An animator and artist, Jazyl Homavazir is the creator of the webcomic The Beast Legion, the manga styled comic which has won a lot of acclaim including the best web comic award at Comic Con in 2012. Developing a love for animation at the young age of 6, he still remembers the time he spent worshipping He-Man and Thundercats. And when he was merely a seventh grader, he started experimenting with panels and sequential story-telling. Jazyl’s diverse influences ranging from 80’s cartoons to shonen manga show clearly in his work and make The Beast Legion an enthralling read.
RM: What were your influences when you did start drawing comic art?
JH: Well, I only took comic art seriously for one reason. After I had scripted Beast Legion I wanted to take it to the next level. A script is great but images will always have that much more impact if I decided to pitch it at some point. I felt manga would be the perfect way to approach that since the panels act as storyboards. My biggest influence in comic making would have to be Naruto. At the time I started creating Beast Legion in mid 2009, I had already started following the manga – I was intrigued how close the manga panels & the anime screenshots were. Second is obviously Bleach when it comes to art. I knew from there on that this was the approach I’d take. However, when it comes to story, I have always had a fantasy plot set for Beast Legion for years now.
RM: Tell us more about Beast Legion. How did it come about to be?
JH: Beast Legion is a high fantasy adventure series involving a prince’s (Xeus) journey to save his home world from the evil tyrant Dragos & his band of Shadow Nexus warriors. But before he can do that he must breach the huge gap in power between Dragos and him. The story involves his rise to power by mastering the secret of the Guardian Beasts while taming his own Beast form.
Beast Legion is a completely self-published, solo effort by me. It all started when I entered the Animax pan-Asia writing competition in 2007. It received some great feedback on the Animax Asia forums but it never did get selected. However I knew that the idea would work, it was just the execution that needed to be worked on.
So I started creating character concepts. In a year or so I realised that I had to draw the story out rather than let it deteriorate as a script – that’s how I started the comic. The first two prologue issues were more about getting used to the style. But after issue 4 I got a perfect grasp of the style & churning out pages became much easier.
RM: How far into the story are you now? Have you chalked it all out or do you just have a bare outline and you’re filling it in as you go?
JH: The episode synopsis of the story was chalked out before I even started drawing the series. Sure, bits and pieces will change in between, but I have a clear plot of 56 episodes set for it. As for the script proper, I’m halfway through that as well. It’s just that transcribing the script into visual form takes a lot of time & that too juggling between work & other factors.
Before you start a story, I believe you should have a clear direction of where it’s going to end and what elements intertwine to make it much more interesting. If you don’t think in advance and just go with the flow, no matter how creative you are, you will run out of ideas eventually. However If you are Masashi Kishimoto, Tite Kubo or Echiro Oda that logic doesn’t apply. They’re in a different league.
RM: What has been your best moment during your time working on The Beast Legion?
JH: There are moments that keep coming as the series progresses. Working on the comic has helped me overcome so many art blocks that I previously thought I could never get past; that in turn has also helped me tremendously in evolving my animation skills. There are certain pages or instances in the series that I’m very proud of.
However the best moment would have to be Comic Con awards where the series won the Best Web Comic award. It made all the effort put into the series worth it.
RM: As someone who loves manga, I must ask this – do you see more and more Indian comic book artists adapting the manga style in their work in the near future?
JH: You will surely see a lot of manga inspired art over the years. I myself have been approached to work on more comic titles in that style but have had to decline due to my work commitments. But we here in India have some phenomenal manga styled artists who are already showing their impressive skills. The day isn’t far when you’ll see a lot more manga inspired work coming from here.
RM: Where do you see the Indian comic book industry maybe 5 years down the line? And where do you see yourself fitting into that scene?
JH: Honestly I don’t keep a close track of the comic industry at all, so I’m probably not the best person to answer this. But there is bound to be growth as bigger investors enter the market and pick up indie products to promote them. I still consider myself more of an animator rather than a comic artist. Beast Legion is something that I work on purely as a passion & to get the story out to global audience. A manga format just happens to be means to reach that end.