DUBAI: Japanese translation and publishing company Phase 6 announced that the comic book of “Dinosaur War Izenborg” will be released in Japan this week on Dec. 23.
The original Izenborg show received attention in the 70’s for its unique combination of animation and live-action effects scenes.
To bring this sensibility into the modern era, American illustrator Matt Frank, also known as the “King of Kaiju,” teamed up with international manga artist Hiroshi Kanatani, creator of “COARAPTOR, KAIJU of the WIND.”
The two artists collaborated on each page, with Frank primarily handling anime-style characters and creatures, and Kanatani drew the massive dinosaurs in a classic tokusatsu expression, realizing a fusion not unlike the titular Izenborg itself, which combined the disparate strengths of two heroes into a force to be reckoned with.
Andrew Hall, CEO of Phase 6, exclusively told Arab News Japan that he is very excited about the release of the Izenborg comic, adding: “Several people have asked me why we selected Izenborg for our next comic. Matt’s written at length about what a wonderful series the original Dinosaur War Izenborg was, but among Tsuburaya’s many impressive series, why Izenborg? When Matt suggested it to me, what appealed to me was the innovative nature of the project.”
“For Izenborg, I was immediately attracted to the idea of reinterpreting the original work, which along with its predecessor Born Free, was ambitious and ahead of its time. Thematically, the story represented the combination of two symmetrical yet different things (brother and sister, human and machine) through the combination of animation and live-action,” he said.
“Every aspect of the story is a combination, so for the comic version to combine East and West, manga and comics, this was a very exciting concept to me. It was also very challenging to work on for all of us, and could only be realized by the incredible effort and vision of Matt and Kanatani-san.”
Exclusively to Arab News Japan, Frank, co-creator of the new “DINOSAUR WAR IZENBORG” comic shared the story of his collaboration with Japanese manga artist Hiroshi Kanatani for the comic: “I was struck with the idea to make an IZENBORG comic after the success of REDMAN for Tsuburaya and Phase 6. Initially I wanted to pitch some concepts for the Ultra franchise, but that was soon taken off the table because Marvel had acquired the license. However, Tsuburaya has a long and storied history of franchises and characters to draw upon. While many fans had suggested characters like Mirrorman and Andro Melos, the Dinosaur Trilogy holds a lot of appeal to me, especially IZENBORG. There’s just not quite anything else like it, and I have a deep love for dinosaurs, so naturally I was drawn to it.”
About the challenges that he has faced working on the comic project, Frank said: “The biggest challenge was scheduling, with the second biggest challenge being coordination. I have many other projects I’m usually working on, and with the pandemic, I wasn’t sure when Izenborg would be approved for publication. So, other projects began to take a hold of my schedule. Finally, in the last half of 2021, I realized that I had stretched myself too thin and needed to buckle down and focus on completing Izenborg. If I can give any advice to other artists beginning their careers, it’s to be careful with your time management.”
“Secondly, the coordination of the Izenborg creation process presented its own challenges. I had to write the script and sketch out the page thumbnails, which then were passed to Kanatani-san. He worked very hard to ensure that his half of the pages were completed in time, and so then I took his pages, the ‘Tokusatsu,’ and applied the anime-style sequences. In order to complete the project on time, I enlisted the help of Goncalo Lopes and Joana Lafuente, who are veteran colorists in the comic industry and wonderfully talented. But when you start adding more and more people to a project, you find yourself having to coordinate with different lines of communication, not to mention that not everyone spoke the same language. Sometimes concepts would literally be lost in translation. Thankfully the team at Phase 6 and all of the artists working on Izenborg worked extremely hard to be as clear and communicative as they could.”
About his awareness of the popularity of the “DINOSAUR WAR IZENBORG” series in the Middle East region, Frank said: “I was honestly surprised to hear that Izenborg was so popular in the Middle East. As an American, we are taught very little about the pop culture influences in the Middle East. This is really a shame, because I believe that a shared love of comics and television and other forms of media are wonderful ways to bridge gaps between cultures. It shows that, even across cultural barriers, we all still love a good story and can connect with characters on a personal level. It is thanks to a handful of Saudi Youtubers making videos waxing poetically about Izenborg that I was able to grasp the aspects of the show that have strong resonance with the fan base, so I’m deeply grateful to them.”
About his feedback of “The Return of Izenborg,” a Japanese-Arabic documentary produced as a collaboration between the Japanese company Tsuburaya Productions, Mr. Jarrah Alfurih from Saudi Arabia and Cultures Factory that was released in December 2017 on YouTube, Frank said: “I love this documentary. It’s very informative and was a huge help while developing the comic. It really makes me wish we could have a revival series of some kind, or at least a movie or web series of something to that tune! I loved seeing the classic concept art as well, the special is clearly made with a lot of affection.”
Exclusively to Arab News Japan, Hiroshi Kanatani, co-creator of new “DINOSAUR WAR IZENBORG” comic shared the story of his collaboration with Japanese manga artist Hiroshi Kanatani for the comic:” We two make a good team and he saw a lot of the ‘DINOSAUR WAR IZENBORG’ series episodes to understand the content of it well. In order of making the comic, we first discussed about the direction & generally agreed that Matt will do the story.”
“I followed him smoothly without any objection. He also trusted me with it. I was in charge of tokusatsu and enjoyed drawing dinosaurs in the comic, but I believe that Matt also wants to draw them. His cover art and illustrations show his love for dinosaurs. We are also talking about rotating roles on our next project, such as with me working on the story and characters & Matt doing the tokusatsu dinosaurs and mecha,” he added.
About his recommendations for the fans of the Middle East region who are looking forward for the release of the “DINOSAUR WAR IZENBORG” comic, Kanatani said: “I hope that Izenborg fans will have access to it. I think it’d be good if they could enjoy it by comparing the differences with the original work. Then if you like our comic, please enthusiastically request a sequel to the publisher or Tsuburaya Productions.”
Dinosaur War Izenborg was dubbed in Arabic in the 80’s and has a big fan base in the Middle East till this day.