#FeatureFriday: ‘The Beast Legion’: How Jazyl Homavazir is bolstering Indian manga with its animated promo

Even as the indigenous comic publications are warming up to the concept of manga, award-winning artist and illustrator Jazyl Homavazir is now into his eighth year of running weekly manga-based webcomic, The Beast Legion. With as many as 13 chapters published online and another 11 in print, the series updates every Tuesday on the series’ official website. For those new to the series, Beast Legion chronicles the tale of an exiled prince returning to rescue his home world from the dreaded Shadow Nexus and it’s leader Lord Dragos. But before he can confront these forces he must first tame the power of his chosen Guardian Beast. The journey also traces his evolving relationship with the beast as well as making new allies along the way in his quest to free his home world of Lithopia. Almost every important character has a beast form associated to him and they will be revealed throughout the course of the series. Beast Legion has been a concept I’ve been dabbling with since 2005. I was a huge fan of 80s cartoons and I wanted to create a manga style property in a similar direction. The manga is very much inspired by my childhood interests such as He-man and Thundercats so there’s plenty of subtle easter eggs throughout the series I have been writing scripts for the series since my college days,” reminisces Homavazir. “It’s only when the Animax Pan Asia writing competition came about that I actually took things seriously and wrote an actual screenplay after a lot of research. The story has come a long way since then as I had time to clearly flesh it out over the years.” But almost a decade since debuting the series, the writer has now taken a step further in this pet project of his, creating an exclusive animated opening clip for the series featuring all the major characters:
The clip has garnered plenty of acclaim and also breached 5000 viewership mark within three weeks of its launch. “The animation is done by me completely solo just like the comic. However, I was assisted by Emily Chan, the brilliant web-comic artist behind the hit comic Stupidfox for two of the major backgrounds in the opening. A big credit also goes to the amazing people who support me on the crowdfunding platform Patreon on a monthly basis, which serves as a good motivation factor. Hence I decided to specifically thank them in the animation.” Amid shuttling between his freelance work for YouTube Kid’s series Aadi & Friends, a comic project and also character design projects across the globe, Jazyl ploughed through his free time in pulling it off, managing to put the pieces together after three and a half months of toil. But, “It was all worth it,” he feels. So for all the sweat and blood invested, what’s the purpose behind creating this sequence, though? “I wanted to create something with extreme camera angles and shading in 2D that is rarely tackled here in India. Secondly, to thank the 8000+ readers who read my comic almost on a weekly basis and the people who support my efforts by contributing monthly funds towards my Patreon campaign.” But more importantly, he reveals, it’s an effort towards raising awareness about the concept of Indian manga whilst also trying to inspire the budding animation artists. “Animation is not all fun and games. You need to be ready, draw, incessantly hone your skills and believe in yourself and your creations. But at the same time, there’s nothing one cannot achieve with dedication and faith in oneself. The first steps are always the toughest, but once you set out, the path will eventually clear along the way.” Not to be mislead by the clip, there isn’t an animated series in the pipeline just yet but Jazyl dreams of turning it into one, someday. “An animated series is a whole new ballgame altogether. It requires a diverse talent right from colorists, key animators to VFX artists to deliver a proper episode and that in turn would require a huge budget and resources.” “Hopefully, someday if enough folks believe in the series and decide to support my efforts through something like Patreon, I do believe it’s possible. I’m optimistic and believe that this animated intro reaches the right people and soon an opportunity would spawn.” For now, The Beast Legion is set to continue as usual. And for the record, there are over 56 chapters already planned! “I hope I can complete drawing them over time,” he concludes.