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Ron Chan


Name: Ron Chan


Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Wolverine

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Kamala Khan

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Plants vs. Zombies: Lawn of Doom”/Dark Horse/Oct 2017

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Chan: I have no idea! I stay consistent within each project, but one of the things people have found surprising is that when they look at multiple projects of mine, or look through my sketches, is that I have a lot of different ways I like to draw. I love experimenting with a variety of techniques and aesthetics.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Chan: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember, and I think comics definitely had a lot to do with that. I honestly don’t know that I spent much time actually reading comic books, so much as I spent hours and hours looking at, and occasionally copying, the artwork.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Chan: Around middle school it was definitely various artists from X-titles. I loved looking at Jim Lee’s art on “X-Men,” and then later, Chris Bachalo’s work on “Generation X” really appealed to me. In high school, I got really into artwork not from comics, but from video games – specifically, Capcom fighting games, like “Street Fighter.” The in-game art and the concept art (especially art by Capcom artists Bengus and Edayan) from these games remains, to this day, one of the biggest influences on my artwork.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Chan: Yes and no as far as the plan. When I was graduating high school, I applied to two colleges: University of Oregon, where they have a good architecture program, and Savannah College of Art and Design, where they have a comic book major. After some thinking, I realized the only reason I was interested in architecture was because it involved drafting (and seemed like a lucrative career), but I didn’t actually care about buildings whatsoever. So I said, “Screw it! I’m going to art school!” and picked SCAD. I wasn’t even reading comics at the time – I just saw that they had a comics art program and thought it would be a good direction to go, since I was already drawing sort of comic-booky sketches all the time. Four years later, I had a degree in comics!

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Chan: In terms of a single job, it was probably “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” #42. Living in Portland, OR, I had gotten to know a lot of Dark Horse folks as I made my way into the Portland comics community. Now editor in chief Dave Marshall gave me my very first Dark Horse gig with this single fill-in issue of “Star Wars,” and it has led to me continued to work with Dark Horse for many years afterward, and to come.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Chan: I was pretty fortunate, honestly. I grew up in Portland, OR, which has a thriving comics community, so after graduating from SCAD, I only had to return home to find a perfect city to make connections in the industry. I had the amazing luck to fall in with a studio full of artists that I am still part of. (Now called Helioscope, formerly called Periscope Studio, then called Mercury Studio) There, I found life-changing mentors in industry veterans like Steve Lieber, Jeff Parker, and Ron Randall, to name a few. They not only helped shepherd me into a professional life, but also actually hooked me up with jobs.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Chan: I usually do fan art when I’m sketching. I love drawing character from things I love – “Mass Effect,” “Star Wars,” “Hamilton,” “Street Fighter,” or whatever anime I’m watching.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Chan: Not really! I just want to keep getting interesting projects.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Chan: Continuing from the last question: I honestly don’t really have an ultimate dream for my career. I love variety, so I only hope to continue getting interesting and fun projects (that hopefully pay well!). When I die, I can only wish that people will say, “Man, that Ron Chan sure was all over the place!”

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Chan: Probably that I try my best to be easy to work with. I almost always hit my deadlines and communicate well with my editors!

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Chan: It has changed my workflow entirely. I started with ink and paper like most everyone, but these days, I work 100 percent digital. It has made me a faster, more versatile, and braver artist.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Chan: Just make comics! Unless you are already an established badass illustrator, nobody will hire you to draw comics, if you haven’t demonstrated that you can draw comics. This isn’t necessarily going to work for everyone, but for most people, I like to say: start small. While you’re still developing early on, do some four-page comics. Do some eight-page comics. Don’t start that 300-page magnum opus you’ve been thinking about since you were 12. There is value in starting and finishing things. That being said, if your big story calls to you in a way that you cannot ignore? Go for it; whatever gets you drawing comics! Draw ‘em and put ‘em online!

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Chan: Combination of both, for sure. I don’t do that many conventions – generally just ECCC in Seattle, RCCC in Portland, and then occasionally something else sprinkled in if circumstances make sense. It’s fun connecting with fans, and I love seeing other creators and friends from across the nation, but conventions are exhausting and take time away from actually drawing my projects.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Chan: I drew Hellboy taking a shit once.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Chan: I’ve got more “Plants vs. Zombies” comics on the schedule as well as secret OGN project in the future!

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The Featured Presentation

Minae Noji


Welcome to the fourth installment of our MYSTIC COSMIC PATROL WEEK ongoing feature!

Debuting today at Funny or Die, “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” is a nostalgic sitcom romp of mystical proportions. Created as an homage to kid-friendly shows like “Power Rangers” and “Ultraman,” the fast-paced webisodes combine monsters and comedic mayhem to create a parody worth every bingeable minute.

We recently sat down with series star Minae Noji to discuss the freedom in playing evil, the fun in carrying a scepter, and the grooviness of wearing bunny slippers to work.

TrunkSpace: You’re playing the big bad in “Mystic Cosmic Patrol.” Was it surreal to play such an over-the-top role surrounded by costumed characters and puppets? Is there a moment where you experience a, “Where am I?!?!” when you’re trading lines in that kind of environment?
Noji: I loved it. And I’m an only child, so I grew up with a lot of imaginary, crazy, characters and creatures all around me. It felt like home!

TrunkSpace: How did you become involved in the project and what drew you to it?
Noji: The producers of MCP knew my work from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” both on screen in the film and from the animated show, so I guess they saw that villainy was in my blood! (Laughter) I was drawn to the project because I grew up watching “Power Rangers,” “Kung Fu,” and “The Twilight Zone,” and was obsessed with sketch shows like “The Carol Burnett Show,” “MADtv,” and “The Kids in the Hall.” “Mystic Cosmic Patrol” is the perfect mix of sci-fi, martial arts, and crazy comedy, so I was sold immediately.

TrunkSpace: What was the most enjoyable part of playing a character within this hyper-reality type of world?
Noji: Definitely the freedom to really play with a character and have a good time! Rutina is so deliciously evil, it was a blast to really go for it with her. Oh… and the wardrobe. For the love of God, I’m wearing horns and holding a gigantic, long scepter. And who doesn’t like a long scepter? Right…

… Hello? (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Why does Rutina have issues with the Mystic Cosmic Patrol? What is her backstory and why is she so EVIL?
Noji: Rutina is tired of the MCP constantly thwarting her plans to take over the earth. She’s an ancient, evil being who consumes the energy and resources of planets to replenish her youth. Destroying and devouring worlds is one of her beauty secrets. Who needs Botox when you have the universe as your fountain of youth!

Noji and Alexander Ward in Mystic Cosmic Patrol

TrunkSpace: When do you feel the most energized and inspired as an actress? What is it that excites you about the craft?
Noji: There is nothing like working on a project that brings laughter into the world. As a child, I would grab a Hot Pockets pizza and my favorite blanket and just immerse myself in comedy shows on television. Laughter was my medicine. So as an artist, I am most energized and fulfilled when I have the opportunity to work on a comedy. It feels the closest to flying… without the airfare cost or needing wings.

TrunkSpace: You spent over a decade working on “General Hospital.” Soaps are known for their breakneck schedules. Has that kind of working environment prepared you for pretty much anything you’ve come across production-wise?
Noji: With soaps, you typically get only one take for each scene and the pace is very, very, fast. So when I get the opportunity to work on a project where I get more than one take. it feels like I just won the lottery! Soaps are a fantastic place to really work the craft and learn to breathe and trust in a high-stake situation.

TrunkSpace: You also do a lot of work as a voice actor. Do you approach a voiceover performance in the same way you would an on-screen role?
Noji: Yes, the prep is pretty much the same. I guess the only difference would be, sometimes with voiceovers, you don’t have a lot of time to study, so the preparation may not be as elaborate. But otherwise, it’s very similar.

Oooo…. except for the part where in voiceovers you can show up to work in your pajamas and bunny slippers! How groovy is that!?!

Mystic Cosmic Patrol” debuts today at Funny or Die.

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The Featured Presentation

Kari Wahlgren

Photo Credit: Michael Becker, Styled by Lauren Bernard, Makeup and Hair by Maxine Christians

Kari Wahlgren has been giving life to animated characters for decades. As a sought-after voiceover actress, the Kansas native has lived within the worlds of such diverse shows as “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness,” “Gravity Falls,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” to name but a small sampling. She can currently be heard as Dorothy in “Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz” for Boomerang, as Amanda in “Bunsen is a Beast” for Nickelodeon, and will soon arrive in theaters as a part of “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.”

We recently sat down with Wahlgren to discuss how her theater background helped shape her career, nailing the voice of a character right out of the creative gates, and whose lips she’d like to speak from in the future.

TrunkSpace: We know that you studied theater in college. Did that prepare you at all for a career as a voice actress in terms of not only how to use your voice, but how to project it in a particular way?
Wahlgren. Absolutely. Not everybody comes from a theater background, but I know, for me, that it really helped with the voiceover side of things. I had a chance to do some children’s shows while I was there and it was very much exploring that heightened characterization and some of the funnier dialects and things like that. I took a number of dialects classes while I was there. I feel like so much of what I did there, even right down to Shakespeare classes, really prepped me for the voiceover world in ways that I really didn’t expect or realize until I started working in the industry.

TrunkSpace: Actors often talk about how they need to change their approach when they go from the stage to the worlds of film and/or television. What about going from all of those various mediums to the world of voiceover? Does that require another change in approach?
Wahlgren: It sounds obvious, but the thing to remember in voiceover is that you’re communicating everything through the voice. You can’t rely on a facial expression or body language or any of these other tools that you use in stage work or film and TV work. The best example of this I can think of is a story that happened to me very early on in my career. I was doing a line and the director said, “Okay, great. Do it again, but angrier.” I did the line again, and he said, “Okay, your face looked angrier, but your voice sounded exactly the same.” (Laughter) It was a good learning moment for me. “Oh, I have to convey that just through what I’m doing vocally. I can’t supplement it with what’s going on with my face.”

TrunkSpace: Does that mean it’s a more difficult form of acting given that you’re only using one tool from your toolbox?
Wahlgren: It can be trickier. There’s definitely a technique to it. I’ve been in certain sessions where there are people that are not used to doing voiceover work, and they will hit the mic stand or they’ll wear really loud jackets. They’ll wear a leather jacket, which gives off a lot of noise in front of the microphone. There’s a technique side to it that is distinctly special to voiceover. Now that some of these movies are getting much more cinematic, the acting style can be much more subtle, and that’s where you hope that you’ve got a really good director that’s going to say, “You know what? You don’t have to give us that much on that line because, visually, this and this and this is going to happen in the animation.” It really is becoming more collaborative and cinematic in that way.

TrunkSpace: We’re children of the 80s, an era where cartoons were nowhere near as sophisticated as they are today. Kids and parents can both watch a show like your new series “Bunsen is a Beast,” for example, and enjoy it or laugh at it for different reasons.
Wahlgren: And that’s great, although being a cusp child of the 80s and 90s as I was, I loved a lot of those shows, too, and there’s something nostalgic about going back and watching them, even though they weren’t very sophisticated. There was just something about them that was just so cheesy fun! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Cheesy doesn’t really seem to fly these days. In many ways, the animated shows being produced now come off like scripted live action series.
Wahlgren: It’s really going in that direction. They are just making some beautiful shows. I’m doing a Netflix series called “Spirit Riding Free” and it’s so cinematic. It’s this beautiful 3D animation. The writing and the storytelling is some of the most poignant that I’ve run across in a cartoon for quite some time. It’s really evolved since we were kids.

Amanda from “Bunsen is a Beast”

TrunkSpace: It must be inspiring to work on a project every day when you know that the end product is not only going to be great in terms of the storytelling, but also be visually captivating at the same time?
Wahlgren: It’s fantastic. I’m such a fan of artwork and animation that whenever I get to start seeing the character designs and what the city or the town that the cartoon is taking place in is going to look like, I find all of that incredibly magical. It doesn’t get old for me.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to finding who a character is in the world of animation, are you provided with those character designs before you start working?
Wahlgren: It depends on the project. When we audition, sometimes we will have a picture, sometimes we will have a description of the character, sometimes we will have almost nothing to go on. In that case, you use your imagination and you create the story in your head and flesh out the character. Once you get the job and you start working, hopefully, at that point, you’ve got a little bit more of the working artwork, the tone, and style of the show. For instance, something that you watch on Cartoon Network may have a very different style than something that you’re going to watch on Disney.

You basically pull clues from whatever you’re given. If there’s source material, if it’s something that’s based on a graphic novel or a comic book or something, I’ll definitely read those. You just use whatever you can to help you come up with your characterization and then you go into the studio and it turns into a little bit of a collaborative process. Sometimes you go in and you knock it out of the park right away, and they say, “That’s exactly what we thought the character would sound like,” which was the case with Amanda in “Bunsen is a Beast.” She didn’t really change much at all from the audition. They said, “You came in and that’s exactly what we had envisioned her sounding like.”

Then there are other times where you go in and you end up doing something completely different than what you auditioned with and it just evolves over time.

TrunkSpace: How does that differ from when you’re working on an existing character, especially these big brands where the character you’ll be playing has been around for ages in various platforms and iterations? Is it more challenging to create something from scratch or to find the voice of a character who has already existed in some form or another?
Wahlgren: That’s a great question. In some ways, I think it makes it easier because if you’re doing Mary Poppins or something like that and you have an idea of iterations of that character that have happened in the past or you’re doing a superhero and it’s been pretty clearly defined in one or two movie roles, and they say, “Yeah, we’re gonna kind of go with that same sort of feel,” in some ways, that makes your job easier. In other ways, it gets a little trickier because people are always going to prefer one person’s interpretation over another person’s interpretation. Or, there are constantly reboots happening, so sometimes they’re trying to steer away from something, but they don’t really know exactly how, so it comes with its own unique challenges while also sometimes being a little bit easier.

TrunkSpace: We read that your inner nerd rejoices when you get to play comic book characters. Is there a character that you have yet to play that the inner nerd would cheer the hardest for?
Wahlgren: I did Black Canary once for a couple of little shorts, but I would love to do her again because I’m a big “Birds of Prey” fan. That’s one that I read a lot. I would love to play her again. For a while there, I was thinking Power Girl. I thought Power Girl would be a fun one and Squirrel Girl. She’s the hip, cool, little character now. That would be fun to play.

TrunkSpace: What’s cool about the way your career has played out is that you’ve been able to play big characters from both DC and Marvel.
Wahlgren: It is one of the awesome benefits of voiceover, but it’s funny… whenever I have a day where I do a DC job in the morning and a Marvel job in the afternoon, I always vaguely feel like I’m cheating somehow, like I’m slinking off and cheating on my boyfriend. (Laughter)

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” arrives in theaters August 11.

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