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YA TA: Creators Talk “Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li”

by  in Comic News Comment
YA TA: Creators Talk “Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li”
“Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” #1 on sale in January

As the Street Fighter video game franchise makes its triumphant return to home consoles with the upcoming release of “Street Fighter IV” and the recent debut of CAPCOM’s “Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix,” UDON Entertainment explores the origins of the game’s popular female fighter Chun-Li in a four-issue miniseries starting in January. “Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” is written by regular SF scribe Ken Siu-Chong with art by Omar Dogan. CBR News caught up with the creative team to discuss both the new series and the games that inspired it.

“Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” will flesh out the popular heroine’s origin story, including the background on her quest for vengeance as first revealed in the original “Street Fighter II” arcade game.

“Anyone who knows anything about Street Fighter knows that Chun-Li is out to bring Shadaloo and M. Bison to justice for the death of her father,” Siu Chong told CBR News. “In the miniseries, we get to see Chun-Li’s relationship with her father before he died and see what connection he had with Shadaloo. For the first time, we’ll really get to see why Shadaloo wanted him dead. We’ll also get to see Chun-Li interact with old characters like Sagat, and new characters created just for this series that should help round out Chun-Li’s character and bring out her personality in a way we don’t always get to see in the main series.”

The miniseries is set in Chun-Li’s days as a Hong Kong police officer, though there will be signs of the World Warrior she will eventually become. “Her father trained her as a fighter, and it has been shown [in previous Street Fighter comics] that she has also learned from Gen as well,” Omar Dogan said. “Alongside the general training that police are invested with, at this point she is no less fearsome than at any other time she shows up. The book will have all the workings of a typical Hong Kong cop movie, from the gun action to drop kicks and face-bleeding punches. Hand cuffs too.”

Pages from “Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” #1

Siu-Chong confirmed there will be some intense cop-movie action scenes in “Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li.” “Right off the bat, the first issue has a pretty intense car chase scene that I really wanted to have feel like a cop movie,” the writer explained. “I also knew drawing cars was Omar’s specialty and passion, and he definitely did not disappoint! When I saw the chase for the first time, I was amazed and I hope the fans are, too!”

Going back to the Chun-Li’s early days also allows Siu-Chong to work with supporting characters who are no longer present in the ongoing world of Street Fighter. “Getting to explore seldom-seen characters was one of the most exciting things about this series,” the writer said. “In the main ‘SF’ series, both Chun-Li’s father, Dorai, and Dan’s father, Go Hibiki, are dead, so having this miniseries placed at such an earlier time, it was the perfect opportunity to finally give them a bit of the spotlight. I for one always wanted to see what sort of man could’ve spawned Dan.”

Siu-Chong, who has written all of UDON’s Street Fighter comics to date, said that aspects of Chun-Li’s origin will also feed back into the main series and foreshadow upcoming events.

As the only female fighter in the original mega-popular “Street Fighter II” game (Cammy was added in the Super edition), Chun-Li enjoys a unique appeal with fans. But her enduring popularity suggests there’s something more to her character. “Simply put, she was the first female fighting character with a very appealing design,” Dogan said of Chun-Li’s allure. Siu-Chong added that “she really is the most iconic female video game character there is, and her design is so instantly recognizable. I believe she was also one of the first major female characters in a game that wasn’t just a damsel in distress, and led the way for other female characters to start kicking as much ass as the guys.”

Pages from “Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” #1

The Chun-Li miniseries, along with UDON’s new ongoing “Street Fighter II Turbo” title and a miniseries featuring the “SFIII” characters, comes at a time when the games themselves are experiencing a resurgence in popular culture. “Street Fighter IV” is due out in February on PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360, and “Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix’–the sixth edition of the original arcade classic, completely redesigned by UDON–recently debuted to widespread acclaim on X-Box Live and the PlaysSation Network download services.

Dogan was responsible for all of the background art and animation in Remix, a feat that astonished the Japanese design team for “Street Fighter IV.” “It is nothing short of an honour to be able to mould aspects of the character’s histories and designs, and we are very cautious to stay true to the original concept and design,” the artist said.

Both in redesigning the classic game and working with newer character designs in the comics, Dogan is careful to remain true to the source material. “Nothing is worse than taking a character that is well known and then butchering it with your style,” he said. “Most of my influences artistically are already from Capcom’s design team, and I do look to them for inspiration. I simply stick to what I know and try not get caught up in fads and passing styles.”

With Dogan’s background as an animator and layout artist, it is perhaps not surprising that his comic book art bears a strong affinity with animation, not only in style but also in the pacing of each page through rapid panel transitions. “Many of my rules and storytelling theory are lifted from my training as an animator,” the artist said. “I just try to give the viewer a clear way of reading the story while not over using panel bursting poses and difficult angles. Everything from the way the panels are cut and shaped to the colours used in the scene and the gestures are calculated and intended as storytelling devices. Over the years, my layout process has become faster, but again the vast majority of my guiding principles are from school.

“Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” #2-3

“I was never into American comics, so many of the tools they use I have not been influenced by them,” he continued. “Rather, anime and manga have mostly influenced my approach outside of school. I got into anime and manga around 1993 and from then it affected how I studied in animation in college later on. It should be said, however, that through the entire gamut of anime, comics, and manga there is a general thread of storytelling, and it is this ideal I try to follow and use as my visual language to tell stories.”

Siu-Chong also commented on being at the eye of the storm, writing three new Street Fighter series in the midst of two major game releases. “It really is quite amazing seeing everything coming to a head simultaneously,” the writer said. “There’s a lot of momentum that we’re trying to ride and it truly is a good time to be a SF fan! I know, personally, I’m as excited as everyone else to get my hands on a copy of ‘SFIV!’ I’m really happy to see fans finally getting what they want and having SF thrust back into the limelight. Fans have waited a long time for this to happen and it’s finally paying off!”

“Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li” #1 high-kicks stores in January from UDON Entertainment.

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