The long-running fighting game Tekken is re-entering the realm of comic books in a new miniseries by Cavan Scott and Andie Tong. Scheduled to debut this week from Titan Comics, this first - of several planned by the creators - stories will focus on the Mishima clan and work outside of the game's King of Iron First tournament.
Unlike the Tekken comic books published elsewhere (including a short run at Image Comics), Titan's Tekken title is set squarely between the Tekken 6 and Tekken 7 games. Newsarama spoke with Scott and Tong about the series, the characters they are focusing on, and how they're bringing this iconic 3-D fighting game accurately to comic books.
Newsarama: Cavan, what’s the one word you’d use to describe this Tekken title?
Cavan Scott: Power. It’s the story of a family's power struggle, not only over each other but over their own destiny. It’s about three people who have been locked in conflict all their lives, and how they think they can get out of it, either by defeating the others once and for all, or by finding a way to permanently remove themselves from the fight. And it’s about the others who get pulled into the feud, whether they want to or not.
Andie Tong: This Tekken miniseries is shaping up to be rich with character development and history. Like the games, it is not simply a fight/revenge story but so much more. It's about family, power and betrayal, broken alliances and consequences, spanning from two decades of storyline which is drawn deep from the Iron Fist Tournament's history and culture. I hope we will get to touch on each character eventually, but I guess it will really depend on the fans. I hope that we can continue to tell the stories that audiences want to see told.
Scott: At the heart of it all there’s a quest for something from Tekken’s past that the main players believe will give them the edge, one way or another.
Of course, one of the challenges with this is to do a story that isn’t based around a King of Iron Fist Tournament, the fighting championship that the games themselves are based around. We needed to find something that pulled all the characters back together, a catalyst. Plus, I wanted there to be real character motivation behind everything, not just a series of fights. Although, trust me, there are fights. Lots and lots and lots of fights. This is Tekken after all!
Nrama: Who would you say are the central characters of this?
Scott: As with most Tekken stories, the miniseries centers around the Mishima clan, taking in all three main generations, from Heihachi, through to Kazuya and Jin. However, we’ve brought in a lot of the other Tekken favorites along the way, who ally themselves to the warring Mishima factions. Some are as you’d expect - assassin Nina Williams and her sister Anna have allied themselves to Jin and Kazuya respectively, for example - but others may come as a surprise. And we’re bringing back at least one character from the early Tekken games who hasn’t been seen for a while...
Nrama: Which characters are you most interested in drawing?
Tong: I love drawing all the classic characters, from the Mishima Clan to the supporting characters. Nina, Anna and Paul are pretty much staple essentials for drawing the Tekken series. I'm still waiting for my chance to draw Marshall Law, who is the first character I ever picked to fight with, at the start of my gaming experience with the franchise. I'm anticipating an almost comical reunion when Cavan tells the story of the relationship between Paul and Marshall. I'm looking forward to drawing that scene. I hope too, that Jun Kazama will make an appearance somewhere down the line. There is forbidden storyline to be told there, that I hope we'll get a chance to explore it.
Nrama: Are there any which you think will be particularly hard to draw?
Tong: Yoshimitsu's armored design from Tekken 6 is pretty complicated to draw. I wasn't looking forward to that but was psyching myself up to take on the challenge. To draw this intricate concept panel upon panel would have been a monumental task. Bandai Namco thankfully told me to go with the Tekken 7 alien design which ditched all the armor detailing for a more organic alien form. I think Yoshimitsu's look has been the most diverse when you look back from when he first started to what he looks like now. I would love to be able to dive into why he looks the way he looks from change to change. For me, Yoshimitsu's design from Tekken 2 and 3 was the ultimate iconic look and I hope I will get to tell a story and draw some of this great conceptual look from the past.
Nrama: Is this in continuity or tied into any of the specific Tekken games?
Tong: I believe that I will be illustrating with the look and feel mainly from the Tekken 6 game. Cavan and I will start to introduce elements from the Tekken 7 series to tie everything back to the game. Bandai Namco has been great to work with and thus far, they're pretty flexible if I need to introduce a slightly different look for a particular character as long as they don't stray too far from the game design.
Scott: We follow on pretty much where Tekken 6 left off, but want to make sure that it’s a good jumping on point for people who either have never played Tekken or haven’t seen a game for a while. The continuity will be handled in a way that you can quickly catch up with what’s happening. And as I said, there will be elements from the previous games, but again all will be explained. Hopefully there will be something there that will please fans young and old.
Nrama: What do you think makes Tekken unique?
Scott: For me it's the characters. I love the fact that even with the ongoing story of the Mishima’s feud, the other fighters all have their own motivations and stories that flow from one game to another. I’m hoping that if I get chance to write more Tekken then perhaps we can start exploring those stories, bringing the secondary characters to the fore. The other main challenge has been trying to get as many characters into the story as possible without overloading the plot. Since it’s been announced, I’ve had loads of tweets from fans saying “I hope such-and-such character is in it.” Obviously, we could get everyone in - it’s a massive cast to play with. But I’m making notes of the characters that people are asking for, just in case...
Nrama: How are you going about trying to replicate the iconic fight styles seen in the games?
Tong: Thank God for YouTube. As much as I've played the game since 1994, I, like many others, have only chosen a select few favorite characters during gameplay. So I've had to research videos on each character's fight moves to make sure I get at least the basics looking right. As most fans know, each character comes with his/her own distinctive fight style and with the age of internet, it's been easier to reference than ever before. Some fans and even official sites will take the time to upload lists of fight moves for each character. I will then time consumingly sift through the videos to make sure the posture and kick or punch are properly presented in the comic.
Scott: Absolutely. I’m referencing signature moves in the script, and I know Andie has loads of ideas of how to flow them onto a comic page. One of the best things about doing this is that I get to go back and play the old games all in the name of research. I’ve even broken out my old PSP with Tekken 5. It comes with me everywhere I go at the moment. It’s work I tell you. Work.
Nrama: What do you think Andie's art style will bring to the series?
Scott: As Andie has said previously, we’ve both been researching this comic since 1995. We’ve both played Tekken since the beginning, and Andie is a super-fan. He knows these characters backwards, and his style is so fluid and dynamic. He makes the fights really pop. And the detail! You wait until you see the pages. The lace on Anna’s dresses is so intricate, and then there’s the G Corporation soldiers' body armor and the vehicles Andie’s designing, and the locations… I could rave on and on about his work. They’re going to be pages to lose yourself in.
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals for Tekken?
Scott: I want this to be the first step in a wider Tekken comic universe. There is so much to explore beyond the King of Iron Fist Tournaments. As I said, we’ve got a huge cast each with their own story, and relationships that literally go back decades. I’d love to come back and tell their stories and perhaps explore new parts of the Tekken world we haven’t seen before, building on the mythos.
Tong: Well, if the series runs long enough, and I hope it does, I would love to explore each character (and new ones that come up from game to game) with their individual storylines, and hopefully hit a sense of purpose into what drives them to fight in these Iron Fist Tournaments. I would hope for the comics to be so intertwined with the canon of the game, that fans would reference the comics to get more out of each character's storyline.