Friday, June 16, 2006

MoCCA Mini-Interview: Neil Kleid

Marc Sobel: I'm here with writer Neil Kleid on Saturday at the MoCCA festival in New York. Neil, tell me what you're working on these days.

Neil Kleid: I'm actually working with Jake Allen, the artist on Brownsville, on several projects. First we have a short story in Jason Rodriguez' Postcards anthology coming out, I think by next year's convention season. And then Jake and I are working on our next historical graphic novel called Dead Ronin, which is the story of an exiled samurai in 1909 that emigrates to San Francisco and ends up getting involved in the waterfront gangs and starting a gang of his own, so it's gonna be about the same size as Brownsville, about 200 pages, and hopefully hardcover but we don't have a publisher for it yet. So we're working on it.

MS: Is this also based on historical research or is this more of a fiction?

NK: It's a little bit of both. It's based on a lot of historical research as far as what was going on in San Francisco at the time. It's based on the fact that, first of all, the Japanese dynasties were ending around the turn of the century and a lot of immigrants were coming from Japan, China and Mongolia to America and a lot of them moved to San Francisco where they could start working in the mines and taking over a lot of jobs that Americans were working on. Eventually the United States government started the Asian American Act which meant that they had to come in here and have certain papers otherwise they would be imprisoned and San Francisco started something called Angel Island which was a prision that was for Orientals and Asian Americans at the time, so it was before Chinatown really got off the ground and it was about this struggling community trying to really make its own place against a city that really hated them. So when you drop a samurai in there, who is very proud of his culture and proud of where he comes from, it doesn't always go so well.

MS: Have you and Jake travelled out to San Francisco to do any research and take photos at all?

NK: Jake is actually going to San Francisco to do some research. I mean, with Brownsville, we worked from photo reference mostly, stuff that we found online, stuff that we found in books. I am hoping to travel out to San Francisco this year and take a bunch of shots as well, but with the Japan scenes, we're not going to Japan. But we try not to guess when we're doing something that actually is based on real places and real events. We really go and find the research and you know a lot of the scenes that are in Brownsville - the scenes at the Loew's Theater and Pitkin Avenue, the scene with the diner shop they went to - these were actually from photos that we found so we're trying to work the same way as we did with Brownsville but with an entirely different coast.

MS: Great. Neil, thank you very much.

Coming Next: D&Q Publisher Chris Oliveros.

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