Kung fu and hip-hop have long been intertwined, and cartoonist Yehudi Mercado is tapping into that genre fusion with his new all-ages graphic novel Sci-Fu, on sale in March from Oni Press. During a jam session interrupted by aliens, a group of kids from ‘80s Brooklyn are transported to a fantasy version of their home, a lá The Wizard Of Oz. This new environment combines traditional kung fu elements with a neon-colored urban sci-fi aesthetic that falls somewhere between Blade Runner and Tron, and Mercado’s designs for both the settings and the characters are the biggest selling point of this book. Those strong visuals are tied to a story with endearing characters and exciting action sequences, and the fights get more creative as Wax learns more about his “sci-fu” abilities.
This is a striking book with lots of personality, and this exclusive Sci-Fu preview spotlights the clean action, animated expression, and dramatic composition of Mercado’s work. Wax’s first fight against a towering mecha showcases the scope and the thrill of his new power, and all it takes is a single karate chop to take out his opponent. One of the most clever aspects of the art is the graffiti-style sound effects, which heighten the hip-hop energy while adding some extra style to the page. The two-page reveal of Discotopia is the highlight of this excerpt, and the vibrant palette combined with the bold graphic elements of the topsy-turvy design create a cityscape begging to be explore.
Readers can discover the secrets of this world and the wonders of Sci-Fu when the graphic novel goes on sale March 13. But in the meantime, here’s a first look at Wax and friends realizing they’re not in Brooklyn anymore.