By Joshua Stone
After the Flesk panel at SDCC 2014, thanks to John Fleskes, I had the opportunity to talk to Frank Cho for a few minutes as Fleskes stood by. Much of what we spoke about was coming out of not only the day's panel, but also from the 2013 Spotlight on Frank Cho panel which I had the privilege of covering. Also, you can read my coverage of their San Diego Comic Con panel here.
Joshua Stone: I was at the Wondercon 2013 panel and you talked about your dream project being Princess of Mars.
Frank Cho: Yeah.
JS: I was wondering if you've seen Mike Kaluta's work he did on Princess of Mars for IDW?
FC: No, I've heard about it, but I haven't seen it yet.
JS: Gorgeous, it's gorgeous.
FC: Alright, I got to check it out.
JS: The license is now at Dynamite, so is that something, since it wouldn't be Disneyfied, and that's something you mentioned
FC: No, I will never work for Dynamite or Nick Barrucci.
JS: No go on that still then?
JS: On the panel [Wondercon] you also talked about the Kickstarter and the Drawing Beautiful Women book at that as well. What made you decide to go to Flesk to work on that?
FC: John and I have been friends for, gosh, ten years, longer. I have always been impressed with the quality of his books. It was something that we always talked about down the road and Drawing Beautiful Women was the perfect project.
JS: I remember you also mentioned a second Kickstarter at the time, is that something you are still looking to do?
FC: Yes, so the second Kickstarter will be through John again, it's World of Pain. It's a horror-adventure-comedy that I co-wrote, co-created with Tom Sniegoski. Once I finish my Marvel stuff I am going to jump straight on to that, and then when it launches I am hoping to get pretty much all of it done.
JS: Before it [the Kickstarter] starts?
FC: Yeah and our goal is to launch the Kickstarter after Thanksgiving this year. The Drawing Beautiful Women book will come out end of October, early November, and then launch a second Kickstarter at Thanksgiving.
After the main interview concluded, I thanked Cho for his time, and Fleskes added some additional comments along with Cho. About a week later, I sent a write-up of my interview to Fleskes to make sure he was ok with my including this second conversation as part of my article as I had not turned off my recorder yet. He said he was fine with what I had written, but he wanted to know if there was anything else I would like to ask him to fill in some of the areas that were skipped over during the conversation. So this is a combination of that conversation and additional responses that Fleskes sent to me.
John Fleskes: I was curious as to how Frank was going to answer that question publicly. [the question regarding work for Dynamite] What I respect about Frank is he's honest. He speaks his mind and what you see is what you get. You always know where you stand. I appreciate that type of honesty.
Joshua Stone: I definitely didn't expect that.
JF: And I'm like–let's see if he is going to do the typical answer, and no, he did [give] the right answer. There are the answers that the press hears, and then there are the answers that the artists say quietly at the dinner table.
JS: Have you seen the Kaluta book, the Princess of Mars one. It's gorgeous but that was for IDW though, and not Dynamite.
JF: Michael Kaluta continues to build upon his outstanding legacy of being one of the greats with his rendition of Princess of Mars. He's been going strong for nearly fifty years now. I think he's a terrific person too.
JS: Well, at the Wondercon panel, Frank was by himself and he was drawing, and you're [to Frank Cho] always straightforward and honest.
FC: I try to be.
JS: You say what's on your mind and that's how it was. It's great. Thank you again.
FC: Thank you.
JS: John can you maybe talk about your view on the treatment of artists and creators – which based on the level and character of artists who publish with you, and do so repeatedly, is excellent – versus other publishers.
JF: It doesn't matter what your profession is or where you work, there are good and bad bosses and employers. There are those who will treat you fairly and those who will take advantage of you. The comics and publishing world is small enough where if you are a creator looking to work with a publisher you can ask around and discover pretty quickly which editors and companies may not be a good fit for your personality or goals. My belief is that regardless of what business you are in, or the type of job you have available for someone, that it's your responsibility to treat people right.
When I started Flesk, it was natural for me to run it based on relationships. I model the company after the type of environment I would want to work in if I was its employee. If you are in charge you have to treat artists right. Heck, you need to treat everyone right.
I believe that who you are as a person triumphs over anything else. The crowd I grew up with respects one another by who you are as a man, not by what you own or by how much money you have. Earning respect through the right actions that lift people up and not by diminishing them is something that is important to me.
JS: Great, thanks John.
But it didn't end there. I knew there was one more thing I needed to follow up on with Frank Cho. Thankfully, he responded to my email.
JS: I was hoping I could ask one follow up question of you. It's the one I should have asked then but I think I was thrown off by your response. I understand if you don't want to answer, whether because of legal reasons or personal reasons, and I have enough from the original interview and my follow up with John to be fine with my article.
So the question is why would you never work for Dynamite and/or Nick Barucci again?
FC: On the matter of Nick Barrucci of Dynamite, it's an old business matter that I don't want to revisit. I've cut all ties with Nick Barrucci of Dynamite Entertainment and future association with him and his company.
So there you have it, a five minute interview after a panel at SDCC with one of the top artists and writers in the industry, turned into two week, back and forth conversation with two of the most honest and high-character individuals I ever had the pleasure of talking to.
Further musings of Joshua Stone can be read on Twitter @1NerdyOne.