Joining the Chicago Contingent just before the Thanksgiving festivities, is comic book author, Onrie Kompan. Onrie is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, a native to the area, and his first comic book series, YI SOON SHIN: Warrior and Defender, launches today!
Dana Kaye: What was your motivation for writing this series?
Onrie Kompan: I grew up reading many comic books and have always been intrigued by the struggles that super heroes dealt with. I always felt like I could relate to them on a personal level but there was always this line that couldn’t be crossed because none of these heroes actually existed.
When I first started writing comics I found that nothing I had produced was adding any value to the medium. Then one day, I came across a TV show called THE IMMORTAL YI SOON SHIN.
Like many super heroes, Admiral Yi endured very difficult hardships and I believe he stands out more because he existed. Not only is he real but you can also relate to him because he was just as human as everyone else. His philosophies not only guided me through the process of producing the series, but they also had a significant impact on my life in general.
Because so few people outside of Korea know who Yi Soon Shin is, I feel it is my calling to bring his story to the center stage of the world.
DK: Speak a little bit about the writing process. How is it different for comics and novels?
OK: I spent 5 years learning how to write novels and then spent two years unlearning it all. Not that writing novels is a bad thing but comics have a very different flow to them than novels. You need to get the point across very quickly.
In college, many of my professors asked me to slow down when I was writing so that I could see everything on the page. This forced me to pay attention to all the fine details going on in each scene, but I was no longer focused on the actual story itself and I often found myself stopping and asking, “Wait, what’s this about again?” In other words, when it comes to writing, I have a severe case of A.D.D and memory loss.
In prose forms, you control the whole playground and I find that to be a bit distracting. I like to get close to my characters and I like to watch them interact with one another. Writing comics has always felt natural to me because I can let my artist worry about the background details. I’m all about character interaction.
DK: Since this is your first series, what has surprised you about the publishing process? Anything you wish you knew going in?
OK: Oh yeah! I’m still learning things as I go and I’m making lots of mistakes and having lots of breakthroughs. I had many mentors who helped me along the way. Mort Castle and Len Strazewski taught me how to write and produce. My father taught me how to conduct business. All of them have been extremely supportive.
Putting my production team together was a dream come true but there were some difficult moments. Till this day, none of us have actually met each other face-to-face. David (the editor) and I talk on the phone fairly often but the rest of the team is pretty spread out. Gio’ lives in Italy and Adriana and Joel are from Argentina.
Despite our distance and how difficult it can sometimes be to communicate with each other, I have never worked with such a committed group of artists. They are all extremely talented and it’s a great honor working with them.
In my humble opinion, the ride isn’t worth it if you know what’s in store for you. If you decide to get involved in comics, you’re already taking a risk and are in store for a ton of surprises. Some are great and some just really suck. But there is nothing more gratifying than accomplishing the goals you set for yourself and standing out from everyone else.
DK: Which book or series made you want to write comics?
OK: Growing up, I was a huge Spider-Man fan and I always knew that I wanted to write comics professionally.
Over the last ten years, I began exposing myself to more mainstream comics and eventually started developing an interest in independent graphic novels.
I have a great deal of admiration for writers that choose to maintain their integrity and know when to walk away from a project. Alan Moore’s works are a prime example of that.
I would love to write all kinds of comics but I also feel that it’s important to add to the medium. The comic book industry as a whole is in dire need of afresh perspective in order to survive and attract new readers.
For decades comics have been seen as a childish form of entertainment. That’s something I would like to see change over the course of time and I’m really glad to see that there are so many talented writers out there who are telling their own stories.
Want a signed copy of Issue #1? E-mail Onrie and he'll send you one! For more information on Onrie and YI SOON SHIN, visit his website.