Gene Ha at the 2008
Big Apple Comic Convention
|Area(s)||Writer, Penciller, Inker|
|The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix
|Awards||1994 Russ Manning Most Award
Four Eisner Awards
Gene Ha is an American comics artist and writer best known for his work on books such as Top 10 and Top 10: The Forty-Niners, with Alan Moore and Zander Cannon, for America's Best Comics, the Batman graphic novel Fortunate Son, with Gerard Jones, and The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, among others. He has also drawn Global Frequency and has drawn covers for Wizard and Marvel Comics.
Gene Ha was born in Chicago and raised in South Bend, Indiana. According to Ha, his parents were well-educated Korean immigrants whose aspiration was that their three sons would obtain prestigious degrees and enter corresponding careers. Gene was the most introverted of his brothers, a "geek" who sought out escapist fantasy particularly through comic books. Whilst his siblings displayed impressive artistic talent, they lacked the patience to sit for hours on end applying themselves to illustration. Ha notes parallels between his generation of Asian-American comics artists and the generation of Jewish creators from the 1930s, both of whom were children of immigrants struggling to fit into America.
Ha cites as his influences numerous creators from the 1980s, such as John Byrne, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Walter Simonson, Alan Moore and most importantly Matt Wagner, whose Mage series Ha says is still "epic" to him, and its main characters "personal archetypes".
Ha took few classes in art, as he was only interested in drawing as a means of creating comics, and South Bend offered little in the way of education in realistic drawing. He began to truly understand graphic arts when working on his high school newspaper, The Clay Colonial, winning the Most Valuable Staffer Award, which was unusual for an artist. After high school, Ha attended the College for Creative Studies. In his last semester he sent drawing samples to Marvel and DC. Although he received a harshly critical response from Marvel, DC was interested and sent him a sample script.
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Ha's first published comics work was in Green Lantern #36 (February 1993), whose story, "The Ghost of Christmas Light", was written by Gerard Jones. He would draw a number of comics for DC and Malibu Comics, and did work for Marvel as well, illustrating the 1994 miniseries The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, which documented the childhood of the character Cable. He would draw that miniseries' sequel as well, Askani'son.
Ha was one of the artists on the Shade limited series which spun off from the Starman series. He would subsequently illustrate a number of different properties for various publishers, including Aliens: Havoc, Superman, JLA Annual, which included interiors and cover work. In 1999, he began illustrating Top Ten, one of the series of Alan Moore's America's Best Comics imprint for Wildstorm. He would draw that series' twelve issues which ran until late 2001. Moore and Ha collaborated on the Top 10: The Forty-Niners graphic novel prequel published in 2005.
In 2006, Ha was set to serve as artist on the first four issues of a relaunch of Wildstorm's The Authority, with writer Grant Morrison. Ha drew two issues, but the project stalled after the second issue, as DC needed Morrison to concentrate his efforts on Batman rather than on Wildstorm projects.
In a December 2013 interview, Ha announced a sabbatical from work-for-hire comics and expressed his desire to focus on creator-owned projects.
In June 2015, it was announced that Dark Horse Comics had selected for publication Ha's creator-owned series Mae, which Ha funded through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The Mae fundraising campaign, which was for a 68-page Mae graphic novel written and illustrated by Ha, launched on April 24, reaching its $22,000 goal in 36 hours, and concluding with a total of $75,643. The book, however, will be published as an ongoing series rather than as a graphic novel. A portal fiction story, it depicts sisters Abbie and Mae, recently reunited following Abbie's disappearance eight years earlier into a fantasy world of monsters, who have followed her back to her world in pursuit of her. The series holds a 10 out of 10 rating at the review aggregator website Comic Book Round Up, based on three reviews.
Techniques and materials
Once Ha obtains a script, he makes "tiny" thumbnail sketches of each page, and then makes layout sketches on reduced copies of comic art board, two per page. It is at this stage that he works out the light/dark balance of the page. Though he says about 90% of his artwork are done without photo reference, he will sometimes photograph his friends posing as the central characters, or use a full length mirror to draw himself. He renders minor characters from his imagination. Irrespective of how much sunlight he has on a given day, he prefers to use a 500W incandescent photo lamp, though he believes a 500W halogen lamp is also adequate. He prefers to use a lead holder with H lead for sketching, and 2B lead for shading, which he sharpens with a rotary lead pointer, believing that such leads can be sharpened better than a traditional pencil. He blows up a scan of each page layout to 8.5" x 11", and draws "tight" pencils on top of these, which are then scanned and printed on 11" x 17" inkjet paper in faint blue line. He prefers Xerox paper because he feels that the surface of marker paper tends to get smudgy or oily. When modifying art in his computer, he uses Photoshop.
To effect his current ink wash style of shading and inking, he uses a variety of warm grey Copic markers with wide and brush tips, in particular a 9W Copic Sketch brush marker. For outlines and precise shading effects he will use a variety of pencils, most notably a 2B pencil, and for highlights and corrections, he will use white chalk pencils and white gouache paint. He also uses Staedtler Mars technical pens.
When doing digitally painted covers, he also uses a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Size 1 brush, Badger Air Opaque airbrush paint, water-soluble ink wash and Strathmore Windmill vellum 100 lb. Bristol board. He cleans his brushes with Masters Brush Cleaner, to which he adds water for a gel consistency.
Awards and nominations
- 1994 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award
- 2000 Eisner Award for Best New Series (for Top Ten, with Alan Moore and Zander Cannon, Wildstorm/ABC)
- 2001 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series (for Top Ten, with Alan Moore and Zander Cannon, Wildstorm/ABC)
- 2006 Eisner Award for Best New Graphic Album (for Top 10: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Zander Cannon (ABC))
- 2008 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue (for Justice League of America #11: "Walls", by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha (DC))
- 1999 Eisner Award for Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team (for Starman #46)
- 2006 Eisner Award for Best Penciller/Inker (for Top 10: The Forty-Niners)
America's Best Comics
- Ha, Gene (2003). "Questions". GeneHa.com. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- Gene Ha at the Grand Comics Database
- Willingham, Bill "Come What Mae". Mae #1 (May 2016). Dark Horse Comics.
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
The Shade...nabbed his first miniseries in April , courtesy of writer James Robinson and artists Gene Ha, J. H. Williams III, Bret Blevins, and Michael Zulli.
- Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 320: "A graphic novel prequel to the award-winning Top 10 series, The Forty-Niners proved to be one of the best books of the year. Writer Alan Moore and artist Gene Ha continued the high-quality work of the original."
- Ha, Gene (June 13, 2008). "Wikipedia Me". GeneHa.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012.
- Arrant, Chris (December 1, 2013). "CBR Sunday Conversation: Gene Ha". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
- Ching, Albert (June 23, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: Dark Horse Picks Up Gene Ha's Kickstarter-Funded 'Mae'". Comic Book Resources.
- "Mae". Comic Book Round Up. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
- "Manning Award". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2013. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
- "2000s Eisner Award Recipients". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2013. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
- "2006 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. n.d. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- "1999 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. n.d. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
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