The smallest detail on a character can be one of their most defining or damning traits. When designing characters, you have to give a lot of care to make sure there’s nothing small wrong. Zeppeli’s mustache is apparently one of those things. JoJonium 2’s interview with Araki has been translated, once again by zehimonashi Tumblr. It’s an interesting piece on character design. Directly quoted:
Will Anthonio Zeppeli
Mr. Zeppeli’s Mustache Was A Considerable Gamble
Birthday: Around 1838
Horoscope Sign: Unknown
Blood Type: Unknown
Mr. Zeppeli’s* name comes from the rock band Led Zeppelin. To me, they’re the cream of the crop of musicians, so I felt I had to use them when I was naming him. It really is a shame, it’s kind of like cutting a joker right off the bat. So, I had to have that much resolve when I debuted Mr. Zeppeli as a character. Furthermore, the sound is important, of course JoJo, like Jonathan and Joestar, has a lot of J sounds. so I wanted to balance it out with the Z in Mr. Zeppeli even in English lettering. I similarly made sure the sounds weren’t too similar for Speedwagon.
Mr. Zeppeli: Jonathan’s master who teaches him the Ripple and guides him to destroying the Stone Mask. The way I see it, I dig teachers who at first blush seems like the ‘are you sure it’s going to be okay, he seems like he’s just messing around’ kind. Like how in Jackie Chan movies, where it’s like ‘this inebriate’s been drinking, but how is he so strong?’ Same for the teacher in The Karate Kid. With characters like this, it’s what’s on the inside that commands respect. And it’s through this gap you feel his appeal rather than through the superficial or just by appearances. I wanted him to have the image of looking weak but being actually strong, his outward appearance has the aura of a magician and a swindler’s mustache. This mustache is that of the artist Salvador Dali or Osomatsu-kun‘s Iyami, that type of lineage.
However, especially for a Shōnen magazine, a mustache was a component that required a lot of courage. First of all, it makes him seem older, and shady. I think it would be like this with any type of mustache. But in Mr. Zeppeli’s case, even though he’s a master, he isn’t an old man with a considerable age difference from Jonathan. Plus, he’s the lead supporting role. Perhaps it would make the readers turn away from him. So that’s why it took courage. He is a character that I have not really put out in any of my other works. but I made a decision to put out the “are you sure it’s going to be okay” type I mentioned before. Thinking back, it was a “gamble” or an “adventure” on my part. At the time, I thought, well, it’s JoJo so it should be fine. It’s called Bizarre Adventure after all. And finally for the record, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Jojo no kimyou na bouken) came out into the world before Bizarre Stories in this World (Yo ni mo kimyou na monogatari). I wanted to emphasize that.
*Araki only uses honorifics on Zeppeli in his signature on the original manuscript.
The Untold Story Behind JoJonium 02’s New Illustration
Q: That orb on his cane can’t possibly be…?
A: A steel ball from Steel Ball Run
You can’t have Zeppeli without a top hat. And when the diamond pattern is curved, it looks 3D and is in a nice form.
It seems like the most inane detail, in part because we’re all very used to Will having a mustache by now, but Araki’s right in that it sends a lot of potential messages that might not have worked for a shonen manga.
And while we’re here talking about JoJonium anyway, might as well mention that the next catch copy contest is up. You’ll be writing over this nice picture of Cars and Joseph. Same rules as always. 30 character phrase, 10 character pen name.