Part of a larger world

WAR DOGS is part of a larger picture which is something I have only discussed with friends here and there over the past 19 months of working on the graphic novel.

For anyone interested, I spent 9 – 11 months writing the full 200 page script while stopping to work on freelance for various clients and whipping together little teasers to keep the War Dogs name in people’s heads.

After that I was on art duty for 6 months, again only stopping to work on paid freelance gigs and, on rare occasion, going out to try and have a life..

To say I put a lot into War Dogs would be an understatement. I’ve never worked as hard on one project in my life. I made every effort to draw Asians as properly as possible and write the British slang as accurately as I could while making dialogue sound conversational as opposed to expository.

There were many times where I thought it was all too much and wanted to quit. Tried to convince myself no one really cared about it and were just being polite when they said (in chat messages) “Man, this is so cool I can’t wait!” or “I’ve never seen this done for Asians before!”

A few friends kept me going. Some close ones who really believed in the story, so I pushed past self-doubt, fought off self-loathing, and used the project to deal with my demons. Often times using the pages of the story as a trap to house them in.

And deep down I really wanted it to be a success.

Most people won’t believe me when I say I wasn’t in it for the money. No one with any grip on reality gets into comics to make big money, that’s just nonsense. You do it because it moves you, because you HAVE to tell your stories. I took freelance work in order to avoid worrying about money which of course extended the time I spent working on the graphic novel, but I felt it was the way to go.

This is my tribute to Asian action cinema, which I’ve repeated ad-nauseum to God Knows how many people since starting.

I wanted this book to be a success, of one degree or another JUST so I could tell the full story. Book one is one huge first act of a three part Flat Film. I can’t make movies so I use the sequential art format to tell cinematic stories as best I can.

I actually didn’t make War Dogs for comic fans so much as for people who’ve never or rarely read comics as a bridge to bring them IN.

And my plans are bigger than I let on.

War Dogs is part of a shared universe, one I’ve been working on since about 2005. Be it EBooks or comics, I have one main thread that connects everything.

This story takes place in the modern day and my Ebbok “Instincts” and my other comic series “Company Man” take place around 2025.

So War Dogs Series Two, if there ever is one, will move forward in time and connect with those other series. I want to push it into the Cyberpunk realm. I can’t reveal too much more because only book one is out and the thread I mentioned is revealed in the final act of the War Dogs story.

It’s up to the public as to whether or not this will ever happen.

Here’s one little bit I feel I can share without spoiling too much; the gang War Dogs was originally a throwaway plot device from my Instincts book series (which I have to get back to and write parts 3 through 5). I grabbed the name at random for this project and it just stuck.

You can read about the rest of the universe I’ve been building the last 12 years by checking out the link below and grabbing a book or two.

Getting under the “skin” of WAR DOGS

Most of the “cast” are natives of the UK.
Everyone in the comic is a real person from somewhere in the world, be it London, Norway, California, Queens, South Korea, China, Germany, and Washington.

Most people involved, if not all, have never met for a scene. I have hundreds of reference photos from those involved as well as countless hours searching Google for everything from locations in the UK to guns to cars to clothing, and even YouTube where I went for reference on writing UK slang properly. (Korean Billy is your man if you need to do the same).

Asians had to look right and stand apart from one another visually even if they were all bald in a certain shot. And it meant a lot to me to write British dialogue that would impress and pass the UK native test.

War Dogs was originally going to be set in NY but once the first batch of “actors” started showing up from the UK I decided that’s where it needed to be.

Go get your copy of the digital graphic novel today by clicking the SHOP tab..

“Deep Cuts” in War Dogs

There are a few references in the book. Some people will get and some are kind of obscure.

In this one, Rob Ho’s character is referred to as “Golgo” which is an homage to my favorite anime as a kid; GOLGO 13. It was the first time I saw a hired killer as the main character. I was about 14 at the time and it blew my mind.

This page started out as a silly, goofy set up intro for Rob’s character and during the creation of the book, Rob’s sweet mom passed and this became a bittersweet tribute to a lovely woman.

It was difficult to get through it each time I got to this page to perform the next stage of art; penciling, inking, color, lettering. This book was more than just an art project for me when all was said and done.

WAR DOGS Book One (Digital Download) AVAILABLE NOW

*70 PAGES of character driven action and drama with an All-Asian cast of characters, something never seen before in comics.
“A government agent with a dark past is dragged back into conflict with his former Triad and amidst the bloodshed, secrets will be revealed.”
Follow the link to grab your copy today! Please tell your friends and help spread the word!
If you have any problems receiving your Download link let me know. I’ve got your back.
Click on the SHOP tab.

Clips from recently completed pages

As I inch closer and closer to finishing all my art duties for this first book I’m getting more and more excited about presenting it to the public, especially the Asian community.

This is one of the best projects I’ve ever created and it’s been a long hard road getting to this point but it will all be worth it and something no one has done before in comic form.

New Teaser 6/2017

Working on the final stage of the first book in the series. Coloring pages and I wanted to post a little sample without spoiling the story.

Had a lot of fun doing this page because it allowed me to really go crazy with colors and it only helps to add to the action on display. I wanted the club scene to feel alive and a little chaotic and energetic.

If you haven’t downloaded the FREE teaser yet, go to The Gallery and scroll to the bottom to grab your copy. Please tell your friends.

Go Deeper

If I HAD to choose two words to say about War Dogs they’d be “look deeper”.

In past reviews of my art some writers did just that and got what I’m doing. They saw past the simple use of line and the complex use of color and really got it and I want that for readers of War Dogs.

On the surface it looks like a triad, Asian gangster, shoot-em-up with a bit of drama mixed in but its really an observation on characters of Asian descent done in a way (I hope) that’s never been done before in a comic format.

Facial expressions mean something, they’re not superfluous. I wanted my characters to “act” and emote. Color plays a HUGE part in the story and suggests a lot towards the mood of a particular moment…and still, every now and then, color is used just to spice things up and be fun and add some energy.

The characters can appear 2 dimensional to the casual reader but a lot of thought went into each moment. I want to suggest their private thought process rather than spell it out in a thought balloon the way comics normally do.

I know their back stories, their past, their innermost feelings but I didn’t want to lay it all out for the reader. I wanted them ti pick up on something bubbling beneath the surface and go deeper on their own, like a dog catching the scent of its prey in a wet forest and running after it. I think that creates a stronger bond between Reader and Story. Spelling everything out is for children, not for adults and this is a story for mature readers.

Some of their actions will not be explained in the pages of book one. You’ll have to figure them out. It won’t happen often but it will happen.

I did not write this for kids at all and would not suggest you let your children read it until they’re older.

I take pride in the fact this comic may be a young Asian comic readers first time seeing his / her “face” presented in comic form.

I know how I felt as a young Latino kid growing up in the ghetto, how it felt to see a Spanish name in the credits of a comic book, that being George Perez.

It was a revelation. “Oh…I can do this too!”

That changed the world for me at about age 12 and I want that to happen for someone else.

All this “go deeper” business aside, ultimately this has to be a fun, engaging, exciting story or all the sub-text will be for nothing. It has to look cool first or you won’t let me tell my tale, I get that. I’ve made every effort to dot all my “I’s” and cross all my “t’s” and still, I’m sure there will be some small things I missed. Such is the risk you run when doing it all on your own. Six people work together, over a period of months, to get a comic story out in completion and I ‘m just one flawed man.

Not an excuse, just a fact.

So if you really want to enjoy War Dogs… go Deeper than you normally would with a Spider-Man story or a Superman comic because there is definitely something there. If you catch “the scent” rest assured you’ll find something beneath the surface.

Be the Change or Be The Victim

On BOBBY LEE’S podcast, guest star MARGARET CHO told a story about Tilda Swinton calling her to ask why Asians were so mad about her role in Dr Strange.

After Margaret tried explaining it to her, Tilda asked her if she could “tell them to not be so angry”. Margaret said, “it’s not like I have a Yellow Phone under a cake dome somewhere that I can use to call EVERY Asian ever and ask them to chill out about Tilda.”

Then, in a very “Well, I have a Black Friend” kind of moment, Tilda went on to try and justify herself by informing Margaret she’s producing a movie with Steven Yeun.

Bobby Lee told a story about an actor named Steven Park (I believe) who wrote a mission statement about the plight of Asians in Hollywood and was summarily drummed out of the business for a time. He said Park couldn’t get hired anywhere after that letter went out.

So…Liberal Hollywood, right?

If you’re going to work in a racist environment, then you have no choice but to accept what they give you unless you go ahead and make your own project showcasing what you can really do since Hollywood only sees your skin and culture.

You’re basically a Talking Prop they use to service the needs of their film.

Be the change you want in the world, yeah?

What’s in the box?

Some people care and some don’t when it comes to how things are made. I think it was Steve Jobs who said something to the effect of “People don’t want to know what’s in the box, just that it works”, obviously referring to Apple computers.

I’ve even heard some say that out loud “I don’t care how it works I just wanna buy it and know it does what it’s supposed to.”

That being said, I feel the same goes for most when it comes to art. I think the gen pop just wants to look at it and decide whether or not they like it before moving on.

So this is for the small contingent of comic / art fans who actually give a crap as to what goes into making a comic page when you’re doing it all yourself.

With War Dogs, first I had to write the script, which kept changing over a 9 month period as I ran across more and more people who wanted to contribute their likeness and be a part of it. That turns into “interviewing” each new person via Facebook chat or FB’s free phone call feature which is part of FB chat. I needed to get to know a little something about who I would be drawing into my story in order to adjust the dialogue for that particular character, so a little something of them was in the words floating in the balloon pointed at their mouth.

Does every comic writer do that? Probably not. They have much more hectic schedules when working for The Big Two and can’t afford the luxury of getting to know real people and turn them into characters in their stories but I took full advantage and made every effort to create the best, most-realistic sounding dialogue I could. The one thing I always hated about comics was the hacky dialogue. I learned from an instructor ages ago to read what you write aloud to see if it “feels” right, feels natural. Most comic dialogue is either exposition or useless attempts at banter that comes off more as the writer trying to sound clever rather than convey a bit about what the character is like as a person.

So, nine months writing and r-writing and getting to know something close to 300 – 400 people (and collect their photo reference) while working on freelance to make money, and getting the word out via social media (and trying to sneak a night out everyone cone in a blue just to stay sane) and finally it was done late September of 2016.

All the time I was writing and networking and collecting pics from people, I was creating promo images for War Dogs and making sure what I drew in the teasers I could re-purpose in the comic pages that were to come. Even if it shaved ten minutes off my time illustrating pages it would be worth it. A page can take anywhere from 6 to 18 hours to illustrate depending on how detail heavy it is. The club scene I’m inserting here took about 16 hours over two days because there were so many figures in it and backgrounds and I kept coming up with different ideas on how to lay in certain elements and this is all just for the line work stage. The color stage will be insane as well.

Researching photo reference is key. You HAVE to do it! Everyone knows what a night club looks like in their head. We’ve all been to one or two, or a dozen, but try drawing all the little details from memory; the velvet ropes, the bouncers, the people waiting on line, the lights, the signage, shots of people dancing, having drinks, guys performing on stage. Tons of details that need to be there and for what will most likely be seen for less than five minutes, IF that. I think it takes the average person 60 – 90 seconds to check a p[age especially one with no text on it.

But that’s what we do so you’re never thrown out of the illusion being presented. Certain missing details can be the same as a bad special effect in a film that reminds you you’re watching a movie.

Figure, the research part can be 2 – 4 hours, illustrating is about 18 for this page, then coloring will be another 2 – 4 hours because it’s going to be elaborate. Clubs have tons of colors floating around in all directions to keep patrons dazzled. Then there’s fog that has to be added to the performers on stage and light streaking through the fog and you get the idea it’s a shit ton of work.

A comic usually has about 5 people on each issue just to get the art done; writer, penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer. Then you have a copy editor, and the main editor. And don’t forget someone has to get the word out, get a website built for the comic and continue to field messages from people who hear or read about it and want to be in it. Since this is such a rare thing, an all Asian comic, I’ve opened the door to place as many Asians in it as I can so it feels real. This has never been done before for the Asian community and I have to make sure I do my best.

Comic artists long for splash pages and action scenes because those are fun to do, the talking head scenes can be boring if the expressions don’t capture what’s being said in the word balloons so I take pride in drawing subtle expressions and have the benefit of knowing what I’m drawing since I wrote the whole 200 page script. Most artists in comics have no idea what’s being said because they don’t get the dialogue they just get scene descriptions so comic book characters all look angry, shocked, or heartbroken.

I want my characters to emote because it adds to the film like feel I am shooting for with War Dogs.

I want this to be a film or animated project one day and this book will be all the production team needs to get the job done. The story will all be right there. They’ll just need good actors to bring the pain because there’s a lot of violence and drama in War Dogs.

I’m proud of it and can’t wait to bring it to the masses.