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My enthusiasm for Kagan McLeod’s “Infinite Kung-Fu” didn’t stop once I read finished the book (read my review here). I went looking up information about the author/artist, and found his website KaganMcLeod.com. I contacted him and after hounding him, he finally got back to me and relented to an interview, which you can find below.
Dedpool: First of all I’d like to thank you for doing this interview.
Dedpool: No problem, like I said I don’t remember how I came across the preview on the website but I started and just couldn’t stop reading it.
Kagan McLeod: Good to hear.
Dedpool: So I have to ask, how long have you been drawing and writing?
Kagan McLeod: Well I’ve always been drawing, but writing is more new. MY dad was a newspaper illustrator so I kind of always had drawing around and knew that’s what I wanted to do since always. I was kind of more shy about the writing when I started that, but after I started putting out the comic and people dug them, I got more confident in that realm.
Dedpool: Did you have any formal training as well besides just growing up drawing?
Kagan McLeod: Yeah I went school at Sheridan College near Toronto Ontario for illustration. I focused on editorial illustration, which is newspaper and magazine type work.
Dedpool: Yeah I can totally see that in your art style. As I was reading Infinite I kept saying this art style is so familiar but I just couldn’t place until you said your father worked
in newspaper illustration. Can I ask, what was your inspiration for Infinite Kung-Fu? Was it just your love of the genre?
Kagan McLeod: Yeah that’s what it really started as. I didn’t really know about old school Kung-Fu until like late 90’s when I was in school, 98-99 I was going down town and renting old school movies and it was hard to get anything, there wasn’t anything besides Blockbuster, and they were more of a top 100 kind of place. So when I came to Toronto I was able to get all kinds of weird stuff from the 70’s and 80’s and it was a whole new world. And being an artist I just thought hey I want to take that and do what I can with it. And since I can’t do Kung-fu or act I might as well draw it.
Dedpool: Well I noticed from the website you made Yang Lie Kung (the protagonist) look like yourself, and you sort of got to put yourself in your own kung-fu flick. What made you do that?
Kagan McLeod: I don’t think that was a conscious thing other than that a lot of artists do it as you are your own closest point of reference, and I used myself for modeling if I needed to figure out how something should look, but yeah. I remember I had like a point of purchase display with the main character on it and when I would go to comic shows with it, people would kinda stop and look at it and look at me and do a double take.
Dedpool: That must’ve been pretty cool. It’s definitely a lot different than doing a mainstream comic as you have to adhere to like 50+ years of the character but with your own creations you can influence the look as you like, and it becomes even more so your own work.
Kagan McLeod: I was telling someone the other day that for comics, it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of drawing and a lot of work versus the amount of time it takes someone to read them. I think you either have to do something that you really like and really want to do, or do something for lots and lots of money. It’s torture to do something you’re not into and you’re not getting very much money. So it’s definitely a labor of love.
Kagan McLeod: Yeah, one I’m working on right now is taking some time to get rolling, I want to do a historical fiction comic, with lots of action/adventure, but without the fantasy. The theme is the conquest of Mexico. So Aztecs, conquistadors and things like that.
Dedpool: Oh wow! That sounds awesome. You can just go crazy with that.
Kagan McLeod: Yeah part of it is daunting because it’s really big. But that’s what’s kinda cool about it. It’s big and lots of epic battles, which will be torture but lots of fun to draw.
Dedpool: I can’t even imagine but I can’t wait! But I have to ask about Infinite again, I loved the art in black and white but I’ve seen some of your color work too. Was that choice made for money reasons or aethitics?
Kagan McLeod: Definitely money things. Back then four colors or four inks would’ve been four times the price. It also takes a lot longer to do, and I prefer to just do it by myself.
Dedpool: Whoa! Wait you ink and color your own stuff? So the cover for the trade was done all by you?
Kagan McLeod: Oh yeah! That’s what I like about comics compared to other mediums, you don’t need a whole staff you can do it on your own.
Dedpool: I loved it in black and white it just makes me love the book more, and I’m more impressed. I mean if it was in color I think my head may have exploded.
Kagan McLeod: I want to do the next one in color definitely.
Dedpool: That’d be crazy. So is there like any chance, like after you finish this next epic, that you might do something like an “Infinite Kung-Fu: Origins of the Immortals” or something like that? Or anything connected to the original?
Kagan McLeod: No I think there are definitely stories to tell. I think it depends on how successful this ends up being. The one idea I have is to go forward twenty or thirty years after the book ends and pick up from there. Without spoiling anything maybe some of the people that survived the end of the book are old wise masters themselves or something like that.
Dedpool: I would love to see an old wise Lie Kung, with the bald head and flowing beard. That would be awesome. So I have to tell you the whole time I was reading this I was thinking to myself this would make an amazing animated series, and I want the people that did “The Boondocks” to do it. Because that art style got as close to the comicstrip as possible, in animated form and I just think it would fit perfectly for your art style. Have you thought about that at all?
Kagan McLeod: There’s no news but I’m excited because part of the whole deal with going through TopShelf as opposed to independent creators is they have an agent that handles the properties for any other media. So that’s something that I’d like see happen at some point.
Dedpool: Well I’d say put a line out to that Mr Agentman because that’s how Afro Samurai started. A little manga got somebody’s attention. And I’m trying to bring this thing to as many people as possible. I want to thank you very much Kagan for being my very first interview, I really appreciate it man.
Kagan McLeod: Well that’s cool man you’re welcome, great that I’m the subject.
Dedpool: Well I hope to hear from you again, and please keep me posted on your next project.
Kagan McLeod: Yeah no problem I will definitely send you any news on my new stuff.