"Avatar: The Last Airbender" co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino spoke with CBR TV from our floating studio at Comic-Con International in San Diego, to discuss the successful animated series, its expansion into comic books at Dark Horse, how the comics tie into and inform the sequel series, "The Legend of Korra," and the future of that series.
On the impetus for bringing "Avatar" to comic books: It's a great way to revisit the old characters without having to do a full animation and everything… Obviously, 'Legend of Korra' was getting rolling so we didn't have time to do two series or anything like that, so I really like the comic outlet as a way to get these new stories out there.
On whether the end of "Avatar" was planned or developed over time: "I honestly didn't think it was going to get that big a reaction that it would carry to this day that it's like the number one question people continue to ask us. We had ideas of how to, you know, approach that story and was it going to be animated or could we tell it in a different way, and when the opportunity to do the comics came up it seemed like that was a good way to get into that story line. I'm excited that we're getting to delve into that.
On working with writer Gene Yang on the comic stories: "I don't know how many people find it through the comics versus the television show, but the great thing about working with Gene is he came to it as a fan of the show, but definitely -- because of his other work -- he brings a kind of personal point of view to the stories, which has been great… He loves the world, he's very faithful to the world, but he's also able to bring his own take on it.
On targeting a younger audience while employing such a complex mythology: "We've never had to really argue about it. Nickelodeon's been a great home for it. It's really the stories Bryan [Konietzko] and I want to tell, or just -- the stories we want to explore -- and we kind of propose these stories to the network and most of the time they have no problem, which has been remarkable. We've had a lot of freedom."
On bridging the gap from "Avatar" to "Korra" via the comics: There's definitely a bit of crossover, 'cause when we started on the comics we had laid some of the groundwork for 'Korra' as far as Republic City and, like we said, Beifong's metal bending, and that kind of stuff. We did want to kind of go back and show how did Aang and Zuko work together to form this new republic where benders from all over the world were welcomed and kind of living together in harmony and stuff. So it's nice to be able to do that story, and kind of show the origins of what you end up seeing in 'Korra.'"
On "Legend of Korra's" Season 1 finale tying up all the loose ends introduced in the pilot: "Certainly when we came up with the idea, initially it was for a 12-episode series, which Bryan and I were really excited about, to just go all out and do this amazing little miniseries. We designed it to have a really clear end to it -- that it could go on, but if this was it -- if this was all we got to do with Korra, you would have a satisfying end to the story. But we got more episodes, which is great, but we built it so that Korra has -- she's got aways to go, you know? She's not done kind of growing and learning about the spirit world and her spirituality and stuff, so that's really what we're going to be following throughout all these books is her spiritual growth and how she becomes the Avatar -- and what kind of Avatar she wants to be."