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DF Interview: Creator Randy Stradley brings King Tiger back to Dark Horse Comics
By Byron Brewer
At the recent Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Dark Horse Comics came out strong with news of the return of Comics’ Greatest World kung fu star, King Tiger.
Writer Randy Stradley returns to his ‘90s creation to explore a mystery from the shadows, aided and abetted by artist Doug Wheatley. Star Wars fans certainly know this teaming from days gone by at Dark Horse.
To get the rest of the information on this new miniseries, Dynamic Forces met with Stradley and this is what he told us.
Dynamic Forces: Congratulations, Randy, on the announcement at ECCC of this new Dark Horse series. Can you tell us how this property came to be?
Randy Stradley: Back in the 1990s, I created King Tiger as a part of a Dark Horse publishing initiative called Comics Greatest World. Tiger had a number of different appearances back then, including a team-up with Ghost, but for one reason or another I myself only ended up writing a few of his adventures. It was a character I had always wanted to return to, and when I had the opportunity to do it with artist Doug Wheatley, I jumped at the chance. We did four King Tiger back-up segments in last year’s BlackOut series which set the stage for this new story, but new readers needn’t worry that they won’t know what’s going on if they start with King Tiger #1.
DF: How does it feel to re-team with your Star Wars collaborator, artist Doug Wheatley? Man, you guys were all over the place when Dark Horse had the property!
Randy Stradley: I love working with Doug! I mean, what writer wouldn’t? Fortunately, for reasons I’ll probably never understand, he has an affinity to my writing, and we have formed an enduring mutual admiration society. No matter what outrageous scene I come up with, Doug is game for it—and will do a better job drawing it than I ever imagined.
DF: Can you give us a little background on the character, Randy?
Randy Stradley: Simply put, King Tiger (not his real name) is a shamanic warrior; a magical gun-for-hire. He’s the guy you go to when you need anything from spiritual healing to defense against otherworldly powers. But that’s not who he started out to be, and it’s not who he was intended to be. Tiger was raised in a remote “monastery;” doted on by a father who schooled him in everything from martial arts to literature, from philosophy to sorcery; and groomed him to die in a horrifying ritual of blood magic. Somewhere along the line Tiger rethought that last part, broke with his family, and escaped to America.
Since then he has operated out of a villa tucked away in the mountains of Nevada, living a life of relative ease. But his past is about to catch up with him.
DF: What about the storyline, and maybe key supporting players?
Randy Stradley: At Tiger’s side are his feisty girlfriend Rikki Neal, an old Native American “medicine man” named Lookfar and, having the weirdest first day on the job in human history, Milo Sturges, who is Tiger’s new assistant and weapons caddy. They have to work together to save each other—and Tiger.
I am reluctant to say a lot about the series for fear of giving too much away, but at its heart this is a love story. Not a hearts and flowers romance, but a story about a love whose strength and endurance is tested by demonic magic, kung fu battles and swordfights, and a gigantic monster . . . you know, the usual stuff.
DF: Who will be keeping our hero on his toes? Who is the big-bad?
Randy Stradley: The BIG big-bad is a demon by the name of Cantastius who devours hundreds of people and destroys half a city. But before Tiger can deal with Cantastius, he has to get past a dozen other adversaries, each of whom is nearly as skilled as he is in the martial arts and sorcery. One of the hallmarks of Tiger’s brand of magic is that there is always some physical component to it—as well as specific intent. There’s no waving of wands or shouting of spells. This magic requires a magical symbol carved into a blade—or a bullet—and then the weapon must be wielded by a practitioner with a specific goal in mind. It’s not always lethal, but it certainly can be.
DF: Is there any particular inspiration for this series from comics or from your personal life?
Randy Stradley: Well, there was that one time when I had to swordfight a demon back into its Hell-portal, but mostly my inspiration comes from watching dozens of kung fu movies back in the 1970s and collecting way too many Godzilla figures since then. (This is a lie. There’s no such thing as having too many Godzilla figures.)
Seriously, during our years working on Star Wars: Dark Times, Doug Wheatley and I realized that beyond pleasing ourselves with what we did, our favorite moments came from surprising our readers—getting them to anticipate one plot twist while we were actually setting up another. Telling stories that please your audience is the best reward in this business, and that is always our goal.
DF: What can readers expect from King Tiger in the long haul?
Randy Stradley: Right now, King Tiger is slated only as a four-issue miniseries, but Doug and I would love to do more. Put us in, coach!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Randy Stradley for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. King Tiger #1 (of 4) hits shelves August 12th!
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