Thursday, 24 May 2012

Comic book fashion...

... an interview with artist Mario Rojas.

Mario and I do not greet, we are usually quite rude to each other as a matter of fact. This comes from long years of learning way too much about one another, and having lived various embarrassing experiences together. 

** If you know what "LC" stands for, you know we are tight...

LC: What does "Giri" mean?
MR: Giri is a Japanese word often used as responsibility or duty of honor. It is that which drives a samurai or any person of honor to do the right thing uphold the 7 principles of the Bushido philosophy. 

LC: what made you want to start creating comics? And more specifically this (Giri) comic?
MR: A combination of a deep love for the art form, a few drops of talent and a desire to share with readers the kind of stories I wanted out there and could not find in stores.

LC: Tell us about Giri, what is the plot and story line? 
MR: I always try to avoid this question because I find the answer too simple to impress new or curious readers. I guess GIRI is a classic samurai revenge story set in a futuristic westernized cyberpunk dystopian post-apocalyptic world. It follows the self-exiled ronin Ryoku Arashi and his quest to discover and exact revenge on the murderer of his family.

LC: How did you come up with it?
MR: Oh, I knew the ingredients from many years reading similar genres. I just put them together to form a personal recipe I would like to feast on. I sliced it up and set some plates out hoping others will take some and actually find it delicious.
MR:I include futuristic sci-fi accessories like necklaces and bracelets with hovering glow beads, holographic earrings that project any image and photonic tattoos made with bio luminescent ink

LC: How do you get inspired? and how do you keep coming up with more parts to the story?
MR: The beginning and end of the story where written almost immediately. The journey from point A to B is often written by the characters themselves. I know their personality and sometimes they correct me on the plot along the way. Other times is simple day dreaming and fantasizing of things I would have liked to see in other books, movies or comics.
LC: That is pretty cool. :)

LC: Most of the characters are Japanese? Does that mean the costume you chose for them is mostly a Japanese influenced wardrobe?
MR: The main character is of an unspecified western ethnicity who was adopted and raised by a Japanese family in the Japanese Sector of the futuristic city. There is German Sector as well as a Native or Ethnic Sector. But it is not exclusive as much as an Italian person is not forbidden to live in Chinatown.

LC:How did you come up with each characters "costume"? And was it important that it be functional for their characters role? 
MR: This is a very delicate matter. As far as the fashion problems of superheroes go? Things started brewing somewhere around the 1980s when writers started coming up with more realistic or serious story lines and characters. The idea of colorful tights, capes and underpants over your trousers started looking more and more implausible for a grown man to wear in public. I am in no way against classic superhero duds. As a matter of fact I despised the 1990s for destroying the classic look of many of my beloved characters and replacing them with more edgy, space age costumes that simply made no sense (a plethora of pouches and pockets, useless or inconvenient accessories, belts and armors). i.e. Some genius even went as far as attaching a 2-foot long chain to Thor’s hammer. How’s it gonna fly off and come back with that damn thing on it??

But I digress, after much thought I opted to make all costumes in my books appropriate, useful, logical or at least explainable to the situation at hand.
Ryoku, the main character, wears simple clothes that can be worn in the city or mountain where he lives. They are durable and keep his athletic movements unhindered. His trademark trench coat was a little indulgence of mine based on many bad ass characters in other books or movies. The most prominent being Gambit from the X-Men. And even this coat seems pretty useful to him in an urban or rural setting, keeping him warm as well as keeping him cooooooooooool.

The rest of Ryoku’s gang wears costumes of their day to day lives. Kitsune uses athletic wear combined with a martial arts gi and some martial arts protection gear. Toro and Sid tend to wear everyday clothes of motorcycle enthusiasts. Teckie wears a more futuristic trench coat based on fashion trends of the elitist Sector 1 that give a nod to his cyberpunkishness. Tanuki being his sister in more than just genetics but also as part of the cyber-bio-engineering project that created them, also wears a more futuristic look, this is a basic black ops style get-up tailored specifically to work with her abilities.

Other characters wear simply the military uniform adequate to their position in office. These uniforms have been designed based on the simplicity of totalitarian military thinking with some nods to old Meiji Japanese police uniforms. Dassen wears a shoulder pad on his sword arm as means of defense while using his Zweihänder. Although, he probably doesn’t need it considering all his cybernetic upgrades. Probably the guy wears it out of pride for his swordsmanship or just militaristic pomp.

LC: Did Ryoku's costume have anything to do with your "Churro Masticado" jacket? 
MR: "EL Churro Masticado" was a leather jacket, not a trench coat. It is very similiar to the one being worn by Miguel Toro, the tall power house fighter. I've been dying to incorporate it into Giri and make Ryoku switch from his trench coat to a biker bad ass leather jacket. But I think it would take something away from the beloved orangey trench coat look. How would Superman look with a black cape on? Maybe not so bad. But it would take his look away. Maybe some day Ryoku will tatter that old coat enough to switch looks.
It is not uncommon for me to put my clothes on my characters. Dark ended up wearing my black medium length rain coat and Jupiter ended up wearing my washed up black hoodie.

LC: Did you do a lot of research for these costumes, or was this something you came up with on your own?
MR: Mostly I came up with it. The idea is to try and combine every day known or futuristic wear with some classic martial art elements when applicable. I did some research on the things I needed to give authenticity to. The Japanese uniforms. Some biker or martial arts gear and some of Hati’s African fashion choices.

LC: Is it hard to keep all the details the same for all the different parts of a comic strip? How do you manage this?
MR: I keep a digital color palette for each character as well as establish a basic design sketch when I first come up with each one. I also keep a bunch of my own comics around my desk to constantly check for little details my drunken brain may overlook.

LC: So Giri V wasyour last installment of these series. Is this it? or do you have something else in store for us?
MR: Nope. Giri is a seven part story. I still have some loose ends to tie up and the grand finale to deal with. I have also been writing various other scripts. “Dark & Gloom” and “Jupiter Jonze” being some of the most recent which I plan to unleash as soon as good fortune favors me. Both of these have to do with a more contemporary and younger crowd and will involve elements of the occult, horror, magic and mythology.
I am also currently working on an art project called “Kepler” with Colombian artist Jorge Restrepo which explores the “what ifs” of terraforming and colonizing space. I have based the look and fashion of these pieces on 1960s and what ideas they had for the future. It’s been a fun trip down the groovy decade.

LC: If I were a character in Giri what would I be?
MR: I picture you quite well off in Sector 1 with the diplomats and bon-vivants. Although your appreciation of martial arts, heroic sense of justice and obsession with cute pigs would probably make you cross paths with Ryoku’s gang and join forces against the oppression even from your state of the art sky rise abode.
LC: I like that :)

LC: What would my costume be like?
MR: I imagine you would keep a nod of your kung-fu gi and a long sash on to indicate your pride and respect of the martial art you practice. And wear a streamlined high collar Sector 1 leather jacket on top because it offers minor physical protection as well as weather coverage and gives you some pockets for make up or shuriken (laughs) and it just looks cool on! The rest of the gear would be some sort of modern yoga stretch pants with protective lining to prevent muscle wear and tear and some state of the art kung-fu slippers that allow agile kicking and fast unencumbered movement. I imagine you wear the hair in a bun tied behind just like when you work out. 
 LC:  That sounds so cool! I love that description of me! <3
I suppose my Kung-Fu practice does make me character worthy. This was a while back, I have earned my green sash now, which FYI is the 4th sash.
LC:Would you draw it for me?
MR: Most certainly.

"LC" as a Giri Character! LOVES! I think I need this outfit...
 Mario and I <3
Don't forget to check out Honduran Independent Comics: HERE.


  1. Good job, homos! loved the article. it sounded very professional and hip at the same time.

  2. Why thank you dear sir. WE try to keep hip on the daily menu around here.

  3. I love the futuristic blend. Very good article is articles like this that remind me of how lucky n proud of my friends I am. Cheers, homos!