Banzai Girl creator/writer/illustrator and calendar/FHM model Jinky Coronado, winner of a dozen beauty competitions as well as a former Miss Pond’s Asia, returns to her creation with Banzai Girls, an all-new continuation of her fanciful “real-life schoolgirl adventures, “as a $3.95 full-color comics series coming in May from Arcana Studio.
“Banzai Girls has a somewhat manga-influenced style, fun Asian schoolgirl characters, lots of action, pretty pictures, shadowy monsters, wild settings, a cool story, and it’s even sorta based on my life,” explains Jinky. “So I guess I’m sorta the star.” (That “star”dom has already exploded into a huge free website — www.banzaigirls.com — plus a plethora of Banzai merchandise, a new music CD released in the Philippines, and trade paperback collections of her earlier series.
In the original Banzai Girl series, Jinky Coronado was a girl of three worlds; a fun, pretty, popular schoolgirl about to have her big 18th birthday debut party, when her life gets turned upside-down. She begins having dreams that she’s a Princess on a far-off world, only to see those dreams turn nightmare as her King father is murdered in her arms. Her nightmares veer further into weird as she also dreams of being a futuristic freedom fighter battling hideous tentacled things buried beneath robotic exteriors. And her life goes over the edge when the weirdness comes home, as she fights a very real invasion menace that takes control of the city’s adults — and her compelling nightmares seems to hold the key to stopping it all. She further battled Filipino urban legends such as the Snakeman and the Manananggal, giving her work a flavor unique to the Amercian comics market.
In her new Banzai Girls series, fully eight months have passed. Jinky explains, “My character’s father has married my best friend’s mother, making for an interesting home dynamic. What’s more, my new step-mom is pregnant…and my character is going to be away travelilng for months on a popstar tour to promote her music CD — life does imitate art, and vice versa, I guess — and she doesn’t get to see the life-changing events happening in her absence.
“When she returns, she faces a whole new bunch of challenges — returning to school as a famous popstar, the alienation her best friend/step-sister has felt in the interim, and a whole new roster of urban legends to battle, include the Kapre` and the Duwende. They have to be seen to be believed.”
“Jinky is probably the only writer/artist in the business who can also lay claim to being a lingerie model with pictorials in FHM Philipipnes and in multiple editions of her own calendar,” says Sean O’Relly, Arcana’s editor-in-chief. “And she’s proven to be more than a one-hit wonder. She has big projects popping up from other companies, and the Banzai Girls legion of fans seem to grow and grow.”
“When I say this book is kind of about my life: It really is,” says Jinky. “The character Michelle in the book is my sister in real life; Rommel is my cousin; Kat really is my friend; Michelle and I really did have the Music CD come out. I have many friends and relatives who get mentioned or get walk-ons in the comic. I am even including specific cultural details and my country’s version of urban legends. And yes, I really wore an Asian schoolgirl uniform, but I promise you it wasn’t that short,” she adds, laughing.
“I created Banzai Girls knowing that I had to appeal to the guys as well as the girls. I realized that if I made the main character ME using my own professional name, and made it from the heart, with lots of sass and adventure, I could appeal to a wide audience, male and female, whether they were manga/anime` fans or not.”
“When I read Jinky’s proposal to continue Banzai Girls in a new color series and saw her level of effort and commitment to this, I knew Arcana had to do this project,” says O’Reilly. “I pursued it for a year. We’re into other things such as animation, so the style of Banzai Girls, and its potentialities for other media, seemed particularly appealing.”
What’s more, each issue will feature a Photo Album of Banzai Girl photos with Jinky in character. The series will also offer digitally-enhanced alternate photo covers of Jinky and other models, battling the monsters unleashed in each issue.
Among the beauty competitions won by Jinky Coronado: Miss SK Supermodel; Miss Iloilo Summer Youth; Miss Lovely Girl; Miss Guimbal; Miss San Nicholas, etc. “Not long ago, I was Miss Atub-Atub Queen, waving to folks from atop a float during Dinagyang — our country’s proud equivalent of Mardi Gras or Brazil’s Carnival.”
Arcana Studio will also be offering other Banzai Girls merchandise in the weeks to come.