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Tze Chun Talks About TKO Studios

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Tze Chun began his professional career in film and television. From directing films such as "Children of Invention"and "Cold Comes the Night ", to writing for shows such as "Once Upon A Time" and "Gotham". Now he's come to try his hand in the comic book industry.

In Dec 2018 he helped launch TKO Studios. TKO cam out of nowhere, popping up on Twitter with cryptic tweets of their new titles and a promise of "We'll be doing things a bit differently". With their unique business model of binge releasing their books (single issues, trade paperbacks and digital), they are truly one of the most innovative comic book companies on the market.

Not only did Tze co-found the company, he also wrote 2 of the initial launch titles, THE 7 DEADLY SINS and THE FEARSOME DR. FANG. The first wave of books have been received well with a second wave already announced. 

TKO is a special company and has set the comic book world on fire. The love Tze has for this medium shows in the quality work that is coming out from TKO. From the high quality material the work is published on to the amazing talent producing the incredible work, this is not a publisher you guys are gonna want to sleep on.

COMIC LOUNGE: You recently launched a new comic book publishing company TKO Presents. What prompted you to start this new venture?

TZE CHUN: Well, comic books were my first love. I grew up outside of Boston and I spent a lot of time at my local comic book stores, which were Million Year Picnic at Harvard Square and New England Comics. I wanted to be a comic book writer and a comic book artist, life kind of took a different turn. I started getting into independent film, I directed a couple movies, then started working in Television.

A few years ago I was on staff at "Once Upon A Time", which is an ABC show, which is really close to House of Secrets in Burbank. So during lunch hour, I just kept on going over there and got back into comics. I was just amazed by the creative talent that was out there and decided that I wanted to get back into comics. At the same time, I had reconnected with a friend and mentor, Salvatore Simeone. He was also interested in doing something in the comic book and publishing space.

It just kind of went from there. We brought on Cara McKenney, who does our creator outreach and handles creator relations and Sebastian Girner who is our Editor-In-Chief. We just started putting together these teams to put together these books.

COMIC LOUNGE: With so many publishers out there right now, how do you make yourself stand out?

TC: When we put together this company, we basically told ourselves that it want worth doing unless we tried something differently. So, we want to be the first modern comic book publisher. By that, we are doing a few things differently than other publishers.

First, we're binge releasing our books. The second that our series are released they are fully available, all six issues (an entire story arc) are available at once. In this day and age, with Netflix and Hulu, people are really in the "binge" mindset and don't wanna wait 6 to 9 months for a story arc to finish up.

Secondly, we release in multiple formats. When a series is released, we release it in a six issue box set. At the same time we also release a trade paperback and the digital versions. We just want to make sure the fans can enjoy the series in whatever format they like reading comics in. So that just kind of made sense to us, with our binge model.

Third, we provide every first issue, for free, to read online. You can do that off of our site or on comiXology. As a publisher we stand behind our books, so that seemed like the logical extension of that part of our business model.

The last thing is, we're going around Diamond, we're not using them. In order to get stock in the Direct Market, stores can deal with us directly. We have a great deal for stores, it's 50% off of the cover price and we pay for shipping, within the U.S., for free.

Those are kind of the four tenets of our model.

COMIC LOUNGE: You guys launched with 4 initial series, with 4 more to launch in Spring. Are there any other books currently in the works?

TC: Yeah, we're currently putting together our 3rd and 4th Wave concurrently. The idea, is that we'll be releasing 4 books about every 6 months. That's the current model.

COMIC LOUNGE: Are their plans to do continuations of the series that we're a part of the initial launch? Will they be brand new series or a mix of both?

TC: It will probably end up being a mix. It's just a question of scheduling. We designed all of these books to be self-contained stories, with the ability to continue on. So we're always open to the idea of doing a second volume for the books that have come out.

COMIC LOUNGE: You actually wrote 2 of the books from the initial launch, THE FEARSOME DR. FANG and THE 7 DEADLY SINS. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about those series.

TC: Yeah so the first, THE FEARSOME DR. FANG, is kind of a modern reimagining of the "Yellow Peril" serials from the 1920's to the 1940's. The idea is, what if the kind if "Fu manchu" bad guy, criminal mastermind, was the good guy who had to put on the guise of a bad guy in order to infiltrate the criminal underworld. So that's a

big, fun, epic adventure. It follows a trio of heroes as they from San Francisco to China. We think it appeals to people, that if you like Indiana Jones, I think that this book appeal to that epic, treasure hunting, adventure mentality.

That is something that I co-wrote with Mike Weiss. Dan McDaid did the art. Daniela Miwa colored it and Steve Wands did the lettering. Sebastian Girner, who's our Editor-In-Chief, edited all of our books.

The second book I did, THE 7 DEADLY SINS, is a Western set a couple years after the end of the Civil War. It's about a group of death rowncriminals, who I think are unlike most of the heroes that you've seen in Westerns previous to this one. As they come together to return a Comanche war chief's daughter to Comancheria. It's a bloody Western that's kind of based in real history.

That book was drawn by Artyom Trakhanov and colored by Giulia Brusco. The book was lettered by Jared K. Fletcher who also did all of our book packaging. Also edited by Sebastian Girner as well.

COMIC LOUNGE: Like you said earlier, you've written for television on shows such as ONCE UPON A TIME and GOTHAM. How does writing comics difer from writing for a TV show?

TC: What was really satisfying about moving into comics is, when you're writing movie or TV in the back of your mind theirs a budget you have to think of. In terms of set pieces and scenes. The opening scene of THE FEARSOME DR. FANG takes place during this great earthquake, I don't know if you could do that unless you're making a 400 million dollar movie.

So what I love about it is, there's no limit to what you can put on the page, as long as your artist is game.

COMIC LOUNGE: You brought in some new creators for the "second wave", are their any other specific creators you would love to bring over to TKO in the future?

TC:  I mean, I'm a huge fan of a bunch of creators. They way that we typically operate is, we haven't done open submissions yet so it's very directed in terms of who we've reached out to. I can't really name any names right now, but we will probably be announcing the 3rd and 4th waves in the next couple months. They're all creators that we are a hundred percent on and huge fans of ourselves I think that shows in these first couple waves of book.

COMIC LOUNGE: Where do you see TKO in the next 5 years?

TC: We just want to keep on creating the best possible comic books. We hope to expand the comic book audience from what it is now and really partner with local comic book shops and fans to spread the word.

COMIC LOUNGE: Is there anything else you can tease about upcoming plans for the company?

TC: The second wave of books is really fantastic. I think people are really gonna be blown away by them. We're working with some of our favorite creators. I think that there's gonna be a few big announcements coming up in the next couple months. If fans are interested they can follow @TKOPresents on Twitter and Instagram. That's where we do most of our announcements.

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