Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wizard World Chicago (part 3 of 5)

By Michael Cho

Wizard World Chicago 2008 isn't just a convention for geeks and comics book nerds but also a place for buff Asian Artists to showcase their stuff. Part 3 of 5.

Continued from Wizard World Chicago: Part 2 of 5

Imaginism Studios

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Imaginism Studios is based in North York, Ontario, Canada.  They specialize in publishing and pre-production/conceptual art for television and movie production.  The principal artists, Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera, have done pre-production work and toy design for clients such as the Walt Disney Company, Lucasfilm, and Sony Entertainment.

II stix: Tell me about your studio.

Bobby Chiu: We started a studio called Imaginism Studios.  We do conceptual art for film and television.  Kei, she’s doing work for Sony and Disney right now, and I’m working for Sony.

II stix: How did your parents feel about going into a creative field?

Kei Acedera: Well my mom was always supportive in whatever I wanted to do.  She made sure I had a sketchbook in hand at all times.  So that was really encouraging.

Bobby Chiu: For me, they always wanted me to be a lawyer, or a businessman or something.  But I always loved art.  Basically, I flunked out of business school and went to art school.  Everything seems to work out after art school.  Now they really love it.

II stix: How do you feel about the role of Asian-Americans in your field?

Bobby Chiu: I feel that art really doesn’t have any boundaries.  Mainly because we’re not showing our faces.  As far as television and film, there need to be better roles.

Kei Acedera: I definitely agree, the roles for Asian actors are very limited.  And limited to stereotypes.

Bobby Chiu: Dragonball Z.  I cannot believe there aren’t any Asian people starring in that movie.

II stix: Do you think the roles and part Asians have will expand as more Asians get involved on the creative side?  Or do you feel the job requirements place the restrictions?

Bobby Chiu: There will always be constrictions, but I think it is getting better and better.  Its funny, because there are some artists out there, that are Asian, I never knew that they were Asian because they change their names.  I always wondered why they wouldn’t go by their Asian names.  I think part of it is so that people won’t judge them based on their nationality.

II stix: As an Asian woman in the creative field, do think the hurdles are higher for you?

Kei Acedera: Yes, I’m not seen as an artist first when I go to some conventions.  They think I’m a booth chick.

II stix: Thank you both for your time.

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Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera both feature their art on www.imaginismstudios.com.  Go check it out, it is definitely worth the visit!


Gene Ha

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Gene Ha hails from the Chicagoland area, and is an illustrator best known for his work on Top Ten, with Alan Moore and Zander Cannon.  He has won 3 Eisner Awards for his work on Top Ten and Top Ten: The Forty-Niners.  He is currently nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue for Justice League of America #11.

II stix: How did you get your start in art and in comic books?

Gene Ha: I actually went to art school, and started off doing commercial art in Detroit.  My biggest client was a shopping mall, so I did lots of pictures of happy families, after having bought things at the shopping mall.  Weird goods, like jump ropes and refrigerators.

II stix: How did your parents feel about you getting into this industry?

Gene Ha: My mom is just happy that I’m happy.  My dad, is…he wouldn’t be happy if I was a doctor making $400,000 a year, but at least he would not be stressed about it. 

II stix: How do you think the role of Asian-Americans in comic books has expanded in the last several from the creative side and the subject side?

Gene Ha: I guess the thing is, there are so many superstars that are Korean American like Jim Lee and Jae Lee.  There are role models now in the industry who are just amazing.  The other thing is that the whole 1930’s Jewish experience that formed the first superhero comic books, really mirrors that of modern Asian-Americans and really spoke to me as a kid.

II stix: Thank you very much for your time.

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Gene Ha will find out in about a month if he gets another piece of Eisner hardware, and has announced that his is starting work on new Top Ten series.


Jim Su

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Jim Su is an experienced and accomplised CG artist and modeler, who has worked on such projects as: Resident Evil Extinction, Rexxx: Firehouse Dog, Silent Hill, The Wild, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and the 2002 MTV Movie Awards.  He self publishes a comic book entitled, Crozonia: War Beneath The Waves.

II stix: How did you get started in comics and how did your parents react?

Jim Su: Well, I went to school for CG animation, which is how I got started in movies.  For comic books, I self-publish, so just in my own free time drawing and stuff.  The traditional, nuclear, Asian family wants their kids to be doctors, or lawyers or accountants, so I never fit the mold.  I knew I wanted to be an artist since grade 7.  They eventually accepted it and supported it.  My father is the one who pushed me into CG animation.

II stix: How do you feel about the role of Asian-Americans in the comic book industry?

Jim Su: I think proportionally, there aren’t a lot.  I mean, you hear about the big ones, but there needs to be more.

II stix: Thank you.

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Jim Su is currently working on visual effects for the upcoming feature films, Death Race and Max Payne.  You can check out his work at www.beach-studios.com

< Wizard World Chicago: Part 2 of 5 | Wizard World Chicago: Part 4 of 5 >

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