Al Schroeder Talks to the Sparking Generation: An Interview with Kittyhawk
Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki is without a doubt the most oddly-named, and unusual variant of Norse mythology ever printed in comic form. Yet in some ways it's closer to the original Norse myths than anything Lee and Kirby ever did with Thor. With a sixteen-year-old boy who turns into a Norse battle-valkyrie, (including a change to the female gender) it is alternately exciting, action-filled, and humor-filled. Its creator, Kittyhawk, was kind enough to give us an interview.
First off, congratulations on your recent marriage. Tell us more about yourself - things your fans don't know (yet). I know you're working as a game artist and graphic designer for Samedi Studios. What else?
Thank you! Let's see... I work in a game store as well. I live in an old building with a lot of people. My biggest hobby, bigger than anime and manga, is collecting video games. I think I have more than twenty systems now. My favorite is the Dreamcast, the system that keeps on giving. I also enjoy Grape Nuts.
Exactly what gave you the idea to have a sixteen-year-old boy who could turn into a magical-girl/goddess-Valkyrie? I see a little of Ranma ½ in it, but a lot which is all your own and the Norse mythology in Tokyo makes for an interesting combination.
It all started long, long ago, about four years ago, when I had this idea to work on a "magical boy" series. I put it on hold because I was working on "the Jar" at the time. The story was a bit different, but not much. There was the smart alleck animal who accidentally turns 10-year-old Ringo (yes, Ringo was his name-o) into the "champion of justice" rather than a girl, and of course, there was a prince... You know where this is going. ^_^
So after "the Jar" came to a screeching halt, I wanted to work on a magical girl series, perhaps because I was watching Card Captor Sakura at the time. Which by the way, Card Captor Sakura is the most perfect magical girl series. Ringo came to mind again. I decided to tweak the idea: make the hero older, throw in a little gender-switching for good measure, and add some Norse mythology because there has to be a higher power in a magical girl story, whether it be a magician or gods. Also, I like Norse mythology a lot. ^_~
From all this was born Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki.
So, how long have you loved mythology? (In my opinion, your depictions of Thor, Odin, et al are a lot closer to the original Norse legends than Stan Lee or Jack Kirby ever got.) What got you hooked on it?
I think I've loved mythology all my life. My grandfather and my father had lots of books on it, and it and paleontology were my favorite subjects growing up. I was attracted to Norse mythology because the gods seemed more like these awesome people who walked with men rather than these caricatures of people who have special powers like the Greek gods. Not to say anything bad about the Greek gods; I like them too.
Who are your storytelling and writing influences?
Hmmm... I have no idea. Rumiko Takahashi is the only one I can think of, mainly because of the humor. I've been making stories since I was very young. I think this is because of all the myths I read. I came up with worlds and told stories about them. I still do this, except I focus on the characters a little more these days.
Who are your artistic influences?
Wow. Too many to mention. I think Naoko Takeuchi was a primary one; later CLAMP became a heavy one. Looney Tunes, especially Chuck Jones, as strange as that sounds, is a big one as well, especially with my facial expressions. I also love Amano and Kosuke Fujishima. I really love the way Fujishima does eyes.
Why did you decide to do this (and its predecessor, the Jar) on the web? What are the advantages and limitations you've found to doing an adventure/magical girl/manga on the web?
I decided to do webcomics because of the webcomics boom in 2000. I was really excited about a new way to get your work out without having to worry about publishing or distribution. I reach more people by having a webcomic, and I don't have to worry about censorship or what a publisher wants my comic to be. As for disadvantages, I can't think of any. I think webcomics are the future of comics.
Which of the characters is your favorite? Mine's Loki, which probably says a LOT about me.
I think Loki is my favorite. He is such a bastard. ^_^
I must admit I never read your previous webcomic, The Jar, and can't find a lot of information about it. What was it about---and why did you end it?
The Jar was about three guys, two beatniks, and a Jar. This was the comic that my brother and I worked on, and it was stupid and insane. We had no way of communicating well to each other! He'd say that "something" would happen in the comic, and I would have to decipher what "something" was.
I think when the penguins showed up, it got weird and convoluted. That's about the time we ended it. Also, I was really sick at the time, but I think it was dead anyway. Our interest was gone.
So, since she/he's a Valkyrie---is Yuuki just going to battle Norse mythological entities, or will Yuuki ever have to bring a dying soul to Valhalla? And what is Yuuki going to do when a Valhallan hero like Sigurd starts flirting with him? Her? Whatever.
There won't be any souls going to Valhalla. I'm really raping the myths here. In my story, the Valkyries are the ones who fight in Ragnarok rather than the Einherjar. Yuuki will be fighting more mythological beings though. Don't you worry.
What are your future plans for Valkyrie Yuuki? Do you have an ending planned, or is this an open-ended series? Any other projects you have planned you'd like to tell us about?
The ending is pretty much written. Though I do revise the story time to time, the ending is the same. I have goals that I have to meet, but everything in between is just whatever comes to mind. Pacing is a bitch, I'll tell you.
I have other ideas that I'd love to work on, but I'm suppressing them so I'll finish SGVY. If you check out my gallery, you might see a few. ^_^