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There was a time in America when the entire country was on fire with patriotism. That time was the 1980’s. Sure, other decades displayed patriotism, but in the 1980’s, the good ole USA was at peak patriotic swag. The style was insane. The hair could not be tamed, the sleeves were rolled up, and the collars were popped. Cocaine was a hell of a drug, and the synth machine turned dudes who lived in their parents’ basements to one-hit wonder superstars. Among all this, our movies and television served as propaganda to strike fear in our enemies. From the KARATE KID to Chuck Norris, everything we put on a screen said: we’re better than you, and we’ll kick your ass if you don’t like it; we know karate, Mother F***er. Yes, Americans took to karate as if all future disagreements would be solved by a nice chop to the throat.

Comedy writer Corey Kalman, Brockton McKinney (GINGERDEAD MAN), and illustrator Devin Roth (BOB’S BURGERS and DISNEY’S FUTURE WORM) captured the spirit of this ridiculous era with AMERIKARATE. This is a comic book that blends FOOTLOOSE and the 80’s obsession with karate. It’s got muscles, denim vests, sex, and violence. Sound good? You better believe it, kiddo. Strap in and shut up as the team behind AMERIKARATE gives us the full scoop and make sure to pick up AMERIKARATE #2 when it hits shelves on April 12, 2017.

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ComicsVerse: Alright, guys, what makes FOOTLOOSE so great?

Devin Roth: Kevin Bacon. The passion he has for dance. If only I could be that passionate, drink a few beers and smoke some cigarettes in a barn while furiously drawing. That is my dream.

Corey Kalman: For me, it’s definitely the feet! They are so loose. You think that they’re going to be tight. But they aren’t!

Brockton McKinney: I’m pretty partial to the “solo barn dance scene, ” but you’d never know it.

CV: Why did America become so enamored with karate? It was such a huge thing, and now the focus has shifted to other forms of fighting, specifically MMA. 

CK: Those fantastic low budget martial arts flicks that came out in the 1970’s and early 1980’s like ENTER THE DRAGON, 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, BLACK BELT JONES, LADY SNOWBLOOD, LONE WOLF AND CUB, DRUNKEN MASTER, STREET FIGHTER, those movies made Americans fans of martial arts. How could they not? They are so freakin’ amazing!!! But I think that when the KARATE KID hit theaters, and it was martial arts with a regular kid, and it was about karate school, that’s when karate became a phenomenon. Every kid I knew that saw that movie in the theaters wanted to take karate lessons and hang out with an elderly Asian man after that.

BM: Yeah, I remember standing on my parents fence doing that crane kick move over and over and over. I loved ninja movies just as much, though. I thought Lucinda Dickey in NINJA 3 was going to be my ninja wife.

CV: How would Sam Kickwell feel about all this rolling on the ground with other men in the MMA Ring?

DR: I think he would appreciate the toughness that comes out but would be disappointed at the lack of artful skill that goes into the sport.

BM: Oh yeah. I think Kickwell would probably just walk in the MMA ring and karate kick someone’s teeth down their throat-hole in one chop.

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CV: Speaking of Sam Kickwell, he is the walking embodiment of American 80’s Machismo. Denim everything, muscles bulging, bulge…bulging, American flag belt, and blonde hair. Did his design come together immediately? Was there anything you didn’t add that you couldn’t use for whatever reason or just didn’t think of in the moment? Perhaps a mustache?

DR: I always had Patrick Swayze or a Kurt Russel type of character in mind for Sam. So ultimately thats where my initial roughs came from. I kinda think that his personality is more Kurt Russel with the looks of Swazye and clothing stolen from Chuck Norris. Most of the roughs really had an 80’s flavor to it, I think we tried a over sized button up shirt baggy shirt with the sleeves rolled up but then finished with the Canadian tuxedo look.

CK: Yeah. Devin brought some great ideas. Both Brockton and I imagined Sam looking like a cartoon character version of Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse. But when Devin started working actually drawing it, he made Sam come to life.

BM: Funny you mentioned “mustache” though….*cough, cough* issue 5 *cough, cough*

CV: Will we see inspiration or references from other 80’s films in later issues? Perhaps another film from 1984 that rhymes with Barate-Bid?

DR: I think we might!!!

CK: What he said. You also might see references to some of our favorite movies that rhyme with BoboBop, The Bunning Ban, Bethal Beapon, Beath Bish, and even Bloodsport.

BM: And THE WARRIORS!…Wait… I f**ked that up, didn’t I?

CV: If AMERIKARATE gets picked up for a movie tomorrow, who is man enough to play Sam Kickwell?
DR: Ryan Reynolds would be fun.

BM: Too Canadian. Anyone but the Rock…

CK: THE ROCK. Not the actor-slash-wrestler. The movie, THE ROCK. It’s a great movie. And if the movie isn’t available, then the actor, The Rock. But he’s second choice for me.

BM: Oh, I thought we were talking about the movie. Then my first choice would be the actor, The Rock.

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CV: When people refer to making America great again, they might be talking about the era from which this comic draws a lot of inspiration. The 80’s was such a big time for American power. Was the current administration and it’s rhetoric discussed when you started putting this project together? If not, did that change as the book was coming along?
DR: No, not at all.

CK: We actually started writing this before that happened. But the Reagan era produced so many ultra-patriotic action flicks that our references to those movies actually could be taken seriously now. It is something that we have had to think about, but only because our goal is to entertain people with AMERIKARATE so they can avoid having to think about politics for 24 pages a month and just laugh.

BM: That being said, issue 9 is something special…

CV: What can people take from this American satire that they can’t get from any other form?
DR: Karate makes the man.

BM:  Also, there’s a Kung Fu dance sequence, and karate sex.

CK: What those guys said, plus: Karate. Boobs. Blood. Bulge. Ninjas. FOOTLOOSE.  I’m not sure if I added anything that needed to be added. But I like saying those words. So I said it.

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What is your weapon of choice? Besides your own deadly hands?

CK: Easy one. Gunchucks.

DR: Gunchucks for sure.

BM: Dammit, Corey beat me to Gunchucks. I guess I gotta say katana sword.

CK: And attack cats. But mostly attack cats with nunchucks.

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