By Amanda Steele
Avatar: The Last Airbender series and The Legend of Korra have been hugely successful animated television series, and these stories have continued in books and comics ever since. This franchise has a large fan base, and fans have especially flocked to the series for its endearing, relatable characters and diversity including many characters of color as well as making Korra, the main character of her series, queer.
Fans of the series got together at NYCC on Saturday morning in room 1A21 for Dark Horse’s “Continuing the Avatar Legacy” panel and the house was packed. The panelists included three people who have contributed to the world of Avatar and Korra in one way or another: The Rise of Kyoshi series co-author FC Yee, Dark Horse Assistant Editor Jenny Blenk and lastly, Michelle Wong, artist for The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire series.
The focus of this panel was discussing these panelists’ role in the comics as well as answering questions about the world of Avatar and Korra.
They discussed their various parts in bringing these stories to life. One interesting question was given to Yee as he was asked what it was like working on a story about Kyoshi when much of her life and the ending of her story was already known from the series. He said this allowed him to show that character “complete a journey of change culminating along an arc to an endpoint…It was a matter of trying to figure out that arc and have it make sense.”
Since the series has been so successful and fans have really attached to the world as well as the characters, the panelists were asked about what it is that brings people back to this world time and time again.
Yee: “One theory is that the world is so complete and rich. Characters you love come and go, but the world keeps happening around them…The best stories are set in places that draw you to the characters, but life will operate in ways without them, hinder them, and push them forward.”
Wong: “The world is full of such great characters. The plot and fight scenes are important, but the characters draw you in. These stories have such a great and wide cast to draw on.”
Since the stories of this world changed from television to print, there are changes that need to be made and challenges that present themselves. The panelists were asked what some of the challenges appeared in bringing the animated series to print.
Wong pointed out that in comics you have to “take a snap shot and make sure it gets the point across clearly” as opposed to animation where there is more room to get the scenes across.
Yee added to this by talking about how there is a lot of movement in the series that can be difficult to put to the page. Instead of trying to capture every single moment, he tries to capture the feeling and what the world is like.
And, many fans are probably wondering if these creators were fans before they started creating for the universe as their job. Wong said that she came to appreciate the series more after working on the comics. She also talked about how many people she knew who were thrilled with Korra/Asami, and how that felt like a “dream come true” for many people. Wong also noted that because of fan reactions they try to include more Korrasami moments in the comics.
For Yee, The Rise of Kyoshi was a “dream project.” He first started watching the series during season two and says he has always been a huge fan. Blenk,also a big fan, started watching the Avatar series in high school. She felt like the series was full of joy and really loved the first Korrasami kiss in the comics.
For fans looking for announcements of what’s next, there wasn’t a lot of information given. Fans asked questions about the Netflix show and more, but they didn’t have answers. However, fans can look forward to part 2 of The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire which is available November 12.