Get Graphic: Matt Frank Unleashes Tsubaraya’s ‘Redman’ on the West
Redman is the unsung hero of the kaiju-stomping world. Created by Tsubaraya (Ultraman) and originally broadcast in 1972, Redman’s exploits were originally released as 5-minute segments in Japan, Later he’d come to the West courtesy of video bootlegs and bad dubs on the USA Network.
Now in 2022, Texan artist Matt Frank (Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, Project Nemesis) brings his well-documented love of all things kaiju to comic shops with the Western release of Redman: The Kaiju Hunter series (courtesy of Behemoth). In the following interview, Frank invites you into his art studio and shows how he translated the cult hero from Japanese Tokusatsu to this week’s must-read.
PREVIEWSworld: Who are you and where do you hail from?
Matt Frank: My name is Matt Frank, I’ve been a comic artist and pro illustrator for over 15 years now! I hail from the land of Austin, Texas with its 110-degree summers and abundance of livestock!
PREVIEWSworld: What can you tell us about the story behind REDMAN?
Matt Frank: Redman is a low-budget superhero TV series from Japan circa 1972, produced by Tsuburaya Productions (the creators of Ultraman). The show has something of a cult status in Japan, and around the year 2016, Andrew Hall of Phase 6 in Japan suggested that we revive the show as a comic after it went viral on Tsuburaya’s official YouTube channel. One of my primary approaches was to keep the look and feel of the original show, something very rough and bleak, but I wanted to emphasize the uncanny nature of the show. The idea became…what if the show, which kids in Japan saw in the 1970’s, wasn’t just a show, but actual broadcasts from another dimension? What would that be like for a “hero” who’s forced to fight monster after monster over and over again?
PREVIEWSworld: How did you become a fan of the kaiju genre?
Matt Frank: Like a lot of folks my age, I grew up during the internet boom, and suddenly a massive amount of knowledge was available in convenient ways unheard of before my time. Before that, I would scour Blockbusters for Godzilla and Gamera movies and pour over G-Fan magazine for information about everything else beyond the core kaiju franchises. A lot of this spun out of my love for dinosaurs as a kid, and kaiju were like bigger and crazier dinosaurs, so naturally, I was drawn directly to them. When the internet came home, I remember learning even MORE about the genre, and the Anime Craze of the late 90’s and early 2000’s only reinforced this fervor for Japanese pop culture…not to mention when Power Rangers opened up an entire world of Japanese superheroes to kids like me.
PREVIEWSworld: How did you get into comics as a professional?
Matt Frank: I actually started doing pro comics work while still in college, around 2006 or so. I had started posting a ton of art online, mostly through DeviantArt, and that started getting the attention of folks looking to explore the radical idea of giving artists this thing called “money.” It wasn’t until late 2010 that I was hired as a regular artist on IDW’s various Godzilla comics that I was able to become a full-time artist, and since then I’ve worked on Transformers, Mars Attacks, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, and recently I did my first Marvel covers for Trials of Ultraman!
PREVIEWSworld: What tools do you use to draw?
Matt Frank: I still use a lot of traditional tools: pencils, brush pens, good ol’ Copic markers, but more and more I’ve been relying on digital media. My best color work tends to be digital and recently I’ve begun more penciling and inking digitally as well. Naturally, I use a lot of reference material, which means that I’ve bought a ton of kaiju and tokusatsu photo books from Japan!
PREVIEWSworld: What’s next for you?
Matt Frank: There’s so much on the horizon and yet I can’t speak too much on it! I’m still doing Godzilla work, specifically for Phase 6 in Japan, as they have been releasing the American Godzilla comics for the first time in the Japanese market. I’ve been doing covers for them for several years now and it’s really cool seeing my work on display at the official Godzilla Store. I’ve been working on some other tokusatsu franchises like Izenborg and Spectreman, and I’ve got a creator-owned series underway with Unlikely Heroes called Miss Medusa’s Monstrous Menagerie! Lastly, I’m hoping that Redman can continue once we get through the third volume…there’s a lot left to the story that hasn’t been told yet!
REDMAN #1 (APR221297) is available June 29, 2022, at your local comic shop!
If you want to discover more of Matt Frank’s work, be sure to follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and check out his website.
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