I’ve been a major fan of Asian Action films since I was six. Started out watching the old Kung Fu films that would air in NY on Saturdays at 3 pm. From Snake vs Eagle to The Five Venoms and so on. I still watch as many Asian action films as I can to this day. About 3 years ago I got it into my head to create my own homage to those films and came up with the idea for War Dogs but I was determined NOT to fake my way through drawing Asians as they do in Marvel and DC.
In mainstream comics Asians barely exist and the ones that do all look the same with different or no hair. I would not do War Dogs unless I could get photo reference from Asians willing to be character models. I searched online for months.
I hit up person after person from East Asia on my Facebook friends list and some in America and even though they loved the idea no one was willing to take pics (headshots mostly). After months of getting turned down I was ready to give up and had one more person to contact and pitch my idea to and that guy; Xue Zhang from Oxford, England (now my very good friend) became the lead character.
He’s a stuntman and martial artist who’s worked on films like 47 Ronin and Dr Strange and loved the idea right away. Very shortly after he and I began collaborating on the shots I’d need from him he started introducing me to his stuntman / martial arts buddies who also loved the idea and wanted to be a part of it. The ball started rolling from there and I got dozens and dozens of actors and fighters popping up wanting to be a character in the story which was still being built at the time. So I owe a lot to Xue because he believed in my idea without having seen anything but a single drawing I did of him in a martial arts pose.
Now, a year later, I have over a hundred folders of pics from Asians in every walk of life; from acting to banking, chefs to music producers and everyone is as excited as I am about the final product. Doing it all on my own (from writing to illustrating) can be daunting at times but it’s extremely satisfying and is the only way to get it done right as far as I’m concerned. From what I’ve been told nothing like this exists for Asians. No one has ever done it. I didn’t believe it at first. I assumed it had to be done, if nowhere else at least in Asia. I thought China or Japan had to have something like this, but no, they don’t. Films yes, for sure, but comics, no…nothing. I had no idea at the start that this would be a one of a kind project.
I owe it to those movies, old and new, for inspiring me. War Dogs has been a labor of love, stress, anxiety, and passion. I hope you’ll enjoy it when its all said and done.