Tekken comic Cavan Scott

Titan Comics released TEKKEN #1 on May 3rd. The first of a 4-issue miniseries, the TEKKEN comic is a spin-off of the legendary fighting game franchise of the same name. The story takes place between TEKKEN 6 and TEKKEN 7 and features a number of fan-favorite characters: Jin Kazama, Heihachi Mishima, Yoshimitsu, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix and King. The miniseries is written by science-fiction writer Cavan Scott. Scott has had a successful 17-year run on the DOCTOR WHO comics and has also written on STAR WARS, STAR TREK, and VIKINGS. He sat down with ComicsVerse to discuss his take on the TEKKEN franchise.

Warning: This interview contains spoilers for the ending of TEKKEN 6. 

Tekken comic Cavan Scott

Beyond Tekken 7

ComicsVerse: Can you tell us how this new TEKKEN comic series ties into the video game franchise?

Cavan Scott: The story is a bit of a bridge between TEKKEN 6 and 7. Hopefully, you haven’t got to know the stories to understand it. We tried very hard to make the stories work on their own. But it’s definitely a bridge taking the characters from the last game to the new one.

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The Mishima Dynasty

ComicsVerse: You’ve got a whole dynasty of complex families here. You’ve got the Mishimas who throw each other off cliffs and into live volcanoes. What’s it been like dealing with those characters?

Cavan Scott: We tried to make sure the main three Mishima guys [Jin, Kazuya, and Heihachi] are front and center. It’s very much their story from the beginning. For people who played TEKKEN 6, I don’t want to spoil too much, but we’ve got Heihachi back in control of the Mishima Zaibatsu [a Japanese business conglomerate]. Kazuya [Heihachi’s son] is still with G-Corporation, and Jin [Kazuya’s son] is missing at the beginning. If you’ve seen the end of the last game, you’d know that he sacrificed himself and was found again. We move forward a little bit from there. No one knows where [Jin] is. Both the Mishima Zaibatsu and G-Corporation are searching for him.

We’re not set during a tournament, which for a TEKKEN story is quite an interesting place to be. Because, obviously, that’s the driving force for all the stories. So we had to work out how [to] get these characters together. So the search for Jin has become the driving force to bring those characters together. You’ve got the two main factions in the Mishima dynasty [Heihachi on one side, Kazuya on the other] pulling forces together, hiring the other fighters to try and find Jin. And we do deal with where Jin is and what he’s doing, and he starts to gather a small army. So you’ve basically got these three different factions moving toward a battle and they will be in the the same room at some point in the new series.

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A New Journey

ComicsVerse: What’s it been like to get into these characters’ heads? It must be tough because, in the video game, they have personalities, but they’re covered in this lethal desire to murder each other. So how do you distill that into characterization?

Cavan Scott: This is an issue of TEKKEN’s, but it’s also great. You get a couple of characters together, and they’re just gonna want to punch their faces in. But this starts to give you a wonderful chance to have drama. Because you’re gonna have characters who, especially in the story we’re creating, don’t necessarily want to be working with the person they’re working with. A good example of this is Paul Phoenix, who plays quite a big role in the story. He’s no fan of the Mishima clan, and he finds himself allied with one of them. So there’s gonna be some stuff for him to work through. Being Paul, he’s broke, he needs money, he’ll do what he needs to do. And, also being Paul, he thinks he’s the best fighter in the room anyway.

So you have got all [those character dynamics] to play with. We have [also got a new story] where one of the fighters can’t actually fight. If he fights, something bad will happen. So we’ve immediately put a block there. We’ve got someone who’s entire life is about kicking other people, and he cannot do it. And they’ve got to stop themselves from getting into a fight situation. So it gives you a chance to play with [unusual dynamics for a fighting series]. And of course, it gives you the chance to have wonderful fight scenes.

[Artist Andie Tong’s] fights are immense. He’s a TEKKEN-head; he’s played the characters since the first game. We’ve said repeatedly we’ve been researching this comic since the mid-nineties and Andy knows them backwards. So when I say Nina throws a move, [Andie] knows which move, he knows which combination it is. He’s already trying to work out how to put that on paper. So we’re having a lot of fun with [those dynamics]. The characters we are really familiar with from sitting at arcades, so it’s fun to able to put a little bit of that [characterization] onto the page.

The rivalries are so much fun. I mean, Nina and Anna [the assassin sisters] are possibly two of my favorite characters to write of all the characters I’ve written on whatever franchise I’m writing for — because Anna’s SUCH a bitch! She is full of sass. And Nina is so cold, so shut down. So between the two of them, they just make a wonderful pair. So I keep finding myself when I’m plotting, going “Well how can I get them back together again,” because I just want another smack-down between them. Not so much the fights, but the bits before and after when they’re psyching each other out. And so we’ve got a lot of that [kind of interaction]. It’s where the fun comes in.

Tekken comic Cavan Scott

The Bad Guys

ComicsVerse: There are so many rich characters here. How do you make characters like Kazuya and Heihachi relatable to the reader when they’re both dangerously psychotic? Like, which of these two characters are you supposed to root for? Which is less evil?

Cavan Scott: Well, in the beginning, Kazuya was the “good guy.” That did not last. We do tell a lot of the story from Jin’s point of view. He’s the character you can identify with because, out of all of [the Mishima clan], he doesn’t necessarily want to be what he’s become. However, I don’t want to leave Kazuya out completely because that’s the danger: that it becomes Jin and Heihachi’s story. And for someone like me, who played the game from the beginning, Kazuya is the main man.

I remember when Jin first came along [in TEKKEN 3] I was like, “Who is this kid?” So yeah, you’ve got the fact that [the Mishimas] are devils in every sense of the word. But this is comic book history — comic book villains are supposed to be this big and epic. So the Mishimas fit very easily in comic book mode. But for all that, there’s that classic thing where the villain is not a villain in their own mind. The villain is the hero of their own story. And I think all of us at some point can understand, without becoming megalomaniacs, […] what it is to go “I want that, I’m gonna get that.” And to a certain degree, say, “I’m gonna do anything to get that.”

With [Heihachi and Kazuya], they take it to extremes. And the world isn’t big enough for both of them. And Jin, as well, basically tries to wage war on everyone […] to get what he wants. So yeah, none of them are good guys, and I think that’s why I like TEKKEN. There aren’t really any major heroes here. They [are] all competitors, every single person in the game, and in the comic is a competitor. They want to come out on top. And again, we see them in this world [of the comic series] where they don’t really know why they’re fighting. And they’re having to throw their lot in with a particular [Mishima] faction.

Whereas if they’re in the Iron Fist tournament [the central tournament in the TEKKEN games], they’re there to win. In this story, they’re getting paid to be there, so they’re trying to work out, “Is this who I want to be?” So you have got all these dynamics in place and it’s very interesting, which is fun to say when you’re dealing with characters that are basically there to beat the crap out of each other.

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The Good Guys

ComicsVerse: I always felt like the good guys were the side characters. Like Yoshimitsu, who’s basically a Robin Hood character, and then there’s King, who’s a wrestler but he runs an orphanage.

Cavan Scott: Both of them appear in the comic. Yoshimitsu’s interesting because his character changes per game. He is a Robin Hood character, but if you got to the end of TEKKEN 6, you know there’s all kinds of devilish stuff going on [with him]. So I’m trying to get across in the comic that the other characters don’t really know what Yoshimitsu’s about anymore. They’re looking at him going, “We’re not really sure why you’re here anymore or what you’re doing or what you’re gonna do next.”

As for King, I mean I had to put King into it because he was my go-to character. You know, when I started to play the game. He’s a good entry-level character, and then I just stuck with him. And in the comic, he’s interesting ’cause he just growls [because he’s wearing a jaguar mask].

ComicsVerse: I was gonna ask if you wrote dialogue for King. [Laughs]

Cavan Scott: The good thing, like Chewie in STAR WARS, [is that] everyone just seems to know what he says. When King growls, everyone knows what he’s talking about. So that’s a bit of fun you can have [as a writer]. So yeah, there’s a lot of growling on with those lines. It does make the actual writing part a lot easier. And that’s when Andy has to come into his own. He has to get across, in the expressions of a mask, what the guy who’s growling is thinking. [Laughs] But he’s a genius, so he can do it. But yeah, I had to get King in there. For me, it wouldn’t have been TEKKEN if King’s not there.

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Tekken comic Cavan Scott

The TEKKEN Comic’s Future

ComicsVerse:  What other characters can we expect to see, and what might a future TEKKEN comic series hold?

Cavan Scott: Here’s the thing, everyone asks “Are you using my favorite character?” And you know, we’ve got four issues. Hopefully, there will be more. We’ll look and see how this miniseries does. I’ve got lots of plans. [Titan Comics has] got lots of plans. Bandai has got lots of plans. And you wanna get in as many characters as you can while also being able to write a decent story. So you’re not just going “And here’s someone else!” because [that would be disingenuous].

All these people are texting me and tweeting me, going, “Is this character in? Is that character in?” I know I’m gonna disappoint some people because we can’t get the entire cast in, but we’re trying our hardest. And hopefully the characters we can’t get to this time will be able to be pushed front and center in future comics. But we thought [since we are] reestablishing TEKKEN as a comic, the Mishima boys had to be at the core of it.

But if you think about it, being away from the tournaments, it does open so many opportunities for stories we can tell. What are these characters doing in between the fights, in between the contests?  Yoshimitsu – what does he do when he goes out there and does good and is the Robin Hood with the weird tentacles? What exactly is he up to between tournaments? And what about his clan? How does his clan really work?

So TEKKEN’s got a huge, huge universe that we can explore, so it’s very exciting to be there at the beginning [of a new series]. And as I said, hopefully, if this takes off — and all indications show that, touch wood, it’s going to — there’s so much we can do. And so [to] everyone who’s clamoring [for their favorite character], the answer is, hopefully… Because we wanna be there for a long time.

Our thanks to Cavan Scott for doing this interview, and to Will O’Mullane at Titan Comics for setting it up! TEKKEN #1 is available now. TEKKEN #2 hits the stands on June 7th!

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