Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang will be at Asbury Park Comicon — which we’re sponsoring — on April 12-13. Every day until the show, we’re spotlighting someone or something special you should check out!
Here’s an ASBURY PARK COMICON SPOTLIGHT interview with Cliff Chiang. (And check out our previous interviews with Evan Dorkin, Denis Kitchen, Stephanie Buscema, Mark Schultz, Peter Bagge, Box Brown and Ann Nocenti.)
Dan Greenfield: What’s your Secret Origin?
Cliff Chiang: Born in NYC, grew up in New Jersey, started reading comics when I was 9 thanks to my older brother, kept drawing, then hit by radioactive truck.
Your style is remarkably clean, though you occasionally roughen it it up some. Tell us your approach to your art. I know that’s a broad question but give us some insight into how you look at a project.
I try to do what I think is appropriate for the story, but I do get the urge to mix things up a little as I go. Balancing the appropriate with the unexpected. In the past I was more interested in doing clean, sharp work, but I see now how you lose a lot of personality and energy in pursuit of a perfect line. Better to be spontaneous and rough, let people see the hand of the artist instead of a cold, vectored line.
“Acting” is something that’s missing in a lot of today’s cartooning — but the acting in your comics is very strong. How much of that is continued study and how much of that is second nature to you at this point?
It really just depends on the script. It’s great when there’s enough meat on the script to let you play with the acting. You need the characters to have motivation, and for the dialogue to have subtext in order to do any interesting acting. When you don’t have that, it’s just mugging for the camera. It is something I should study more, though.
What’s the best part about working in comics today?
I think the audience is broadening and getting more sophisticated. Hopefully we’ll see many different kinds of comics soon, for readers of any stripe.
What’s the most frustrating part?
Not being there yet.
You’re more closely identified with DC than Marvel. What characters at Marvel would you really like to get your hands on? Why?
I’m more interested in story than characters, but I do have a soft spot for Machine Man, Cloak and Dagger, The FF, and 80’s X-Men, just because those were some of the first comics I read.
Name your five greatest artistic influences.
Alex Toth, Los Bros Hernandez, Paul Smith, David Mazzucchelli, Jorge Zaffino.
What was your first comic book? Still have it?
I think it was Uncanny X-Men #173. It’s bagged and boarded back in my mom’s house, and it’s pretty ratty. Well loved!
What’s the most sentimental comics item you own?
Actually, that X-Men comic might be it!