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Mystery Brothers’ Quentin Lee At Comic Con

Last month we spoke with queer indy filmmaker Quentin Lee about his films, Pride, and on being a gay parent. You can read it here. Today we’re catching up with Lee who’s at Comic Con this week!

Gay League: Hello, Quentin! You’re at Comic Con now to promote a new comic that you’re collaborating on with Elis Zill. What can you tease us about this project and how you and Elis came to work together.

Quentin Lee: When I started conceiving the comic book Mystery Brothers, Red 5 my publisher introduced me to the Argentinian studio AlterComics who showed me samples by their artists and Elis Zill’s art really spoke to me. Elis and I started chatting and conceiving the characters of Mystery Brothers. I just fell in love with Elis’ use of colors and her Tim Burtonesque style of drawing. We agreed on the look of the characters mixing her ideas and mine, which were more anime / manga based.

GL: How do you approach the themes of identity and family in Mystery Brothers?

QL: Because I came from divorced and absentee parents, I created the main character Jin with a single mom and an estranged workaholic scientist father. And of course now, being a gay single parent myself with a six year old son, I feel compelled to create a character both my son and I can identify with. And being queer, my approach to family is more about chosen family which was explored through Jin and his relationships with other characters in the comic.

GL: Do you have other plans for Comic Con? A panel, table, or an event where fans can find you?

QL: Yes, Red 5 is publishing an exclusive limited edition of the first issue of Mystery Brothers and I will be doing a signing from 12 pm to 1 pm on Saturday July 23 at Red 5’s booth (#1717) at SDCC.

GL: The majority of your work is in film though you’ve written a couple novels, Dress Like A Boy, and The Secret Diary of Edward Ng. What challenges and rewards do you find with writing novels and now with comics since this is your second venture in the medium? The first one is Campus Ghost Stories if I’m not mistaken. Oh wait, I’m wrong! You made your first comic when you were young!

QL: The Secret Diary of Edward Ng is actually a re-published edition of Dress Like a Boy which I felt was the wrong title to begin with. Writing a novel is a lot of work as you have to literally make every word perfect. Writing a comic book is more like screenwriting where you’re writing a blue print for a film or comic book and you work with the artist to complete the final product. Yes, Campus Ghost Story was self-published and now I’m looking for opportunities to republish it.

GL: Quentin, thanks for that clarification on the book titles. In our first interview you mentioned reading manga as a kid. Do you remember having any favorites? Are there any manga or graphic novels that have caught your attention over the years? No penalty points if there aren’t! Promise!

QL: I grew up with manga by Fujiko Fujio and I love most of their comic series from Doraemon to Paman to Ninja Hatorikun. All their comics were so conceptually advanced and interesting but also speak to people of all ages. I just love Doraemon even now which is about a robot cat being sent to this kid by his great grandson from the future to help this kid improve his current life so that his future and descendants can be more successful. It’s just such a high and imaginative concept that made me want to binge all the comics.

GL: In American comics there seems to be plenty of room for growth in queer Asian representation whether the genre is slice of life, action, mystery, sci fi, etc. By any chance could you see yourself working more in comics?

QL: Yes, because of having such an amazing collaboration with Ellis, I’m thinking of making my story / script “The Peach Tree Spirit’s Lover,” a queer martial arts supernatural fantasy set in 1400s China into a comic book.

GL: Comic Con is a really intense experience. After you’ve recovered what project will you be focusing your attention on?

QL: I’m in the middle of developing a feature and TV series about The Slants, the first Asian American dance rock band. It took Simon Tam, the founder of the Slants, a decade to fight and win against the US Trademark Office all the way to the Supreme Court to trademark their band’s name, “The Slants.” That’s what I’m working on while trying to promote Mystery Brothers at SDCC.

GL: Thank you and I hope you have a great time at Comic Con, Quentin! And thank you, dear reader!

July 21, 2022
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