When Pat Lee’s Widow Warriors arrives in July, it’s sure to cause at least a little discussion about the artist’s past. We asked Lee about that and more. For his part, the artist known for his style and for reinvigorating “Transformers” long before the film franchise launched has been getting lost in the world of Warriors (along with co-writers Lloyd Chao and Christine Chi-Long To), and he’s ready to invite the rest of you to join him.
Newsarama: The book is billed as “Pat Lee’s Widow Warriors”; could you tell us where you go the inspiration for this particular story?
Pat Lee: The story is an ancient Chinese historical tale. My friends at 852 Films introduced the story to me and I was heavily into it. In terms of style, I wanted to try something dark and gritty. Issue #3 and #4 you can see it gets grittier each passing issue.
Nrama: Tell us about the writing team. Are you co-plotting?
Lee: I mainly just penciled the series but assisted with some of the creative ideas. The writers on the project are awesome and really fun to work with. They are both such incredibly nice people and very creative. Lloyd and I worked very closely on it
Nrama: Pat, it’s true that you have what can be considered a controversial past. With a renewed visibility on this project, are you expecting controversy in return? And how would you answer your critics?
Lee: I am aware of the controversy to some degree and I respect what everyone has to say. I understand people's anger towards the past and I'm not going to challenge them. People make mistakes, I'm just as human as everyone else is. However, I've always enjoyed drawing comics and I respect any and all comments, bad or good - everyone has the right to speak their mind! But I'm still going to continue drawing comics and do what I love.
Nrama: This issue carries a “Book One” subtitle; how many issues do you plan this “book” to be, and how many “books” do you anticipate?
Lee: There will be 4 issues for this title.
Nrama: What about Dynamite makes them an appropriate partner for the series?
Lee: Nick is one of the nicest guys I know. I've worked with Nick for about 10 years now maybe more and I love what they are doing and have enjoyed seeing them grow as a company.
Nrama: In your years as an artist, how has your process changed?
Lee: The process hasn't changed very much other than the coloring. I add a lot of special FX on the artwork after it was colored. The covers I colored myself and all the pencils were me. I felt that issue #3 as my strongest though - the scenes felt a lot more intense, I guess it’s because it was nearing the end and a lot was going on in the scenes. All in all, I had a lot of fun with the process and I believe that everyone who worked on the series had a great time.
Nrama: What about your style? When you were breaking in a big way, you were in a smaller field of manga-influenced artists. There’s now a lot of evidence of that influence in mainstream comics. How do you distinguish YOUR style in light of that?
Lee: To be honest I don’t really have one particular style and I actually like it that way. Creatively I think it’s important to be different. If I just had one style I would be bored because my work would just be repetitive – instead I encounter different styles and have different methods of creating ideas.
Nrama: Comic and genre fans have come to expect a certain “type” of fantasy influenced narrative coming from Chinese legends. Do you have injections of mythology and extranormal abilities here, or is the story based in a more realistic setting and execution?
Lee: It’s based in a very different environment compared to typical Chinese martial arts films. We wanted to give it a unique American comic style edge but at the same time keeping within the Chinese style. I have always been inspired by Lord of the Rings and films of fantasy genre, so some of the SFX they use in movies I have applied that in the comic book series. Yes, some of the creatures have pretty crazy strength but there are no flying females with 20 meter silk dresses.
Nrama: At this stage of your career, does Pat Lee have something to prove?
Lee: I not out to prove anything to anyone to be honest. I’m just doing what I enjoy, however I have a lot to prove to myself creatively because I’m always trying to enhance myself artistically and trying to push to new levels, not only in comics but in many other areas of creativity.
Nrama: What’s the bottom-line assessment that you might give to fans that might be interested in the series? Of all the books on the racks, why should they check out this one?
Lee: It’s definitely a fun ride throughout the series. Creatures, women’s heads getting chopped off and limbs getting torn off. It’s something you don’t see a lot happen with women anywhere. The series is about women being courageous and fighting for family honor. So, without sound like as sales person – flip through it, if you don’t like throw it back on the shelf. If you find it interesting, then check it out. All in all I had a blast working on it!