was once a time when in order to qualify as a comic
book character you had to have a super power. Not only
did you need the strength of ten men or the ability
to see through walls, you were probably an all-American
male with bulging biceps. Today, a comic book character
can be any color, literally.
Time Comics presents "Black Tiger" Courtesy
of Beyond Time Comics
the recent Comi-con, the largest comic book convention
in the United States, the old school super heroes were
still in their protective plastic bags tucked away in
a corner of the San Diego Convention Center while the
real action took place on the main floor. Comic books
fans were busy hunting down action figures and collectibles
more than seeking autographs from artists and checking
out the latest video games based on super heroes rather
than debating who would win in a battle between Superman
and the Hulk. Even modern day big screen heroine, Angelina
Jolie, made an appearance to promote the summer release
of the Tomb Raider sequel. The convention represented
what is happening in the comic book industry; it's more
about selling a commercial franchise than selling ink
on pulp paper.
Kong dectective Cheng Bo Sen battles bad guys in
"Gun Fu." Courtesy of Howard Shum
another part of the convention hall, young, independent
artists were lined up along long rows of tables displaying
their self-published comic books. Howard Shum from Indianapolis,
Indiana currently earns his paycheck as an inker for
the Simpsons comic book. He traveled all the way west
to introduce his own comic titled "Gun Fu"
that he started last November. "Gun Fu" stars
Cheng Bo Sen, a hard-boiled Hong Kong cop who is enlisted
by the British to fight killer Nazi robots and other
assorted bad guys in pre-World War II Europe.
doing what I like, I'm not thinking about how much money
I make," said the mild-mannered Howard sharing
on why he decided to create his own comic. And what
he likes are John Woo movies and hip-hop, two influences
that flow throughout his artwork. Howard, who studied
film at NYU, hopes that someday "Gun Fu,"
like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Men
in Black," can make it from independent comic book
to a Hollywood action movie. Who knows, maybe it will
be directed by John Woo?
Shum, the creator of "Gun Fu"
Courtesy of APA
Time Comics, based in Los Angeles, created a product
that started out as a movie idea, then went to pulp.
Priscilla Tjio, one of the co-owners of Beyond Time
Comics, introduced "Black Tiger," a martial
arts crime fighter whose "Clark Kent" is a
lawyer named Jennifer Fong. Priscilla explained that
Jennifer Fong is a woman who is strong and independent
but finds balance in maintaining traditional Asian family
values. The Black Tiger is endowed with super butt kicking
powers to take on her archenemy, Skullface, a disfigured
Mafia boss. Angelina Jolie should watch out, there maybe
a new action heroine to challenge her in the box office!
Pien shows off the "Long Tail Kitty" finger
puppet at the Comi-con in San Diego. Courtesy
artist who created her own mini-empire is Lark Pien
from San Francisco. The petite Lark paints and draws,
but really brings her art to life in the form of "Long
Tail Kitty." Long Tail Kitty is a cat that has
travel adventures and meets all manner of friendly creatures.
In addition to her comic books, neatly laid out on Lark's
table were handmade postcards, accessories and plush
dolls featuring the curious feline. Lark doesn't need
Disney's marketing empire when she has a great imagination.
But her trip to Comi-con was worth the long drive down
the coast; the artist/entrepreneur was able to get the
business card of an entertainment company that could
take "Long Tail Kitty" on her next adventure
to the land of TV.
out more about the featured
comic book artists are able to draw their own page,
figuratively speaking. While the challenge lies in developing
a following and more importantly acquiring distribution,
the artists use their talent and resources to create
characters that don't fit the traditional mold of the
action super hero. A great man once said, "Doh!"
and he might hold the most overpowering influence on
American pop culture over the past ten years, so don't
take comics, or their creators, lightly.