by Vince Brusio
Ever seen MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch? We may have something like that again with Street Fighter X G.I. Joe #1 (DEC150398). Major names. Major carnage ahead. Sparks are definitely going to fly. Our PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview with writer Aubrey Sitterson details the rumble that’s about to hit comic shops next February!
Street Fighter X G.I. Joe #1 (DEC150398) is in comic shops February 24
PREVIEWSworld: The subtitle for this book may as well be “The Earth Cracks.” We can hear “Let’s get ready to rum-bllllle!!!” as the opening theme song while the curtain pulls back to reveal the glistening light off of Destro’s head. Please tell us how Street Fighter X G.I. Joe #1 (DEC150398) got the green light. This seems like a match made in heaven.
Aubrey Sitterson: It absolutely is! I think the real question is "How did this not happen sooner!?" Hardcore fans will remember the early 90s Street Fighter additions to the G.I. Joe toy lines, but other than that…these two worlds have been kept pretty separate. And that's a shame, because though they work on different scales, both franchises are about the same thing. A theme that is one of my favorites to explore or see explored in any kind of art: Struggling, fighting and winning.
PREVIEWSworld: How long have you been working on this project? What’s been going on behind the scenes during development?
Aubrey Sitterson: Senior Editor John Barber reached out to me way back in May of this year, so this project has been brewing for quite some time. John knew about my weekly professional wrestling podcast, Straight Shoot, and also knew that I spend a lot of time talking about something I call "fight-based storytelling" – using combat to not only tell a story, but also reveal something about the characters in the fight. It's something that wrestling does better than any other medium, and frankly, that comics as a whole could really learn from.
Because of the heavy emphasis on combat – it's practically the entirety of the series – prepping for Street Fighter X G.I. Joe required a few extra steps. One of the biggest was building the brackets for the tournament, which included not only figuring out which 16 characters would be included, but plotting out each match-up and outcome for maximum dramatic potential. The process was very much like what would go into booking a professional wrestling tournament like WWE's King of the Ring.
While I was figuring out the nuts and bolts of how the actual tournament would run – as well as settling upon and researching distinct fighting styles and motivations for each combatant – series editor Carlos Guzman was also hard at work. It's stunning, really. Carlos has lined up an absurdly great group of artists for the series, including a murderer's row of cover artists and the amazing Emilio Laiso, who is doing the work of his career on our interiors. Emilio absolutely gets what we're going for and he is bringing a preternatural understanding of fight choreography to the project. This guy is destined for big, big, humongous things.
PREVIEWSworld: For readers new to these properties, can you give us a primer for Street Fighter X G.I. Joe #1 to help get fans thunderstruck? What’s up with this secret fighting tournament?
Aubrey Sitterson: Both Street Fighter and G.I. Joe boast vast, rich continuities and backstories for their characters – in fact, G.I. Joe has multiple vast, rich continuities! I love that stuff. I love it dearly. But my intention with Street Fighter X G.I. Joe is that it appeal to everyone, from the hardcore fans who have played every game, watched every cartoon, bought every toy, read every comic and written a few entries on the wiki, to people who only have the most basic general pop culture knowledge of these characters.
To accomplish that, I took a cue from the amazing Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series. Instead of adhering to or trying to force the project into a specific continuity, I'm working with Platonic forms of these characters – versions that will feel familiar and true no matter what your level of familiarity with Street Fighter or G.I. Joe.
So to enjoy Street Fighter X G.I. Joe? You don't need to know anything other than the fact that there is a tournament. Actually…you don't even need to know that much, as it should be pretty clear from the first page on! From there, everything else will be revealed through the fights themselves, which means that instead of a lot of talking and exposition and backstory, you get exactly what people want from these franchises: Fighting, and lots of it.
Of course, if you do know a lot about Street Fighter and/or G.I. Joe…you should absolutely start refining those Easter Egg spotting skills. I'm gonna take care of you too!
PREVIEWSworld: What kind of interaction was there between the Street Fighter and G.I. Joe camps as this series got underway? Was there any kind of guidelines or suggestions thrown at you before you developed a script?
Aubrey Sitterson: Even at the pitch stage, I knew that with this novel approach to structuring a comic, each of the tournament's 16 combatants would have to possess not only a clear, definable point-of-view and set of motivations, but that they would also need unique, identifiable fighting styles. That meant research. A massive – some might say ridiculous – amount of research. Boning up on character backstories and origins, reading about their relationships with other characters, watching countless YouTube videos of both Street Fighter matches as well as real-life martial arts.
But all the research paid off, because when Capcom and Hasbro saw the pitch, they got it. It clicked for them. They understood that the best way to highlight not only their individual franchises, but the intersection between the two, was to give their fans the only thing they've ever wanted: Amazing, explosive, compelling, dramatic, character-driven fights.
Outside of a few character inclusion requests – which I was more than happy to oblige – we were good to go.
Aubrey Sitterson: When coming up with the story for Street Fighter x G.I. Joe, I asked myself two simple questions: 1) What is it that people love about these franchises? and 2) Where do they overlap? The answer was simple: Fighting.
I don't believe in trying to write one medium like it's another – comics written like television shows or movies are almost universally awful. But I do think that there are things to learn from other mediums, whether it's dialogue, pacing, or in the case of Street Fighter X G.I. Joe…in-fight storytelling. Fights shouldn't just be "Hero and villain take turns punching one another until one wins," so with this series, I'm doing everything I can to change that, adapting professional wrestling storytelling techniques and tools to add depth and character to each of Street Fighter X G.I. Joe's 16 fights.
That's right: 16, distinct, fully fleshed-out, one-on-one fights spread across six issues. You're going to get your money's worth with this thing.