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Interview with Jim Cheung

Interview with Jim Cheung

Who are the artists (both within and outside of comic books) who influenced your style?

I tried to emulate a lot of the comic artists I read, as a kid, from John Byrne to John Romita Jr, and others. It was pretty much how I learned to draw, though eventually I realized that I needed to do more than just copy, and moved into trying to understand the structure of things before applying that final surface layer of 'style'.

It's what I try to tell everyone who asks me to look at their portfolio of work. It's important to understand the foundation of something. I tell them not to focus on the cool rendering details because if the underlying drawing is broken, it won't matter how you dress it up, it'll always be broken. All the brightest paint colors won't mend a crooked wall.
Do you think that comic book artists should make changes from time to time? Why or why not? What factors should determine changes (if any) should be made?

I try not to make any changes to scripts, because I don't really believe it's my job to do so. If the writer has taken the time to consider the story, then I should at least respect that and try to follow it. I know there is a certain amount of latitude to maneuver, but I would never go far as to dismiss the writer's work. After all, it's not my job to write the book. I only want to get blamed for the poor artwork, and not for any story decisions that occur.
Which of your past projects did you enjoy doing the most? Why?

Avengers: The Children's Crusade is probably my favorite work to date. It was a return to the characters I helped create, and the cool storyline encompassing much of the Marvel Universe that made it a lot of fun to work on.

Hopefully I will be remembered as having produced some great and memorable artwork, whether it be for covers, or interior story pages.

As for the future, I just hope I'll remain relevant and productive! Hopefully with something of my own!

What challenges did you face as you were starting out in the comic book industry? How did you overcome them?

The toughest part, once you've gotten the first job, is getting the next. It was tricky keeping busy, in the beginning, but once the editors know what you're capable of, they're more likely to call upon you for the next job. I felt it was always important to produce the best work I could, because if I didn't, I knew that someone else out there could take the gig. And it's more important than ever, in this day and age, to place your best foot forward because there is such great talent and competition out there. I'm not sure if I would have broken into the industry as quickly if I had to start over today.

What words of advice would you give to aspiring comic book artists?

Draw from life and not to focus on comics too much. Being able to show variety will benefit because not every story features fights and explosions. Focus on the structure and foundation of things because the surface details will not cover up a bad underlying drawing. Drawing all the time is hugely important! You cannot gain experience through osmosis, from looking at other artists, so don't put down that pencil, pen or brush!

What is your favourite character to draw and which character would you most like to work on on a monthly basis?

My favorite character is Spider-Man. I've not had a chance to work on his solo book, but hopefully somewhere down the line, I'll get a shot. I would also like to try my hand at a Wolverine or Batman book too. They're very different books individually, but I would certainly give it my all to make them shine.

What is the most surprising commission / sketch request you have received?

I've had a few interesting requests in the past. One of the more memorable ones was a Captain America squirrel, which turned out to be pretty fun. I'm not great at drawing animals, but I am getting better with each effort.

What are the comic books you are currently reading that you would recommend to your fans?
I haven't had time to read many recently. There are a great number of titles on my 'to-check-out' list though, and it keeps growing constantly!

What words of advice would you give to aspiring comic book artists?

Draw from life and not to focus on comics too much. Being able to show variety will benefit because not every story features fights and explosions. Focus on the structure and foundation of things because the surface details will not cover up a bad underlying drawing. Drawing all the time is hugely important! You cannot gain experience through osmosis, from looking at other artists, so don't put down that pencil, pen or brush!

What is your favourite character to draw and which character would you most like to work on on a monthly basis?

My favorite character is Spider-Man. I've not had a chance to work on his solo book, but hopefully somewhere down the line, I'll get a shot. I would also like to try my hand at a Wolverine or Batman book too. They're very different books individually, but I would certainly give it my all to make them shine.

What is the most surprising commission / sketch request you have received?

I've had a few interesting requests in the past. One of the more memorable ones was a Captain America squirrel, which turned out to be pretty fun. I'm not great at drawing animals, but I am getting better with each effort.

What are the comic books you are currently reading that you would recommend to your fans?
I haven't had time to read many recently. There are a great number of titles on my 'to-check-out' list though, and it keeps growing constantly!

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