Video game historians have reason to celebrate today, as the first 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 along with some fascinating insights into his creation and the series itself. Tobias says that he designed the symbol as a way to represent both Mortal Kombat and the fictional tournament players participate in when they play.
Here’s a recently discovered image of the first drawing of the #MortalKombat dragon icon. I designed the icon as a symbol of our game and its fictional tournament… (thread) #MK30 pic.twitter.com/vVIDr4K9aPSeptember 22, 2022
As if it wasn’t cool enough to see the first sketch of Mortal Kombat’s now-famous dragon symbol, Tobias also shared some interesting details about its conception. For example, he revealed that John Vogel, another of the key developers behind the original Mortal Kombat, took a video of Tobias’ 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 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 it comes from.
The actual design of the dragon was inspired by a golden statue found on the desk of Midway general designer Ken Fedesna, which Vogel took and made into a model for the game.
The inspiration for the dragon icon design began when John Vogel saw a golden statue of a dragon on the desk of Midway General Manager Ken Fedesna. John borrowed it to digitize and use in the backgrounds of our game. Here’s a frame of 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,” said Tobias.
You will definitely want to peruse the all twitter thread (opens in a new tab) to hear the full story from Tobias himself, including a hilarious gossip involving a member of his family mistaking his original dragon sketch for a drawing of a seahorse.
On a completely separate nugget of video game history: check out this cut level from Super Mario 64 which was found after months of searching.