Jeff Matsuda, producer and creative director for “The Batman” animated series and one-time artist of “X-Force,” “Wolverine,” and several titles with Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios, is set to return to comics through new venture, X-Ray Kid Studios. The studio, co-founded by Matsuda, Director of 3D and CFO Mike Christian, Animation Director Brian Wyser, and Art Director (and Liquid! Studios alumn) Aron Lusen, has previously been involved with design projects for Google and other clients, but now they are ready to enter the publishing realm with three new titles, “Big, Little and the 99,” “The Furnace,” and “Orphans.” In an interview with Lusen, Wyser, and Matsuda answering jointly, CBR spoke with the X-Ray Kid Studios team to learn more about their upcoming plans.
“X-Ray Kid was formed while working on a project together at Google. We collectively had a diverse skill set from games, tv animation and comics to film, and we decided to pool our talents and work on exciting and compelling projects together,” the studio members explained. “We define XRK as a transmedia company. We continue to contribute to projects across entertainment disciplines, from comics to video games and animated content. We plan to continue working on our own stories and content. It’s what we have a deep passion and desire to do.” As to whether X-Ray Kid will be publishing independently or in conjunction with another publisher (such as the relationship between Desperado and IDW), they said discussions as to what form their publishing platform would take were still ongoing.
X-Ray Kid’s initial volley of properties will be released first as comics, followed by animation and games. “We also have a few other tricks up our sleeves, but we can’t say anything just yet!”
While the creative teams for the three launch titles have not yet been announced, Lusen and Matsuda will be heavily involved in the production of each. The X-Ray Kid crew did reveal some new details to CBR regarding each series, beginning with “Big, Little and the 99.”
“‘BLn99’ is a story that thrusts two completely opposite characters together and takes them on a fantastic adventure to amazing and wild destinations,” the team revealed. The story centers on a recently-blinded interstellar bounty hunter who finds himself relying on a young human, literally learning to “see through the eyes of a child.” The first arc will be presented as a miniseries, potentially segueing into an ongoing.
“It’s a really fun ride and we cant wait for people to see it,” the Studio said. “We feel the tone of the story will appeal to a broad audience along the lines of a Pixar film, like ‘The Incredibles’ or ‘Finding Nemo.'”
Next up is “The Furnace,” in which master thieves compete in the titular steampunk battleground for an unknown but highly coveted prize. “All that is known at the beginning of the story is that the ‘Prize’ is an artifact of immense value and power. The competition organizer is a shadowy underworld figure, and the nature of the ‘Prize’ is one of the fundamental mysteries of the Furnace,” the Studio told CBR. “What we can say is that characters will drop like flies before anyone gets their hands on it – if they get their hands on it!”
Of the thieves, X-Ray Kid told CBR, the main character is Jonathan Gauge aka ‘The Ghost.’ He is considered to be the greatest master thief, but his ultimate goal is to go legit and reunite with the woman he loves. It seems like a common theme, but Jonathan’s journey will be anything but ordinary.
“‘The Furnace is full twists, turns, and tons of mystery. There is a huge reveal at the end that will stun readers. That’s right, I said, ‘huge.’ Did I mention that readers will be stunned?”
Rounding out the set is “Orphans,” which Matsuda will be penciling himself, starring a super-team composed of a young boy and several possible versions of himself from potential futures. Together they combat a galactic menace that they themselves may have had a hand in creating. “Your parents tell you that you can be whatever you put your mind to. ‘Orphans’ is about exploring some of those possibilities but putting a superpowered metaphor on top of it,” the X-Ray Kid team told CBR. “In real life, you study hard and become a rocket scientist. In our world, you’d become a seventh grader with the ability to build robots that do your homework for you and build your parents a summer home.
“A direct example would be this character from our book, an 11-year-old thief who’s basically a cyber-ghost. He has cybernetic parts that he built to keep him from going to the afterlife. He’s a future version of our protagonist that was the accumulation of a bunch of poor life decisions. Then there’s the 25-year-old version called Tank. He’s the outcome of pouring your time into sports and training regimens. He’s the hulked-out jock version.
“Our 7-year-old protagonist’s name is Ever. He’s in the center of the conflict because he’s the starting point of the story. At age 7, his future possibilities were plucked from him for an intended purpose. He’s the hub, so to speak.”
As to whether these heroes know or suspect who the others are, the Studio told CBR, “They all find out eventually. Ever’s the last to figure it out; he is the youngest after all.”
Of the threat they will be facing, X-Ray Kid said, “Let’s just say there’s something familiar about him.”
Summing up the X-Ray Kid line, the creators said, “We hope fans will enjoy it. We’re really excited about these ideas and the infinite storylines we can explore.”
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