From Suvudu.com - On Monday afternoon, Suvudu.com, Del Rey's online home for all things related to sci-fi, fantasy and comics hosted a live chat with Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, the authors and co-creators of X-Men: Misfits . X-Men: Misfits is an original "shojo manga-remix" of Marvel's mutant superheroes from Del Rey Manga starring Kitty Pryde as the first female student at the all-male Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
Working closely with Del Rey Manga Editor Tricia Narwani and teamed up with Anzu, the artist behind The Reformed (another original manga title from Del Rey Manga), Telgemeier and Roman came up with a totally fresh take on the X-Men universe, filled with action, romance and more than a few surprises for long-time Marvel fans. Like what? Well, how about a very suave Magneto inspired by Project Runway's fashion guru Tim Gunn?
Here's a sampling of some of the choice quotes from the hour-long chat -- but to see the rest of the transcript, go to Suvudu.com or check out the chat widget at the end of this excerpt.
MANGA AND MARVEL COMICS: TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER?
Q: Many people oppose the idea of mixing manga and American comics together. What's your opinion on that topic?
Dave Roman: I've always been a huge fan of both manga and Western comics, not to mention comic strips and European comics. So it's exciting to work on a project that mixes them up. I'm actually a bit surprised when I meet people who like one style of comic and not another; people who dismiss entire genres. There's so much greatness in all forms of comics. I love it all. Except the bad stuff ;)
Q: Dave & Raina, as you've said, you really got the chance to make this your universe. What considerations were there in assembling it? Did you start with your own manga-style concept, or with the original characters?
Raina Telgemeier: We started out just reading as much manga, and as much X-Men, as we could... figuring out exactly what we liked best about each; what kinds of manga storytelling we liked best, what kinds of characters the X-Universe had available... and then trying to figure out how to remix the two.
Q: I'm both a lapsed X-Men reader and a current manga reader -- so I got a good giggle at the little winks and nods you included to both sets of fans in this story.
Dave Roman: This makes me happy! Cuz, yeah I love Easter eggs and little homages!
Q: Out of the many manga you read for inspiration, which ones were those that influenced you the most?
Dave Roman: Of the books I hadn't read before starting the project, think Kare Kano probably had the most direct influence. Ouran High School Host Club was one of those "Holy cow -- this is EXACTLY the type of thing I was imagining!"
Raina Telgemeier: Everything I have written and drawn in the past couple of years has been influenced by Yotsuba&!
REIMAGINING THE X-MEN: SID VICIOUS AS WOLVERINE? TIM GUNN AS MAGNETO?
Q: Which characters didn't you use in X-Men: Misfits that you wish you got to?
Raina Telgemeier: Well, we had Wolverine in the cast in our earliest draft... but, since Wolvie was getting his own dedicated manga from Del Rey, we had to take him out of ours. Too bad, because we were imagining a really cool version of Wolverine for our story....
Dave Roman: We imagined (Wolverine) as an old-school punker along the lines of Sid Vicious. Ironically a character in X-Men: Misfits Volume 2 (who you probably would not imagine) fills that role.
Dave Roman: We lost Wolverine but gained Gambit, which worked out I think!
Q: Is Gambit the guy with the French accent who cooks for Kitty in Volume 1? I couldn't tell!
Raina Telgemeier: Yup! Gambit's the cook. We'll be paying that off in Volume 2. :D
Dave Roman: The first book spends a lot more time with The HellFire Club, but sets up the characters who will really become the X-Men in Volume 2. So Gambit only gets a few cameos in Volume 1 but as Raina said, it pays off more in Volume 2. We planned out both books at the same time.
Q: Did you have a favorite character to work on for X-Men: Misfits?
Raina Telgemeier: It's REALLY hard to choose a favorite. I love Nightcrawler. I also love the Blob! He might be my favorite character, just 'cause he's really different from the previous incarnations of his character. He's a total softie in our universe.
Q: What was it like working with Anzu?
Dave Roman: I enjoy saying I work with an artist in Indonesia who I've never met. It's an example of the futuristic world we live in!
Tricia Narwani: Yeah, the entire collaboration was conducted over e-mail! And yet the collaboration ended up being quite close -- it was a real conversation between Dave and Raina and Anzu.
Q: Did Anzu come up with any particular suggestions / ideas for the characters / stories that made it into X-Men: Misfits?
Tricia Narwani: One of the reasons we loved Anzu for this project was her way with drawing fashion. Dave and Raina provided a lot of visual references for each character's unique style, but Anzu added a lot of gorgeous flourishes to the outfits.
Dave Roman: Anzu brought a lot to the characters for sure! We had rough ideas of how they should look, but Anzu is the one who really defined them. We modified our original ideas to work even better with what Anzu was bringing to them.
Tricia Narwani: (Beast / Hank McCoy) is a good example of the collaboration between Dave and Raina and Anzu: Their description was 'a mix of Go Panda Go!, Totoro, and a werewolf with a Ph.D.' Anzu responded with that adorable design.
Dave Roman: We just wanted Beast to be the type of character you wanted to hug. Anzu went for a badger-type animal, which was brilliant, and gave him that big grin that you see on many (Hayao) Miyazaki characters -- It was one of those things that just made total sense!
Tricia Narwani: I also loved that some of the visual references were of specific people you wanted the 'look' of each character to be based on.
Raina Telgemeier: Yes! As Tricia mentioned, we had a very specific set of ideas for which character would be based on which real-life archetype. We looked at a lot of musicians and actors. For some of the characters, we simply took a well-known actor or celebrity, and told Anzu that was how we wanted them to look. For example, I wanted Magneto to be based on Tim Gunn, from Project Runway!
Let's see if we can give you some more examples. Storm was based on the lead singer of The Noisettes. Nightcrawler was a little bit Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails). Pyro was based on Zac Efron... don't judge! Angel was basically Justin Timberlake, with wings.
Dave Roman: Keep in mind these are ROUGH guideline inspirations; types of people, not literal matches.
Raina Telgemeier: Some of the characters were based on other characters we liked in other manga, though.
Tricia Narwani: Right, Kitty is just a little bit Yuki Cross (from Vampire Knight) but she grew from there into her own brilliantly unique character.
Another cool thing was that many of the characters were members of specific subcultures. For example, Nightcrawler is a Goth, Cyclops is hardcore/straight edge... Could you talk about that a bit?
Raina Telgemeier: I think we liked the idea of the X-Men as outsiders, all of them representing different subcultures that exist in the real world.
Dave Roman: X-Men characters representing different subcultures, people who feel like outsiders seemed to tie in with the mutant themes perfectly, especially in this version where they are all teenagers.
Q: Will there be a hardcore gamer or anime otaku in the school?
Dave Roman: Kitty was originally the otaku/gamer. Not sure if that was a big part of the final script though, But she does play a lot of Nintendo DS (which is a really subtle comment on her powers) and Wii at one point.
COMING IN 2010: HINTS AND TEASERS FOR X-MEN: MISFITS VOLUME 2
Q: Are there any plans of having more female X-Men appearing in the second volume?
Raina Telgemeier: We'll have at LEAST three more female characters in Volume 2.
Tricia Narwani: Yes, we've been reviewing the character designs for those mystery characters. Very exciting!
Q: Is there a tentative release date for Volume 2?
Tricia Narwani: Yes, it's set for Fall 2010. Dave and Raina's script for Volume 2 is done and it's just amazing. We're now working out the character designs for the new characters.
Raina Telgemeier: It takes a LONG time to draw a book that length. It was about a year between each of my Baby-Sitters Club releases, too... and I draw FAST. I can draw about 5 pages a day, when I'm really flying. I give Anzu a ton of credit for working as fast as she does! So, a year to draw a single, 160-page graphic novel is actually pretty quick.
Q: Are any more Marvel properties going to be "manga-fied"?
Tricia Narwani: There are no official plans just yet for more Marvel manga. We've been really gratified by the fan reception for X-Men and Wolverine so far though!
Speaking of reception, New York City-area fans have another chance to meet n' greet Roman and Telgemeier at a X-Men Misfits launch party at Rocketship in Brooklyn. The event is free and open to all, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at 208 Smith Street. I hear there'll be drinks and CUPCAKES served.
And here as promised, is the full transcript of the Monday morning chat on Suvudu.com as it happened! Enjoy!
Image credits: photos - © Deb Aoki, artwork - © Marvel Entertainment, Inc.