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A Sort Of Kung Fu Hip-Hop Wizard Of Oz: An ECCC Interview With Yehudi Mercado

Written by Tim Midura on Thursday, March 08 2018 and posted in News with Benefits

A Sort Of Kung Fu Hip-Hop Wizard Of Oz: An ECCC Interview With Yehudi Mercado

Talking Sci-Fu, scratching the perfect beat, and Star Wars as religion.

Source: Emerald City Comic Con

Yehudi Mercado is a Los Angeles-based writer and cartoonist. His work includes Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon, Hero Hotel, and the upcoming Sci-Fu from Oni Press. The book is set to release March 14, but Yehudi is unofficially launching the book at Austin Books & Comics Saturday March 10 during SXSW from 12-4pm.


Tim: Sci-Fu is set to drop in a couple weeks. For the uninitiated, can you sum up the series?

Yehudi: I would say it's a hip-hop sci-fi kung fu adventure story. Set in the '80s in Brooklyn, it's about a kid who is a DJ. One night he scratches the perfect beat and that summons a UFO that takes him to a robot planet. He has to fight these robots in order to get back home. Sort of like a kung fu hip-hop Wizard of Oz.

Tim: Have you ever scratched the perfect beat before?

Yehudi: No! I'm terrible at it. My big fat fingers are only good for drawing cartoon characters.

Tim: Is it a coincidence that Discopia rhymes with Dystopia?

Yehudi: It is not a coincidence. It could also be "Utopian" or "Dystopian". It's basically a robot planet where the inspiration for music comes from. It's sort of been corrupted by robots.

Tim: What's your stance on disco?

Yehudi: That's the thing. It's set in the '80s so it's old school hip-hop. Of course, they would have disco as an influence. Also, the whole planet looks like a disco ball.

Tim: Kung-Fu and Hip-Hop have always been connected. Which were you exposed to first?

Yehudi: I think around the same time. I grew up in Houston and every Saturday after cartoons would be kung fu movies. Probably kung fu first. Then junior high I started getting introduced to the Beastie Boys and Run DMC. I was a latchkey kid, so every time I would come home from school, I would set on a record and choreograph my own fight scenes. I've always married the two.

Tim: How was it bringing the music of Hip-Hop to a static page?

Yehudi: It's interesting. I would draw to music. I come from animation so movement and motion are everything to me. I hate a page that's just dead and flat. Everyone's gotta be moving. Everyone's gotta be gesticulating. Things in the background have to be whizzing. Hopefully that comes across and feels like you're listening to music. I was drawing to music.

Tim: What did you mostly listen to while drawing Sci-Fu.

Yehudi: The Sirius XM Backspin on an endless loop.

Tim: Your color palette is very neon-influenced. I don't normally associate neon with kung-fu or hip-hop. What made you decide to go that way?

Yehudi: That was the sci-fi influence. I definitely wanted it to feel like Blade Runner/high tech. I also wanted it to feel like you're almost inside DJ equipment. I used to have these turntables that had underlighting. I always thought that was magical. As soon as you turned it on, this amber glow came from below. Hopefully this gets animated. All the building lights are like equalizers. The whole city will pulse and move. All the roads are basically vinyl and all the cars are needles skimming along the road. Basically playing music.

Tim: Top kung-fu? Top hip-hop? Top sci-fi?

Yehudi: I'll always love the Beastie Boys. Kung fu? Jackie Chan is the best. I just love the way he uses everything in the environment. He's funny and goofy. I also love Buster Keaton. When I heard that was he influence I was like perfect. Top sci-fi? I always love Star Wars. Seriously, like Star Wars is my family religion. All of us are obsessed.





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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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