Video game historians have reason to celebrate today, as the first-ever drawing of Mortal Kombat’s iconic dragon symbol has been shared publicly for the first time.
Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias shared the image alongside some fascinating insights into its creation and the series itself. Tobias says he designed the symbol as a way to represent both Mortal Kombat and the in-game fictional tournament players take part in when they play.
Here’s a recently discovered image of the very first drawing of #MortalKombat’s dragon icon. I designed the icon as both a symbol of our game and its fictional tournament… (thread) #MK30 pic.twitter.com/vVIDr4K9aPSeptember 22, 2022
As if it isn’t cool enough seeing the very first sketch of Mortal Kombat’s now famous dragon symbol, Tobias also shared some neat details about its conception. For example, he revealed that John Vogel, another one of the key developers behind the original Mortal Kombat, recorded a video of Tobias’s drawing and used it to digitize the image into something that could be used in the game. The image above is a screenshot of that video recording.
Tobias also said that the reason the official Mortal Kombat icon is a dragon is because the title ‘Dragon Attack’ was being considered before the one we all know and love. ‘Dragon Attack’ is the name of a Queen song loved by Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon, so that’s where that came from.
The actual design of the dragon was inspired by a golden statue that sat on the desk of Midway general designer Ken Fedesna, which Vogel took and turned into a model for the game.
The inspiration for the dragon icon’s design started when John Vogel saw a golden dragon statue on the desk of Midway’s general manager, Ken Fedesna. John borrowed it to digitize for use in our game’s backgrounds. Here’s a frame from that footage… (5/9) pic.twitter.com/QTOQ3q6YLxSeptember 22, 2022
Tobias noticed the statue in the game and was inspired to design an Asian-themed arcade cabinet with a version of the dragon on the sides. “I used the dragon from my cabinet side panel sketch to inform the look of the dragon icon as our symbol,” Tobias said.
You’ll definitely want to peruse the entire Twitter thread (opens in new tab) to hear the complete story from Tobias himself, which includes a hilarious tidbit involving a family member of his confusing his original dragon sketch for a drawing of a seahorse.
In an entirely separate nugget of video game history: check out this cut Super Mario 64 level that was found after months of searching.