We had the good fortune of connecting with Seol Young Lee and Mike Ahn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Seol and Mike, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I have never considered myself to be a particularly risk-taking individual. I grew up in an Asian immigrant family, and my parents always stressed working hard, getting good grades, and securing a job that would provide me long-term financial stability. Maybe Mike my husband is a little more risk-taking than I, but even so, neither of us are exactly business-minded. What we are, however, is passionate. We are led by our passion and our unquenchable desire to follow it. I do have a stable job, but I never forgot my passion. Mike was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in his early 20s, which turned his life upside down, but he still never forgot his passion. So in my mind, sure, there are people for whom risk-taking comes naturally, but for me and Mike, we had to take risks because pursuing our passion required it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Mike and I are the creators of “Out of Order,” which is a comic book series based on our life dealing with Mike’s mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia. Our comic book is unique because it’s not a typical superhero story or even sci. fi./fantasy. It is our coming-out story, a confession, and a plea. It is a story through which we revealed to our friends and family for the first time the truth about Mike’s illness, and it is also our way to reach out to people in similar situations and ask everyone to have more compassion and understanding for people who suffer from mental illnesses. The process was not easy, but we had been hiding long enough and wanted to come out. We also know that we’re in no way on a professional level when it comes to writing and illustrating, but we wanted have control over how the story would be told, so I wrote the story, and Mike illustrated it. We learned along the way that it’s best to just do it, whatever it is you want to do. Just start. The journey won’t be perfect and may not go the way you envisioned it, but it’s better than never getting started for the fear of failure. The telling of our story through the comic book series has given us deeper meaning of our lives, and every step is a scary yet exciting adventure. As independent comics creators, we want the world to know that “Out of Order” is our heart and soul. It is more than just a comic book series. It has an important message for the readers, and I hope you will give it a chance.
If someone were visiting you from out of town, where would you take them?
Haha. This is kind of a hard question for us to answer because we’re such homebodies, but we do love food, so the visit would probably center around food. We would take them to some of our favorite local restaurants and cafes like El Amigo in Lawndale, Old Time Noodle House in Gardena, Two Guns Espresso in Manhattan Beach, and Orleans and York Deli in LA. If they love comic books, we would take them to our favorite local comic book stores like The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach and Atomic Basement in Long Beach. They both have weekly meetings for comic book creators, so maybe they’d want to come with us to those, too! The South Bay does have a lot of fun things to do, so we can go to Del Amo mall, Manhattan, Redondo, and Hermosa Beach piers, and various parks and museums.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First of all, we would like to shout out Saddler Ward of kidsentrocks.com for giving Mike a chance and introducing him to the Sketchy Bug group at The Comic Bug. With one kind gesture, he made everything else that followed possible. We would also like to shout out Mike Wellman of Atomic Basement Comics in Long Beach, CA, for his generosity and faith in local indie comic book artists like us. Shoutouts also go out to fellow indie comic book creators including Joe Burns, Don Walker, Roland De Aragon, William Montalvo, and many others. And of course, we wouldn’t be here without our families and friends who have been there for us through thick and thin.