Okay, many of you already know this and by the posts and email we get, a ton of you agree, Bernard Chang is the MAN.
When I was first told that we were going to have a two-issue fill-in in the very early days of my Wonder Woman run, I was disheartened, because Terry Dodson had set such a high standard. But an injury to his wrist made completing those issues impossible. My editor at the time suggested Bernard Chang, a name I’d heard, but not an artist whose work I was familiar with. So I was nervous.
Then the pages started coming in. Bernard has drawn not just some of my favorite Wonder Woman sequences, but some of my favorite bits of any comic I’ve ever worked on. He has an astonishing grasp on design and body language and facial expression. He draws like a bandit, simply put.
Some of my favorite Chang pieces are; Diana meeting Tom in the hospital, Diana’s meeting with the Hollywood producers, Hippolyta taking Tom to feed the griffins, Diana allowing a Green Lantern to beat her mercilessly while still extending the hand of peace, and just recently, a really gorgeous segment with Alkyone and Achilles fighting on Themyscira. Oh, and Diana’s fight with Donna. Never mind, I like it all.
Bernard was a Russ Manning nominee for his work at Valiant. He was an imagineer at Disney, he’s drawn Deadpool and Cable and many other books at DC and Marvel.
Along the way with Wonder Woman, he turned the idea of a ‘fill-in’ artist on its ear and produced gorgeous, inventive issues that quickly made him a favorite with the book’s very particular readers. He’s no longer a ‘fill-in’ guy, he is simply one of the team, always a pleasure to work with, always coming up with great new ideas. And he loves Wonder Woman. I asked him what book he’d most like to draw at DC, and he didn’t hesitate for a moment–it was our princess.
I love the sly way he draws her expressions, like she always knows more than she’s letting on. He’s also very generous, during SDCC he worked overtime to draw a beautiful full page WW sketch to donate to comix4sight.com, and when I remarked that the page where Wonder Woman picks up the fallen sunglasses from the film producer and puts them on herself, he gave it to me immediately, one of my favorite pages in the entire series.
I’ve been blessed to have three insanely good pencilers on this book: Terry Dodson, Aaron Lopresti, and Bernard Chang.
THAT is good fortune, my friends!
1) Okay, first, I know you love to draw Wonder Woman, and I think you do a phenomenal job, Bernard When we spoke at the Emerald City Con, you said you really wanted to draw Wonder Woman since you started at DC. Can I ask what it is about WW that appeals to you so?
I think I’ve always been a fan of the character, her standing points and the potential she has within the DC universe. For me, it’s not just about the drawing, but also the storytelling, and the opportunities for character development.
2) That’s what I like about the character, too, and it seems I’m always giving you scenes that are an artist’s nightmare…like huge scenes of Themysciran architecture, or Khundian cities, or armies of Thalarions attacking the UN building. Yet you always seem to come through amazingly. Do you groan when you get a script like that, or do you like to draw that kind of detail?
There are challenges to scenes like those, but at the end of the day I also think that it’s what separates my focus in work from other artists. Most people think that because I have a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute that I must love drawing backgrounds and buildings, haha, but that’s not really the case (nor is it the focus of an architect).
I really think that being able to set a mood and sense of scale is more important. the easiest path would be to draw a nice large figure covering up the entire page because (a) it’s easy and (b) it looks nice and fans eat that stuff up; but to me, what is in the best interest of the story must supersede that. It can sometimes polarize certain readers because my objective is to inject emotion and tempo into the artwork.
For example, in issue 18, on page 8, when Wonder Woman exits the hospital and is initially confronted by the Khund warship, I think most other artists would have drawn a nice large figure shot of her in a battle pose reacting to the Khund ship in the background, but I decided to show the overwhelming size of their ship in contrast to the hospital and have WW as perhaps the smallest element on the page. in issue 31, when Achilles’ warrior elephant crashes into the un building, it was important to show as much destruction in detail, the wiring, glass and debris. I mean, here is a villain who is attacking the freakin’ United Nations’ headquarters and I needed to find a way to inject that sense of shock.
3) Those are two of my favorite sequences, by the way. When those UN pages came in, I shouted out loud and scared my dogs! While we’re talking about other artists, can you name some of your favorite WW artists, and if they have influenced you?
I would say I really admire Adam Hughes and Terry Dodson’s work on the character. They have both created perhaps the modern day look for Wonder Woman. As the “closer” for Aaron (and Terry), I also feel like I need to adhere to certain points they’ve established in their run with regards to how she looked.
I admire how Terry initially established that Diana does not go around in a thong… haha, i mean, it’s rather impractical to be fighting evil while constantly having to readjust your bottoms.
4) You sound like you speak from experience! So, let’s talk about the future…do you have a dream WW project you’d love to do?
I have an idea brewing in my head for a storyline separate from the current continuity but just need to find the time to get it down and pitch at some point. I’ve enjoyed immensely working with you, Gail, as well as the rest of the crew on these issues, and in particular having a female writer and accessing your particular viewpoints have been refreshing.
5) Bernard, seriously, if you ever want to work on something together, you let me know, deal? Working with you and Aaron has been one of the happiest experiences I’ve had in comics.
Finally, what current and upcoming projects are you working on right now?
You can catch my latest wonder woman work in issue #37, which just came out this week. I’m also wrapping up a 26-page chapter in the upcoming “Prince of Persia” graphic novel due out in April from Disney publishing, and then I’m drawing Superman for five issues. Hopefully by then, Aaron will need another break and I can jump back for another run. 😉