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I was born in Chicago, but raised in South Bend, Indiana. The home of Notre Dame University. My parents were well-educated Korean immigrants who hoped their three sons would get prestigious degrees and move on to prestigious jobs. Didn't happen...
I was the most introverted of the three Ha brothers. Being both a geek and a first generation Korean-American made me seek out escapist fantasy, especially comic books. While my brothers were both more artistically talented than me, neither of them had the patience to sit for hours on end working on one drawing. Or maybe they just had better things to do. I was the only brother not to play high school football.
I think there are a lot of parallels between my generation of Asian-American comic book artists and the generation of Jewish artists and writers who created superheroes in the 1930's. Mystery men with super powers, secret identities, and absurdly Anglo names seemed to have attracted both generations. We were all the children of immigrants struggling to fit into America, and the fantasies of 1930's Jewish geeks still held appeal to 1980's Korean geeks.
All of the typical comics names from the 80's were influences on me: Byrne, Miller, Sienkiewicz, Simonson, Moore, etc. But the most important was Matt Wagner. Mage is still a magical series to me, and the stubborn Kevin Matchstick and Sean the ghost are personal archetypes to this day. My dream is to make a series that will be as powerful to you (and myself) as that book was to me.
Art appealed to me, not in and of itself, but as a way of creating comic books. South Bend public schools offered few classes in realistic drawing, so I took few elective classes in art. I mostly drew in other classes and after school. I was quite good at taking notes, then caricaturing the teachers before they moved on to a new idea.
My high school's newspaper, the Clay Colonial, was where I really began to understand the graphic arts. I won the Most Valuable Staffer award, an unusual honor for the staff artist. I don't know where my high school and college degrees are, but I know where that plaque is.
The most important thing one must do before learning is figure out what you don't know. When it came time to go to college, I had no proper portfolio and couldn't get into any self respecting school. Which is how I ended up at the Center for Creative Studies (now the "College for Creative Studies"). In my first two years, I learned how little I knew. The last two years I tried to learn it. Art school can be incredibly useful, but the degree itself is meaningless. My art was still a mess when I graduated. I've met kids stuck on farms their whole lives who can draw better than I did then, and I've met art school grads whom I wouldn't want working on the Clay Colonial. In Minneapolis I shared a studio with two artists who held day jobs and hadn't been to art school. They were incredibly dedicated and were better artists than I was when I graduated.
In my last semester at CCS, I sent out drawing samples to Marvel, and a week later to DC as an afterthought. Marvel sent an unintentionally vicious letter criticizing my perspective, anatomy, and technique, everything except my storytelling. In retrospect, they were mostly right about everything but the storytelling. Still, they were needlessly harsh.
DC was interested. They sent me a sample script, liked the results, and I've had regular gigs ever since.
Date of Birth: August 19, 1969
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Gene Ha is a favorite creator of 25 users
- 1994 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Russ Manning Promising Newcomer
- 1999 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team: (for exclusively his own work in Starman #46 [DC])
- 2006 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Penciller/Inker: (for Top Ten: The Forty-Niners [ABC])
2000 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Best New Series: Top Ten by Alan Moore, Gene Ha, and Zander Cannon (ABC)
2001 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Best Continuing Series: Top 10, by Alan Moore, Gene Ha, and Zander Cannon (ABC)
2006 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Best Graphic Album- New: Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore and Gene Ha (ABC)
2008 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): Justice League of America #11: “Walls,” by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha (DC)
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