Bernard Chang

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Last Updated: 
15th August 2002

Before They Were Stars has grown into a huge success for me. And I thought it a perfect time as any to reshow the original Before They Were Stars. It was posted at [X-FAN]., but went down due to editing reasons. Now, with a few bits edited out, is the original first edition of Before They Were Stars. Enjoy.

Before They Were Stars came to be about last month in an attempt to interview the new Deadpool writer, Gail Simone, to find out who she was and where she came from. Personally, I’ve always wanted to know how creators had broken onto the scene and the struggles they had to overcome to get to where they are today. I found out that I am not the only one that wishes to know this, as not many sites talk about the past of a creator. It took more then a month, but Before They Were Stars was starting to become more of a reality. With this article, I hope to spread the experiencing knowledge of creators so that future creators can have something to look at for guidance, as well as provide a new way to learn more from the creators that we know and love.

This particular one is on the legendary Bernard Chang, who is famous for his short but outstanding run on Cable in 1999. Currently, he is the penciler to the Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight series for DC Comics.


Tom Toner: So tell me, why comics? Why get into the business known as comic books?

Bernard Chang: I was a comic collector when I was in my teens. I started with Uncanny X-Men. Studied fine arts during high school at New World School of the Arts in Miami, Fl., where the teachers forbid us from drawing comics, superheroes, etc., which turned out to be a great thing because it got us focused on the fundamentals of art (figure drawing, painting, etc.). In college, I went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on a full scholarship - in architecture. In architecture school, you don't do much drawing, only drafting and model making. So one day I went into a drug store, saw a copy of X-Men on the shelf, and thought it would be cool to pencil comics as a side job, help make some money to pay for school supplies and such, and fulfill my desire to draw. And heck, since I’m in New York already, why not try to hit up the two biggest comics companies. What started out to be a part-time job quickly turned into a career thing.

TT: What was the first thing you ever had a hand in dealing with Bernard?

BC:My first professional project was Archer and Armstrong #9 for Valiant Comics. It was a great experience, being helped along by two of the best storytellers in the business - Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith. Bob really helped push me to visualize each scene and bring a sense of pacing into the story. I remember when the book finally came out a few months later, and hanging out in the comics store observing others reaction while flipping through the book.

TT: And is it worth anything nowadays?

BC:You can probably find that issue in the 25cents bins these days. But to me, it's worth a million bucks.

TT: Tell me, did you have any role models/look up to anyone in the biz? If so, did you ever meet them and how was that meeting?

BC:I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of talented people when I was first starting out in comics. John Paul Leon was one of my best friends from high school, so we both helped push each other while we were struggling to break into the industry. Michael Davis, who was in charge of the DC Comics’ new talent program, helped educate me in the business of comics.

TT: Ah yes, the make-it break-it knowledge. Ya know, Danny {Donovan} taught me all that fun info when I told him I wanted to break into the biz. But please, continue.

BC:At Valiant, Bob, Barry, and publisher Steve Massarsky encouraged my development. Sean Chen, who also started at Valiant at the same time I did, was my partner in crime. Jim lee was also very influential to me pursuing a career in comics. Although we have only interacted on a limited basis, seeing him as an Asian American artist and the levels of success he's achieved in his career, really kind of paved the way for me to set high goals.

TT: Jim’s a great artist. I’m sure just about all Asian Americans, myself included, look up to him in the biz.

BC:Joe Quesada,

TT: Wait a minute; Joey Q had a hand for you also?

BC:He was another Valiant veteran; he was there to lend an encouraging word when I was first starting out.

TT: Ever mimic anyone's style?

BC:I don't think I’ve ever mimicked anyone's style, per say. Going back to my arts education, learning the fundamentals of drawing really helped me establish my own drawing style. I had a wealth of experience drawing from live models and very seldom-used comic’s drawings as a guide. I would read comics, but would focus more on storytelling, the shots the artists chose, and panel/page construction. In blending with my architecture education, I tried to develop a sense of experience and journey with the page layouts and storytelling.

TT: Interesting on how your college degree later helped out. So, how did you finally break in?

BC:I landed my very first gig when I was 20 and still in college. Throughout my sophomore school year, I was preparing my portfolio and showcasing it to editors and artists at some area New York conventions. I had actually finished a 21-page Captain America try-out script for Marvel, did a 15-page JLA try-out story for DC, and a four-page comic of my own. I then packed everything up and flew out west during the summer to the San Diego con. John Paul and I actually shared a room, and Mike Davis brought us around to various editors at the time. On the last day, I stopped by the Valiant booth, got a chance to show my work to Bob Layton, and when I got back to school in New York a month later, followed up with a call to Bob and the rest is history.

TT: How did you land that comic deal with the big one?

BC:My Marvel stint started after I left Valiant four years later, and met Mark Powers, who gave me a couple of fill-in issues to do. Soon after that I changed paths and moved out west to work for Disney. While out west, I hooked up again with Marvel, first on one of my all-time favorites Daredevil/Deadpool '97, and then later on the New Mutants: Truth or Death miniseries, and a brief run on Cable.

TT: Disney? You had a hand in Disney?

BC:I was recruited to work for Disney interactive as a senior artist, developing game designs and characters out in Los Angeles. Within a year, I joined Walt Disney imagineering as a concept designer, coming up with ideas for the next theme parks, attractions, rides, etc. It was a great experience, working alongside Disney legends like Marty Solar and John Hench, having an office right across the hall from them. I mean, these were the people who designed the first Disneyland and all the other parks since then, and now I’m in meetings with the very legends of design and presenting to Michael Eisner!

TT: What was that like?

BC:Like comics, Disney's main goal is emphasizing storytelling in anything they build. However, unlike comics, 99% of the things you do as a concept designer, no one ever sees, or at least the public never does. And it takes years before any of your projects, if they even get built at all.

TT: What would be something you did for Disney that some of us could remember?

BC:My last few projects before leaving Disney late last year, included the award-winning Millennium Village Celebration, and the current 100 years of Magic Celebration.

TT: What was going through your mind to put me in your next Batman issue? Ever gonna kill me in one of your stories?

BC:I’ve been known to draw my friends in the books I do. Sean Chen actually had a big scene a while back and was eaten by a tiger.

TT: Hmm, and maybe this is the reason Sean won't kill me. I’ll have to look into it.

BC:Besides, didn't you promise to buy multiple copies of my next book?

TT: Um…uh…oh yeah, I remember that now. One final thought Bernard before I let you go. If you weren't a comic creator, what WOULD Bernard Chang be doing right now?


TT: Oh come on B, you were in college. You know full well that “sleeping” doesn’t exist after high school. Say B, I heard that you played basketball.

BC:Yeah, in college.

TT: I read that you were their captain. Why didn't you go any further with it?

BC:I wasn’t good enough. But I was invited to a CBA camp. I coached at my college for a bit, even get promoted to Head Coach.

TT: Bernard, got any last words before we go?

BC: Don’t forget to check out!

TT: Once again, thanks for taking the time to do this. It means a lot to me. Be sure to check out more from Bernard when Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight comes out later in the year.