“I think any X Japan song kind of relates to an anime or comics,” says Yoshiki, founder and leader of the legendary Japanese rock band X Japan. “Also, X Japan, we are kind of like anime or comic characters, so it's kind of natural for me to be here, I guess.”
Yoshiki has been to fan conventions before, but 2011 marks his first trip to San Diego Comic-Con. The drummer, pianist and composer had been at the convention for all of four hours when we met him for an interview. In that time, he had joined Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane and Jon Goff on a panel for their latest project, Blood Red Dragon, a comic book that portrays Yoshiki as a rock star who is also a superhero.
Yoshiki and Stan Lee told the story of their first encounter with each other at Thursday's panel, which Yoshiki repeated to us during our interview. He had thrown a fundraiser. Stan Lee was sitting next to him.
“He asked me what I do. I said rock star,” he recalls. Then Yoshiki asked Lee what he did, knowing the answer, of course.
“He said, 'I make superheroes,'” Yoshiki adds. The musician says that his response was, “Great, are you going to make me a superhero someday?”
That was eighteen months ago.
Blood Red Dragon is created by Lee and released through Image Comics, written by Jon Goff and with art from Carlo Soriano and Crimelab Syndicate. Right now, four issues are planned, Yoshiki says, “to start, to see how it goes.” A preview issue was available for the first 1600 people at Thursdays panel. In the story, Yoshiki battles evil by turning into the Blood Red Dragon. He is sometimes accompanied by Tracy, a fan who also has superhero powers.
In an unusual move, the preview comic plays music, which was composed by Yoshiki. The musician said that he would “love to” have music featured in other issues.
“When I see all of the character art, I always think of a melody,” he says.
“Why didn't people do that before? It's just a natural thing.”
For Yoshiki, comic creation and music aren't as different as one might think.
“Any creative thing, art, it's the same thing,” he says. “Trying to fix this note or trying to make a character…to me, it's the same process.”
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