Howdy friends and visitors. I apologize for the lack of updates. I was working on a new series when my computer crashed. I was in the process of gathering images and history for a few projects actually. It was the reason I had started a Patreon to help me raise some money. I knew the days of my computer were numbered so I wanted to get a back up as well as new system. Unfortunately it died before I could do either. I am saving up my money to get a new computer and hopefully salvage the data on my old hard drive. Once I am up and running I may actually be able to put together podcasts and even videos a little bit faster, that is the goal after all! I was saving some of the text and image links on my email for those future projects just in case. This way I didn't have to start from scratch when I got a new computer. The next few posts might be a little short, I hope you understand.
Like many of you I am a huge fan of Street Fighter and I like to collect SF merchandise. I focus on things that are not common in the USA, so I have a lot of books and guides from Japan. Udon made a fantastic comic book series out of the franchise, no doubt about it! When it came to collector issues and special issues Udon gave the fans what they wanted. Some of my favorite Street Fighter comics actually came from China. As great as the comics were in North America I have to say that the Chinese comics sometimes had the better exclusives. Best of all these were not bootlegs, but actual licensed items!
Let's be completely honest when talking about licensed Chinese comics, or manhua as they are traditionally known. From a print standpoint these comics are inferior to those from the West. The paper the comics are printed on are not as good as the magazine quality paper used in comics from North America. In fact they still use the old 4-color process instead of modern digital printing, except for the covers. The covers are glossy and sometimes feature wrap-around painted images. Yet the best cover poses are often stolen from the official character art from Capcom in Japan.
Sometimes it's even more shameful than a repaint of a classic Akiman illustration. The artists working on the manhua will actually redraw, or repaint the art from a licensed Japanese manga and change the main characters around! It's tough to be a fan where there is so much shameless poaching on the part of the Chinese. It happens in comics, in film, toys, gaming, fashion and electronics. Yet to be fair they do this with everything that is popular, not just Street Fighter. The nation doesn't necessarily correlate copying with a bad thing, at least not the people that run the companies. They consider it more of an "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" or just smart business to follow the popular trends. The consumers on the other hand have a less favorable opinion on copies or counterfeit items.
But I digress... the reason I like some of my Chinese Street Fighter comics more than those from Udon are because of the painted panels. They are few and far between but some of the better covers and spreads in manhua are actually brush paintings instead of digital color illustrations like in the US comics. There is something to be admired in the art form, in the ability to create an actual physical painting and see it reproduced in print. These original panels and covers were rare, but when done right they jumped off the page.
The other reason I enjoyed the SF manhua were because of the special issues. Limited runs, foil, hologram and other gimmick covers had been used by Udon and other publishers for years. In China they went the extra mile when creating the exclusive covers. One that they released for Street Fighter Zero3 featured Gouki in a red metallic ink. It was printed over a black vinyl cover, that looked a bit like leather. It was a classic pose but not poached from any official Capcom art.
The special edition covers are often placed over the regular covers. I have a few issues with both the regular and special edition covers. What makes these covers unique is that no two are printed exactly the same. A different black and red cover that I had featured Balrog (Claw). It was also printed in a red metallic ink yet the cover was a hard black plastic with tiny cracks that gave it a prismatic effect. It was a great pose which highlighted how the Chinese artists had their own unique aesthetic, their own unique was of interpreting the character that was every bit as memorable as those from Japan and the USA.
Some of the covers I had celebrated the fan-favorite characters. A Sakura cover for example was printed on a very thin piece of corkboard. It was printed in black and silver-flake ink. The inspiration behind this cover was school related. The corkboard was supposed to rekindle images of doodling on folders and pinning favorite pictures on a study area. The cover actually had a lot of hand-drawn details. Once printed the finishing touches were applied by hand. Some of the hair and costume were hand-painted in black ink. It's hard to tell from my fuzzy pictured but you can actually see the brush strokes and different shades of black ink used by the artists.
Possibly the most unique of the custom covers again featured Gouki. This cover was printed on a paper-thin piece of bamboo and then laminated to prevent splitting. The texture was unique and thanks to the printing process no two covers would ever be exactly alike.
There are a few more special issues that I would like to share with you, but I'll save it for next time. Are there any Street Fighter comics that you are proud of or are your favorites? Please let me know in the comments. As always if you would like to sponsor me please visit my Patreon page and consider donating each month, even as little as $1 would help make better blogs and even podcasts!