Wednesday, December 25, 2013

'80s Anime Icons Collide! The ROBOTECH / VOLTRON Crossover Is Finally Here!

Two iconic worlds from classic anime are set to collide this week with the highly anticipated and long awaited release of the ROBOTECH / VOLTRON crossover hitting comic book store shelves. The five-part series from Dynamite Entertainment sees two of the most iconic mecha cartoons from the '80s sharing the spotlight in a epic story written by Tommy Yune.



Allowing these two properties to co-exist in one universe obviously means setting the story outside of their respective canon timelines. First things first: This crossover involves the Lion Force VOLTRON (sorry Vehicle Force) and the MACROSS SAGA of ROBOTECH (MASTERS and NEW GENERATION will have to wait their turns). The cover of Issue One reveals that Roy Fokker is still alive and kicking (with a bit of a Captain Harlock look to him wearing a Skull Squadron eye patch), and has the Black Lion sporting the Robotech Defense Force symbol and armed with Veritech weaponry. A preview of the issue's first few pages also reveals VOLTRON's Galaxy Alliance has characters from ROBOTECH as members.




What else can we look forward to seeing? Zentraedi and Robeasts up against Voltron and the SDF-1? Rick Hunter butting heads with Commander Keith? Space Lions and Veritechs fighting side by side? Will Max Sterling at some point pilot one of the Lions?



Here is what Dyanmite has to say about the cross-over:

"TWO OF THE GREATEST ANIME LEGENDS OF ALL TIME ARE ABOUT TO COLLIDE IN ONE EPIC SAGA! THE LION FORCE TEAM FACES THE RETURN OF A MYSTERIOUS ANCIENT ADVERSARY THAT COULD JEOPARDIZE THE VERY EXISTENCE OF VOLTRON ITSELF. THE REPERCUSSIONS THREATEN TO REACH ACROSS THE FABRIC OF TIME AND SPACE, ALL THE WAY TO EARTH. HOW WILL ROY FOKKER AND THE SKULL SQUADRON COPE WITH SUCH A NEW MENACE, ESPECIALLY WITH THE ZENTRAEDI LOOMING OVER MACROSS ISLAND?WHAT OPPORTUNITIES WILL KING LOTOR PURSUE IN A CRISIS LIKE THIS?"DURING THE PACKED ROBOTECH / VOLTRON panel presentation and Q&A at New York Comic Con in October, the creative forces behind the series promised a return to an edgy anime look, and adherence to three of VOLTRON's popular M's: Mecha, Mullets, and Mice.



After the joint panel at NYCC wrapped, I caught up with Jeremy Corray, VOLTRON's Creative Director and Rob Koplar, the Vice President of World Events Productions. In addition to some good old fashion geeking out, we talked about this groundbreaking team-up.



QUESTION: Tell me how this amazing team-up finally came to be.



CORRAY: IT'S SOMETHING WE TALKED ABOUT DOING FOR SEVERAL YEARS AND IT JUST SEEMED TO MAKE SENSE. THEY KIND OF COME FROM DIFFERENT SOURCE MATERIAL, DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS, AND WE'VE GOT THESE ROBOTECH FANS OVER HERE AND THESE VOLTRON FANS OVER HERE. YOU BOTH SHARE THIS APPRECIATION FOR JAPANESE MANGA AND ANIME. LET'S SEE WHAT HAPPENS AND WE CAN BRING THEM TOGETHER. WHEN TOMMY [YUNE] TOOK A LOOK AT THE TWO STORY LINES, I THINK HE'S REALLY FOUND AN INTERESTING WAY TO BLEND THE TWO WITHOUT HAVING IT TO BE FORCED. BECAUSE I THINK THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS, AS TOMMY ALLUDED TO, IS WE DON'T WANT THESE STORY LINES TO BE FORCED. HE'S REALLY FOUND A NATURAL WAY TO BLEND THEM TOGETHER. IT'LL BE REALLY AN INTERESTING STORY THAT UNFOLDS THERE.



KOPLAR: AND REALLY GIVING FANS THAT THROWBACK. SO HE'S GIVING THEM THAT, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE COULD IMAGINE IT ONLY ON THE PLAYGROUND. "WAIT A MINUTE. WHAT IF TWO OF YOUR FAVORITE SHOWS MASHED UP TOGETHER WOULD BE LIKE? SO I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THOSE MOMENTS, THOSE BIG MONEY COVER MOMENTS THAT WE WANT TO SEE: VERITECH FIGHTERS TAKING ON ROBOT LIONS.



QUESTION: You obviously had to do some creative rewriting to make it all work. Were there certain rules you had to adhere to or was it an open field for anything?



KOPLAR: TOMMY AND I JUST HAD VERY INITIAL CONVERSATIONS. WE WANTED TO FIND THAT ENTRY POINT. WHAT WAS THAT EVENT HORIZON THING THAT HAPPENED THAT COULD REALLY CHANGE AND DO THIS KIND OF ALTERNATE UNIVERSE THING? AND PLAY A LITTLE BIT OF 'WHAT IF?' YOU KNOW? AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING HERE. WE FOUND THAT IN AN EPISODE OF VOLTRON. I SAID, "WELL, YOU KNOW I MENTIONED THIS EPISODE ABOUT THE CAPTIVE COMET." AND NOT TO GIVE IT AWAY, TOMMY'LL KILL ME IF HE HEARD THAT, WHERE THE VOLTRON FORCE WAS NEARLY KILLED AND REALLY TAKEN TO THE BRINK OF GOING BACK TO THAT ENTRY POINT IN THESE TWO UNIVERSES WE'LL SLICE TOGETHER. SO IT'S JUST COOL TO SEE THE BLACK LION ALL DONE-UP LIKE A VERITECH. I THINK HE'S GOING TO DELIVER.



QUESTION:Looking at the cover art, you can see the Black Lion is wearing the the Robotech Defense Force symbol.

KOPLAR: YEAH. AND WITH THE BOOK YOU ALSO GET TOMMY YUNE'S TAKE ON THE VOLTRONUNIVERSE. SO, AS YOU SAW WITH KING LOTOR UP IN THIS KICK-ASS ZARKON COMMAND SHIP, HE'S REALLY HE'S TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THIS TIME TO PLAY IN OUR SANDBOX TO KIND OF FLESH OUT SOME OF THE 'WHAT IF'S?' AND, KING ALFOR YOU SAW WITH THE BLAZING SWORD. SO HE'S GOING INTO THAT A LITTLE BIT TOO AND KIND OF THAT SHAKESPEAREAN POWER PLAY THAT GOES ON. I THINK YOU'LL BE HAPPY.



CORRAY: I mean a lot of times it's tough with intellectual properties, right? Because everybody's very proprietary about whose rights go where, and it's like 'Oh, you know this is our turf, and this is their turf,' and then on the business deal, each party has to give a little something. I mean because any time you attach property to something there's typically royalties involved. So most companies, when you do something like this, it's typically out of passion, just out of 'We want to see this happen!' It's not about money because both parties give a little. I think it was our relationship with Harmony Gold that really allowed this to happen.



QUESTION: What was it like seeing the first finished panels with these iconic characters together?



CORRAY: YES, IT'S SOMETHING I DIDN'T THINK I WOULD EVER SEE, BUT IT'S INTERESTING. WHEN YOU SEE IT, IT'S VERY IMPACTFUL. YOU KNOW, YOU SEE THE ROBOTECH NEXT TO VOLTRON AND THERE'S SOMETHING HARMONIOUS ABOUT THAT, YOU KNOW? IT'S SOMETHING NICE ABOUT BEING ABLE TO PLAY IN EACH OTHER'S SANDBOXES, AND WHEN YOU HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER, IT CAN WORK.

KOPLAR: AND THEN JUST TO SEE THE PARALLELS BETWEEN SOME OF THE CHARACTERS. BETWEEN OUR CAPTAIN KEITH AND RICK HUNTER AND THINGS. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY MEET UP? SO, WHAT TOMMY'S DOING IS REALLY UNRAVELING AND HE'S NOT GIVING ALL THE ANSWERS AWAY. IT'S REALLY GONNA BE A DRAWN OUT STORY WHEN THE BOOK DOES DROP IN DECEMBER.



KOPLAR: IT FELT LIKE GOING UP INTO YOUR CHILDHOOD BEDROOM AGAIN, AND YOU'RE LIKE, "YES, THIS IS LIKE THAT UNDISCOVERED CLOSET THAT ALL YOUR TOYS WERE IN, AND YOU'RE PLAYING WITH ALL YOUR TOYS AGAIN. EXCEPT THEY HAVE THIS NICE, NEW, FRESH COAT OF PAINT, YOU KNOW?BUT AFTER SOME OF THE REINTERPRETATIONS OF THE LAST DYNAMITE BOOK, WHICH WAS EXCELLENT, PARTICULARLY IN THE WRITING DEPARTMENT, I THINK FANS ARE READY FOR A REAL KIND OF THROWBACK. SOMETHING THAT FEELS LIKE WHAT THEY KNOW AND LOVE.

QUESTION: So when you're in the creator's room, are you and Tommy banging heads on 'Who would win?" scenarios like Lion versus Veritech, SDF-1 versus Voltron, and so on?

KOPLAR: WE MAINLY THUMB WRESTLE A LOT FOR IT. (LAUGHS) THIS IS PART OF AN INITIAL LINE THAT DYNAMITE WILL BE DOING MORE ROBOTECHCOMICS. SO WE UNDERSTAND AND WANT TO KIND OF HELP DYNAMITE KICK-OFF THIS PROJECT TOGETHER IN A BIG WAY. SO YOU KNOW WE CAN SEE THE TITLE FOR ROBOTECH. VOLTRON WILL PLAY A BACKUP BAND FOR A LITTLE BIT THERE JUST TO HELP KIND OF LAUNCH OUR FRIENDS THERE. SO IT'S BEEN IN THE WORKS SINCE 2005.

KOPLAR: WE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER AND WE CAME VERY CLOSE TO DOING IT AS A TEAM AT THE END OF LAST YEAR. IT'S JUST THAT YOU DO FIND A LOT OF CROSSOVER IN THE FANS. AND THAT FANS WHO MAYBE HAVEN'T GIVEN VOLTRON A LOOK IN AWHILE COME BACK TO IT. AND THE SAME WITH ROBOTECH. I'M JUST LIKE TOMMY, WHO'S GOING BACK AND RESEARCHED A LOT WITH GOLION, I'M REDISCOVERING ROBOTECH, WHICH WAS ALWAYS ON IN THE MORNINGS AND I KIND OF KNEW IT. BUT AGAIN, LIKE TOMMY WORKED WITH VOLTRON SO MUCH THAT I'M THE VOLTRON GUY. SO, I'M JUST ENJOYING THE HELL OUT OF RE-WATCHING SOME OF THESE EPISODES. AND JUST THE APPRECIATION FOR THE ANIMATION AND THE KICK-BUTT ACTION THAT JUST I'M LIKE, "WOW. I REMEMBER THIS NOW AS A KID." SO IT'S BEEN A REAL THRILL FOR ME.AND A BETTER UNDERSTANDING TOO OF THE INFLUENCE THAT ROBOTECH HAD ON JUST ANIME CULTURE AS A WHOLE, AND I UNDERSTAND NOW ROBOTECH'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE CULTURE IN ADDITION TO BEING A GREAT SAGA.



QUESTION: Did you find yourself at any point going back the source material?As in MACROSS or GOLION?

CORRAY: Sets of fans that are kind of colliding because, you know, Voltron was more of a kids show, really. Robotech was more adult-focused and a little bit more mature. With the story lines, and maybe GoLion, the source material is pretty dark. Themes that are way age non-appropriate for this six to twelve year old market that Voltron was going after. But, you know, they're there in the Voltron version kind of below the surface. But we didn't focus on them in the US version. When you get a little older you see on the internet and stuff like that, the GoLion version is extreme, or extremely violent.



KOPLAR:I've stuck to Robotech, but I would love to check out Macross, it looks totally awesome, I was seeing all the continuations being done in Japan. Just like, "Wow, when are we gonna get those over here?"That's just, you know, that's really kick-butt stuff.So it sounds like things are always in the works over there.They have their live-action movie, we have our live-action movie. So parallels between the two companies, you know. They're in real estate, diversified and stuff, and then, as are we. It's just kind of a natural mash-up, one that I think is, as you saw in the artwork there just great to see Voltron back in that kind of manga form. It feels right.



Issue #1 of ROBOTECH / VOLTRON hits comic book store shelves and tomorrow (yes, New Comic Book day falls on Christmas Eve this year).

You can also catch a five-page preview .

I will have a follow-up post with news about the big screen plans for VOLTRON as well as what we can expect in the future in regards to the exciting news of DreamWorks Animation's recent acquisition of the series!
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