Yeah, you could say E.J. Su is the "Blazing Sword!" of the "Voltron" creative team.
Or you could just call him the artist.
Either way, Su's regular pencilling job on Devil's Due Publishing's "Voltron" series, a re-imagining of the popular cartoon, has brought even more acclaim to the series. As part of CBR's spotlight on DDP, CBR News spoke with Su and learned more about how he got attached to the series.
"I'd done couple of issues of fill-in for Devi's Due's 'Micronauts' series last year and that was the first time I worked with Devil's Due. I think I did good enough job on those to have DD bring me back for another project," Su told CBR News. "When I was contacted by DD to work on 'Voltron,' I was so excited, because I am such a huge giant robot fan, and my job is to work on something that was part of my childhood, I don't think a lot people can say that about their own job, so in that sense I was very fortunate."
Voltron fans continually compliment Su for the amount of detail and passion in his "Voltron" art and the artist says that the show resonates with him for very simple reasons. "When I was younger it was the giant robot. I was fascinated by anything robotic. The character interaction is also a big factor. Just like all the 'team' cartoons at the time, the members are always made up of variety and distinguishable characters, it is especially so with the Voltron series. I think young kids can easily identify the characters are a big factor in its success."
Still, Su's love for the series doesn't necessarily make it easy- there are a lot of different environments and types of people to draw, from aliens to humans to monsters, so Su tries his best to make it all real. "One of the first things I wanted to do is make Voltron transformation believable. I try to looked at it from engineer point of view, try to make sure the lion legs will transform and act the same way that the real lions do. For Voltron Lions references I gathered a lot of photos of lioness and tigers, they helped me tremendously.
"One of my weaknesses as an artist, I would have to say it's fashion design sense, so the toughest part of the alien designs are what they wear. Every Druule Kingdom costume should reflect their own culture and somewhat personality. In this area, I look to Gothic fashion and ancient Chinese for inspiration. I've gained valuable experience during the process.
"The easiest part I would say it's the fun factor, especially when I get to put two classic giant robots in a huge brawl. I wish it lasted a lot longer, destroying buildings and stomping on cars along the way. The toughest part is when there were 15 vehicles and five lions showing up at the same time."
While Su is making an impact in American comics, from his work on "Techjacket" to "Voltron," the USA isn't his birth place and that influenced his art style. "I am definitely more Japanese influenced. I grew up in Taiwan, where it was controlled by the Japanese for 50 years, a lot of Japanese culture still stayed with Taiwan. I basically grew up with Japanese comics along with some Taiwanese comics.
"'Astroboy,' 'Doraemon,' 'Microman,' 'MazingerZ,' 'Gundam' and many others combining giant robots such as 'Voltron' were some of my favorite things to read and watch when I was a kid."
Su's in agreement with fans that the basic look of the Voltron mechs and the mythos should be kept the same, but Su would love to cut loose with a creation of his own. "I think the classic Voltron design should be left alone, other than polishing up some minor areas, and make certain spot more slick, I don't want to change it too much, the design is good the way it is. However; I would love to design a different Voltron if that would ever fit into the storyline."
That said, don't expect Su to be badgering series writer Dan Jolley to include his ideas in the series. "I am not involved with the writing at all. I wouldn't want to be involved with the story too much either. I am just another fan waiting to see what happens next. If I were to suggest anything, I would like to see Earth develop some kind of mass production Voltron and goes into war with an army of robeasts."
Still, the burning question with many Voltron fans is simple: could the Power Rangers beat the Voltron Lion Team? "Since Power Rangers supposedly have enhanced ability, they would probably beat Voltron force in hand to hand combat, but when it comes to the robot mode, I think Voltron is a lot better equipped and quicker than those Power Ranger robots. Just draw the blazing sword and the rest is history [laughs]."