Walk Like A Dragon, Kick Like A Legend

by Vince Brusio

He is the father of Jeet Kune Do. He was an international movie star. He was the face of martial arts in the 1970s. Now he is the subject of a one-shot titled Bruce Lee: Walk of the Dragon (JAN181591) from Darby Pop Publishing, and in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview Darby Pop founder Jeff Kline explains how the project was brought to fruition through the cooperation of a dynamic creative team and the legend's daughter herself, Shannon Lee.

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Vince Brusio: What was the catalyst that made you decide Bruce Lee: Walk of the Dragon should be published by Darby Pop as a one-shot?

Jeff Kline: Everyone at Darby Pop Publishing loves the story Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises is telling. And, judging by the sales and feedback, a lot of folks out there have been loving it, too. But, early on, Shannon Lee and I also discussed doing a series that made Bruce even more front and center, allowing for a few more "winks" to the audience and nods to the past. Because The Dragon Rises involves a decades-spanning conspiracy and multiple ensembles (of both heroes and villains), we decided to keep Walk Of The Dragon nice and simple; there's no real need for previous knowledge or a commitment beyond these 22 pages. Of course, if readers respond to Walk, we'd be more-than-happy to publish multiple concurrent series like the "Big 5" do. The Dragon Rises and Walk Of The Dragon exist within the same continuity. And the tone (action-comedy) and all-ages appeal are similarly consistent. Walk Of The Dragon is simply what happens when Bruce has a few hours all to himself.

Vince Brusio: Give us a peek at ground zero. What were the objectives for finding the best writer/artist team? What kind of chemistry were you looking for in sorting through the various professionals that would jump at the chance of working on such a book?

Jeff Kline: Once we decided to move forward with Bruce Lee: The Walk Of The Dragon, it was a no-brainer for us to approach Brandon McKinney to handle the art. In fact, we were willing to build the schedule around Brandon's availability. Brandon provided all the pencils/inks for The Dragon Rises, and did a killer job. In my other life writing/producing TV series, I'd worked with Brandon — who's a very highly-regarded storyboard artist -- on multiple projects (Transformers: Prime, Men in Black: The Animated Series). I have a very small "circle of trust"... which is why names like Bernard Chang and Zac Atkinson and Troy Peteri pop-up across multiple Darby Pop titles. Brandon's first "assignment" with us was Doberman; again, Brandon did all the art for the first 5-issue arc. Shannon liked what she saw. And we were off. Similarly, Walk Of The Dragon is written by Nicole Dubuc — one of the best scribes currently working in animation. She and I had worked together on multiple series over the years (including Transformers: Rescue Bots), and Shannon really responded to her "take."

Vince Brusio: Help us hear the heartbeat. How does this one-shot comic do justice to the legend of Bruce Lee? How is it a 21-gun salute?

Jeff Kline: There's no way any one-shot could EVER do justice to the man. The more time you spend in the "Bruce Lee universe," the more you realize that while the legend is impressive, it pales in comparison to the reality. Bruce was an amazing athlete, teacher, philosopher, actor,

writer, father — and barrier-breaker. On the Green Hornet TV series, he was an Asian face in a sea of network white. And whenever I watch old interviews with him, I'm always struck by just how... well... "cool" he was. Funny. Hip. Self-possessed.

Vince Brusio: Bruce Lee, in addition to being a movie star, is the father of Jeet Kune Do. In an essay, he wrote that "any attempt to crystallize Jeet Kune Do into a written article is no easy task." Would you say those same words held true as you worked to create a comic that encapsulated the totality of Lee's life? A man who quite often is seen as bigger than life?

Jeff Kline: I'd say that truer words have rarely been spoken. And now I kinda wish that I'd used that quote when answering the previous question; it would have made me sound a heck of a lot smarter than I am.

Vince Brusio:  What parting words would you like to leave us with in regards to all of the effort that went into this project? All the research, production work, consultations with Shannon Lee, and editorial meetings, how has it left you feeling now that the book is on its way to press?

Jeff Kline: Everyone at Darby Pop Publishing has been honored to work with Shannon and her team, and —quite honestly — we have no intention of stopping. I often get asked "what did Shannon ACTUALLY do on the book?" And I answer without hesitation that Shannon did EVERYTHING. She and I worked-up the concept together over multiple meals — mostly 'cuz I can't cook at all (but I gotta eat). Shannon weighed-in on every script, every panel, every color, every decision... pushing the artists, adding beats, correcting inaccuracies... across every issue. Her Dad is a justifiable legend, but Shannon is pretty incredible in her own right. I pretty much have a HUGE crush on Shannon. But, please don't tell her.

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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