This past weekend, PopCultHQ stopped by Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, CA for Free Comic Book Day 2016. Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors, had a couple of guest artists at his store signing for the event. Brian Hess was on hand with his FCBD offering Awake #0, which we’re putting together a review for it now. I was introduced to Brandon McKinney, artist of the current series Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises from Darby Pop Publishing.
Brandon, a UCLA grad with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, has a lot of credits to his name of which you may not be aware. Most of his tenure in the comic book industry has been as a storyboard artist for a number of animation shows, such as:
Batman Beyond, Ben 10, The Batman, The Secret Saturdays, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, G.I. Joe: Renegades, Transformers Prime, Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
His current project, Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises, is a collaboration between Darby Pop Publishing and Bruce Lee Entertainment, which is overseen by his daughter Shannon Lee. The premiere issue was co-written by Shannon and Jeff Kline, founder of Darby Pop Publishing, with interior art by McKinney. It chronicles the return of the beloved actor, philosopher, teacher and – of course – martial artist in a present-day, all-ages comedy/action/adventure.
Synopsis for Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises –
Bruce Lee never died. And he hasn’t aged. But, he has no idea who he is, what’s happened in the world in the past 40+ years, or why so many “thugs” want a piece of him. With the help of a fly BFF from the ’70s – Joe Toomey, P.I. – and a pair of precocious Teens, Bruce will piece together a mystery more insidious than ever imagined, and find himself forced to do battle with both an enigmatic Villain and his very own conscience. In other words, the Dragon rises… and “walks on” once more!
Besides Brandon’s extensive work with Hasbro TV Animation and especially Warner Bros. Animation, he has worked as the artist (interior and/or cover) on a number of titles (see gallery below). In researching Brandon’s comic book and animation background, I’ve found that this gifted artist has covered a lot of ground over the years.
Upon attending FCBD, I was fortunate enough to get a signed copy of Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises from Brandon and he was willing to take time to speak with PopCultHQ. Here’s our Artist Spotlight on this incredible artist, humble and grateful guy, and an overall cool dude.
Brandon McKinney: It’s been great. You know, really fun to meet all these nice people and comic book fans. Everybody’s been really kind and it’s great to be at the store where Free Comic Book Day began. So I feel honored to be here.
PopCultHQ: And you’re a Californian, right? Los Angeles?
Brandon McKinney: I live in Los Angeles now, yeah. I’ve lived in California most of my life.
PopCultHQ: Is this your first time signing at a Free Comic Book Day?
Brandon McKinney: Yes. I just moved back from Florida, where I was for ten years and they had them out there but I was never a guest. I just brought my kids so they could get into comic books. But this is the first year I’ve ever signed at a Free Comic Book Day.
PopCultHQ: I guess I’m kinda surprised by that because you’ve worked on a number of different titles, different publishers. Worked with WaRP Graphics on Elfquest Shards, Dark Horse with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Doberman and Dead Squad for IDW, and now you’re working with Darby Pop [publishing]. So what’s it like working on this new Bruce Lee series?
Brandon McKinney: So yeah, I’ve been doing comics for 30 years, which is scary that my very first book published was in high school, in 1986 or 87. Recently I haven’t been doing as many comics, I’ve been doing work in animation and storyboards.
PopCultHQ: I saw that you’ve been working with Warner Bros. Animation for what now, about 15 years?
Brandon McKinney: 1999. 17 years. Yeah, they gave me my first job on Batman: Beyond and I’ve worked on a bunch of different shows for them. Right now I’m directing some short episodes of their DC’s Super Hero Girls show, and I’m having a blast!
PopCultHQ: How’s it working with Adam Beechen on the Bruce Lee series?
Brandon McKinney: It’s really great because… Adam and I have known each other probably for ten years. We met because we both have done books for the publisher AiT/Planet Lar, Astronauts in Trouble is their big book and he wrote a book called Hench and I was drawing a book for Larry Young, the publisher at that company, and we just met at a convention table. Then, lo and behold Adam, his day job so-to-speak is writing episodes of TV animation. I ended up seeing his name on the scripts I would be given the storyboards and I’m like, “I know that guy.” And we always wanted to find a comic book project to work on together and it just worked out where he did the writing and I was doing the art, so it was really fun to get to draw a lot of his ideas and stories.
PopCultHQ: And such an iconic character and individual as well.
Brandon McKinney: Yeah, that’s been fantastic.
PopCultHQ: Do you have any other scheduled appearances where people can come and see you the rest of this year, in 2016?
Brandon McKinney: Nothing on the docket. This was just scheduled about a month ago and used to do a lot more appearances and conventions and I’ve sort of fallen out of it, but that’s not to say I won’t again. Actually, wait… The Sac-Con in October, big convention in Sacramento, we’re going to try and get Shannon Lee to appear and I’ll sit at a table with her. That’s tentative, we haven’t confirmed any of it yet
PopCultHQ: Hopefully that happens and comes to fruition. That would be a great showing.
Brandon McKinney: It would, it would be great promotion, so yeah. That’s the main thing right now.
PopCultHQ: Right on. Is there any other projects you’re working on outside of the Bruce Lee series?
Brandon McKinney: As far as comics go? I’m working with a writer just who’s hiring me to draw his story idea. It’s a book called Herbert & the Time-Travelling Toilet. I’ve been doing that bit-by-bit over the last year, tear and a half. He’s going to shop it around to publishers so we’ll see. I hope it comes out. That’s the only other comic book I have for sure. Other than that, just look for Transformers: Robots in Disguise the series, look for DC Super Hero Girls on the internet and on television, and in about another year there will be episodes of Stretch Armstrong , a revamped version of that on Netflix. And I’m doing the storyboards on that. Staying busy.
PopCultHQ: Sounds like you have a full plate. I appreciate your time and thanks for coming out for Free Comic Book Day. We’ll look forward to maybe catching you down at the October Sacramento show.
Brandon McKinney: That would be great.
Here’s a gallery of some of the various comic books Brandon has worked on. Do you own any of these titles or issues?
Be sure to follow Brandon through his social media outlets:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brandon.mckinney.7509836
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/brandon62008173
And pick up Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises #0-#2 available now!