Q&A with legendary comic artist Ernie Chan

by: alex

Doing justice to Ernie Chan in a paragraph is pretty much impossible. He’s a legend in the comic world, having spent numerous years with both marvel and DC. He’s probably best known for “Batman” with DC and “Conan the Barbarian” and “Savage Sword of Conan” for Marvel.

Ernie will be headlining a group of very talented artists for Hobby Star’s http://www.hobbystar.com/upcomingevents/index.html June 5-6 Comic fan Appreciation convention being held here in Toronto at the Metro Convention Center (South building).

As you’ll read, Ernie doesn’t come to Toronto very often so now is the time to find a good Savage Sword of Conan or Batman and get him to sign it for you. I should add that at $60 for a pencil sketch (more for inks/backgrounds/colors), you should definitely add one of his sketches to your collection.

Ernie graciously agreed to answer ten questions for tdotcomics.

Conan the Barbarian (inked)

1) What made you decide to move to the U.S at the age of 30? How did you catch your first big break?

EC — I made the decision to move to America mainly for economic reasons. Comic artists in the Philippines are overworked and underpaid, and opportunities are limited. Luckily, I was petitioned by my elder sister, who is a resident in California, to migrate to U.S., then I worked in a small company as a staff artist for a year until I got in contact with Tony Dezuniga who I used to apprentice back in the Philippines. He was at the time already working for DC Comics. He was stationed in upstate New York. He offered me the apprenticeship again,and I took it in a heartbeat.I apprenticed for Tony for 3 months, then I went on my own. Did some mystery short story for Murray Boltinoff, and the rest was history.

2) What was the biggest difference between working for DC and working for Marvel?

EC — At DC I was considered a penciller first before an inker. At Marvel, it’s the other way around. I love to do both. As an inker I learned a lot inking other great pencillers like Gene Colan, Gil Kane, Frank Brunner,Walt Simonson, George Tuska.Sal Buscema etc.

The most influential penciller I ever learned from is John Buscema. I have inked his work for over 20 years, I enjoyed every minute of it. I miss him ever since he passed away.

3) How, as an artist, does your approach change when doing a character like Conan to doing something like “House of Secrets”?

EC — It is always a different approach from one project to another. There is always research involved at the start and Thorough understanding of the story. Then the style comes in, for instant in a mystery story, a lot of shadowy shots and perspective full shots. A Conan story is mostly detailed scenes and angled action shots.

4) What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to autograph and what’s the strangest sketch request you’ve ever been asked to do?

EC — The strangest Thing I ever autographed is a Baseball mailed to me and he wants a Conan sketch on it.

About 20 years ago in San Diego Comic-con a female fan once commissioned me to do a Hulk without his purple pants on. You know what I mean.

5) What does it mean to you, to be labeled a “legendary artist” for your upcoming visit to Toronto? Have you been to Toronto before?

EC — “legendary artist” to me means I am in the business too long. I’ve been to Toronto once, 30 years ago. It’s about time for another visit.

6) Are you sentimental? Do you keep/still have a lot of your original artwork from your days with Marvel/DC?

EC — I regret selling my DC covers I did in the ’70s. Although I have commissions doing cover recreations of them every now and then. 99% of my originals had been sold out.

7) Since you started, what do you feel is the best trend to happen to comics and what, if any, do you not like in the direction things have taken?

EC — The advent of the computer have revolutionize the comics industry. It made the comics more mechanical and loses the individual artist’s style. However the good thing the computer did is through the internet, it gives the fans access to the golden and silver age of comics and artists.

8) What do you think devices like the ipad mean for the future of comics? Do you think something gets lost when moving from paper to computer screen or does the computer allow for a new range of experiences?

EC — Devices like ipad opens the venue to webcomics reading. Only time will determine if the fans will embrace it.

9) When you draw Conan babes, do you have a specific person in mind or does it all come from your imagination?

EC — Conan babes, love to do them. They are either scantily clad or naked. I sometimes have a certain gal in mind when I do them and and sometimes not.

Conan Babe re-created from Savage Sword #56

10) If I wanted to commission a piece, how do I contact you/get a price list?

EC — I can be contacted though my website (www.erniechan.com). My pricelist is on my website or I can provide it through email (ernie.chan@live.com)

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