Back In Business!January 11, 2020
Once upon a time in New York, I had this idea to make a comic about a kung fu fighter that was not really a hero, but not really the villain. The idea shaped itself into what I’d like to call Habitual Offender.
I remember being a kid, watching old Shaw brothers movies on Saturday afternoons with my big brother. If we didn’t catch them that day, my brother would take me out to 42nd street where we’d watch a two or three kung fu flicks for a single matinee price. That was the best days to be kid in New York City. Martial arts was everything to us and it made such a huge impact on our daily lives. I bragged to my friends all the time about how The Last Dragon with Taimak was filmed right outside my grade school on 51st street, and I still do to this day. Yes sir, it goes far beyond bumping to Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) for me, but I’d be lying if said they didn’t reinforce my passion for the art.
So and I started building the story for this book, with a character that sat in a folder for nearly 20 years, Michelle Yeung aka the Habitual Offender. I wanted to start something with her. Keep it small, but put as much as I can into the book. She is a inspired by some of my favorite kung fu movies and the characters in them such as Dirty Ho starring Gordon Liu and Midnight Angels with Moon Lee.
Of course, I had already written the script and designed all the characters. What I couldn’t do is make the sequential art flow as smoothly as I wanted within the timeline I had planned. Thankfully I found someone who could.
Enter the very talented Ms Karen J. Luquez, an artist out of Buenos Ares, Argentina. I took one look at her portfolio and was sure she was the one to bring Michelle to life. What really caught my eye was the fact that Karen is a kung fu practitioner herself. She studies at the Mei Hua Kung Fu Tradicional Kung Fu school in La Plata, which blew my mind. It’s one thing to find a great artist for your project, it’s a major plus if that person can actually do the things you hire them to draw on paper.
Karen took the script to her school where they helped her build a solid fight choreography for the scenes I had described.
“At first I practiced and asked my sifu Diego Gonzalez for help (mostly for the coherence of the fights), he teaches shaolin kung fu, taichi and baguazhang.”
That meeting with her sifu paid off. What followed are some visuals that are far more dynamic than what I expected. Karen had gone above and beyond, rather than simply copying some fight poses from a Google image search, she was able to make the comic’s action scenes look as realistic as possible.
The next stop was to Wing Chun practitioner Santiago Banfi, who presented Karen with his knowledge of the art and how to properly use the weapons.
“I was a little stuck with the swords fight, I did it twice and now I’m going for the third attempt (hopefully the last one 😅). I had to consult my friend several times who is a wing chun teacher, I have observed some of his classes and he taught me a little about butterfly swords.”
I’m truly in dept to the Mei Hua Kung Fu school for making this happen. It was a great experience working with Karen J. Luquez whose talent shines in every panel of this book. When I think back on my first comic book being published, I know that it couldn’t have been done without her. I’m eternally grateful.
I hope you all get to see more of Michelle Yeung in the future and if all goes well, more of Karen J. Luqez on more SketchBoox projects. Check out more of her work on Instragram and ArtStation to support a truly great artist.