Exclusive Interview | Aubrey Sitterson on Street Fighter X G.I. Joe
Earlier this month, IDW Publishing unleashed the unexpected crossover of two iconic properties: Street Fighter and G.I. Joe! Writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Emilio Laiso have brought together 16 fan-favorite characters from both franchises, including Ryu, Snake Eyes, Guile, Scarlett, Chun-Li, and Duke to fight it out in a new tournament run by classic bad guys, Destro and M. Bison.
CraveOnline recently caught up with Sitterson, and he told us how Street Fighter X G.I. Joe came together, his fandom for both properties, and a taste of what’s to come in the remaining issues of the miniseries.
Round 1: Fight!
CraveOnline: What’s your background in comics?
Aubrey Sitterson: Extensive! As a writer, I’ve worked with the biggest publishers in the industry, doing short stories for Marvel, DC, Image, Oni and Viz, as well as the original graphic novel Worth for Roddenberry & Arcana. Before that, I cut my teeth in the comics industry as an editor, first at Marvel, where I ran Ghost Rider, Punisher War Journal, Irredeemable Ant-Man and more, in addition to starting the Strange Tales anthology. As freelancer, I was also the first editor on The Walking Dead and Invincible, as well as handling Kick-Ass and several other titles.
What was your first experience with Street Fighter and G.I. Joe?
I actually have vague memories of the original Street Fighter – there was a local arcade with a back room full of older games that people would rent out for their kids’ birthdays, and I remember being absolutely terrible at it. But of course, like a lot of people, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is when I really fell in love. I actually didn’t have it on the SNES (I was a Sega kid), but whenever I was at someone else’s house, that was the game that I was dying to play. One thing didn’t change though: I was still absolutely awful.
A lot of folks’ first exposure to the G.I. Joe franchise was through the cartoons, but they hit a little early for my age group. Instead, the toys are what really pulled me in. My three cousins had what seemed like every G.I. Joe toy and vehicle ever made, and I loved staging massive wars with them. Of course, since I wasn’t initially a fan of the cartoon or comic series, the characters I loved were always the ones I though looked the coolest. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Croc Master and Zandar weren’t the series’ main characters.
Off the top of your head, what’s the greatest Street Fighter game?
It has to be Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, right? I don’t think there’s any other real answer. While the graphics are now in a totally different universe, and there are solid, solid arguments to be made that the gameplay has also improved as its become more complex, SFII remains playable and fun to this very day, not to mention the absolutely earth-shattering influence it had not just on other fighting games, but video games as a whole.
And the best version of G.I. Joe?
While the G.I. Joe toys were my first introduction to that world, and I did eventually end up watching a bunch of the cartoons in syndication, I think that G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is probably the best expression of the Joe characters. Larry Hama & co. took what was a very, very barebones concept and fleshed it out with real world conflict and drama. There’s a reason why people still talk about not only the series as a whole, but specific stories, like the famous silent issue #21 featuring Snake Eyes.
How did this crossover project come together?
Capcom, having seen the amazing work that Tom Scioli & John Barber have been doing on Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, came to IDW looking to do a crossover of their own. From there, IDW wanted to bring someone in with a lot of knowledge about fight-based storytelling, video games and comics, I pitched the tournament concept, they loved it and we were off to the races!
What’s the story of this miniseries?
Fighting. It’s all about fighting. When IDW first approached me, I realized that fighting was not only what both these franchises have in common and but also the primary thing that people want to see from them. I wanted a way to put the fighting front and center, while also leaving room to flesh out characters and build up a larger narrative, which is why I landed on the tournament format. If you’ve ever seen WWE King of the Ring or any other wrestling tournament, you know that it’s a shockingly effective and efficient way to highlight multiple characters, while building out numerous interlocking storylines.
I know that this approach isn’t going to be for everyone – some people would maybe have preferred we open with a three-page sequence of Guile saying goodbye to his family and traveling to the tournament while accompanied by scads of thought-captions. But we’re trying to do something different, better and smarter with this series, which is why we start in media res, with the tournament already underway and almost the entire issue being taken up by fight scenes.
Which characters are you focusing on in this miniseries?
The sixteen of them that are in the tournament, of course! That would be Snake Eyes, Crimson Viper, The Baroness, Rufus, Roadblock, Hakan, Jinx, Ryu, Guile, Gung-Ho, Chun-Li, Dan, Storm Shadow, Croc Master, Cammy & M. Bison. Also, seeing as he’s sponsoring the tournament alongside Bison, Destro is a massive part of the series as well.
Go to the next page for the second part of our interview with Aubrey Sitterson!