Chen Uen
鄭問

Chen Uen in Taiwan

Renowned for his unique illustrations merging traditional Chinese brushstroke, watercolor painting, and modern comic-book style, legendary comics artist and novelist Chen Uen was born on December 27, 1958 in Daxi, Taoyuan County, Taiwan. A graduate of Fu-Hsin Trade and Arts School, Mr. Chen worked as an interior designer before his first comic series, Warrior Panther (戰士黑豹), was published in China Times Weekly in 1983. Encouraged by positive reviews, he went on to publish Fighting Against God (鬥神), The Armor General (裝甲元帥), and the series based on the “Biographies of the Retainer-Assassins” in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, Legends of Assassins (刺客列傳).

In addition to the impact on comic-book culture in Taiwan, these early works were also successful and influential in Hong Kong. In 1989 Mr. Chen’s collaboration as illustrator with author Ma Li produced the innovative and hugely successful wuxia graphic novel Abi Sword (阿鼻劍), which was published in the magazine Sunday Comics (and has since been translated into English).

Chen Uen in Japan

Shortly after, Chen was invited by the Japanese company Kodansha to publish in their popular comic magazine Morning. In 1990 installments of The Heroes of Eastern Zhou (東周英雄傳) began appearing in Morning, causing a sensation. For this work, Chen Uen was honored with the Japanese Cartoonists Association Excellence Award in 1991, becoming the first non-Japanese artist to receive this award.

Chen Uen continued to garner rave reviews from Japanese news media, including Asahi Shimbun, and achieved widespread popularity across the nation. Following Heroes of Eastern Zhou several other major works were published in Japan, including Magical Super Asia (深邃美麗的亞細亞), Wan-Suei: The Box of Destiny (萬歲), and Qin Shihuang: The First Emperor (始皇). In Japan, in addition to his publishing career, Chen was invited by the electronic gaming company Game Arts to serve as artistic designer for a PlayStation game named after him. The game, Chen Uen’s Three Kingdoms (鄭問之三國誌), was released in 2001.

Chen Uen in Hong Kong and China

Around the year 2000, Chen Uen shifted his focus back to the Chinese-language market, collaborating with the Hong Kong publishing powerhouse Jade Dynasty Group (玉皇朝集團) to produce the series Manga Thunderbolt (漫畫大霹靂), based on characters from Taiwan’s Pili Puppet drama TV series (霹靂布袋戲). He provided the illustrations for his final comic work, a series by Hong Kong author Ma Wing-shing (馬榮成), The Storm Riders: Untouchable (風雲外傳:天下無雙). Chen then went on to play a lead role in the artistic development of China’s internet-based gaming industry, with projects including San Guo Online (鐵血三國志), Moon Online (月影傳說), and God of Destiny (戰神魔霸). In 2012, he led 20 Taiwanese comics artists to France’s Angouleme International Comics Festival.

Chen Uen passed away on March 26, 2017, at the age of 58. In 2018, he was the first comics artist ever to be featured in an exhibition at Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. Taiwan’s Dala Publishing Company in 2018 released a commemorative anthology of his life and art, Hero Alone: Inside Chen Uen’s World (人物風流:鄭問的世界與足跡), and is in the process of publishing new editions of the artist’s complete comic works.

Video



Works

Hero Alone: Inside Chen Uen’s World

Hero Alone is a celebration containing the legendary illustrator’s own thoughts and words, biographical information, the recollections of those who knew him, and three of his works: Abi-Sword 3, The Man Called Crouching Dragon, and The Storm Riders: Untouchable. Compiled by 18 contributors from all over Asia, it allows the reader to decipher Chen Uen’s artistry from different perspectives and get to know the man behind the stunning masterpieces.

Magical Super Asia

In this world of desire, everyone is seeking something. Some pursue fame and fortune, others are obsessed with power, and some hold out for happiness… what is the beautiful, magical world that people dream of? Chen Uen uses his masterful pen and observant eyes to paint a portrait of human nature through stories of good and evil, taking place in a fictional world teeming with spirits and demons.

Legends of Assassins

Based on the “Biographies of Assassins” from the Han-dynasty historian Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, this book tells the stories of the noted assassins Cao Mu, Yu Rang, Zhuan Zhu, Nie Zheng and Jing Ke of China’s Eastern Zhou dynasty. Working from his strong sense of humanity, Chen Uen gives his own interpretation of the original work’s tragic tone. He transforms Sima Qian’s elegant prose into rich images using ink-wash techniques giving the stories a discordant tension for a new age. The sheer force of the visuals are a perfect match for the assassins preparing themselves for violent death.

Heroes of the East Chou Dynasty

The Heroes of Eastern Zhou is an epic creation that both defines comics master Chen Uen’s career, and marks a milestone in Taiwan comics history. The story is set in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, an ancient feudal society rich with turmoil and poetic aspirations. The instability of the time inspires heroic measures. From illustrating grand spread page scenes to subtle psychological portraits of a character’s inner struggle, Chinese historic heroes come to life under the capable hands of Chen Uen.

A Bi Sword: Book I : Searching

ABi-Sword is one of Taiwan’s legendary graphic novels. It also represents a turning point in the work of Chen Uen, who uniquely employs techniques from traditional Chinese ink wash painting to raise martial arts comics to a new level. Writer Ma Li also does an outstanding job of reworking the basic elements of the martial arts genre so as to integrate thought-provoking Buddhist concepts. Together they set this work apart from run-of-the-mill martial arts comics with their fixation on fight scenes.

A Bi Sword: Book II : Awakening

ABi-Sword is one of Taiwan’s legendary graphic novels. It also represents a turning point in the work of Chen Uen, who uniquely employs techniques from traditional Chinese ink wash painting to raise martial arts comics to a new level. Writer Ma Li also does an outstanding job of reworking the basic elements of the martial arts genre so as to integrate thought-provoking Buddhist concepts. Together they set this work apart from run-of-the-mill martial arts comics with their fixation on fight scenes.

Qin Shihuang: The First Emperor

The book consists of 6 short stories. Following the story of Qin Shihuang's embarrassing early life and the battles to the power in Eastern Zhou Dynasty, First Emperor continues to explore his relationship with philosopher Han Fei, General Li Mu of Zhao, featuring characters, prominent scholars and military leaders of the time such as Li Si, Yao Jia, Wang Jian, Wang Ben. Dramatic illustrations tells the story of Qin Shihuang, a man that was “merciless, with the heart of a tiger or a wolf’’ in this most epic and tumultuous chapter of China’s early unification.

Wan-Suei: The Box of Destiny

Wan-Suei, a fortune teller and fengshui master whose home turf is the streets of Hong Kong, always carries with him a wooden box that is known as Tianji (“Mysteries Known only to Heaven”). By opening the box, one completely alters one’s fate, but those who lack sufficient fortitude will be destroyed by a monster imprisoned within the box, Tianqian (“Heaven’s punishment”). One day, Wan-Suei comes across a youth with supernatural strength named Xiangyu. The youth shares both a name and a fate with the historical figure of Xiangyu the Conqueror, the warlord who was defeated by the first Han emperor. In modern day Hong Kong can he obtain the mysterious Tianji and become a contemporary overlord of the criminal underworld?

Contact us