Banzai Girls was picked up a couple of months ago by Arcana Studios and we sat down with creator Jinky Coronado to get the low down on the series and find out what else is going on in her world.
Major Spoilers: You went to a couple of conventions this year, how was the reception since joining Arcana Studios?
Jinky Coronado: About the same — a lot of waiting. (Laughs.) You see, I carefully scheduled the run of BANZAI GIRLS #1 — and the manga-format trade collection of BANZAI GIRL — both to come out in April in time for Pittsburgh ComiCon. I showed up, but the books didn’t, so that was disappointing for everyone. At least I had the new BANZAI GIRL statue, so that was something.
Same thing happened at Wizard World Chicago Con…I was there, but BANZAI GIRLS #2 wasn’t. But I finally had #1’s there and the manga trade and so on. I don’t do the costume anymore at the Cons, which I think might disappoint some fans, but in 99% of the cases, they’re a great bunch of people and they’ve been very patient with me as I’ve been working on the new series.
MS: How come you don’t do the costume anymore?
Jinky: Because I don’t think I really need to. I think the writing and art sell without me being a booth babe. I’ll do the Banzai Girl uniform for photo shoots, but not to work the booth, as a rule. I might surprise people once in a while, though. At a recent show I wore it for about 15 minutes and there was a flurry of picture-taking!
MS: For those who haven’t read a Banzai Girl issue, what is it all about?
Jinky: Wow, you mean someone missed it? Shame!
The first graphic novel can be described like this: “Banzai Girl” Jinky Coronado is a girl of three worlds; she just doesn’t know it yet. BANZAI GIRL tells the tale of Jinky Coronado, an Asian schoolgirl whose nightmares of being a Princess and a Futuristic Freedom Fighter foretell of extraordinary adventures that affect and inspire her real life. She’s 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 frightening alien creatures 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, as she and her friends take matters into their own hands to “save the world.”
The second series — called BANZAI GIRLS — picks up a year after the original series ends, and a lot has changed…the characters of Michelel and Jinky are now popstars and models, our lives are hugely different — and that’s all based on real-life, as well. We really did have a music CD come out. We really are models in FHM and MIRROR and FEMME FATALES and in calendars, and so on. Art imitating life imitating art…or something like that.
MS: Where is the separation between Jinky Coronado the artist and Jinky the character?
Jinky: It’s a 100% real story…up to a point. I started writing and drawing BANZAI GIRL when I was still, in truth, an Asian schoolgirl. It started out being about my life with my family and friends, nicely sprinkled with Filipino culture without actually saying it was in the Philippines. I had attended a whole bunch of Creating Comics Seminars sponsored by Glass House Graphics in Manila, so I was surrounded by quite a few guys drawing big, bright, bold adventures — and my earliest attempts at BANZAI GIRL were kind of quiet by comparison. Someone suggested that I start off by incorproating more of the obvious “trapping of the genre” asa starting point, then incorporate the “urban legends” of the Philippines — such as the the Manananggal, a horrfying, revolting vampire that pslits apart at the waist, as well as the Duwende and the Kapre` and other creatures — and it all started coming together.
MS: Did you end up drawing a lot of inspiration from real people for the characters?
Jinky: Yeah… all the characters are based on real people. The main character is me. My real sister Michelle is my friend Michelle in the story. My parents are there. My real friend Katie becomes my half-sister Katie J in the story. My brothers Pejee and Jhopet and even some of my teachers and friends and other relatives all make it into the story, as well.
MS: As a female, who draws highly attractive women, do you get a lot of flack from feminist groups? (Especially after the whole Adam Hughes/Mary Jane cheesecake statue debacle)
Jinky: No. It would be ridiculous if I did. All the horrible, terrible things going on, on this planet — the U.S.’s strange war, murder and just awful atrocities committed all over this country and this world — and people have to build up bile and anger over complaining that girls are being depicted as attractive? Some people have way too much free time.
Myself, after all brouhaha over the statue, I ORDERED the statue. I think it’s lovely, even though it lost some of the charm of Adam’s original drawing. I even recall a recent Marvel cover by an Asian artist that was the center of bizarre controversy…not because of what it showed, but because of what it DIDN’T show and was all about what people read into it.
Put it this way: I LOOK like my character. I come in real life with that tiny curvy waist and hair down to my butt and those proportions, basically. Plus I’m a lingerie and bikini model. Attractive art and photos don’t make me feel threatened. I’ve never experienced a gorgeous model-type complaining about things like the Mary Jane statue.
MS: You do everything in this title, were you formally trained in your craft(s)?
Jinky: I don’t do everything. On the first mini-series, Wilson Tortosa helped me with drawing the monsters and some incidental things, becasue I was slow and still learning. Plus, Michael Kelleher colors and does the production, and Matt Thompson does my lettering. But yeah, I write and draw the new series myself right now, since Wilson’s too busy on a massive project for LEGO.
To answer your question, I had a minor in art in college, then I went on to attend bunches of Creating Comics Seminars in Manila about writing, storytelling, style, penciling, and so on. I worked hard at it. I’m still learning. You can see, even between the first BANZAI GIRL series and now BANZAI GIRLS, my style has continued to grow.
MS: Banzai Girl has gone through a lot in the various stories that have been told since her debut in 2002. What changes are taking place in the story, or what will readers need to know if they plan on jumping on board and picking up their first issue.
Jinky: The easiest way, of course, is to pick up the trade paperback with the first mini-series all included. There’s a color version (published by Sirius) and a new manga-format black-and-white-with-tones version published by Arcana. However: I put the most critical stuff into a text page of the new Arcana-published BANZAI GIRLS series, though, so new readers can jump right in while the story moves merrily along.
By the way, readers may not know that I have a huge website and very active message board and even an online store. They should check out www.jinkycoronado.com.
MS: Any spoilers you can share?
Jinky: There’s a baby coming. I fight the Kapre, the Duwende, and a big honkin’ Japanese robot. And everything ties back into the dreams and nightmares my character had in the original storyline.
MS: You’ve been able to get some well known names on your projects too, right?
Jinky: Kind of. Superstars like Mike Deodato, Will Conrad, Al Rio, and even Playboy artist Dean Yeagle have all contributed pin-up art for my books. (Thanks, guys!)
Speaking of projects: Aside from BANZAI GIRLS, I’ve done a little other work here and there — some covers for other projects, pin-ups, a short story somewhere — but the biggest thing is my TokyoPop book series AVALON HIGH. The first volume is out right now, and I’m hip-deep into a double-sized second volume, that’ll be out next year.
MS: What is Avalon High?
Jinky: It started as a top-selling novel by teen author Meg Cabot, who has a pretty sizable teen fan following. AVALON HIGH: CORONATION is the manga-format sequel that TokyoPop publishes.
MS: Are Banzai Girl and Avalon High your full time jobs, or do you have other things going on the side to make ends meet?
Jinky: Wow, aren’t those enough?? (Laughs.) I still take on occasional modeling work for magazines — I did a little shoot in the Bahamas a few weeks ago — and I suspect there’ll be things like a BANZAI GIRLS FABULOUS FOTO BOOK coming out next year and maybe even another BANZAI GIRLS calendar coming up the year after that.
I got a call the other day from Galaxy Music, which released our BANZAI GIRLS CD, talking about maybe putting Michelle and me back into the studio for another CD in November. We’ll see.
MS: When you aren’t creating comics, modeling, and singing, what do you do to relax?
Jinky: Karaoke! And dancing. And going to movies. And eating great food, like Brazilian or Italian food.
MS: What other titles are you reading? Anything on your Must Have Pull List?
Jinky: I loved JACK HIGHTOWER, a graphic novel from animator Will Vinton, which my friend Fabio Laguna drew recently for Dark Horse. I love looking at THUNDERBOLTS, drawn by Mike Deodato. And i’m really looking forward to the upcoming new SERENITY mini-series at Dark Horse, which Will Conrad is drawing from Joss Whedon’s scripts.
MS: You’ve been in the indie realm for a long time, do you have any advice for aspiring creators?
Jinky: Learn to draw for real before trying to draw comic books. Don’t fake it. Get an agent if you’re close to ready — one that’ll take the time to teach you how to do it right.