Ten years ago, four friends and comics creators joined forces to form Udon Entertainment. A decade, and a big stack of manga, manhwa, original comics and video game illustrations later, this Toronto-based company is coming to San Diego Comic-Con to celebrate their anniversary with a panel, on Friday, July 23 at 7:30 in Room 3.
Meanwhile at their booth, the Udon crew will be offering their fans a special gift: the debut of three new luxe hardcover books: Art of Capcom 2, Art of Darksiders and VENT, a new original anthology featuring all new illustrations, comic stories and comic art tutorials from Udon artists. The hardcover editions of these books are available in limited quantities, and will be offered at an attractive discount if you buy all three. Also debuting at Comic-Con: Street Fighter World Warrior Encyclopedia.
All weekend long, from Preview Night on Wednesday July 21 through Sunday, July 25, eleven creators from the Udon crew (rotating in groups of five) will be on sketching, meeting and greeting at Booth #5037 (near the video game company booths, such as Capcom, Activision and THQ). Artists scheduled to appear include:
- Jo Chen - (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Runaways, Street Fighter)
- Jeff 'Chamba' Cruz - (Street Fighter II Turbo)
- Omar Dogan - (Street Fighter Legends, Robotech)
- Joe Madureira - (Darksiders, Battle Chasers, Ultimates, X-Men, Street Fighter)
- Joe Ng - (Street Fighter IV, Transformers)
- Arnold Tsang - (Street Fighter, Darkstalkers)
- Eric Vedder - (Darkstalkers, Sentinel)
- Long Vo - (Street Fighter, Street Fighter II HD-Remix, Robotech)
- Joe Vriens - (Darkstalkers, Marvel VS Capcom, Thundercats)
- Jim Zubkavitch - Udon Entertainment Project Manager
- Matt Moylan - Udon Entertainment Managing Editor
Each artist at the booth will have work featured in one or more of the new hardcover art books, so buy the books at the show and get 'em signed to make them an extra special memento of SDCC '10. To make the deal even sweeter, if you buy all three books (which each have a cover price of $80), you'll get 'em for the con-exclusive discount price of $200 -- $40 off regular price. You'll also be getting your hands on these books way before the September 2010 street dates for the softcover editions. Can't make it to Comic-Con? These books will also be available from Udon at Otakon, PAX and Toronto Fan Expo.
While gamers will enjoy these books for the illustrations, artists will find these books especially interesting because they include behind-the-scenes tutorials that show the creative process from start to finish. The Art of Capcom 2 and The Art of Darksiders both offer full-color illustrations, character & environment designs, development sketches, unused concepts and promotional artwork from these popular video games.
VENT PROVIDES A NEW CREATIVE OUTLET FOR THE UDON CREW
In contrast, VENT represents something new for Udon: it's their first-ever original anthology to showcase short comics stories and illustrations by the Udon crew, as well as step-by-step tutorials in digital and traditional methods of illustration, including lots of pro tips for coloring, applying screentones, sketching and comics page composition.
The mix of illustrations, original comic stories and how-to's offers a different look at the Udon creative team, and points out something that manga fans often overlook about this company: their main business isn't publishing manga or manhwa. A lot of Udon's output is generated by their "creative services" division. Udon artists have worked with various comics publishers (including Marvel, DC, TokyoPop and Image), video game companies (Capcom and Konami) and movie studios (including their recent work for Warner Brothers, the prequel to Inception). As Zubkavitch put it, "We're a bit of an iceberg company -- most of what we work on is not very apparent to people when they just look at our publishing line-up."
"Our artists wanted to do original stories, original work," said Stacy King, Marketing Manager for Udon Entertainment. "As we take small steps toward creating original work, (VENT) gives us a chance to experiment a little." VENT showcases the work of 24 UDON creators, including Omar Dogan (who created a short story pictured above) and Arnold Tsang, one of the four founders of UDON and lead concept artist at Blizzard who created the cover illustration for VENT Volume 1, featuring caricatures of the four founding members: Tsang, Erik Ko (CEO of Udon), Ken Siu-Chong (founder and writer) and Shane Law.
Besides publishing the hardcover and softcover edition in the U.S., Udon will be working with Seoul Visual Works (the Korean publisher of Apple) to publish a Korean edition of VENT "sometime in 2011."
When I noted that there's a "Volume 1" on the cover of VENT and asked about the possibility of subsequent volumes, King mentioned that the prospects for future volumes of VENT depends how fans receive this first effort. "We'd love to have an ongoing showcase, but it depends on how well it sells," King explained. "It's a gamble for us, but we hope there's an audience for it."
UDON'S COMIC-CON PANEL LOOKS BACK AT PAST, SNEAK PREVIEWS THE FUTURE
Speaking of audiences, manga fans, gamers and comics creators are encouraged to join the Udon crew on Friday, July 23 at 7:30 pm in Room 3 for their "UDON: 10 Years of Comics and Games" panel. Besides sharing the 10-year history of the company, Ko, Zubkavich, Moylan, King and several Udon artists will talk about what it's like to work in the comics and gaming industries, share tips and tricks from a pro's perspective, and offer a few sneak previews of projects that are currently in the works.
Check the Udon blog for updates on the signing schedules and events for Comic-Con. Also Udon creator Long Vo has posted his schedule of appearances on his blog, listing his timeslots at the Udon booth and at the nearby Capcom booth #4844.
You can also check out 12-page previews for VENT and The Art of Capcom 2, an 11-page preview of The Art of Darksiders, and a 9-page preview of Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia at Udon's website. Just click on each page to see a larger preview image, and of course, see the books in person at Udon's booth at Comic-Con, #5037.
Image credits: © Udon Entertainment / Arnold Tsang, © Udon Entertainment, © CAPCOM Entertainment Inc., © Omar Dogan