Fifty Shades of Grey
Co-creator Mike DiMartino discusses the past, present and future of the Avatar in a recently-posted interview from SDCC.
Comic Book Resources has posted an interview from San Diego Comic-Con where Mike DiMartino (co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend Of Korra) discusses the comic continuation of the series and hints at what season 2 of the new show might bring for Korra.
DiMartino was not shy about adressing fan concerns from the first season of The Legend of Korra. When asked about the seemingly final conclusion to the season – a hot topic of debate among fans – DiMartino admits that the show was designed “to have a really clear end to it… a satisfying end to the story.” But season 1 is not as free of loose ends as it might seem. Korra herself, DiMartino says, still has “a ways to go.”
Korra’s particular challenge, as indicated in the initial twelve episodes, lies in the spiritual elements of her nature as the Avatar – elements which came relatively easily to Aang. “She’s not done… growing and learning about the spirit world and her spirituality,” DiMartino says. “What we’re going to be following throughout all these books is her spiritual growth and how she becomes the Avatar – and what kind of Avatar she wants to be.”
DiMartino also discusses the comic continuations of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and how they connect that series with The Legend of Korra. “There’s definitely a bit of crossover,” he says. “When we started on the comics we had laid some of the groundwork for Korra as far as Republic City.” He and co-creator Bryan Konietzko had laid out details like “Beifong’s metalbending, and that kind of stuff,” but they were eager to see it fleshed out in story form.
Toph’s metalbending school has been especially rewarding for DiMartino to discover, he says. That subplot, as developed by graphic novelist Gene Yang, is one of his favorites in “The Promise.” “The characters that he brought to that school… were really fun,” DiMartino adds. “Not characters I would have come up with, but I love them.”
DiMartino is also glad that more contentious political issues receive attention in the comics. The Republic City of The Legend of Korra is a novelty in Aang’s time. “Benders from all over the world were welcomed and kind of living together in harmony,” he says, adding that he and Bryan Konietzko had wanted to portray Aang and Zuko’s development of this radical idea. “It’s nice to be able to do that story,” he says, “and kind of show the origins of what you end up seeing in Korra.”
The comics will also provide resolution for an unresolved mystery from Avatar: The Last Airbender – the whereabout of Zuko’s mother, Ursa. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to get that big a reaction,” DiMartino marvels. “To this day, it’s like the number one question people continue to ask us.” And like nearly every fan of the series, DiMartino says that he is “excited that we’re getting to delve into” the long-pondered mystery, which is set to be resolved in next year’s comic series, “The Search.”
DiMartino is quick to add his appreciation for Gene Yang’s work in scripting “The Promise” and “The Search.” Yang was brought on to script the comics while DiMartino and Konietzko started work on The Legend of Korra, and the collaboration, though a shift in method for the Avatar team, has been very succesful. “[Yang] came to it as a fan of the show,” DiMartino says. “He loves the world, he’s very faithful to [it], but he’s also able to bring his own take.”
Interviewer Jonah Weiland, who recently worked with Yang, joked that the graphic novelist was startled at the reaction to his Avatar-related work. Though many fans were positive, Yang expressed bemusement at “hatemail” he has recieved from Avatar fans. “They do the same thing to us,” laughed DiMartino. “It’s all right.”
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