Fri, Mar 31, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Comic book great Uen Cheng dies

AN INSPIRATION:The internationally acclaimed graphic novelist was known for his trailblazing realistic style, and contributions to manga and video games

By Wu Po-hsuan, Yang Yuan-ting and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Graphic novelist Uen Cheng holds up a brush painting he did at the Angouleme International Comics Festival in France in 2012.

Photo: courtesy of Dala Publishing Company

Graphic novelist Uen Cheng (鄭問), best known for his realistic artwork, prolific work ethic and mentorship of fellow artists, died on Sunday of a heart attack at the age of 58, according to one of his former students.

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said Uen Cheng’s creations are an inspiration to a generation of Taiwanese artists, adding that the ministry would apply for a posthumous presidential commendation for his vital contributions to manga, animation and video games.

Uen Cheng was creating artwork for one of his projects moments before suffering a heart attack at 3am on Sunday, said Chung Meng-shun (鍾孟舜), one of Uen Cheng’s former students.

Born Cheng Chin-wen (鄭進文), Uen Cheng had worked as a professional graphic artist since his 20s.

He enjoyed a meteoric rise in the comic book world, where he distinguished himself with his realistic style that blazed trails, spawned many imitators and attracted students.

The martial arts adventures Sword of Avici (阿鼻劍) and Heroes of the East Zhou Dynasty (東周英雄傳) are generally considered to be among Uen Cheng’s finest, with Heroes being the first creation by a foreign artist to win an award from the Japanese Cartoonists’ Association.

Dala Publishing Co editor-in-chief Aho Huang (黃健和) said Uen Cheng made an international impact as a Taiwanese manga artist.

In the 1990s, Uen Cheng became the first Taiwanese artist to have artwork successfully serialized in Japan, Huang said, adding that Hong Kong film producers had obtained the movie rights to Sword of Avici.

Uen Cheng in 2012 participated in France’s prestigious Angouleme International Comics Festival and had this year completed negotiations for the publication of his works in Southeast Asia and Europe, with his work to be translated into Thai and German, he added.

Chung, who is now a successful graphic artist and president of the Taipei Comic Artist Labor Union, said he remembers his mentor as a gifted artist, an aloof man and a passionate friend.

Uen Cheng once personally managed the day-to-day business of a charity sales stall to raise cancer treatment funds for a fellow artist and rushed with a baseball bat in hand to the rescue of a friend who got into trouble, Chung said.

“He was a unique man, heroic and larger than life. The last chapter of a legend has closed,” Chung said.

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