The following is an interview with Kwento Comics co-founder Waverley Lim on partnering with Clover Press to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the young adult urban fantasy graphic novel, The Mask of Haliya: Heir to the Warrior Moon. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Lim about Kwento Comics’ mission to provide greater representation for Asian American women in comics, the shared creative process of bringing the graphic novel series to life on the page, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the launch of your Kickstarter campaign for The Mask of Haliya: Heir to the Warrior Moon! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise behind this young adult urban fantasy?
Waverley Lim: The Mask of Haliya: Heir to the Warrior Moon is the first volume of our series fusing Philippine mythology with thrilling adventure. It follows the journey of Filipina-American teen Marisol Reyes the night she arrives in the Philippines, where she meets her estranged older cousin, Isla, and discovers a wooden mask and its hidden powers. It’s a powerful coming-of-age story of an unsuspecting heroine who goes on a journey of self-discovery guided by ancient prophecies and the eternal struggle between light and shadow. As Mari navigates her new-found powers, she will go on an epic quest filled with battles against Philippine shamans, ruthless cult leaders, shady politicians, and creatures of the underworld, all while facing challenges that blur the line between allies and foes.
BD: Your publishing company, Kwento Comics, is making great strides to create a solution to the lack of Asian American representation in media. How do you feel that The Mask of Haliya will help to provide that representation in comics, but also to highlight the talented Asian women who are bringing the story to life?
WL: We hope that The Mask of Haliya serves as a beacon of light on Asian American voices in comics. Our work not only brings diverse Asian and Asian-American characters to life, but also shines a spotlight on the incredible talents of Asian women creators. In doing so, we hope this promotes a more inclusive and inspiring world in comics and media. It’s exciting to me to think that more young Asian girls growing up will see that it is possible to have a career in the arts and to trust their unique gift and share it with the world.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with writer Kaitlyn Fajilan, artist Renoida Renovilla, editor/art supervisor Jenapher Zheng, and colorist Charlyn Duy?
WL: It’s a great joy and privilege to be able to be able to work with this talented team of women who all share the same grit and tenacity to bring this incredible epic of a story to life. We really wanted to show that we can bring something new and fresh to the comic book landscape and do it proudly while honoring our roots. It’s empowering to see the synergy created between the ladies when the writer’s vision comes to life through the artists. It’s really a collaborative space where everyone’s ideas are welcomed and we really get to feed into each other’s creative energy.
BD: What makes Clover Press a great publishing partner for this series of books?
WL: Clover Press has been such a wonderful publishing partner for us, as they truly appreciate and are committed to authenticity in storytelling. Hank Kanalz and the rest of the team have done such a great job at supporting our vision and helping Kwento take it to the next level. With their expertise and passion, I know that Clover Press will help us elevate in a meaningful way by assisting us in bringing this series to new audiences and readers.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you’re able to share with readers?
WL: What I can say is that we do have an exciting, new project that’s been in development at Kwento Comics that will focus on a new myth and different creatures from the Philippines coming next year!
BD: Lastly, in light of the Kickstarter campaign, are there any particular backer rewards that you would like to highlight for our readers?
WL: We are so excited to launch our first-ever Kickstarter page and to unveil the awesome rewards that we worked so hard on creating for our fans! I’m not going to give all the spoilers away, but I’ll let you know that my favorite reward might just have to be the mask of Haliya tattoo. I mean how iconic that you, just like our heroine, Mari, can be imbued with the power of the mask! We also have a super interesting behind-the-scenes bonus page in the book on the development and concept art of the mask design that you see in the series.