Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Pressure of the Closet Explodes in Filmmaker’s Graphic Novel

Comic book creators John Hahn and Quentin Lee

Gay filmmaker and writer Quentin Lee joined artist John Hahn to introduce their mysterious graphic novel "Campus Ghost Story" at the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Main Public Library on April 29.

The setting for the event is a striking circular room with a marvelous
sepia-toned, trompe l’oeil ceiling mural by Mark Evans and Charley Brown that displays famous LGBT cultural icons that include authors Willa Cather and Gertrude Stein, Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, Prussian King Frederick the Great, and Turkish Sultan Suleiman I.

The Hormel Center is an LGBT research center that preserves historical and cultural archives.

The novel presentation began with a greeting from the Hormel Center’s Karen Sundheim, and then Lee and Hahn introduced themselves to an attentive audience. A slide show of the graphic novel’s panels was shown, and Lee and Hahn took clever turns playing the female and male characters as they read the dialogue aloud. The story by Lee is ominous and has a sense of doom, which is expertly illustrated by artist Hahn, and there is an ambiguous theme of the danger of the closet. The specter of a horribly murdered student haunts its way through the pages of the book, and it is suggested that the pressures of hiding in the closet conjured up that gruesome hallucination.

Lee explained that the graphic novel is a blueprint for a film, but that his efforts to produce his ideas onto celluloid have not panned out. And his description of the sometimes sordid complications of movie creation was educational and hair-raising, with a vast amount of money appearing and disappearing.

Quentin Lee

Lee's first film "Shopping for Fangs" is well-regarded for its quirky characters that include a young man who fears that he is turning into a werewolf. "Drift" is a local favorite, partly because of the inter-racial casting and because adored Mission beauty Desi del Valle has a part, and "The People I’ve Slept With" received a huge positive reception at the recent San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Gay actor Wilson Cruz convincingly played a sex-crazed gay man, who also wants a lover, and Karin Anna Cheung played his friend who has sex with dozens of men but she must find out which one impregnated her. The SF Bay Times reviewed the film twice, and its theater screenings are eagerly anticipated.

Filmmaker Lee is presenting Little Love at the 2010 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival on June 26. It is a short film with a unique script — three gay Latinos are involved in a triad relationship — and knowing Lee’s technique it will be intense.

The graphic novel is available online at, and its creators will be appearing at the next Comic-Con Convention. Artist Hahn has had experience with the supernatural with his "Dungeons & Dragons" efforts and he has an “Electric City” comic strip.

The lead question of the Q&A, just before the book signing, was: “What will you be doing in 5 years?” They answered more graphic novels and more films, which drew one more applause from the fans, and then they rushed up to meet Lee and Hahn.

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