See more photos from Anime Expo 2011 in Shannon Cottrell's photo galleries "Anime Expo 2011: Day One, Friday," "Anime Expo 2011: Day Two, Saturday," "Anime Expo at Night: Hatsune Miku in Concert, Tune in Tokyo at Club Nokia" and "Anime Expo 2011: Day Three, Sunday."
Last month at E3, we stumbled upon a new fighting game called Skullgirls and fell for it. Initially, we gravitated towards the game because of its artwork, which is the work of Skullgirls co-creator Alex Ahad. We met Ahad at Anime Expo last weekend.
"My art style is influenced by a lot of Western and Eastern stuff," says Ahad. "There was a lot of cartoons and anime that I liked as a kid, including Fooly Cooly and a lot of Gainax stuff, like Gurren Lagann recently, stuff like Roger Rabbit and Batman: The Animated Series."
Ahad cites animators like Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and Hiroyuki Imaishi (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt) as influences.
Skullgirls started out simply as a bunch of character designs that Ahad had.
"I really like to make monster girls and these badass kind of dark but cute characters," he says.
Though Ahad had a "hypothetical idea" of using the characters in a fighting game, it didn't become a reality until he met Mike Zaimont, otherwise known as fighting game champ Mike Z., who had developed an engine for such a game.
"Before, the style was a lot rougher because I was not actually expecting Skullgirls to pick up as a real thing.I was just doing it on the side for fun," he says. "Then, when it started getting picked up for real, I had to redo a lot of the art and refine it."
When you play the game, you might spot some references to the cartoons and video games that have influenced Ahad.
"There is a Roger Rabbit reference in one of Peacock's moves," he notes, adding that the references are "kind of like a nod to the audience that we're kind of on the same wavelength, we all kind of like the same things."
Ahad says that Peacock is currently his favorite character in the game.
"I really had a lot of fun thinking about moves for her and we had a lot of fun animating her because she's just really off the wall."
But, for fans of Skullgirls, there's something new brewing in the character department.
"In terms of favorite character overall, we have future characters, one of them might be my favorite, but I can't mention them right now," he adds.
If you missed Ahad at Anime Expo, you might be able to catch him later this month at San Diego Comic-Con. He told us that he'll be with the LavaPunch collective in the Small Press section of the exhibit hall.
See concept art from Skullgirls on the next page.
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More images in "Skullgirls: Screenshots from the Next Big Fighting Game."
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