Former 8Asians writer Brian Jian has just published his very first graphic novel, Broken Toys, Extraordinary Machines, so we’re asking him the really important questions (hint: it’s the last one).
1. Your book has a pretty intense plot. What was the inspiration?
I’m not quite sure! The “Cliff Notes TL;DR” version of that answer is “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon meets Wu Tang Clan.”
2. I love that you dedicated Broken Toys, Extraordinary Machines to your readers. What do you hope they come away with?
There are so many options now for entertainment. For anyone to take time out of their day and spend it on anything I do, I’m extremely grateful. I’m just trying to tell a story that hopefully resonates with anyone who likes a good story, with characters who seem genuine and relatable.
3. Have you always wanted to create a graphic novel?
I was heavily into comic books and superheroes as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s (this was DECADES before this whole superhero staple in our entertainment diet). Becoming a comic book artist was probably my first career goal, but then school, college, sports, etc. got in the way. Next thing you know, 25 years have passed and I decided, “It’s now or never!”
4. What’s something you wish you’d know before you started the process?
Everything. I self published this book so it was all on my shoulders; from the drawing, writing, researching, editing, lettering, tech support. And copyrights! There was one page where I used the lyrics of a KRS One song (it fit nicely with the narrative of a scene I wrote) but thank god I looked it up and found out lyrics are copyrighted (not just the music) and you can’t print a line from Hey Jude or Hotel California without being sued. Who knew . . .
5. Ok, fun stuff. Broken Toys, Extraordinary Machines is being made into a movie. Who would you cast?
Most the characters in this story tend to skew older than the characters featured in most of the typical properties put out by our youth obsessed culture. That was completely serendipitous and not by design but I do like that it turned out that way. My dream cast would include people like Don Cheadle, Idris Elba, Whoopie Goldberg. One of the main characters is a woman named Amaka who’s in her mid 40’s. I didn’t realize Gabrielle Union was in her mid to late 40’s! She’d be perfect!
6. What are you reading right now?
Just finished “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and just started “X” by Chuck Klosterman.
7. Where can people find your work? What’s next for you?
8. And last–the classic, the most important–what is your favorite Asian comfort food?
Soup dumplings. What else?