Wednesday, April 29, 2009
HUMP DAY Q&A: Cartoonist STAN YAN
I’ve known cartoonist Stan Yan for years…but don’t hold that against me.
I met Stan in the 1990s via San Diego Comic-Con’s Small Press area, where we always had our respective tables. In fact, I only know him through the context of Comic-Con. Therefore, I can not picture him in a city that doesn’t have a 7-11 every other block in the background.
What I like about Stan, outside of his alternately self-deprecating humor and chardonnay-dry sarcasm, is...not much. Oh, wait, also that he’s a great purveyor of the humor comics tradition (ie. “The Wang”) and a co-founder of Squid Works, a loosely knit cooperative of talented cartoonists based in his native Denver.
In a few weeks, I’ll be profiling here another great Squid, Mr. Lonnie Allen, a very different cartoonist than Stan whose slice-of-life fiction I really dig. Stan and I have had myriad adventures in San Diego. One of those adventures was the first time we hit the annual Southern California Cartoonist Society party, where we both wound up pictured in the San Diego Reader with BIZARRO cartoonist DAN PIRARO because the Reader’s Partycrasher columnist crashed the SCCS party. Another adventure occurred just two years ago, on the Thursday of 2007’s Comic-Con, when, walking back to our Little Italy hotel, me, Stan, and some of his Denver crew ran into no less than Stan Lee, standing on a dark block shortly before midnight, waiting for a cab (see photo below). Oh, yeah, and there was that time we encountered elfin forest nymphs riding topless on unicorns, but I can’t get into that right now.
Behold the art and humor of cartoonist Stan “The Man” Yan...
****You're a founding father of the comic-book creator network Squid Works. What are the best and worst aspects of being part of a cartoonist collective?
The idea behind our collective is that it gives us an opportunity to put ourselves in front of retailers and fans with new material each quarter without having to each produce something new each quarter. So, even if some of our creators don't have something new, they'll hopefully benefit from the additional web traffic to our online catalog (www.squidworks.com). Plus, we all can split many of the costs: domain name registration, web hosting, a p.o. box, printing, and postage. And, hopefully, if one of us makes it big, the rest of us can ride the coattails of that person's success to an extent. On the flip side, we can also be tarnished by the unprofessionalism of any of our members. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm talking about myself here. I'm not. I swear. Okay, mostly.
[Here I am standing next to two Stans from the comics industry with Asian surnames flanking Chris Salas from the Squid Works entourage. I call this photo “The Stanwich” (the event described in this caption is not as dirty as it sounds…)]
****What are some characteristics of the Denver scene that may be distinctive from the comic book scenes in other cities?
Well, for years, we've been on a geographic island where we've been isolated from most of the rest of the country's major metropolitan comics fans and creators, so trying to launch a major comic-related convention or event was difficult. Most of our events have been very regional in nature. So our audience has been very limited. Most definitely, the creators here have really been continuing with their craft not for money, but passion, unlike you Hollywood coast-types.
However, recently Starland, a company that runs some sizable science fiction conventions and haunted houses in Denver, bought out a small comics swap meet called the Majesticon, and this is the first year that they've run this comics convention they're calling ComicFest. Under new management, this convention promises to satisfy some of the thirst for a major comics-oriented convention here in Denver. It runs concurrently with Starfest, their science fiction and horror convention the weekend of April 17th - 19th at the Hilton Garden Inn in the Denver Tech Center (www.starland.com/sf-sc/sf09/CF_index.php). Happily, I'm also one of the featured guests, which is making me big headed (whee!). So, in spite of our past isolation, we hope to be able to showcase the wealth of home-grown talent to a larger audience beginning this year.
****Which comic book that you've worked on do you consider your definitive statement to date and why does it best represent your talents?
Well, my signature title is definitely my THE WANG graphic novels and comic strips. It's definitely the strip that I most closely connect myself with, and which contains material that is closest to my heart and interests. My main character, Eugene Wang, has been following the early parts of my career through the brokerage industry, which I worked in on-and-off for 13 years (mostly on), and many of the characters and story situations are based (often loosely) on those of friends and their families, so the stories, while often far-fetched, are almost always relatable...at least that's what folks have told me. Although, I honestly feel like even though I'm not the primary writer on SUBCULTURE, this title has made me come to grips with the nerdier side of myself. As our slogan says, "Admit it. Your one of us."
****Who will play Stan Yan in the biopic once Hollywood gives it the greenlight?
I'm hoping Jackie Chan isn't too old by then, although he has a much heavier Chinese accent than me, and his martial arts are a whole lot better than mine. Okay, I'll probably settle for Pauly Shore.
Yan can be found at www.squidworks.com/Stan and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.