Music by Bad in Bed.
JANUARY 22, 2018
My band, BAD IN BED, released our debut album this month,The Looks Department. You can stream it at Soundcloud or buy it on CD or cassette at Bandcamp. We also have shirts to let your Bad in Bed flag fly. We're currently playing some LA shows, so come out if you're in the area! Dates and info at our Facebook page.
Had a fun chat with The Yellow Peril podcast. Feel free to tolerate my marble-mouthed rambling and cringe at my butchering of Queen's "We Are The Champions" as a shout-out to the recently-fallen LA Dodgers.
OCTOBER 30, 2017
June 22, 2013, script writing in a motel in Joshua Tree.
I just wanted to tell an Asian-American story. I'm still unsure that coding parts of my personal life into historical fiction was the best way for me to do it, but here's a bit of context in an attempt to make sense of my time working on this comic.
In 2001, I read Michael Dorgan's 1980 Official Karate story, Bruce Lee's Toughest Fight, a detailed account of the 1964 duel between Bruce and Wong Jack Man. I was struck by its nuanced description of Wong, a man who had been described for decades as an easily-defeated gatekeeper of antiquated kung-fu traditions by Bruce's family and supporters. To any Asian-American boy growing up in the 80's and 90's, Bruce Lee was a lone beacon in a dearth of heroes who look like us. The elusive life and character of Wong Jack Man became a symbolic underdog to me, and I felt an obligation as a minority to always root for the underdog… even if they were fighting my lone hero Bruce.
After spending the remainder of my childhood and teens starving for more representation, I was grateful to discover the work of independent Asian-American cartoonists like Adrian Tomine, Derek Kirk Kim, and Gene Yang in the late 90's-early 2000's. I was galvanized by their abilities to tell personal stories through a wide range of styles and subjects, from slice of life to the fantastical.
I'd been semi-involved in comics for over a decade leading up to writing A CHALLENGE while jumping from one art-related job to another. During that time, I'd witnessed many friends and peers go on to critical and commercial success in the Comics and Animation fields. Their achievements, paired with my relatively stagnant creative life, pushed me to finally focus on turning my fascination with the Bruce Lee/ Wong Jack Man fight into a single long-form story.
A CHALLENGE is my comic book "Hail Mary pass".
I spent these past four years throwing almost everything I cared about into the book, in willful ignorance of the protocol one takes when selling a project of this scale. Now that it's finished, I'm about to embark on the pitching process and trying my best to bury the notion that I spent all this time and effort on a vanity project. Although I have no regrets about working on A CHALLENGE, I don't think I'll work in this manner for the foreseeable future. To elaborate, here's an anecdote from my late 2010 arrival in Los Angeles.
Derek Kirk Kim cast me as the struggling cartoonist Andy Go in his web series Mythomania, despite my utter lack of acting experience. In Mythomania's Director's Note, Derek wanted the show to explore "the toll the medium's monumental demands at the drawing board can take on a cartoonist's psyche and social life". His script compelled me to bring whatever authenticity I could inject into Andy's character, even though I'd yet to experience Andy's intense level of determination and sacrifice in my own life. At it's best, the process of making comics can be a fruitful collaboration between writers, artists, editors, and others. I chose to make all 224 pages of A CHALLENGE completely on my own: writing, pencilling, inking, lettering, shading/coloring, and without editorial assistance. I could only imagine the toll during my brief time portraying Andy Go, but the years spent on this book have certainly taken their toll on me now.
One way or another, I hope to share this book with a wider audience. Not only do I long to finally hold a physical copy in my hands, but I'd also love to personally hand a copy to my friends and family who helped me through the isolation, and sometimes despair, of this process. I would also be grateful if this gave me the opportunity to work on another book in the near future, preferably with a collaborator. If you made it to end of this rant, or have followed this page at any time since I started posting chapters in August 2014, I extend a righteous fist of gratitude in your direction.
Thanks for reading,
July 25, 2017, all 224 inked pages of A CHALLENGE on my desk in Glendale.