BRUCE LEE

EN­TER THE COMIC BOOK — AND THEN EN­TER THE TV!

Black Belt - - SCREEN SHOTS - IN­TER­VIEW BY ROBERT W. YOUNG PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF BRUCE LEE FOUN­DA­TION

In This Ex­clu­sive In­ter­view, Shannon Lee Talks About What’s Out Now and What’s Com­ing Soon

You’ve re­leased a comic book ti­tled BruceLee:TheDragon Rises. How did it come about?

The ge­n­e­sis of the comic book was straight from the heart and straight from my child­hood self. My brother Bran­don used to read comic books all the time, so they were al­ways around the house. Of course, I would pick them up and start read­ing them, and I got to be a fan of the char­ac­ters. Then I went to high school and col­lege and got away from all that. Dur­ing those years, many comic books that had kung fu char­ac­ters — peo­ple who were very sim­i­lar to Bruce Lee but not Bruce Lee him­self — came out. Many years later, I started think­ing, Why isn’t there a Bruce Lee comic book? It makes per­fect sense, and it would be such an amaz­ing thing. Then I thought, I have the abil­ity to make that hap­pen.

So the idea came from you rather than a writer or pub­lish­ing com­pany?

Yes. Of course, there have been comic-book com­pa­nies that came to us in the past and pro­posed projects. We al­ways said, “We’re work­ing on some­thing our­selves.” It took awhile for us to make ǡ ϐ ! part­ners. We could have walked into one of the big comic-book houses and said we want to do a Bruce Lee comic book, and there would have been in­ter­est. But we know what it’s like to work with a go­liath like that — they want to see it done their way. For us, it was such a la­bor of love, one that in­volved my child­hood mem­o­ries of my brother, that we de­cided to ϐ " re­ally con­nected with on a per­sonal level, one we could col­lab­o­rate with. That way, we could cre­ate some­thing that’s com­pletely from us.

You said BruceLee:The

DragonRises is closely con­nected with your child­hood mem­o­ries. Does that mean we will find other fam­ily mem­bers in it — like you or Bran­don?

We are not in it. How­ever, one of the lead char­ac­ters is a young girl named Wren, which is my daugh­ter’s name. (laughs) There are other nods here and there. Should we con­tinue the se­ries, you never know ex­actly where it will go.

Is the comic book fic­tion or non­fic­tion?

ǯ ϐ Ǥ wanted to make this an all-ages comic book, some­thing that’s ac­ces­si­ble to kids as well as adults. That’s not al­ways a pop­u­lar de­ci­sion in the comic world. Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises is quite vi­o­lent. It’s geared for teens and young adults. Ob­vi­ously, the Bruce Lee ! ϐ de­mo­graphic: He was a mar­tial artist and an ac­tion star. This comic book has a lot of that, but we wanted to make it a lit­tle more fam­ily-friendly be­cause we saw it as a way of spread­ing the legacy to a younger de­mo­graphic that may not have been in­tro­duced to Bruce Lee yet.

When you talk about reach­ing a younger de­mo­graphic, does that mean the comic book is dig­i­tal as well as pa­per?

We do have plans for that, but we started this as an ex­per­i­ment: Let’s com ! ϐ books and see how it goes and if peo­ple are re­cep­tive. We came up with the story our­selves — my part­ners and me — and didn’t know if peo­ple would re­ceive it well. It’s set in con­tem­po­rary times. We had to come up with why that is. Our rea­son for do­ing that is, again, we wanted it to be ac­ces­si­ble to to­day’s au­di­ence. If it was a nostal­gia piece, it might not be as in­ter­est­ing to kids who are used to tech­nol­ogy and what the world is like. We wanted to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment in which, for ne­far­i­ous rea­sons, Bruce Lee is here in to­day’s time frame.

What was your role — story de­vel­op­ment, writ­ing, su­per­vis­ing?

All of the above. My part­ner Jeff Kline and I co-wrote the ϐ ǡ " " Ǧ ble is­sue. We hired a writer to do is­sues two and three, and Jeff wrote the fourth. We over­saw ev­ery­thing from the line art to the col­ors to the di­a­logue. There was a lot of tweak­ing un­til the like­ness was cor­rect, the mar­tial arts felt right and there was phi­los­o­phy weaved into the story. At the same time, we wanted to keep it ac­tion ori­ented and with a sense of hu­mor,

There’s been so much news from the Bruce Lee uni­verse — both the real world and the cin­e­matic world — that we just had to call Shannon Lee to get the scoop for this spe­cial is­sue of Black Belt. We know you’ll be as ex­cited about these de­vel­op­ments as we are. — Edi­tors “We re­ally wanted to make this an al­lages comic book, VRPHWKLQJ WKDW·V ac­ces­si­ble to kids DV ZHOO DV DGXOWV ℴ

which is very Bruce Lee, as well. I was in­volved every step of the way.

Did you have more in­volve­ment on the first is­sue be­cause you wanted to set the tone?

I did the same things for all the is­sues with the ex­cep­tion of the writ­ing.

ϐ ǡ wanted to set the tone cre­atively and make sure it had the setup we wanted, which would lay down a blue­print that oth­ers could fol­low.

What’s your goal with the comic book — to en­ter­tain, to ex­pand aware­ness of your fa­ther, to spread his philoso­phies?

All of the above. As we move through the project, " ǯ ϐ ! ; my fa­ther did in his own life­time, it’s about a com- bi­na­tion of ed­u­ca­tion and en­ter­tain­ment — en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple in a way so they don’t nec­es­sar­ily know they’re be­ing ed­u­cated.

So you en­ter­tain them to get their at­ten­tion, then teach them some­thing that will be ben­e­fi­cial.

We re­ally want to do that in ev­ery­thing we do, which is why we al­ways try to link back to the phi­los­o­phy — not be­cause we want to beat peo­ple over the head with it but be­cause that’s the take-away. We want peo­ple to end up think­ing, That had some awe­some ac­tion and Bruce Lee was so cool — and this one quote was great! I can ap­ply that in my own life.

The goal was to cre­ate a piece of fun en­ter­tain­ment in the form of a kick-ass comic book that peo­ple like, to have a ve­hi­cle for spread­ing aware­ness of Bruce Lee among the younger de­mo­graphic, to have an­other ve­hi­cle through which to ex­press his phi­los­o­phy and mes­sage, and hope­fully to have some­thing that if peo­ple like it, we can ex­pand on it over time.

You said four is­sues of Bruce Lee:TheDragonRises have been done?

Yes, and all four are out. We just re­leased our trade ǡ " ϐ is­sues’ worth of con­tent ϐ dou­ble is­sue. It’s in book­stores and on Ama­zon.

Do you have plans for ad­di­tional vol­umes?

We do. We’re let­ting this set­tle for a minute be­cause things go in cy­cles and it’s a lot of work to pro­duce, " ϐ ex­pand it. We’re look­ing at writ­ing a back-story is­sue later this year.

Could this be­come an an­i­mated se­ries on tele­vi­sion?

It could, sure. We’ll see if there’s any in­ter­est there.

Do you have any up­dates on the var­i­ous Bruce Lee mu­seum projects?

There’s an ex­hibit at the Hong Kong Her­itage Mu­seum in Hong Kong. There’s an ex­hibit at the Wing Luke Mu­seum in Seat­tle. Both were done through col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Bruce Lee Foun­da­tion. We’re work­ing on an on­line ver­sion of our own per­sonal mu­seum, which we hope to un­veil be­fore the end of the year. Once the ex­hibit in Seat­tle closes, it’s quite likely we’ll put some­thing of our own in Seat­tle. The time­line is still a long

“THERE’S AN EX­HIBIT AT THE HONG KONG HER­ITAGE MU­SEUM IN HONG KONG. THERE’S AN EX­HIBIT AT THE WING LUKE MU­SEUM IN SEAT­TLE. BOTH WERE DONE THROUGH COL­LAB­O­RA­TION WITH THE BRUCE LEE FOUN­DA­TION.”

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