Saturday, March 19, 2016

Artist of "The Zodiac Legacy" Book Series Andie Tong Meets Fans at Kinokuniya

Locally, there are still many who are not familiar with Singapore-based artist Andie Tong, but Red Dot Diva is pretty sure this is going to change very soon due to the success of his work with Disney's illustrated book series "The Zodiac Legacy", created by the legendary Stan Lee, and co-written by Stuart Moore. It is also Stan Lee's first illustrated book series.

"The Zodiac Legacy" is about the power of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac that have been unleashed all around the world. Chinese-American teenager Steven Lee absorbs the power of the Tiger and gets caught up with the whirlwind of events battling with the Vanguard - a group of mercenaries - who are trying to collect the powers from other hosts and use them for their own selfish means.

The action-packed first book "Convergence" was launched in early 2015. The follow-up book entitled "The Dragon's Return" was released last month, and was listed as a NYT best-seller for Children's Middle-Grade Hardcover!

Andie has worked in Australia and the UK, and is well-known with regular comic conventions goers around the world. He is definitely a familiar face to those who attend STGCC, and Red Dot Diva notices that his booth is usually swamped with fans.

Andie's clean, manga-ish art style can be seen in comic books like "Spectacular Spider-man UK", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Batman Strikes", "Masters of the Universe", and the prequel comic "Tron: Betrayal" which was released before the 2010 movie "Tron: Legacy", to illustrating Dynamite Entertainment's graphic novel adaptation of Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" fantasy book series.

Yesterday, Andie was at Kinokuniya to meet fans and chat a bit about "The Zodiac Legacy".

Red Dot Diva decided to surprise Andie by bringing along "Stan Lee" to the meet-the-artist session! ;)

As soon as introductions about Andie and the book "The Dragon's Return" was done, he immediately began a live drawing demonstration.

He quipped that he had wanted to draw Batman v Superman, but his current employers would not be too pleased with that. So, Captain America it was.

Check out a quick video of how Andie brought Captain America to live on paper!

Isn't that a gorgeous piece of art work?

Andie's live demonstration at the store attracted a lot of attention, and Red Dot Diva was pleased to see a huddle of young children who stood by in amazement, to watch him draw the Marvel superhero.

While putting in more lines on the Captain America drawing, Andie managed to give us a few tidbits about himself as well as role in creating "The Zodiac Legacy". Here are some of them:

- The book series will be a trilogy, and the creators are currently working on the third book. Andie is character designing at the moment and with the upcoming book, as the current characters evolve in their experiences.

- Andie got this gig through his editor Nachie Marsham, whom he knew from his work at DC Comics. Nachie left DC and joined Disney Publishing, and he was the one who recommended Andie for "The Zodiac Legacy" project. Andie said, "So as you can see, it's important to have a good rapport with your editor!"

- The writers, Stan Lee and Stuart Moore, were both open to Andie's suggestions regarding the character creation and how they look visually. This is the first time Andie got the chance to conceptualize original characters from scratch. As in any project, there were a lot of back and forth on ideas as the creative team progress through the pages.

- He has not spoken to Stan Lee the man himself. Most of the communication was done through emails and through Stan Lee's company and the team at Disney Publishing. However, he was told that Stan Lee commented that he wished he had met Andie when he was creating comics. What a great compliment, huh?

- One of the main objectives of "The Zodiac Legacy" was that it would be a book series that would be palatable for a global audience, including China. 

- With that in mind, the power of the Dragon was the most potent of all the zodiac signs in the book, and initially, the other creators wanted the dragons to be both good and bad, and initially placed the the long (龙) or Chinese Dragon more toward being a baddie. Andie felt that since the Dragon is a very strong positive symbol in Eastern cultures and signifies good luck and strength, the China audience might not be find this image acceptable, so he suggested a change. The Western Dragon (just think of Drogon in "Game of Thrones") now aligns more to the "bad" side of things, but essentially, neither of them are good nor bad. They are both simply too powerful and the hosts wielding these powers are trying to wrangle control over each other.

- When asked if there will be crossover projects for "The Zodiac Legacy", Andie said that there is a high possibility of the characters and stories appearing into other forms of media, like graphic novels, TV series or games.

As the live drawing demonstration went on, more people gathered around the event area and when it wrapped up, Red Dot Diva noticed a few more books being purchased, and a moderate line formed up for the signing session.

Andie personalized every book with a small drawing of a zodiac sign of your choice. Red Dot Diva noticed most asked for the Dragon or the Snake.

When it came to Red Dot Diva's turn, she asked for a drawing of her zodiac sign - the Goat, which in the book series, has been changed to a more tougher sounding term of "Ram".

And it was a very nice detailed Ram artwork indeed.

"Stan Lee" also gives his nod of approval!

A video posted by Red Dot Diva (@reddotdiva) on

A photo posted by Red Dot Diva (@reddotdiva) on

Watch this video by creative extraordinaire Stan Lee to get to know more about "The Zodiac Legacy":

To get book readers more curious about "The Dragon's Return", Red Dot Diva gives you a sneak peek of two beautifully detailed graphic illustrations by Andie Tong:

Both "The Zodiac Legacy" books are available at the Kinokuniya as well as other local book stores right now. Red Dot Diva hasn't read them yet, but the premise sounds like hours of enjoyable reading. Go check them out!

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