shared details on the creative process along with samples of his concept art for the issue... SciFi Japan: How did Rage Across Time begin development, and when was it chosen as the mini-series to follow Godzilla: Oblivion? Matt Frank: Comics seem to move at a pretty breakneck pace... at least the licensed ones do. [Jeremy and I] got the call to submit a pitch back in April or May, which meant we didn`t have much time to get the whole thing in the can if we wanted to be ready by July. Though I`m not privy to the exact details, for us it was damn good timing, since [Godzilla comics editor] Bobby Curnow was just about to start pitching the general concept to Toho for approval! SciFi Japan: With 5 issues by 5 different creative teams, how were details of the project locked down and stories split up? Matt Frank: Well, as I understand it, the comic is structured a bit like [IDW`s 2011 mini-series] Godzilla: Legends. Each issue is pretty much entirely standalone, with the only connecting point being the presence of Godzilla or other monsters from the Tohoverse. However, there IS a potential connecting thread between all of the issues, told from a modern perspective, but I don`t want to give too much away. You`ll have to read the books to find out! As for the individual issues, each team was pretty much free to pitch whatever they wanted. Apparently there was enough material to draw from ("all of known history" is a damn big kettle to dip in to) that I don`t think any toes were stepped on; honestly I was shocked that Jeremy and I were the first and only team to pitch Godzilla in the Sengoku Jidai! But as I said, history`s a big place and there`s certainly plenty of places to go if they wanted to do a follow-up.

    Suda Gorou, the samurai of the Suda clan, is the grumpy hero of the story. Image courtesy of Matt Frank and IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.

    SciFi Japan: How did you get the assignment to do the first issue? Was the general concept/time period something that you pitched to Bobby Curnow, or was that already in place when you got the gig from IDW? Matt Frank: So in a nutshell, Jeremy and I were fresh off making the comic adaptation of his bestseller, Project Nemesis, for American Gothic Press. Now, you may not know this, but Jeremy, like me, might possibly be something of a Godzilla fan (surely you can see the sarcasm dripping from my letters). Godzilla is one of his "bucket list" items for his career, so he and I were kicking around ideas for a Godzilla story that I could potentially pitch to IDW for the two of us. The caveat was, of course, that there was no guarantee here; most licensed comics don`t solicit pitches from creators, at least not regularly. But during an email chain with Bobby about an unrelated project, I slipped in a note that went something like `Hey this writer that I know has an idea for a Godzilla story set in samurai times, think that has potential maybe kinda sorta please?` To my utter surprise, Bobby wrote back and said that a `Godzilla in Time` mini series was being conceptualized and requested that we submit it as a formal pitch! Thus confirming my theory that my entire career is a series of events involving me falling backwards into projects with perfect luck and timing and eventually I will crash and burn into obscurity and die #kiddingnotkidding

    An initial pencil sketch to find the overall look and feel of the final cover. Image courtesy of Matt Frank and IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.
    Concept pitch art to find the look of the interiors of the book. Image courtesy of Matt Frank and IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.

    SciFi Japan: How involved has Toho been with this mini-series? With Rage Across Time different than the traditional Godzilla story, did they have any suggestions or concerns with how the monsters would be portrayed? Matt Frank: Toho`s primary concern has always been the monsters, so naturally, we got a few notes. Stuff like "this monster can`t swim, so you can`t show it swimming," (I`ll let you read the comic to find out which!), but Godzilla himself always tops their list. There was a concern that, without giving too much away, Godzilla himself would appear to be under the power of human beings, something that Toho, rightfully, thinks is ludicrous. Overall though, I`ve been at this for a while now, so we got almost no notes on the art side of things. In fact... I don`t think we got ANY notes once art had been completed, which is something I`m particularly proud of. It`s like I finally know how Toho thinks! SciFi Japan: How did the two of you develop the story for issue #1? Matt Frank: Jeremy`s initial concepts involved a lot of different stuff, but when he suggested the Sengoku Jidai, THAT definitely perked my ears up. When Bobby requested the pitch, I immediately emailed Jeremy in a frantic manner and told him... and then realized that we HAD a pitch, except it was for 5 issues. At this point, the question became `How the hell are we going to get this down to one issue?`

    Akio, Warrior of the Forest, is a folk hero and trained by ninja to fight for the people!. Image courtesy of Matt Frank and IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.

    It is a testament to Jeremy`s skill as a writer that he not only pulled off this feat, but did it in such a way that we didn`t really lose anything. And honestly, my contributions were minimal; he did all the heavy lifting. I just made a few suggestions and helped push and pull the story in certain directions. For example, Jeremy came up with the overall concept and the characters, and I started suggesting monsters for us to use and tweaked the structure a bit. The contribution I`m the most proud of was inspired when Jeremy suggested a cover based on classic ukiyo-e prints such as the works of Katsushika Hokusai. I saw that, and thought `... what if I just did the entire book like that?` I`m proud to say that I think I, [colorists] Paul Hanley, and Goncalo Lopes pulled it off. SciFi Japan: How long does it take you to draw a page or complete an issue? Matt Frank: If I`m drawing and inking the whole thing, it can take a a good 10 hours to complete a page, and a solid month for an entire issue, which I have to try and stick to if I`m doing multiple issues. This book I took a little more time on, since I really had a particular vision when it came to the look and feel of the pages. I poured over the works of Hokusai and Hiroshige (thanks to Paul for lending those reference books to me!) and I think the whole thing came out nearly perfectly. Add to it Chris Mowry`s lettering, which included Japanese sound effects provided by [translator] Toshi Nakamura and you`ve got probably the best singular issue of anything I`ve ever worked on (at least my personal favorite next to Mars Attacks the Transformers).

    Hidden concept art courtesy of Matt Frank and IDW Publishing. © 2016 Toho Co., Ltd.

    About IDW Publishing

    IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro`s The TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE, Paramount`s Star Trek; HBO`s True Blood; the BBC`s DOCTOR WHO; Toho`s Godzilla; and comics and trade collections based on novels by worldwide bestselling author, James Patterson. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints; Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio. IDW`s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Warner Brothers and Barry Sonnenfeld are attached to adapt LORE into a feature film starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot, with Michael Bay`s Platinum Dunes and Sony bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film.

    About Toho Co., Ltd.

    Founded in 1932 and headquartered in Tokyo, Toho Company, Ltd. is one of the leading entertainment conglomerates in Japan. Toho is best known worldwide as the producer of twenty-nine Godzilla motion pictures, based upon a character the company unleashed on the world back in 1954, and masterpiece films directed by Akira Kurosawa. Toho has been the number one distributor of motion pictures in Japan for twelve consecutive years since 2003. The company is also, throughout Japan, the leading producer of theatrical works and one of the largest owners of office buildings and theaters.

    For more information on IDW`s Godzilla comics, please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan:

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