Atlanta is known as the Jewel of the South, the headquarters of Coca-Cola and CNN, and the home of DragonCon. But what the chamber of commerce doesn't tell us is that was also a hotbed for kaiju attacks -- forcing the city to call upon a giant robot piloted by three fearless heroes. But as time passes and memories fade, what happens to the city (and its protectors) when a new threat rises?
That's what cartoonist Wook Jin Clark asks in Megogogo, Vol. 1, due on Feb. 24 from Oni Press. It's a high-octane graphic novel packed with humor, drama, giant-robot action and the perhaps-unexpected menace of the Ku Klux Klan. Here's the official description:
What do you get when you put a washed up loser, an awkward teen going through puberty, and an immortal being into a giant robot? MEGAGOGO, THAT’S WHAT!! A new ongoing graphic novel series from Wook Jin Clark!
After ten years of peace and quiet, monsters have returned to wreak havoc on the South. Adam, along with a rag-tag team of misfits, must defend the city of Atlanta. But first they'll have to get past ... the KKK!
Clark squeezed in some time during the holidays to answer some questions from ROBOT 6 about his influences and process for Megagogo, and his plans for the second and third volumes. Oni Press, meanwhile, has provided us with a preview.
Kevin Melrose: Can you talk a little about the genesis of Megagogo? What were some of your influences?
Wook Jin Clark: Megagogo originally comes from my love for giant robots and Power Rangers! I grew up loving Power Rangers/Super Sentai/Kamen Rider. Those and cartoons like Ninja Turtles and Dinosaucers resonated with me a lot as a kid, and I really enjoyed the different team dynamics that could take place when people with different personalities and backgrounds are thrown into a somewhat fantastical setting.
How did the project land at Oni Press?
I’ve worked with Oni before with The Return of King Doug, and I really like the relationship I have with them. They were actually the ones to push me to do a series of OGNs after King Doug. I was gonna try and do it as a webcomic, but then they said they’d publish it!
What was your work process like? Did you write out the script first and then start drawing, or did you just dive right in with thumbnails and then work from there?
Typically I have notebooks filled with ideas jotted down next to sketches. I will thumbnail out scenes I think are cool and try and figure out a way to work them into the story or combine them, or scrap them all together. I outlined a skeleton of the book first, where I know all the major stuff that I want to happen and points where I want there to be impact, but after that I kinda just let my thoughts go and try and play around and connect the dots in fun ways!
Thumbnailing is actually the most fun part of the process for me, and also the most stressful. I want to make fun layouts that are readable and different. I like that since thumbnails are so rough and take a fraction of time compared to finishing a page, I don’t see harm in spending a lot of time on them even if I end up not using them at all immediately. The nice part is since they are really rough, I can go wild, and not feel bad if I don’t use some that I make. I do the thumbnails by hand in my sketchbooks, but after that part is done, the rest of my process is all digital. I work mostly in Manga Studio now, and use it to pencil, ink, and tone. I finish up the lettering in Illustrator and then wait for final edits and grammar checks.
Giant robots and kaiju are a perfect, logical match-up – but the Ku Klux Klan isn’t exactly a staple of the genre. How did you settle on the KKK as antagonists?
I thought the KKK seemed the most suitable villains for the first book, especially since the story revolves around the South. For some reason in my head, they just popped out as the most interesting antagonist to introduce the world and story and still make it have a feeling of the South. Haha! Also when I first heard the words “Grand Wizard," I just thought that would be really scary to see a giant KKK guy.
Tokyo, New York, Beijing, Sydney – they’re all prime targets for kaiju attacks. So why did you choose Atlanta as the setting for Megagogo?
I’ve lived the majority of my life in the South, and half of my time in Atlanta. I wanted to write about the place I know and love, and I always enjoy reading stories set in the South. Tons of giant robot/monster/kaiju stories happen in the really large cities, but I wanted to tie in some of the local culture and history of Atlanta into the encompassing story that will unfold in later volumes. Atlanta has some interesting secrets, and I think it’s a place that is seen as one of the bigger beacons of metropolitan areas in the South, so why not wreak it.
Have you already begun work on the second volume? What can readers expect in the follow-up?
Yes! I’m working on the second and third volumes back to back to help them flow nicely and hopefully be able to put them out frequently! The second volume will revolve mostly around finding more about what happened to the old team that used to protect the city, and why only one of them is still on the current team. Also high school rivalries and a lot more FIGHTS and giant robot battles!