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Meet Mohammad Yazid Kamal Baharin aka Zid, a painter and comic artist from Kuala Lumpur.
The 38-year-old recently played a pivotal role in bringing Legendary Entertainment’s King Kong to life in comic book form.
Titled Kingdom Kong, the graphic novel serves as a prequel to Legendary’s MonsterVerse film, Godzilla vs Kong. The comic is also a sequel to Skull Island: The Birth of Kong and it showcases a new enemy, a giant bat-like kaiju, Camazotz.
I was intrigued with the premise of the comic and film and the fact that a Malaysian played a small part in the MonsterVerse so much so I got in touch with Zid to get his thoughts on illustrating Kong and working closely with Legendary Comics and writer, Marie Anello.
What does it feel like illustrating Kong and Godzilla, Zid?
Just so you know, I’ve only worked on the Kong comics. Drew Edward Johnson, another artist extraordinaire is the Godzilla guy.
It’s a dream come true, I have to say. Not every day you get to represent a character so well known globally and you get full creative control it’s almost surreal. I still haven’t fully processed the gravity of it.
Can you share with us how your collaboration with Legendary Comics happened? How did they discover you?
I used to work with Robert [Napton] who is now the VP and my editor at Legendary Comics, way back when he was still writing comics. We worked together on our maiden project, a mini-series called Son of Merlin, a joint publication between Heroes and Villains Entertainment and Top Cow Productions in 2011.
It wasn’t my greatest work but I guess it left an impression that a couple of years later, Robert contacted me for Legendary’s Trick ‘r Treat: Days Of The Dead anthology. I suppose Legendary [Comics] fancied what I had been producing that when I kept asking for more work, they’d have something for me to gnaw.
They kept me around up to this day, praise the Creator.
Which character (Godzilla or Kong) did you enjoy illustrating the most and why?
Even though I didn’t illustrate Godzilla, my favourite had always been Godzilla from my childhood.
However, after working on Skull Island: The Birth of Kong, I grew a liking towards the bipedal primate. Understanding the MonsterVerse version of his backstory also made me more biased toward Kong
Which character was the most challenging to illustrate?
They were ALL a pain to do. Kong with his fur and he has to look right. Then there’s Camazotz, the bat-like Titan I designed, which has tattered wings and scales — ugh I’ll keep that in mind next time I design something, haha.
What are your thoughts about the MonsterVerse? What are some monsters you hope to see on the silver screen (and probably hope to even illustrate)?
I think the MonsterVerse has brought fans of the kaiju genre from the rubber suits days into new heights with the technological advancement in visual effects in films that Hollywood has to offer.
The storylines so far have been very respectful of the source material, even where some liberties are taken, they were done with care.
That said, I stated in an interview a couple of months back that it would be bonkers to see Mechagodzilla in the world of the MonsterVerse, but that didn’t age well.
Can you share with us some of the tools you typically use to draw your comics?
It’s all digital! Photoshop and the triangle brush tool for that dry lines look.
How long does it take to illustrate a page (from penciling to coloring) and what is your workflow typically like?
After reading the script, I will sketch a rough layout and then have the characters drawn.
I used to do everything on my own before having a family. But now, upon approval, I immediately jump to paint the backgrounds while I send a copy of the page to my assistants to block out the flats and colour the base on the characters from my line-art for me to finalize later on.
The whole bottleneck process alone takes about 4-5 days if there are no amendments to be made. In a month I produced about 5-6 pages on average.
Kingdom Kong took me a year to wrap up. After all is said and done, all the blood, sweat, and tears are worth it after seeing the end product turns out the way you can be proud of.
What ran through your head when you watched Godzilla vs Kong on the silver screen, knowing that you had a part to play in it?
I was moved by the sheer scale of it. There were a few tear-jerking moments for me that to this day I still couldn’t shake. I might be biased having worked on Kong with a certain attachment that I have towards the titular character. What a time to be a fan.
Again, it’s as surreal as it gets. Even though the monster titan Camazotz that I designed only appears in the prequel comic, it’s just too crazy to think that I have left my fingerprint in the canon. I’m still just slowly digesting it all after wrapping up a year-long project.
Zid has been added to Eksentrika’s growing Artist Registry. Click here to get in touch with the Malaysian comic artist.