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David A. White (DW) has made a career out of Mecha. From involvement with some of Mecha’s greatest games, such as Mechwarrior 3 and Mechwarrior 4, as well as providing concept designs for Transformers: War for Cybertron, David has led a varied career centered around giant robots.
ToonariPost (TP) was recently able to get in contact with him and briefly interview the man who has been a strong huge influence in modern Mecha design. His most recent works are more art centered, showcasing his Mecha designs as well as teaching burgeoning artists thorough his additions into multiple ‘how to draw’ books. David’s own books, Mecha 1 and Mecha 2 serve to inspire young Mecha artists even further, making his career all the more important.
TP: How was Anime Boston for you?
DW: Hello! Anime Boston was very successful for me on many levels. Not only did I sell a decent number of books and prints, but I also had a great time. The energy at the con was very positive and I enjoyed seeing all the cosplay. I was initially concerned that the layout of the con, with the artist alley separated from the dealer’s room on a completely different level, would kill the artist alley. I was completely wrong about that.
Artist alley was continually busy. I would say I had as good a show as the 2011 New York Comic Con and that was a very good show for me. I was expecting there to be more mecha artists since it was an anime con but I was the only one. I think I’m a little special because my art is based on original designs instead of fan art. There were some original web comic artists there as well, but most of the stuff for sale was fan art of some sort.
TP: What did you think of your panels, and were they a success?
DW: I hosted 3 panels and I would say the first one was very good, the second was a total failure, and the last was GREAT. This was the first time that I had ever hosted a panel or even attended a con panel. The first panel, “let’s design a Mecha” was very fun and I think everyone had a good time.
The second panel, “Designing Mecha for Video Games”, wasn’t listed on the paper schedule and only about 10 people showed up. “Evolution of the Giant Robot” was the last panel and it was fantastic. The room was packed with about 190 people and they had to turn away about 3 times that many more people due to lack of space. My friend Andrew Collie from CollectionDX.com co-hosted with me and helped imbue the panel with his incredible knowledge of giant robots.
TP: Can you give me some thoughts on the current status of Mecha in Anime, Manga and gaming? You can separate them into sections if necessary.
DW: I don’t read manga so I can’t comment on that, but I do monitor what’s happening in anime and games.
DW: I think the mechs have a strong presence in games right now, or at least they will when some in-development games are finally released. Armored Core and Front Mission continue to release new and high quality titles. The new games that I am referring to are MechWarrior Online, MechWarrior Tactics, M3ch, Hawken, and Steel Battalion 2. All of them look great and have a lot of potential.
DW: Anime has never been dominated by mecha shows. I think we are fortunate to get three or four shows a season that have some sort of mech aspect. There have been some excellent direct-to-video mecha shows lately such as Gundam Unicorn and Broken Blade (Break Blade). A few recent shows that I want to check out include Rinne no Lagrange, Guilty Crown, and the new season of Eureka Seven. Even though it’s a couple of years old by now, I highly recommend Macross Frontier. I prefer the TV series to the movie adaptations.
TP: Are you a fan of Gundam? If so, what is your favorite series?
DW: I do like Gundam. I was heavily influenced by it when I was younger. It was always a real treat to get a new issue of Hobby Japan or Model Graphix. I would drool over the intricate designs from Zeta and Double Zeta Gundam! I didn’t actually see any of the Gundam anime until I was in college and got a hold of some fansubs for the first time. My favorite series are 0083: Stardust Memory, and 08th MS Team. I LOVE the designs and animation for Gundam Unicorn, but the storytelling is a bit poorly handled IMHO.
TP: What do you think of the Transformers films so far? Do they do the giant robot genre justice?
DW: Man, I could write a dissertation on how much I dislike those 3 movies. I have issues with how the robots are designed and portrayed, but mostly I hate the portrayal of the human characters as simple minded, disgusting, petty, trash-talking, self centered, idiots. I think the movies portray Americans in a very bad light.
TP: How did Mechwarrior factor into your career? Was this an obvious move for you to work with BattleTech and MechWarrior?
DW: The experience of working on the MechWarrior franchise has helped form my artistic style and career. The honest truth is that my involvement with Mechwarrior was pure luck.
DW: I was a big fan of the Battletech books and miniatures when I was a kid, but I never played the game. Battletech is the tabletop predecessor to MechWarrior. I liked the old designs a lot but they are obviously dated now. I was offered the lead artist position when my company got the opportunity to work on MechWarrior 4: Black Knight. I tried to turn down the position because I thought the game was still in that dorky 80’s style.
Luckily, my managers forced me to do it anyway! I was incredibly happy when I saw that MechWarrior had been reinvented into a more modern and militaristic visual style. It was an incredibly challenging project because of all the new technical things that I had to learn. I also had to match the existing MechWarrior 4: Vengeance aesthetics.
In the end, I think it all turned out very well and it is one of my proudest achievements along with MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries. Now, because of that experience, I am able to visually design new mechs for the ongoing Battletech tabletop game.
For more on the interview with David A. White, check out part 2 coming soon.
Image Courtesy of Mecha Zone