Set in the world of 1960s espionage, Kevin Dart’s two books – Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7 and Looks That Kill – follow the adventures of fictional spy, Yuki 7, as she takes on the evil foes that James Bond somehow overlooked.
With the second book now out, I spoke to Dart about his creation and what fans can expect from Yuki in the future.
Jonathan Melville: Can you tell me a little about your background?
Kevin Dart: I’ve been working in the design business for 8 years. I hit my stride in 2007 when I landed the summer internship at Pixar Animation Studios. After that I worked on several commercial projects for Passion Pictures in London, and in 2009 began background painting for Genndy Tartakovsky’s Sym-Bionic Titan on Cartoon Network. Currently I am a visual development artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7 was the history of a spy movie which didn’t exist. Where did the concept come from?
It was largely inspired by Roman Coppola’s CQ. I wanted to create a world with two realities – one taking place in a movie, and the other in the real world with the people who make the movie. That idea evolved into the concept of creating a whole alternate version of pop culture history where we supposed that there had been a series of spy movies which rivalled even James Bond in popularity but had somehow faded into obscurity over the years. The book was meant to be an introduction to those movies for people who had never heard about them.
A Kiss From Tokyo – HD from Yuki 7 on Vimeo.
How long from conception to publication did the first book take?
The production cycle lasted about one year.
What was the response like?
The response was phenomenal, particularly to the animated trailer,A Kiss From Tokyo. People really seemed to get what we were going for and were excited to see more. The comment we kept getting was “When does the movie come out?”
When did you start planning Looks That Kill? Did you only ever have the plot that’s in the book or did it change?
I started planning the second book before the first one had even hit the shelves. The second one was more difficult to conceptualise because I felt like we had done a good job introducing the world, and now we had to figure out where to take it. The plot went through many changes throughout the process, but it was finally pulled together by our writer (and my wife) Elizabeth Ito. The only thing that really stayed consistent through the different versions was the idea of the underwear with the secret plans, which was dreamed up by the writer of our first book, Ada Cole.
Looks That Kill – HD from Yuki 7 on Vimeo.
The book is packed with stunning illustrations, not all by you. What sort of brief do you give the artists?
I gave the artists a brief description of the book and sent over all the materials I had relating to the artwork and story. It was sort of a broad assignment, and I didn’t want to tell them exactly what to paint because I wanted to see what new ideas they would inject into the book.
Do you miss those classic 60s poster designs, such as the old illustrated Bond posters?
Yes. I am a huge fan of the old painted movie posters. I don’t know why the studios choose to use photos for all of their marketing materials now. I haven’t seen a movie poster in the last 20 years that was able to capture the scale and excitement of a movie the way the old posters did. They really made you want to see a movie, while today’s posters just tell you who’s in the movie.
What are your favourite spy movies?
Deadlier Than The Male, Danger: Diabolik, Temptress of a Thousand Faces.
Trailers have been created to accompany both Yuki 7 films which leave viewers expecting to be able to buy the full films on DVD. Would you like to make a movie with Yuki and the Gadget Girls?
Yes! That would be my dream. I would love to one day have a whole series of Yuki 7 movies.
Who would play Yuki 7 in a movie?
Hmm, I’m not sure! I think it would be a tough role to cast. Some names have been thrown out before, but I have yet to see an actress who really struck me as the perfect Yuki.
You tease at the end of Looks That Kill that Yuki 7 will be back…will she?
Absolutely! I am already planning out the next book and a new short film. We are going to do a longer animation next time, for all of those people who have been wanting to see a real animated Yuki 7 adventure!
What’s the best way for UK buyers to get hold of the books?
Finally, who’s your favourite Bond?
Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice!