Tuesday, February 25, 2014

interview | meet two entertainment wizards from MATLOCK STONE

The Matlock Stone team: Gan, Yi-Xuan, Kaier, and Hann Li

Some weeks back we posted this special preview of a new Sherlock Hong project in development, and the response was just crazy. I received lots of excited emails asking for details. Who created the artwork? Did I sell the story and character rights to a big animation studio? Why does Sherlock Hong have such a futuristic looking motorcycle? What on earth is going on?

Well, I finally managed to put this post together to introduce the fantastic people behind this.

Sherlock Hong and the Secret City is our collaboration with Matlock Stone, a Singapore-based company that develops entertainment content for different platforms, from movies to comics. They have offices in Beijing and Los Angeles too, and they're really serious about getting this out to the world.

We had a great time brainstorming ideas for this project, and coming up with different plot twists. If everything goes well, you'll hear more about this later this year. Meanwhile, I'm pleased to feature two of our collaborators here. They'll tell you more about the origins of this project, and our plans ahead.

As Sherlock Hong would say, "The future belongs to the young and brave!"


Our readers are curious: who are you and what do you do? 
HANN LI: My name is Hann Li, I’m from Singapore, and I’m the Project Director for Matlock Stone. We’re a creative production company that specialises in creating and developing Asian-inspired entertainment content for global audiences across multiple platforms from books, film, TV to digital and mobile. "Sherlock Hong and the Secret City" is our recent collaboration with Don Bosco and Super Cool Books to develop a story that is rooted in Asian history and culture, but at the same time, has a universal appeal to it.

GAN: My name is Gan, I'm from Malaysia and I'm the Visual Director for Matlock Stone.

Your Sherlock Hong concept art is incredibly cool! How much work went into this?
G: For this Sherlock Hong story, Don envisioned a steampunk setup and I thought that was a really cool idea. The basic concept was that Sherlock Hong lives in the 19th century where the world is powered by steam engines, and opium trade by the British Empire is thriving. With this, I visualized Sherlock Hong's city as a vibrant seaport like Singapore, where East and West collide to barter and trade for goods and services. Trade would not only bring cargo, coolies and merchants, but also bold new ideas and ambitious visions of the future. I envisioned a boomtown thriving with opportunity seekers - bandits, opium gangsters, loan sharks - and also ambitious inventors with wild ideas of industrialization, desperately seeking the attention of business tycoons. This would be a dynamic, fast-paced and bustling city. As such, Sherlock Hong would need a cool vehicle to get around with, and what is cooler then a steam-powered reverse trike?

H: Gan is an awesome illustrator, so I pretty gave him free reign to do whatever he wanted with the cover art. But we did have a brief discussion beforehand, and in addition to the strong historical and cultural element we wanted to present with the character of Sherlock Hong, we also wanted to give him a unique, cool and edgy look that kids these days would appreciate. Our idea was to fuse cultural elements of both east and west, but at the same time make him look like a modern-day young hero.
Harry Potter was really big. Do you think readers and audiences around the world will come to love Sherlock Hong too? 
G: Many stories has been told about the 19th century, where the West is overtaking the East to become the superpower of the world in the wake of industrialisation. There are a lot of stories to tell from an Asian perspective without Asians being the victim (like in "Ip Man" or "Wong Fei Hong"). It can be less political and more optimistic, focusing more on the exciting age of invention, rather than a series of unfortunate events in Asian history. We need a balanced view on Asian history, and not solely focus on the victimisation of Asia by the West.

H: Adding on to what Gan says, there is a significant lack of young Asian heroes in children’s fiction. In the ‘young detective’ genre you have popular characters such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, among several others. We believe that Sherlock Hong, as an Asian character, is a strong addition to the pantheon of young detectives in children’s fiction. But more then just being an Asian character, there is a natural and universal appeal to Sherlock Hong that really drew us to him. He embodies characteristics that are both East and West with a global sensibility. In this age of globalization, this makes him a truly universal hero that anybody can connect with.

How does Matlock Stone plan to promote this project? 
H: Matlock Stone has been looking to build a catalog of content dedicated to younger audiences, and Sherlock Hong fits perfectly with the type of stories we’re looking to tell. We aim to build a catalog of stories and characters that are Asian-inspired and rooted in Asian culture and mythology, but with an appeal that is universal. Sherlock Hong is an awesome character that we believe can reach out and connect with anybody whether from Asia or North America.

G: Matlock Stone has always been about telling Asian stories with a modern, updated twist and we think Sherlock Hong is a great concept and character.

Check out Matlock Stone's other projects at http://www.matlockstone.com