Yesterday we lost another Filipino comic book master illustrator and ink artist only one week after Tony Dezuniga – Ernie Chan. Ernie was a favorite inker of mine as a young fan. I only saw a couple of covers of his early DC Batman work, but it was his less than one year run on the Incredible Hulk inking over the pencils of Sal Buscema where he became a hero to me.
His covers were powerful and distinctive as seen on diverse titles like Conan, Master of Kung Fu, Amazing Spider-man, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man, Champions, Weird Wonder Tales, Powerman (with or w/o Iron Fist), Defenders, Ghost Rider, Godzilla, John Carter Warlord of Mars, Marvel Two-in-One, Marvel Team Up, Incredible Hulk obviously, and so many more! Talk about diversity!!! Yes, I was more of a Marvel junkie than DC in those days and I was not really a Conan fan so I didn’t get many of those, even though the bulk of his work was on the barbarian material and b&w magazines.
I was a super-hero fan, for better or worse, and these were my formative years (’76-’82) of reading and collecting and Ernie left an imprint on me. Even when he would ink legends like Walt Simonson on Thor or my idol George Perez on covers on Avengers and Defenders, he brought the work to an epic level beyond even what he started with.
And, of course, he was born to ink over Big John Buscema, his most-prolific partner. As one of the Filipino wave of artists to immigrate to the States in the ’70s, he was more a Finisher than an Inker, and he had a textured, heavy style. This may be why artists of his ilk, while super fast, fell out of favor in modern times when pencils became ever tighter and finished.
But Ernie enjoyed a fan-following among art collectors in his later years doing commissions. We at the Inkwell Awards were proud to have him contribute to the premiere Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge, thanks to the efforts of committee member Stacey Aragon. And like Stacey, I was fortunate enough to meet Ernie on a few occasions at San Diego Comicon and Pittsburgh Comicon and express myself to him personally, even including him on the Inking Panel I moderated at PCC, along with Pablo Marcos and Joe Sinnott, all of which i am truly thankful for.
Rest in peace, Ernie, and thanks for all of the fun and inspiration. ~B~