We Could Be Heroes

Comic artists Gene Ha and Zander Cannon create a universe where everyone has higher powers

Once reached by fax, the two young illustrators would begin their painstaking work, Cannon mapping out how the action would fall on the page, and Ha superimposing his exquisitely detailed pencil (and, eventually, ink) drawings of characters and locations. That spirit of collaboration continues to this day, even as Ha and Cannon work on their own separate Top 10-inspired projects. Their offices are next to each other, and Ha, when illustrating the main character in The 49ers, will occasionally wander next door to take a few snapshots of Cannon.

Cannon's office has a messy, lived-in quality to it. His walls are lined with bagged comic books, and a "Slow, Children at Play" sign hangs above his desk. Toys abound, as do pages of notes. In a few weeks, Cannon will pick through the office, packing some of it and throwing the remainder away. He is preparing to move to Japan, where his wife has a job as an English teacher in Utsunomiya, a city about 100 miles north of Tokyo, home to Honda, Aiwa, and Kirin Beer. And so it shall be that, via fax and FedEx, two illustrators, one living in Minneapolis, one in Utsunomiya, will be creating a new world with a comic-book writer in Northampton.

A frame from Gene Ha and Alan Moore's work in progress, 'The 49ers,' features the vet drawn after the image of collaborator Zander Cannon
Gene Ha
A frame from Gene Ha and Alan Moore's work in progress, 'The 49ers,' features the vet drawn after the image of collaborator Zander Cannon

"I'll still be working with Zander," Ha explains. "He told me that if I need any more Zander Cannon references, just send him an e-mail. He'll take a digital photo and send it to me." For the original Superman, of course, such a trivial technological exchange would have taken nothing less than superhero powers.

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