Eldo Yoshimizu is best-known for creating the Yakuza manga title Ryuku, and as such isn't as popular in the comic book medium. The creator has now teamed up with acclaimed author and novelist Benoist Simmat to bring their brand new title to the Western world via Titan Comics.
Gamma Draconis is is a crime thriller that focuses on two rival occult organizations and takes place in two countries. Aiko and the other main characters traverse this strange world of transhumanism, black magic, and old family secrets.
Now, Benoist Simmat and Eldo Yoshimizu have a Japanese/French language barrier, so we wanted to learn more about that interesting creative process. When we were given the opportunity to chat with Simmat about Gamma Draconis, our interview was conducted via translated e-mail, but we were able to get a lot of our questions about the comic answered.
Check out the full transcript of our interview with Benoist Simmat below alongside a number of interior pages from the book, the cover art, synopsis, and release date. Be sure to take a look and leave your thoughts in the usual spot!
Literary Joe: When you initially chose the title for the book, were there any other options you had considered other than Gamma Draconis?
Benoist Simmat: I wasn't thinking of any options other than Draconis at that time. The title was the idea of the publisher, he wanted an intriguing title, while the first idea of Benoist Simmat was to title the book "Aiko and the Invisibles”.
Literary Joe: Was this project always planned to be for the manga medium or was there any talk of building that world in a standard comic book setting?
Benoist Simmat: Draconis is a manga inspired by the French-Belgian comics. It has been imagined as a TV series could be. We drew lines, imagined characters that could be developed in different forms. Comics of course, but also TV series, novels, games, etc.
Literary Joe: There are so many characters in this book and we see multiple perspectives - who would you consider to be the primary protagonist and why?
Benoist Simmat: The main character of this volume is Aiko. She is a young modern Japanese woman opened to the world. She is a feminist heroine with a lot of character, delicate and determined at the same time.
Literary Joe: Were any of the character designs or arcs inspired by the aesthetic of other art, people in real life, or any characters from other media, or were they all created completely from scratch?
Benoist Simmat: Aiko, Jeanne, and Naoki are modeled on my acquaintances. Other characters are inspired by movie actors, but they are deformed.
Literary Joe: How long has this project been in production? Can you share a trajectory of how Gamma Draconis first became an idea to where it is today?
Benoist Simmat: The production took about 3 years. It was necessary to break in because of the language problem. The main idea was developed by Benoist Simmat and Stéphane Duval the editor during weekly meetings. The chapters translated into Japanese were sent to me as I went along and I was free to make adjustments to give life to the characters and develop their personalities.
The objective was to make an occult thriller that takes place on two continents, in places we know and to which we wanted to pay tribute. With a will to draw vernacular and contemporary architecture to give an aesthetic power and a strong dynamic to the manga. It increases the dichotomy between two occult visions that oppose each other.
Literary Joe: What else would you like our readers to know about this project that I haven't touched on?
Benoist Simmat: This volume is mainly influenced by the English magic tradition mixed with some transhumanist theories. English readers should find it easy to go further in their reading. We would have liked readers to take a picture of themselves with the book at the place of the plot.
Unfortunately, the covid does not allow this at the moment, but we hope that Gamma Draconis will allow readers to travel a little, and who knows, to explore other planes like the protagonists of the story. Collaborations between western authors and mangakas are not common and I hope it will give others the desire to make crossovers.
Aiko Moriyama studied religious art at the Sorbonne, but her research in occultism quickly led her down a dangerous path. When several experts around her come under attack from a mysterious entity rising from the depths of the web, she finds herself embroiled in a police investigation involving the sinister leader of an international organization. From London to Tokyo, between transhumanism and black magic, Aiko is determined to solve the enigma of Gamma Draconis and to discover how exactly her family is involved...
Gamma Draconis releases next month on August 24th.