Allen: Tell me a little about yourself, how old are you, where do you live?
Queenie: My name's Queenie Chan, I'm 27 years old, and I just moved to Melbourne, Australia from Sydney. I've been working as a manga artist for 4 years - first by doing a three-book trilogy called 'The Dreaming' with LA-based manga publisher TOKYOPOP, and now just having finished a collaboration with novelist Dean Koontz on a single-volume manga called 'In Odd We Trust'. The latter is due out in July this year, and is a prequel to Dean's best-selling novels based on the character 'Odd Thomas'.
Allen: How did you get your start in comic book industry?
Queenie: I've been drawing manga since I was 18, mostly as a hobby. However, it wasn't until I was 22 and graduated with an IT degree in the middle of the dot-com bust that I considered drawing manga as a possible career path. However, no one was looking for manga artists back then, so I temped and did odd jobs for a while until a company called TOKYOPOP made a worldwide appeal for manga submissions and original manga stories. That was in 2003, and only after FOUR pitches did I manage to land a contract with them. Hard work, but worth it for the experience.
Allen: Please describe your art style.
Queenie: It's very manga influenced, which in my eyes are both a good thing and a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoy the manga-style of cinematic story-telling, so I won't be changing that for a while, but I'm also getting to the stage of my career where I want to experiment with different kinds of art styles. I did so before within the confines of the manga style, but I can always go more cartoony or more realistic. Right now, and for the yeas I've been drawing, it's been squarely the 'big eyes, small mouth' aesthetic which the teenagers and kids love and continue to love.
Allen: What do you think are some of your strengths and weaknesses as artist?
Queenie: I'm willing to explore and try new things, which I believe is my greatest strength. On the other hand, I believe my biggest weakness is probably my lack of art training. I don't think a lack of art training hampers me as a story-teller, but it certainly hampers me as an artist. Of course, there are certain kinds of things I draw better than others, but everybody is like that, and I don't think there's anything in particular that I do noticeably worse than all of my other drawings. I can always spend a little more time on that little imperfection, or work an extra hour to make it a little better... but everyone thinks that.
Allen: Take me through an average art day for Queenie Chan.
Queenie: Depending on my stage of drawing, I either do 4 pages of pencils, 3 pages of inks or 4 pages of tones/finishes a day. When I do it isn't so important so long as I have the things done at the end of the day - I work 7 days a week, so it all adds up to quite a bit after a while. I find that I tend to slow down a bit towards the end of a book, so I plan it so I do a little more at the beginning of a book. It usually takes 8-9 months to work on a book.
Allen: Tell me about The Dreaming manga books.
Queenie: 'The Dreaming' is a mystery-horror series (for teens) set in the Australian bush. It's about a boarding school where a pair of twin sisters go to study at, which also has a long history of disappearing students. It's a 3-book series, so the story is complete, and it was recently the subject of a writing competition run by TOKYOPOP. It's also been published in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland and Brazil... it goes on. You can read more about it on my website http://www.queeniechan.com/ under the 'books' section.
Allen: Is there order # for The Dreaming? Who is publisher of The Dreaming?
Queenie: TOKYOPOP (www.tokyopop.com) is the publisher of 'The Dreaming'. You can order it off Amazon.com, and the ISBN-10 is:
The Dreaming vol1: 1598163825
The Dreaming vol2: 1598163833
The Dreaming vol3: 1598163841
Allen: Tell me about graphic novel 'In Odd We Trust.'
Queenie: It's a single-volume graphic novel, published by Del Ray, that is a collaboration between Dean Koontz and yours truly. It's based on Dean's most popular-selling books, the 'Odd Thomas' series, which features a humble psychic fry cook as the titular character. This manga is NOT an adaptation though - it's an original story that is a prequel to the first 'Odd Thomas' book. The end of the story leads straight on into book 1, so hopefully it will draw new readers to both the books and the manga. The story itself is about a little boy ghost, and Odd's quest to find the murderer of the little boy with his girlfriend Stormy. Several original characters appear in this story, along with old favourites Chief Porter, Terri and of course, Elvis.
Allen: How long has this story been in development?
Queenie: I was originally asked by Dallas Middaugh of Del Ray to do this book right after finishing vol2 of 'The Dreaming', so it was in October 2006. I couldn't get started on it until April 2007 due to 'The Dreaming vol3, so actual production took 10 months. The very last of it was finished at the end of February 2008, so thankfully it managed to stay within schedule. Some delays were caused when Dean had to finish his summer/winter novels, but luckily it didn't disrupt anything.
Allen: Has Dean Koontz given you lots of creative critiques on your version of his characters?
Queenie: Amazingly enough, no. The first storyline I pitched was rejected by Dean, and when he explained it, I could utterly see why. He was very good in his explanation, so I 'got it' on the second try (just completely ditched storyline #1 and started over). Only the character design for Chief Porter had to be completely done over, and he didn't have any problems with the plot nor the development of the characters. Things were amazingly smooth... Dean was very easy to work with. I was really grateful and happy by that.
Allen: What are some of your special memories doing art for 'In Odd We Trust'?
Queenie: I like Odd's face... I designed him to be an attractive yet ordinary-looking guy, and I think I came up with a great character design that shows it. I'll miss drawing Odd and his uniform of T-shirt and jeans.
Allen: How many pages will be needed to tell prequel for ' In Odd We Trust'?
Queenie: 'In Odd We Trust' is the prequel to 'Odd Thomas', and it's approximately 180 pages long.
Allen: When is publication date set for 'In Odd We Trust'?
Queenie: I believe it will be July this year.
Allen: Do you have website for readers of this interview to see sample pages?
Queenie: For now, not yet... but when there will be, it'll be on my website. I need permission before I put anything up there, so for now, please go to Dean Koontz's site for information. I'll put up information on my own site when the release date comes closer.
Allen: How is graphic novel going to be promoted? Are you going to be at any comic book conventions?
Queenie: I believe it will be heavily promoted at the San Diego Comic Con, which I will also be attending. Dean Koontz will be spotlight guest there, so I think that it'll be the ultimate promotional event. It was promoted during Free Comic Book Day as well, and will be promoted all the way up to the SDCC. I'm not fully familiar with the details since I don't live in the US, but there are other promotional events too, I believe. The fact that it's a Dean Koontz book will already sell itself quite a bit, methinks.
Allen: I read Dean Koontz this Spring will be publishing new Odd Thomas novel. Will you be working on more Odd Thomas graphic stories?
Queenie: For now, I'm undecided. I won't say no, but who knows what the future holds? It depends on the opportunities that will come my way.
Allen: How attached personally did you become to characters in Odd Thomas graphic novel?
Queenie: Not as much as I'd thought. I think it was because they're mostly Dean's characters, so even when writing them, I viewed them as such. It was important for me to express Dean's character's properly, so whenever I drew them or wrote about them, I always thought about Dean's portrayal of them in the books. Perhaps that creates a distance between me and the characters - I always kept in mind what Dean would think about something, and spent alot of time hoping I didn't make a character do or say anything that was out-of-character for them.
Allen: Who are some of your favorite comic book artists?
Queenie: Mostly Japanese - Tezuka Osamu, Takeshi Obata, Oh!Great and Hagio Moto. There are more, but these are the top people. In terms of Western artists, I love Will Eisner's work, and I also love Dean Haspiel's artwork. I guess Shawn Tan counts as comic book artist too, after 'The Arrival'...
Allen: How can fans contact you?
Queenie: http://www.queeniechan.com/ . There is a contact form on my site.
Allen: Dean Koontz's dog Trixie recently passed away . I read about this on his website. Do you have any pet stories want to share?
Queenie: Wow, my mum's dog 'Major' died a year or so ago... and the whole family cried our eyes out. He's been with us for 15 years, and we never expected him to go out the way he did. He's been with us for so long that he was like a staple of our lives, and to suddenly have him gone was incredibly hard for all of us. What made it the worst was probably the fact that he was still so awake and alert when we had to choose to put him down - we'd all imagine him to slowly get the doggy version of Alzheimers before we had to make the final decision. But no. Spinal arthritis got to him first, and he slipped a disc badly to the point where his whole body was paralyzed and he could no longer move except it pain. Death comes when you expect it to, just not in the manner it actually does come. But that's life.
Allen: What are some of your other hobbies?
Queenie: I read, and I play video games. I'm also a huge movie buff, so I try and squeeze these activities into my timetable as much as possible. I also enjoy cooking (though I'm hardly a good cook) and doing the spare bit of programming. I walk as much as possible too, for exercise.
Allen: What have been some of your favorite movies of last year?
Queenie: 'Perfume' was my absolute favourite. Hands down, no contest. I also enjoyed 'Donnie Darko' and 'Strange Days' immensely.
Allen: Do you read any comic books at present time?
Queenie: I've just finished the entire series of 'Fables' and almost 'Y: The Last Man'. So far I haven't read anything new that's worth mentioning, except for 'Scott Pilgrim' and a manga called 'Helter Skelter'. I'm still reading my regular serials, such as 'Naruto' and 'One Piece'.
Allen: What have been some of your recent novels that you read?
Queenie: I'm currently reading 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman, and I've also just finished 'Milad: The Voyage to Phia' (A YA novel by an Australian author). Before that, it was 'Rope Burns', by FX Toole. I really, really loved that book.
Allen: What's next for Queenie Chan?
Queenie: I have another story I'd like to pitch, called 'Soul Shaper'. It's an action/adventure/romance/drama story that's in the spirit of 'Naruto' and 'Harry Potter', so that's what's sitting in my head right now. I'm also forming a studio - finding a collaborative partner to hopefully take on more work in the future. I've got someone interested right now that will complement my weaknesses as an artist, but setting up a studio takes time, and I don't want to set anything in stone yet. For that reason, I'd also like to keep an eye out for other projects that may come my way - other collaborations with novelists that will be fun to do. Working with Dean was a good experience, and I'd like to try working with other writers too, to see what it will be like.
Allen: Thank you so very much for participating in new Jazma interview Queenie Chan! Would you like to lead us out with some words of inspiration?
Queenie: Work hard and persevere. It worked for me! *laughs*