Inside I Kill Giants Co-Creator Ken Niimura's Latest Comic, Umami

I Kill Giants arrives in theaters this weekend, based on the 2008-2009 Image Comics series from writer Joe Kelly and artist Ken Niimura. Kelly himself wrote the screenplay, and the film has attracted critical praise, with an 87 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday evening.

Currently, Niimura is focused on Umami, an ongoing digital comics series published by Panel Syndicate. Here's the official description: "Uma is a cheerful and determined girl from a remote village, who always has an amazing dish ready to solve any problem… if only she wasn’t such a disaster. Ami is the future king’s chef, stickler and extremely proud, whose aim in the kitchen is to achieve the best taste following traditional techniques and recipes. Despite their many disagreements, together they are an explosive team and no obstacle stands on their way. But how could anybody imagine that the destiny of the entire kingdom would depend on their culinary skills…?"

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CBR has a peek behind the curtain with a look at Niimura's process art for Umami, along with comments from the writer-artist.

These are some of the earliest designs, when the main character was actually just one cook called "Umami."

"After I Kill Giants, I wanted to continue putting the spotlight on my favorite characters: underdogs," Niimura said. "And cooks are exactly the kind of characters that would usually be in the background in any high fantasy story. What if for once, cooks were the ones that saved the world?"

"In the process, I thought making her smaller would help make her more expressive and reflect her struggles with her environment."

"Umami is the story of a kingdom in trouble, and two cooks that use their culinary skills to save the day. One is a traditional and rigorous chef, while the other always has an amazing dish ready to solve any problem. Together, no problem can stop them."

"I decided to make 2 main characters, as it's help make interactions more fun, and would be a better way to split the conflict between the rational and intuitive sides I was trying to work with. Since Uma's design was almost set, these were different versions of Ami to see which one would work better."

"It's an ongoing series on Panel Syndicate inspired by the comics that made me love this medium, stories that were weird, crazy and fun, but also moving and inspiring. It's mainstream entertainment but also very personal."

"The final versions of both characters, with some studies on their expressions and outfit."

Umami #5 is now available via Panel Syndicate.

"Uma and Ami, ready for action!"
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