Koh Kicks Back And Communicates About Korra
Mar 02, 2017
by Vince Brusio
Irene Koh has the distinct pleasure of illustrating The Legend of Korra for Dark Horse Comics, and with the upcoming release of The Legend of Korra Volume 1: Turf Wars TP (FEB170063) we were able to get an exclusive interview with Irene to ask about her impressions of working on the property. Surprisingly, she explains that looking out of her own window and seeing the outside world is a good primer for her to wrap her head around the villainy. Fan reaction, too, she says, helps keep the batteries charged for the next assignment.
Vince Brusio: As this is the official continuation of The Legend of Korra, what homework did you have to assign yourself to "get it together" for this project?
Irene Koh: I went back and rewatched all of The Legend of Korra to make sure all the characters, environments and bending were fresh in my mind. Since I was already comfortable drawing the characters (I had been drawing Korra fan art for years), I studied up on action sequences (for movement, lots of shounen anime; for illustrating, lots of shounen manga). While I was asked to draw in my own style and not the show's, I made sure to try and match the tone and mood.
Vince Brusio: What is the nature of the menace, which lurks around the corners of Republic City for Korra and Asami?
Irene Koh: The premise for the villainy is remarkably reflective of our current reality here in the U.S., which I hope will resonate with readers. It is some parts corporate greed, some parts political mayhem, other parts personal revenge, on top of a low simmering anxiety between Korra and Asami as they try to figure out how to come out to everyone in the midst of all the chaos.
Vince Brusio: How in sync are you with Michael Dante DiMartino, in terms of rendering sketches that give life to his settings and dialog? How do you two work together to see eye-to-eye on page layout?
Irene Koh: Mike gives me great feedback that makes sure the heart of what he's trying to convey is prominent and easily understood on each page while letting me exercise some amount of artistic freedom. The more specific art direction comes from co-creator Bryan Konietzko, who makes sure everything looks as it should and levels up my art that much more.
Vince Brusio: This book is being solicited as "Part One." How many volumes can we expect for "Turf Wars"?
Irene Koh: There will be three parts to the Turf Wars story, each at 72 pages.
Vince Brusio: If you could reflect on one of the most rewarding aspects of your job working on The Legend of Korra, what would it be?
Irene Koh: I told myself a year and a half ago that if there was any IP I would like to work on before moving onto creator-owned stuff, it was The Legend of Korra. I have been a fan for so long, and as a bisexual martial arts-practicing Asian woman, it seemed like a perfect fit. And while getting to draw the characters in an official capacity has been a joy, the most rewarding aspect of all has been the fan reaction. They are incredibly supportive and hungry for queer representation, and I feel honored to be able to draw it for them specifically. All the difficulties that come with working on a big book with an established brand are made worthwhile when I see how happy the fans are.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.