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Fanbase Press Interviews Bin Lee and Tina Cesa Ward on the Digital Comic Book Series, ‘Delegates’

The following is an interview with Bin Lee and Tina Cesa Ward, the creative team behind the digital comic book series, Delegates. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Lee and Ward about the premise of the 30-issue series, the application of Afrofuturism to the story, what’s in store for the future, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the premise of Delegates, and what inspired you to tell this story?

Bin Lee: [SPOILER ALERT] In Delegates, we follow an African-American bodyguard, Marla, who realizes the African president she’s protecting is an android created by our Marla’s employer. After her initial shock, we observe Marla’s struggles with figuring out if an android can make a good leader. What inspired this premise was the increasing prevalence of automation. About five years ago, when it became clear technology like machine learning, smart fill-in-the-blanks, and “internet of things” was going to have a strong impact in our lives, I was curious what would happen if we automated governance. That curiosity later bloomed into a full-fledged story.

BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in creating this series, and what have been some of your creative influences? 

BL: Process-wise, it was a combination of in-person sessions and hands-off creation. For every 6-issue arc, we’d get in the same room for a few weeks, hammer out the main beats/themes/character developments, and divide the work. Then, for the next few months, we took turns writing issues. So, Tina wrote Issue 1 during weeks 1 & 2. Weeks 3 & 4, I was responsible for writing Issue 2, while giving feedback on Issue 1, which Tina would simultaneous refine. Back and forth we’d go.

Tina Cesa Ward: As far as creative influences for this series, we didn’t necessarily have one particular influence. What Bin described as the inspiration for the series was definitely an influence, and I was always interested in how our characters made decisions in the world we created. A lot of our story was driven by the desire to get our characters in a particular situation and see how they would react.  We also did a ton of research for Delegates which influenced certain story points.

BD: How do you feel that the application of Afrofuturism enhances and furthers the series?

BL: To be honest, I didn’t realize Afro-Futurism was a thing until after we’d finished the script and a friend introduced me to it. While I’m embarrassed by my ignorance, I’m kind of glad that I wasn’t aware of it, otherwise I might’ve tried too hard to lean in. We simply believed we needed more/better stories that involve women of color and portraying African settings fairly. Any Afro-Futuristic ties is kind of coincidental.

TCW: All of what Bin just said, ditto for me.

BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?

BL: We hope readers will find Delegates to be as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. We aim to give a satisfying story for readers who are looking for intelligent dialog, diverse characters, and challenging themes in their comics. I hope they’ll come away thinking Delegates is more than just an interesting concept, but also embracing these memorable characters for years to come.

TCW: Bin said it well, so what I will add is that I hope Delegates will inspire others to read and perhaps create more comics with characters and stories we haven’t been exposed to as much in the medium.  Comics is the best place to explore worlds imagined or otherwise.

BD: There are 30 issues planned for the series, which is quite an impressive collection.  Do you have a planned timeline of release for all of the issues, and through what platform(s) do you plan to release the issues?

BL: Our goal is to release monthly, with a break after every 6 issues. It was always our plan to create 5 arcs, with the chance to create a trade for each arc. Currently, you can read Delegates on comiXology. Our hope is to create a following, so we can approach a publisher to help with a concurrent print run.

BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

BL: Instead of working hard on the craft of writing like my writing partner, I’m co-designing a board game. It’s not just a different form of entertainment. My storytelling skills are put to the test, because I need to make something that enables the participants to experience a story that is their own.

TCW: First, I can’t wait to see Bin’s board game. I kind of know a little bit on how he thinks now having spent 18 months writing together. So, the pressure is on for Bin to deliver, and I know he will. As for me, I continue to develop ideas for TV and Streaming shows for my day job, but I would love to start writing for another comic series again, soon.

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Delegates?

BL: They can join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @DelegatesComic. We can also be reached via email: DelegatesComic (at) gmail (dot) com.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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