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Friday, May 18, 2012

A Great One Passes - RIP Ernie Chan

This morning, I was saddened to find in my news feed that comics legend Ernie Chan has passed on

Ernie was perhaps best known for his work on Marvel's "Conan the Barbarian".  His work was a strong early influence on my own art and my sense of comics in general.  For a time, I practically lived within the pages of "Savage Sword of Conan", marveling over his signature battle scenes that seemed to almost leap off the page with the vitality he infused with brush and pen.  Paired with John Buscema, they produced some of the best work, in my opinion, to ever come out of the house of Marvel, and some of the most classic comic art in the medium's history.

As a commercial property, I think the value of Ernie's art has long been overlooked, and his contribution to the medium under appreciated by fandom at large.   However, among comic creators and those who appreciate the medium in artistic terms, I think he is more often given his due.  To me, this has always marked him more as a craftsman than a "hot" artist, which is an indication of greater artistic longevity and a higher commitment to quality.  Frankly, it is the sort of status to which I aspire.

I was proud to be able to commission a piece of original art from Ernie for the cover of the first volume of "The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit".  Both Ian McDonald and myself being longtime fans of his work, I could think of no one better suited to help us launch this project.  I was honestly thrilled when he agreed to do the piece for us, and to the same degree amazed when he turned the project around in less than 48 hours with a drawing so well executed, perfectly capturing the spirit of the character and the energy I wanted to bring to the book. 

While I am sorry to hear of his passing, I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with Ernie Chan, an extraordinary artist and personal inspiration.  These opportunities are rare, and I'm happy to have caught this one before it passed me by. 
Under the circumstances, I think it is fitting to let Robert E. Howard himself have the last word, from his poem "Autumn", published in Weird Tales magazine, April, 1933.

Now is the lyre of Homer flecked with rust,
And yellow leaves are blown across the world,
And naked trees that shake at every gust
Stand gaunt against the clouds autumnal-curled.

Now from the hollow moaning of the sea,

The dreary birds against the sunset fly,
And drifting down the sad wind's ghostly dree
A breath of music echoes with a sigh.

The barren branch shakes down the withered fruit,

The seas faint footprints on the strand erase;
The sere leaves fall on a forgotten lute,
And autumn's arms enfold a dying race.

1 comment:

Mike D. said...

A beautiful memorial tribute...nice touch putting the poem on the end there.