Many of our viewers should know that the Fresh & Local team are fans of all things comic, animation, and creative. We had the great pleasure to sit down with John Robinson IV, the writer of a brand new comic series called Scorpio. The project is heavily influenced by Zodiac signs/astrology and a variety of martial arts, presenting a diverse cast of characters. In this interview, we'll learn all about John's introduction to the comic world and how this project came to be. We hope you guys enjoy it.
Much respect for sitting down to do this interview with Fresh & Local. First thing, can you let our viewers know where you’re from and how you first got into comics/animation?
What's going, man? I'm from all over. Thank the military. But for simplicity's sake - ATL. And how I got into comics? Whew. Let's keep this brief. From childhood I read X-men and Spider-Man mostly. And then a little later, (despite being too young) Spawn.
Fast forward to 2001. Mom and dad are going out; they leave me at the house with two things - The DVD of Unbreakable featuring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, and the 1984 Secret Wars graphic novel. The movie, which was largely comic book based in theme, was an excellent primer. I watched it like a hawk. Then I binged all the way through Secret Wars in one sitting afterwards. From then? I was hooked.
The writing came later. I'd always written here and there, but I took it up seriously roughly 12 years ago. I studied the art, tried my hand at novellas, novels, and short stories. Finally, the two passions married with one another a few years ago when I decided to tackle writing comic books. Thus, Scorpio was born.
Based on what you can currently share, what’s the premise of Scorpio and where did you get the inspiration for this project?
Scorpio is a story about 12 magically relic that are powered by the Zodiac. When a person of the respective sign holds the appropriate relic, they are granted powers based on it.
The book follows a millionaire named Daniel Shim (26, Chinese-American) who is hiding one of these relics, and some very powerful people are trying to get their hands on it. That's a lot of what issue #1 focuses on, as well as who Danny and his family are.
The inspiration came from my wife talking about the Zodiac - like all the time. But it got me thinking about a story that could revolve around the signs, exploring some of the diverse personalities defined by horoscopes and then putting them parallel to the diverse cultural backgrounds in the world. The cast is pretty eclectic.
The main protagonist in the story, Daniel Shim, practices many styles of martial arts including Jeet Kune Do - created and popularized by Bruce Lee. What made you include that tribute into his character?
Well, like most people, I see Bruce Lee as one of the most innovative and influential martial artists that ever lived. It was his father, Xiao Shim, that believed that Bruce Lee's discipline and determination that Xiao saw as an important lesson to teach all of his children. So he is a decent martial artist, but it's his younger sister, Amy, who is the true expert. Along side Jeet Kune Do, she practices at least five other styles, and is a national champion in her age group.
Another character that intrigued us was Naomi Miles. With the recent success of comic franchises like Black Panther, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, etc. it seems that there’s a growing demand for strong African-American heroes. Can you share a little bit of insight on how important it is for IVWall to present diversity as a company?
Like I said earlier, the whole book is based around organically implementing diverse cultures. These relics, historically, were placed all over the world at the beginning of everything. They raised and razed kingdoms. It only makes sense that they fall into the hands of all different types of people.
Naomi specifically is important because there isn't a reason for her to be black, white, or whatever else. She just is. She just happens to be the person in this situation. And I think it's important that diverse groups don't be used just for the advancement of plot or to better the conditioned default. I think that, like the default, they should be used just because they are as naturally occurring as everyone else.
Everyone wants to be seen in the different forms of media we ingest and that's why it's important for Naomi to be a naturally occurring black woman in a story filled with magic and supernatural aspects, and to be portrayed as more than eye candy or love interest.
The Kickstarter campaign for Scorpio recently launched, do you have a prospective date for when the first official volume will be available to the public?
Well, the first issue is in the works. Digital versions of the comic will be sent out to backers very soon after the campaign ends. The first volume will be composed of issues #1-3 and that really depends on production. While #1 is complete and ready to go, and several more issues are written, those that follow the first issue still have to be drawn. So, issue #1 ships by itself in a few months or less. The first volume? Containing #1-3 collected? Well that may be about year and some change. But I'm shooting for faster.-------------------------------------
To back the Kickstarter campaign for Scorpio, visit scorpiocomic.com and be sure to follow John Robinson IV on Twitter (@IVWall)