A Boy and his Giant Robot
Once a year, giant robots from outer space come to Earth and bond with young cadets from the elite Sky Corps Academy to defend the world from the terrifying aliens known as the Sharg. It’s a great honor to be chosen, but for Stanford Yu—the janitor’s kid, not even a real cadet—it was only a dream…right up until a lost robot picks him anyway.
What are you most excited for people to experience when they pick up Mech Cadet Yu?
Greg Pak: I’m excited for folks to meet Stanford Yu, identify with him as a scrappy underdog, and thrill with his experiences as he bonds with a giant robot and joins the Sky Corps Academy. This is a story that’s packed with ridiculous fun and escapism—what could be cooler than to have your own giant robot, right? But it’s also one of the most heartfelt things I’ve written in years.
Stanford’s a kid; his emotions are all right there, just beneath the surface. He’s figuring out who he is and where he belongs, and he’s got that amazing kid mix of astounding resilience and fortitude and optimism combined with immense vulnerability. All of this comes out in particular with his relationships and conflicts with the other kids at the academy. I think we come back to stories about kids at schools like this because finding our posse and navigating through oppressors and bullies is such a formative experience for so many of us. It’s a huge amount of fun to be writing a story like this and I can’t wait for it to get out into the world.
Takeshi Miyazawa: Greg sums it up better than I ever could have. I’d just like to add that the robots have been a joy to design and draw, but the human relationships Greg is writing for this series are what’s really motivating and pushing this story forward for me. Stanford is just so darn relatable. All I can say is, expect a gamut of emotions along with the gut-wrenching to fist-pumping moments.
You two have been a dynamic duo for a while! What’s your partnership like?
Pak: I love working with Tak. He’s one of those artists who just kind of knows how my brain works. I tend to write characters who work their way around their emotions with wry humor, awkward social moments, and the occasional glimpse of raw vulnerability. Tak totally gets all those nuances and delivers on all of the humor and heart in those situations—I just love it. He also loves the same kind of big action and giant robots and ridiculous genre fun that I adore, so it’s always a total blast teaming up with him.
Miyazawa: I love working with Greg. His writing is so visual that it’s a treat breaking down his scripts. Add to that, his perfect balance of humor, drama and action. It’s great working with a someone who shares such similar instincts in their work. Plus, I respect and appreciate him for constantly challenging himself with new concepts and genres to work in and always giving me a head’s up when he has a great idea.
Stanford starts out in a rough spot; he’s a bright, talented kid, but with no opportunity to prove it. Were you ever in Stanford’s position?
Pak: Absolutely. We all were, right? I was thinking about this a while back, and so many of the characters I’ve loved over the years are underdogs. Almost all of us, no matter how put-together or successful we might appear to others, came up through the world feeling like the underdog. I love stories that admit and embrace this. It makes for deeply human, honest storytelling on another level, too—none of us get anywhere without hard work and without the help of others. Set that kind of journey in the middle of an incredibly high stakes world in which kids with giant robots have to fight alien monsters, and you get a ton of ridiculous genre fun with massive heart.
Miyazawa: I think everyone has been an underdog at some point in their lives. I know I have. It’s a frustrating and lonely place to be, but the victories you score afterwards shine that much brighter. I can’t wait for readers to see how much Stanford glows.
You’ve both got a lot of love for giant robots—what are some of your favorites?
Pak: When I was a kid, I collected Micronauts, which were the immediate predecessors of Transformers. The biggest Micronaut was a huge robot called Biotron, who had a see-through hatch in his chest where a smaller Time Traveller figure could ride. These toys originally came with no backstory at all—the incredible Mantlo/Golden Marvel comic series came at least a year after I got my first Micronaut toys. So I had the chance to just stare at and play with that toy for hours and weeks and months, just imagining the world and relationships that resulted in a dude being able to ride around in the chest of his giant robot. That whole idea blew my mind—it seemed so cool and strange and weirdly comforting, right?
I think that’s some of the attraction of giant robot stories—particularly giant robot stories involving kids. Kids are small and vulnerable—giant robots are huge and powerful. There was something incredibly compelling to me as a kid to imagine riding around in my very own giant robot. I think that’s a feeling we can carry all through our lives and it’s absolutely part of Mech Cadet Yu.
Miyazawa: I was a huge Transformers and Gobots kid. I couldn’t get enough of the toys and the shows. But the Gundam manga and anime were what really cemented my love for robots and science fiction. The attention to detail towards the robots, the environments, and characters was staggeringly beautiful to 6-year-old me. The politics and story were completely beyond me, of course, but it was enough to leave a lasting affinity to Gundam and giant robots.
What can we look forward to seeing in future issues of Mech Cadet Yu?
Pak: In the process of bonding with a giant robot, Stanford inadvertently makes an implacable enemy of a fellow student, an older girl named Park. So we’ll see a big rivalry developing between those two—with some spectacular payoffs down the road.