Comic Art Friday: Remembering Ernie Chan

While we were off gallivanting about the Hawaiian islands (more on that sojourn to follow), I received the sad (and to me, unexpected) news of the passing of comics artist Ernie Chan. Coming so closely on the heels of two other tremendous losses from among my personal favorites in the comic art field — specifically, Al Rio and Tony DeZuniga — Ernie’s death came as an especially great shock.

Storm and Beta Ray Bill, pencils and inks by comics artist Ernie Chan

In an industry often characterized by enormous egos and self-important personalities, Ernie Chan was one of the nicest, least pompous creators I’ve ever met. His smiling face and easygoing demeanor were indelible highlights of the comics conventions I attended over the years. I always looked forward seeing and chatting with Ernie — and of course, adding a new piece of his artwork to my collection.

Shang-Chi and the Bronze Tiger, pencils and inks by comics artist Ernie Chan

Ernie was among the dozen or so talented artists who joined the American comics industry from the Philippines in the early 1970s, under the pioneering leadership of Tony DeZuniga. Quickly, Ernie established himself as a two-way star, both as a penciler and inker. In the former capacity, he shone as DC Comics’ busiest cover artist during the mid-’70s, frequently signing his work “Ernie Chua” (a misspelling on his immigration paperwork). At Marvel, Ernie gained acclaim as inker on Conan the Barbarian, over the pencils of the legendary Big John Buscema. Ernie would revisit Robert E. Howard’s Cimmerian warrior in hundreds of drawings and commissions, including the Common Elements teamup with Iron Man he’s holding in this photo I took at WonderCon 2011.

Ernie Chan at WonderCon 2011

I frequently referred to Ernie as the Amazing Chan for his speed in delivering commissioned art. On more than one occasion, Ernie completed a fully penciled and inked piece for me in less than a day — not a convention sketch, mind you, but a detailed, cover-quality illustration completed in his home studio. Once, he sent me a scan of a finished Common Elements commission — this one, featuring Hawkeye and Lady Rawhide — before I knew that he’d even accepted the job. Now that’s fast.

Hawkeye and Lady Rawhide, pencils and inks by comics artist Ernie Chan

I’ll miss Ernie’s lively humor and fun-loving personality as much as I’ll miss seeing new creations spring from his potent pencils and pens. He was always a hoot to chat with, engaging to his fans, and with an inerrant eye for feminine pulchritude.

Rest in peace. Mr. Chan.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Hero of the Day, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

One Comment on “Comic Art Friday: Remembering Ernie Chan”


  1. I’m glad you got to meet and talk with Ernie on many occasions. Sadly, I never did. I knew his work very well, of course, following him to work on Conan titles, ditto Tony DeZuniga. And thanks to you I was able to ink Al Rio a couple of times. All artists of whose next great piece of art we will miss seeing– until we reach the next world I suppose. Thanks for this Comic Art Friday entry.


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