ENTER THE COMIC BOOK — AND THEN ENTER THE TV!
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.”