A Chinese Connection Between Randy Stradley and King Tiger

by Vince Brusio

Randy Stradley has cooked up King Tiger #1 (JUN150008) for Dark Horse Comics, and he’s having too much fun at the expense of all conventions. Some would first volunteer as analysis that the book is action/adventure. To which Stradley would reply, “No, it’s a love story.” But whatever flavor of fiction seems the best label for Stradley’s new book, one thing is certain: there are heavy overtones of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies. Classic late 80s/90s stuff. And like you would have to do if you watched such video on your VCR, if you want to take it all in, you might want to watch it in “slow” mode.

King Tiger #1 (JUN150008) is in comic shops August 12.

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PREVIEWSworld: What’s the premise for King Tiger? Can you start at ground zero, and take us from there?

Randy Stradley: King Tiger is a mysterious troubleshooter—half warrior monk, half sorcerer, and half blithe-spirit. Which, if you do the math, makes him twice the man of any of us.

Tiger (not his real name) resides on a lavish “hacienda” somewhere in the mountains of Nevada with Rikki Neal, his rich heiress girlfriend, and Milo Sturges, his newly hired assistant. The story picks up the morning following the events in the backup stories artist Doug Wheatley and I did last year for the Blackout series, in which Milo was hired. But all anybody needs to know going into King Tiger #1 is that Milo is about to have the craziest, scariest first day on the job in history.

See, Tiger’s mysterious past is about to catch up with him, which could mean the end of the world as we know it. Did I mention it’s a love story?

PREVIEWSworld: How did you toy with the personalities of the characters in King Tiger? Who was the most fun? And what character took more time to tweak?

Randy Stradley: Going into the series, I thought I knew who everyone was. I was certain that Tiger would be the one who would be the most fun to write. He’s one of those characters who is usually one step ahead of everyone else, and confident to the point of being cocky. But early on he gets tripped up by visitors from his past, and he has to think fast just to survive.

The main villain has turned out to be an interesting—and talkative—character, but surprisingly, the character who has emerged as the most fun for me is Rikki. Never underestimate the fury of a woman wronged.

PREVIEWSworld: Were there any past or contemporary works that helped you brainstorm about King Tiger? Any foreign influences? What in your reading pile may have sparked some ideas?

Randy Stradley: In addition to a bunch of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies from the 1970s to present, there were two Japanese films in particular which inspired some of the characters in King Tiger. One is Kujaku ô (1988), called The Peacock King over here, and the other is Jipangu (1990), titled Zipang on video in the States. Both of them feature weird martial arts and magic, not to mention humorous takes on both.

But in this story I also got to indulge my affinity for H.P. Lovecraft and his monstrous god creatures from other dimensions. And, finally, some thoughts I’d been having about romance—about the nature of love and how it changes us—bubbled to the surface as the outline was coming together and formed the heart of this story. Top that mix! Go on, try.

PREVIEWSworld: If you could “geek out” over any particular scene in issue #1 — something you could ramble about over dinner or on social media — what would that scene be?

Randy Stradley: Well, if I were to talk about my favorite “geek out” moment in issue #1, I’d give too much away, so I’ll talk about an even geekier moment. There’s a scene where Tiger lays out his arsenal of weapons for Milo. Everything on the table is real (well, with the possible exception of the giant’s femur), and thanks to the talented Doug Wheatley, every piece is perfectly rendered, right down to the magically inscribed 30.06 cartridges.

PREVIEWSworld: Is there any social media site you could point readers to should they want to know more about this book as it develops?

Randy Stradley:I discovered that kingtiger.com is owned by someone else (though it is not currently active), so the best bet would be to follow Dark Horse Comics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and the newsfeed at DarkHorse.com. Heck, for all I know, we’re on Tinder, as well. Swipe right!

 
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