August 23, 2013

SDCC 2013 Part 5! Interview: Bryan Konietzko & Michael Dante DiMartino!


This is it! The final interview of San Diego Comic-Con 2013 and it’s a doozy! Ugh, I’m sorry, I used that word again. Anyways, this time I got to have the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino to talk with me all about the world of bending and what’s going on there and behind the scenes. This one gets pretty heavy in some real interesting ways, let’s get to it.

Comic Attack: How was the Legend of Korra panel?

Bryan Konietzko: It was awesome!

Michael Dante DiMartino: Lots of butts in seats, I think the most we’ve ever. Seemed like everyone there was a big fan of the show so hopefully not too many fans were left outside.

CA: I talked with Gene Yang earlier this year about how The Search doesn’t have any Toph in it and was wondering if we’d be seeing a Toph centric book to even it out?

MD: I’m going to say yes.

BK: I like the idea “Aw man, there was no Toph, WE GOTTA DO A WHOLE SERIES!”

MD: That’s the thing is we gotta focus on this character for this comic. That’s the limitations of the medium is we gotta pick and choose what you want to work on.

BK: Yeah, you can’t give everybody a juicy arc all the time. We gotta highlight one thing and put other things in the background then come back to them later.

CA: I heard a lot of fans saying “But Toph is different!” I guess that’s where some of them stand on it.

BK: We were asked for so long about Zuko’s mom and we finally give it to them and then they ask us “Well now where’s Toph? Where’s the Cabbage merchant?” You cannot please everyone all the time.

CA: Another character people were asking about is Koh, the Facestealer and will we be seeing a return of that spirit?

BK: No, not really, we have enough spirit stuff in both the comics and the show coming up. I don’t think there’s a big clamor for a Koh book.

MD: Yeah, we got so much spirit world stuff to focus on in The Search and Book 2 but it’s not really for him. We didn’t really have much spirit world stuff in the old series and Koh was really one of the few we did so we want to focus on new stuff before we’d go back to him.

CA: Can you give us some information about the spirit world without giving too much away?

BK: You’ll just have to wait and see. The episodes are coming out awesome.

MD: It’s great to see stuff in Republic City that looks all modern and then you have this crazy, fantastical mythical side of things, it’s a cool contrast.

BK: Definitely a contrast with Book 1 which was so urban and 1920s class struggle this one brings in the whimsy from the first series.

CA: I know a lot of people want Pro-Bender video games, any word on that?

BK: We’re not big video game guys but, obviously when we were making Pro-Bending we thought it was a no-brainer. There’s talk, we don’t know what platform.

MD: There might be a mobile game or something.

CA: It’s the only time I’ve heard people demand a game for the Kinect.

BK: People would get so hurt with that!

CA: The recent Tumblr post about race and the show got a lot of positive responses, can we talk about that?

BK: Yeah! I didn’t pay attention to the responses cause I put it out that and said what I had to say. Several people from the show told me it was getting mostly good feedback. With how long it was and how carefully I put it together there was still more I wanted to say.

CA: I know there were a lot of people who would want to read a whole book on your talking about the subject.

BK: I thought I made it pretty clear but I could see how some people if they were really upset with the issue could misconstrue. I think it’s very important that Korra look the way she does, along with all the characters. I think of the movie and that was a portrayal and wrong. All I was trying to say was that before you jump down our throats and try to politicize a still you see out of context you have to understand all the factors and variables that go into how it might appear. Break it down: Taking a picture off the screen, uncolor-corrected footage, adding lighting, all these things.

CA: The best part was you came out and talked about it. So many other films and TV just get quiet.

BK: It’s tricky, with our names attached to that movie, we have targets on our backs. It’s hard to have discussions on the internet cause it’s a lot of people jumping in to attack and taking things out of context and because we’re at a kids network I try to stay out of it, I’m not trying to get into battles with people. I’ve been on Tumblr long enough and I knew it needed to be addressed. It is important to me and I had a lot of feelings about it. I know a lot of people like to malign the social justice warriors on Tumblr but I don’t have a problem with them I’m glad people are calling bad stuff out. You gotta do everyhing with a modicum of balance and empathy and full understanding of what you are attacking. I’m the one who made Korra dark-skinned, it’s important to me. This should be talked about, I’m glad, 15 years ago we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It’s hard to be to be two Caucasian guys talking about this and that makes sense! You have to be cautious and thoughtful when you talk about this. I know we’re going to ruffle some feathers but Mike and I are always trying to do our best.

MD: We created this world to break away from the typical fantasy style.

BK: For me, it’s not like we sat down and said “The good guys are going to have dark skin and the badd guys, like Zuko, will have light skin! In the world we create it shouldn’t matter. You can have a good or bad person with dark or light skin and it doesn’t matter. All the characters are flawed and that isn’t because of their skin. The world is not homogenized, it’s very diverse. That’s irrelevant to who the character is, that’s not the world we live in unfortunately. Like I said in the post, this is longer than people like on Tumblr.

CA: Time for our final question, you’re off to save the day, what dinosaur do you ride in on?

BK: Pterodactyl, for sure!

MD: Bracchiosaurus

BK: I think they pooped a lot.

MD: Pterodactyl is probably better.

Alright folks, that’s it! All the interviews of San Diego Comic-Con 2013 are done! I have to say, this was the wildest SDCC I’ve ever been to, figures with it being my first as press. I want to thank Brian and Michael for talking with me, Dark Horse and Nickelodeon for giving me the chance to do so. Everyone I interviewed and talked to over the convention. So many amazing people to talk to and things to see. There are more conventions coming up so I hope to have some coverage for you then, hopefully much sooner than this was. I want to thank Comic Attack and readers like you for letting me write about my experiences there. I hope you had fun reading these cause I had a blast getting to do them. See you all next time!

Alexander Bustos




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