With comics, I generally aim to follow good writers and well-reviewed runs. For the most part, this leads to me grabbing books based on story over art, though some legendary runs have both going for them. This leaves a bunch of comics that I find absolutely gorgeous but shy away from.
Street fighter is one of the exceptions to this rule. My cousin is very into Street Fighter, so I grabbed the first 14 issue run second hand as a gift to him. What I didn’t expect was how incredible the art was throughout the book. Years later, I couldn’t resist grabbing the 3-volume oversized hardcover reprints of the entire series.
I should really start by saying that the writing by Ken Siu-Chong a bad writer. The plotting and depth is very serviceable and stays true to the characters in the book. The problem is that writing for such a strongly licensed IP brings up a bunch of issues that the Siu-Chong has to work around. Even though Siu-Chong is handed interesting and unique characters, he has to keep true to the very large cast of characters and how they interact. More importantly, the series is based off of a plot line from a video game which severely limits where the story can go creatively. Lastly, by nature of it being a Street Fighter book, much of the page real estate has to go to action sequences, which goes double with such an art-oriented company like Udon Entertainment. Overall, these hurdles led to a shallower storyline, but allows for an incredible platform to showcase the main draw with the book.
Udon Entertainment is renowned for high quality art. Because of this, the small Canadian company works closely with Capcom for a number of their properties including Darkstalkers, Megaman, and of course, Street Fighter. Gathering some of their best artists, Udon created the Street Fighter comic with Alvin Lee, Arnold Tsang, Omar Dogan and many more.
The book takes the well-established Street Fighter style, taking liberties with the size and muscle mass of the characters. This is a style that I always really liked as it takes a cartoonish approach, but grounds it with real anatomy and consistent proportions. By flipping to any given page, the art drips with quality, but reading the comic really shows the mastery of the craft.
Instead of defaulting to standard poses and angles, artists like Alvin Lee excel at different points of view. Besides being notoriously hard to pull off, panels with non-traditional points of view are more exciting and interesting. Beautiful panels where a character runs straight at the reader and amazing ground-up splash pages give the scenes so much more movement than any other series I’ve read.
Though pricey (as with hardcovers in general), I have no regrets getting these books. Whenever someone new sees my collection, Street Fighter is almost always my showcase book. The release of the ‘classic’ reprints also coincided with the more recent Street Fighter series’, which I constantly debate getting whenever browsing amazon.