The upcoming Skybound series Arcade Kings by Dylan Burnett will hit comic shops May 17th and we do mean HIT! Burnett, known for his incredible art on Cosmic Ghost Rider and X-Force at Marvel among others, is taking a shot at writing this time. A dual narrative of flashbacks to gladiatorial combat in the past, mixes with the vibrant colors of virtual combat in the arcades of the modern tech-metropolis of Infinity City. We;ve had a chance to read the first issue and it definitely packs a punch. Dylan shares some insight into the series below.
LRM: Can you give us an idea of what Arcade Kings is about?
Dylan: It’s about these two estranged brothers that are each trying to stay on top of their problems in pretty different ways. Turns out their problems have the commonality of their adoptive father/martial arts master. If they wanna reconcile their issues with him and each other, they’re probably gonna have to throw some hands.
LRM: Can you give us a quick rundown on the main characters
Dylan: I can’t get too into everyone so soon, but our main guy, Joe, is this arcade loving kid that’s been tugged in two different directions for most of his life, and it’s forced him to make some choices that he regrets, so his side of the story is his mission to rectify that. He sort of fits the bill of many shonen-style protagonists in that he’s kinda hot-headed, competitive, and probably more optimistic than realistic, but I’ve done my best to ground him and the rest of the main cast so they feel like people you may know.
LRM: There seems to be two narratives, somewhat parallel in the first story, real world fighting and the battle for bragging in arcade coin-op fighters, can you elaborate?
Dylan: You’re definitely right about parallel narratives, but the arcade battles are more like the framing and setting of the world. The main story in these 5 issues is about the characters themselves that inhabit these arcades.You could say the actual fist fighting takes precedence over whoever’s got the top score.
LRM: What is your background with arcades and video games and how much are you inspired by your own experiences?
Dylan: I moved around a lot as a kid, so I never really had the chance to go out and find a good arcade to be a regular at. So aside from a few experiences, most of my gaming memories come from consoles and hanging out with friends after school. Even still, this entire book is informed by my love of classic fighting games, beat ’em ups, shonen manga, and wanting to create characters that are as fun and exciting as the ones in, say, Street Fighter, or Power Stone, or Yu Yu Hakusho.
LRM: Arcade/Video game culture is a community all on its own and probably doesn’t get the respect it deserves though that is changing with e-sports and such. Do you feel your story brings in elements of that at all?
Dylan: The community aspect is definitely part of how these small worlds function in Arcade Kings. Each one you are introduced to behaves a little differently, for better or worse. I think e-sports are making fighting games more accessible and exciting in their own way, which is great. But with this book, I’m trying to channel a bit more of that ‘less technical’ type of passion you saw at home or the arcade in the 90s. Remember when you did your first FATALITY in MK? Or how crazy it was when you first saw Ryu shake hands with Cyclops? That’s the stuff I’ll always remember.
LRM: You are handling writing and art duties on the title, can you walk us through your process? Does it differ from how you work when you are only handling the art?
Dylan: I was worried I’d be a bit of a mess starting this book, since this is my first time writing on my own. Thankfully that’s not really the case. I work pretty straight forward, starting with a rough script and thumbnails, then moving through to pencils and inks. Outside of the script writing it’s basically the same as before. However, if I didn’t have an editor and a publishing team to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from, I’m sure the book would be an incoherent mess, so, thank you Amanda and Skybound!
Also want to give huge credit to our colourists, Walter and Sara. They are adding so much depth to the book with their work. If it weren’t for them, the book wouldn’t make you feel that sort of nostalgic, fighting game level excitement.
LRM: It feels like a very big world you have created with only one issue. Not to get too far ahead, but is the story of Joe a finite story and do you have ideas for more stories in this world?
Dylan: Thanks! I’ve got a bunch of ideas, but the current focus is to just make these 5 issues the best thing they can be one their own. I usually gravitate towards more self-contained stories, so that’s my goal for the big chunk of Arcade Kings as of right now.
LRM: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Dylan: I hope you’ll check out the book, and if so, I can’t thank you enough! We’re all working really hard to make it something special.
Arcade Kings #1 will be released to comic shops May 17th