Filipino-born comic book artist Ernie Chan, who worked on several episodes of Hanna-Barbera’s Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, died Thursday night from cancer. He was 71.
Born Ernie Chua on July 27, 1940, he was inadvertently renamed Ernie Chan as the result of a passport mix-up. He changed his name legally when he became a United States citizen in 1976.
At, 20 he began doing comics in his native Philippines. He migrated to America when he turned 30 in 1970.
At DC Comics, he got the break doing mystery short stories, then got assigned to penciling Batman for two years. Chan also did many covers, aside from working on such other characters as Claw, Sandman, Swampthing and Jonah Hex.
“Work by Filipino illustrators filled DC’s ghost, war and Western comics [in the 1970s],” comic book historian Mark Evanier recalled Friday. “Time and again, DC tried those artists out on Superman, Batman or other such features, and the result was usually unsatisfactory. Ernie Chan… was a rare exception.
“Ernie ‘got’ the style that was wanted. In fact, he did it so well that when he relocated to the United States — for personal reasons and to earn American rates — he wound up doing hundreds of covers for DC and drawing the Batman feature for several years.”
At Marvel Comics, he worked on Dr. Strange, Dracula, Daredevil, Doc Savage, Thor, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Powerman and Iron Fist, King Kull, John Carter of Mars and others, but his longest stint, on Conan, is where he was best known.
“Readers… knew him for his long association with Conan the Barbarian at Marvel, finishing the pencil work of John Buscema and sometimes drawing stories on his own. He was fast and dependable and very much in demand,” Evanier said.
In the 1990s, Chan dabbled in computer designs and TV and movie animation. He retired in 2002, but kept himself busy doing art he liked, selling them online and at comic conventions. He also accepted art commissions.
“He travels often to China, where he finds tranquility and contentment,” said his personal Web site. However, financial pressure led him to work on a softcore porn Web comic, The Vat, for Dark Brain.
Chan was a special guest at last year’s San Diego Comic Con.