John Tobias is an American comic book artist, graphic designer, video game designer and writer. Tobias is best known for creating the Mortal Kombat series along with Ed Boon.
Tobias became interested in drawing from an early age, inspired by comic books. During high school he took weekend courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was an artist for The Real Ghostbusters comic book series before joining Midway Games. Tobias said his original career plan was to be a comic book artist, but the advances in graphics at the time made the video game industry more appealing to him. He worked on the original arcade version of Smash TV prior to the success of Mortal Kombat in 1992. Tobias created the early Mortal Kombat series’ storyline and was responsible for the design of the entire character roster from the early games in the series through Mortal Kombat 4. This includes the series’ most popular characters including Goro, Liu Kang, Raiden, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage, etc.
By the end of the 1990s, however, the MK series hit a low ebb. Tobias, along with other prominent Midway staff members, including Dave Michicich and Josh Tsui, left Midway in 1999 and formed Studio Gigante later that year. Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus, published by Microsoft Game Studios in 2003, was the first game Studio Gigante created, followed by WWE WrestleMania 21. Studio Gigante ceased operations in 2005 and Tobias now works as a consultant in the games industry. As of September 2012, he is employed by the social games studio Zynga.
Despite being one of the original creators of the MK series, Tobias is not mentioned in commentary or descriptions in the “making of” documentaries for Deadly Alliance and Deception, but was referred to as one of “four people who made” the original Mortal Kombat. However, he can be seen in the commentaries for Mortal Kombat 3 in the collection Midway Arcade Treasures 2. In 2008, Tobias illustrated a pack-in comic with special editions of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.