HADOUKEN: Street Fighter II Returns to Comics

Following the recent release of the deluxe "Street Fighter Tribute" art book and leading up to next year's debut early of the "Street Fighter IV" game, UDON Entertainment attacks comic shops this fall with several new series based on the popular CAPCOM video game characters. Shipping this month, "Street Fighter Remix" #0 previews "Street Fighter II Turbo," which is planned as a twelve-issue series but could continue beyond that; as well as "Street Fighter III" and "Street Fighter Legends: Chun Li." "Turbo," written by regular "Street Fighter" scribe Ken Siu-Chong and illustrated by Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz, will also feature back-up stories introducing the new "Street Fighter IV" characters starting with issue #2. These issues will also be available with variant covers by the art team of Joe Ng and digital painter Adam Vehige. CBR News caught up with the "Turbo" team of Siu-Chong and Cruz to discuss the series and the wider Street Fighter universe.

Previous stories in the "Street Fighter II" mythology have expanded on the stories of characters like the dedicated fighter Ryu, his more easy-going American counterpart Ken, and the crime lord M. Bison, but "Turbo" will be the first series to focus on the Street Fighter tournament itself. While the "Turbo" prelude in "Street Fighter Remix" #0 offers an introduction through Chinese martial artist Chun Li's perspective, writer Ken Siu-Chong said the main series would feature an ensemble cast.

"The point-of-view character changes from issue to issue as, really, there is just too much going on for one character's POV to cover the many events going on during the tournament," Siu-Chong explained. "There are so many fighters with their own back-story and they each provide their own unique perspective. For instance, we could be going from Ryu's perspective where he's trying to avenge his master's death by finding and defeating Akuma, then jumping to Cammy's perspective that's centered around her mysterious past and conflict with Bison or to Chun-Li's where she wants to bring down Bison and Shadaloo to honor her murdered father."

The writer continued, "There will be plenty of time for everyone's favorite Street Fighters to take center stage, but obviously the key characters whose storylines affect the main plot will have a little more screen time like Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, and Cammy. As for surprise appearances, we definitely have some exciting things planned. Let's just say that at least one old-school CAPCOM character who likes to eat chicken he finds lying on the street will make his debut in the tournament arc!"

It is clear, though, that the sole female character from the original "Street Fighter II" arcade game is a particular favorite of Siu-Chong's. Running concurrently with "Turbo," the writer will also be writing a "Street Figher Legends" miniseries focusing on Chun Li's history. Explaining her motivations in "Turbo" and how she fits in with the other fighters, Siu-Chong said, "She's in the tournament not really to win, but to just get close enough to Bison to deal a fatal blow to the Shadaloo crime syndicate. Her allies in the past have been Fei Long, Gen, Guile, T. Hawk and Cammy, but who knows what the tournament will bring!"

Siu-Chong has written all of UDON's "Street Fighter" comics to date, but "Turbo" represents Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz's first foray into sequential "Street Fighter II" art. "In early 2007 I was contacted by UDON via e-mail seeing if I was open to do up some small jobs, trading cards and the like," Cruz explained of his early history with the studio. " I figured, sure, at that time any art-related work is always nice and especially drawing things that I'd not normally draw would be all the more fun." He began providing art for the "Exalted" collectible card game before moving on to Street Fighter and Darkstalkers cards. "I guess doing those cards was almost like a trial for me, as soon after I was given one of the biggest tasks I'd received in my artistic life up till that point. That task was to draw up the cover spread for the two-disk re-release of the 'Street Fighter Alpha' animated features, which was both fun and intimidating. That was indeed something I'm still very pleased with till this day, great fun that was."

This big assignment lead in to being named series artist on "Street Fighter II Turbo," UDON's first original "Street Fighter" series in more than a year. "First thought when informed that I would be doing the follow-up to Alvin Lee's art from the previous 'Street Fighter' books: Really? Me?!" Cruz said. "But I guess the lads at UDON figured I could do it, and I figured 'hey, I reckon I can do it!'"

Though accepting that there are differences between comic book art and video game graphics"particularly those seen in the original "Street Fighter II" era"Cruz said it was not difficult to be true to the source material while crossing media. "To me, so long as I feel that I've honored what was done before me, then alterations and my own little touches are all good," he said. "I mean, I'm no official CAPCOM artist, no where near as awesome as they are. I know enough so that when I do draw these characters I try to achieve a look where it's somewhat of a hybrid of those of that the originals look and that of little things that make the way I draw individual.

"As for illustrating special moves and all that jazz," Cruz continued, "I try to stay as close to how they look in the game, But really playing with points of view and angles and such when drawing them up. I love playing with angles and perspectives so I always play with those whenever I have the opportunity to."

The "Street Fighter IV" backup stories in "Turbo" will represent a first look the personalities and fighting styles of the new challengers. Siu-chong is writing these as well, with an art team yet to be named. "We're working very closely with [CAPCOM Lead Designer] Yoshinori Ono to incorporate the new characters in our comic universe," Siu-chong confirmed. "We've always had a slightly different spin than the games, melding the 'Alpha' games and 'SFII' games, so this is just another added challenge. Obviously we have to have the greenlight from CAPCOM if we're adding new story elements outside of what's in the game, but from the very start CAPCOM has always been a dream to work with and they really do give us a lot of creative freedom as long as we don't do anything silly that's not in the spirit of the games."

This relationship between CAPCOM and UDON, and Siu-Chong in particular, has had time to develop and appears to be flourishing. Rounding out the writer's slate of "Street Fighter" projects this fall, Siu-Chong will also be working on a "Street Fighter III" series in addition to "Legends" and "Turbo." "Being able to write stories about these classic characters has basically been my teenage dream come true," he said. "I grew up playing with these characters and now being able to bring that unique universe to comics and expand on all the characters' back stories has been a privilege. To build up the SF world, I've had to really get to know the characters' motivations and ins and outs a lot more than any normal sane person probably ever should!"

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