Do you think that type of comic will ever break through, or will it always be in the underground?
I don’t know. I don’t think it’ll break through, but comics aren’t known for just being for kids now. You have comics getting reviewed as books in the New York Times now. Comic books and graphic novels get treated as actual literature in schools, and that’s a step closer to what it’s like in Japan. I think if you saw a grown man reading a comic book on the subway you might think he’s a little weird here, but it wouldn’t be that way over there.
Even though “graphic novel” is a buzz word now, and the whole movie option thing makes it that every summer movie that has been out in the last few years has been comic-related. So it’s definitely on people’s radar and, even if it’s corny, it opens up the pre-existing works to an audience that probably wouldn’t have gone into a comic shop in the first place.
Were there any novels that you read to inspire you on Infinite Kung-Fu?
Well I found The Eight Immortals in an art history book and that was kind of what I based the world on. There was this one story where one of the masters left his body to go to the celestial regions to tend to some business, and he had his student guard over his body while he was gone. But he stayed away for too long and his student cremated him. So he came back, he had nowhere to go so he entered the body of a dead beggar.
That’s how he’s portrayed in the scroll paintings and things like that, so that’s pretty cool. This Buddhist or Taoist take on zombies and things like that would be different, and that was kind of one of the set-ups for the world. A little bit later I found out about these Chinese wuxia novels by Louis Cha, but there aren’t many translated into English.
But the one that I read and really loved was called The Deer And The Cauldron, and it’s just all kinds of wacky serialized kung fu novels, which was really fun. There is also a sub-genre of kung fu horror movies that were really popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s. A lot of them take place in Indonesia and would deal with black magic. Very similar to Western black magic sort of stuff.
Like Exploitation films?
Yeah, I would say so. They were Chinese produced but would take place in Indonesia or the Philippines or someplace like that.
You did a poster of the greatest rap artists of all time. Are you big into hip-hop?
Yeah, I did that for my friend’s used CD store in Toronto. He needed art, so I did that. I got such a good response from it that I made it into a poster, and ended up taking it around and getting lots of the guys I drew to pose with it or sign it. I got a lot of them because Kangol Kid, from UTFO, had an anniversary party and he put the poster in his gift bag for the party goers, but they all had to pose for it on the red carpet, so that was awesome.
What are you listening to now?
I’m kind of stuck in the late ’80s and ‘90s stuff because that’s what I grew up with, and, as far as right now, I listen to a lot of ‘60s and ‘70s music. But I like Edan from Boston and Busdriver. Who else is doing good stuff? I don't know; I still like that kind of sample-based sound. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone who is super current, like a Complex Magazine type person.
We cover a lot of Kanye and Rick Ross and stuff like that.
Yeah, I like Kanye; I don’t really like Rick Ross. I guess Kid Cudi is pretty good.
For people curious about Infinite Kung Fu, how would you break it down into its essence? Who do you think this would appeal to?
I would say the story is kung fu masters taking on apprentices to save the world. That kind of thing. You know, basically resurrection gone awry and some of those students find evil kung fu manuals and turn bad, while it’s pretty much all going to be up to the last student.
The flavor has some heavy stuff, but overall it's action and fun. I hope that when you read it you can imagine the dubbing as the type of dubbed voices that you should read the voice bubbles as. Just like the kind of stuff that comes off weird in kung fu movies that aren't supposed to be funny, but still makes you laugh.
So you captured it all basically.
I hope so. That’s the idea.
This can be purchased online?
Yeah, at Amazon.
Now, but it won’t ship till September.
OK, so it’s available for pre-order, basically.
Yeah, but there will be a limited amount on sale for San-Diego [Comic-Con] next week.
So there’s going to be a presence at Comic-Con. That’s big.
Yeah, we had the advanced copies Fed-Exed over, so that probably cost a couple thousand. But [Top Shelf] thought it would be worth the big Comic-Con PR.
There are already a lot of reviews out, and it looks like it’s getting ready to become something big.
I hope so. It’s kind of fun. I’m sitting here on my iPhone and Googling myself to see what people are saying.
Interview by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)