Keung Lee Joins ICU For an Exclusive Interview!
Not being someone to just take YouTubers at their word, I headed into my LCS, which I hadn’t visited in over five years, and had a look for myself. There were still decent books on the shelves but some of these other books were… something else. These weren’t writers servicing the fiction, these were writers infiltrating an institution to get their radical idealogues out there. I thought to myself, “an editor actually signed off on this!?”
Come to find out, over the next few years, a lot of those editors were perpetuating the destruction of our contemporary mythology.
So that was my introduction to ComicsGate and I started seeing these industry veterans going into the independent circuit and thought to myself, “I could do that.”
And around that time, I was watching Todd McFarlane interviews and videos telling me to get off my butt and go make a comic. Todd asks what’s stopping you, and I had no good answer for that. My whole artistic life, up until that point, I had failed to commit and to really invest the proper time and work in myself. But I saw the comics landscape shifting and thought, hey, this doesn’t happen very often… I’d better get to work and let people see what I’ve got to offer.
Who are some of your biggest artistic influences?
Yusuke Murata, Tsukasa Hojo, Takeshi Obata, Tetsuo Hara, and Shun Saeki are the mangaka/comic creators that inspire me. Other artists that influence me are POPQN, Toridamono, Hideo Minaba, Kinu Nishimura and Koruse, an artist that just recently entered my radar.
Do you work digitally or traditionally?
I work digital 99% of the time. I have a stack of sketch pads that I fill with gesture sketches and character design ideas, but when it comes to published work it’s all digital.
What would you say an aspiring artist should do to improve their drawing skills?
While it’s absolutely necessary to draw all the time, if you’re not observing and thinking about what you’re drawing, you’re just going through the motions and not actually improving. Objectively listen to criticism and extract whatever useful information you can from it. Aim for success but don’t be afraid to fail. Have an open mind, watch tutorials to improve upon weaknesses, practice (practice practice) and learn all you can about business and marketing. You need to be able to market yourself and build your own brand, which unfortunately are crucial topics most art schools will not prepare you for.
You have also collaborated on several other crowdfunded projects. How has it been, to be able to stay so busy working on creator owned comics?
It’s been a lot of fun and I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had to work on other projects. Every creative team has their own methods and process to create a comic book, and a lot of us are exchanging notes to improve efficiency and to produce the best products we can. The passion and love for the craft is contagious, and I haven’t experienced this much camaraderie in the arts since my school days.
Clearly you have a Manga style. Were you at all worried about crowdfunding a Manga styled book as opposed to a western style comic?
Yeah, it did cross my mind quite a bit prior to launching the first campaign. This would’ve been a very touchy subject when I was younger, back when I was very discerning about faux manga styles and books and would get worked up and bent out of shape about semantics. But, when you get old enough to the point you know exactly what you want out of life, the less you let things upset you.
To this day I still read more manga than domestic books and it’s very obvious when looking at my biggest influences that I listed earlier. Despite the format, BMKB is much closer to manga than western comics, so I wasn’t worried about marketing it as manga or manga influenced. I use OEL (Original English Language) manga as, I feel, it’s the best description.
What does the future hold for Keung Lee and Murakumo Comics?
More BMKB, specifically issue 3 and a trade paperback within the next couple years.
Check out Keung's Campaign for Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb 2 on IndieGogo
Follow Keung Lee on Twitter: @Runefaust