Earlier this month (February 2018), independent animation studio D’art Shtajio announced a new endeavor. They are currently in production on the pilot episode for XOGenaSYS, a comic series created by NBA player Johnny O’Bryant.
The series is a part of O’Bryant’s independent entertainment startup Noir Caesar. The company’s stated credo is “to intertwine Japanese anime culture with African-American streetwear and hip-hop culture.”
Noir Caesar already features a healthy lineup of comics that follow in that vein, with XOGenaSYS among one of the more renowned releases. You can purchase the first three chapters of XOGenaSYS here to see what it’s all about. O’Bryant created the original story, which follows a young man’s rise from street urchin to futuristic, exoskeleton-suit wearing, MMA-style tournament fighter.
Here’s a quick synopsis from Noir Caesar:
The future has grown into a decadent, overcrowded gang-ridden cesspool. If you’re not living uptown, you might as well be dead. Such is the case of Darius Smith, an artistic youth living in the hood, doing his best to avoid trouble and live life. Unfortunately, Darius has a hidden talent – he’s an explosive fighter! This makes him the target of many gangs and pits him in many brawls, landing him in the sight of the honorable Timothy Mustafa, powerful prince and owner of one of the most successful XOGeneSYS teams in the country. XOGenaSYS is a successful gladiator sport fought with powered exoskeletons, and Mustafa wants Darius to become the next new fighter! Can Darius become the next champion or will he fall like so many before him?
Put up your neon fists
The other names involved in the project are writer Tre McInthosh and artist Nikolas Draper Ivey. For the most part, Ivey’s art was confined to social media success (like his renditions of FFVII characters) and viral reactions (his Spider Man cosplay). He recently got a big break crafting the cover of the soundtrack album for a little film called Black Panther. You may have heard of it. The album cover is a minimalist piece of work, but one that has had about as much widespread acclaim and recognition as the film itself.
The Black Panther album artwork is much different than Ivey’s typical art, which tends to favor bold color and kinetic action. It’s a perfect match for the tournament fighter story that O’Bryant has created.
Meanwhile, D’art Shtajio has been keeping busy with several projects. Last year, they produced a short pilot episode for independent comic Indigo Ignited, created an animated teaser for Stephane Metayer’s Tephlon Funk comic, and at the tail end of the year released the first half of The Doll, a personal story from D’art Shtajio’s very own art director, Arthell Isom.
The rest of the team at D’art Shtajio consists of Isom’s brother, special effects coordinator Darnell Isom, project manager and director Henry Thurlow, chief marketing officer David Pinter, and executive assistant/manager Ayako Nagata.
XOGenaSYS, the comic is already a fantastic piece of work thanks to the smart writing by McIntosh and the cinematic artistry of Ivey. D’art Shtajio will undoubtedly add a whole new dimension to the story as they bring the world that O’Bryant created into the realm of animation. Get hyped.