Mike Deodato knows 'Kung Fu'

[Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu]While Marvel Comics has delayed the release of "Witches," the new book written and drawn by Mike Deodato, fans of Deodato's work have been treated to enough of his work to hold them over until the release of the series.

For the past few months Deodato has been posting to news groups and forwarding to CBR News sketches he's done in his down time featuring some of fandom's favorite characters. His most recent was inspired by the tragic events of September 11th and is being included in the Marvel "Heroes" tribute book.

Today Deodato sent CBR News his latest image, but the subject of this one may surprise you a bit. Who fell under the Deodato spotlight this time? Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu. While Deodato may have chosen to tackle a Marvel character without a large following, after fans view this image that might change entirely. Here's the letter Deodato sent out accompanying the image:

More than 25 years ago, a Marvel writer on such comics as Planet of the Apes and Doc Savage teamed with a young artist to produce as comic book based on a "rising and advancing of a spirit" theme martial arts book created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. It shoehorned in the pulp character of Fu Manchu as villain and, for all intents and purposes, it seemed like second-stringer material.

But not in the hands of its creators or of Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, the upstarts who dared use Bruce Lee's face and inspiration to bring depth and attitude to the greatest martial arts hero ever to find its way into American comic books. SHANG CHI: MASTER OF KUNG FU even inspired me, all the way to the shores of Brazil, where the high-kicking, glass-shattering action Gulacy depicted took me down the path of learning Karate for four years -- until my agent said, "My God, what if you break your hands???" My own path has since become more of "the rising and advancing of a pencil," but that's another story.

When I'd heard the news that Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy were back drawing a new SHANG CHI Marvel mini-series under the guiding light of one of my all-time favorite editors, I found myself diving into my boxes of comics and dredging up those comics I'd so fondly recalled. Some, such as MOKF #40, which Gulacy penciled and inked, were even better than I'd remembered! But I was also struck by how very few covers Gulacy drew for his own book; he used his page one splash as his "cover," and their designs were marvelous billboards of imagination. Such stalwarts as Gil Kane were the lucky buggers who got to illustrate the covers for that sensational series.

After some time poring through those marvelous issues, I sat at my drawing board...sketching. Before I knew it, nightfall had come, my wife Bete` was telling me it's time to hit the sack...and I realized my sketch down Martial Arts Lane had become a full-blown illustration borne of respect for some amazing talent.

This, then, is the Deodato "take" on SHANG CHI: MASTER OF KUNG FU.

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