Earlier this evening I heard the sad news that one of comics’ great legends, Ernie Chan, has passed away.

Ernie was set to appear at the BigWow Comicfest in San Jose this weekend, so his death comes as a real surprise to those of us who expected to see him there.

I’ll say a few words, but I wanted to post a tribute in the form of my favorite Chan images. Some of these he painted, some he penciled and inked, and some he only inked—but Ernie’s inks were some of the most powerful in the world of comics.

When I was a kid I couldn’t get enough of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and its black-and-white companion magazine THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN. But I was incredibly picky about the art in my comics—if the art didn’t blow me away, I wouldn’t buy the comic. Plus, I had the seriously limited budget of a child, so I had to be impressed by the art or I left the book sitting on the rack.

Whenever I found a CONAN book that was drawn (or inked) by Ernie Chan, my money hit the counter immediately.

The great John Buscema was my favorite CONAN artist, but it was the Buscema/Chan team-ups (Ernie inking John’s pencils) that were my all-time favorites. Ernie also teamed with the great Gil Kane to ink an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “Valley of the Worm” in SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #3. This is my favorite Howard story, and one of my favorite single-issue comics EVER. Chan’s inks melded with the pencils of Buscema and Kane in a way that no other artist could even approach.

Below, you’ll see the cover CONAN THE BARBARIAN #71, just one example of the amazing Kane/Chan chemistry. Most of the others are Buscema/Chan collaborations, including the immortal CONAN THE BARBARIAN #100, featuring the Death of Belit. I believe the CLAW cover was all Ernie, as are the painted pieces.

Thanks to Dark Horse Comics almost all of Ernie’s CONAN work has been collected in their CHRONICLES OF CONAN color editions and SAVAGE SWORD black-and-white collections. Ernie’s stories still stand out as the work of a true original. The images you see here are simply a few of my favorites. There are many, many more…

Rest in Peace, Ernie. You will be missed.