Talking To Frank Cho, Man Of Outrage, About Attracting Women

PayneGhostDogBC: It's official. After 14 years at Marvel, you're no longer an exclusive Marvel creator?

CHO: Yes. My exclusive Marvel contract expired after I turned in my final page for Totally Awesome Hulk #4. It has been a great experience playing with Marvel toys over the years. I'm forever grateful to all my editors, writers, colorists who let me be part of many fantastic books at Marvel – especially Axel Alonso, who took a big chance on me, an unknown syndicated newspaper cartoonist, when he recruited me all those years ago and shepherded me along the way. Also, let me give a big shout out to my friend Scott Sava, who connected me with Axel in the first place.

BC: Any regrets or characters that you wanted to work on at Marvel but didn't get the chance during your time at Marvel?

CHO: Not really. I pretty much worked on all the characters I wanted to work on. My only regret I can think of is that I wished I wrote more for Marvel. I was originally hired as an writer-artist but the editors viewed me and treated me as an "artist" only. I should have been more vocal about my desire to write more.

BC: What are your plans now that you're no longer a Marvel exclusive?

CHO: I'm actually going to be busier now. I have couple of creator-owned books lined up. I'm currently writing and drawing Skybourne for Boom Studios. And World of Payne with my co-creator, Tom Sniegoski, for Flesk Publications. Both of these books will be out by fall. 2016 is definitely the year of creator-owned books for me.

BC: Can you tell us more about these projects?

CHO: I don't want to give too much away, but Skybourne is a cross between Highlander, Game of Death, and Cthulhu. It's a 5 issue miniseries with sequels already roughly laid out. I wrote the Skybourne story about 10 years ago and I've been patiently waiting to tell it. I think BOOM will start promoting it soon.

World of Payne is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter with a dash of Hellblazer. I had a half-baked idea for awhile and asked my buddy Tom Sniegoski to help me with it. Tom, who is a New York Times bestseller novelist, took my half-baked idea and turned it into a fully realized universe. Tom is a freakin' mind beast is all I can say about that amazing guy. World of Payne will be a new hybrid book. It's going to be part prose novel and part comic book. I'm very excited for this project since Tom and I have put so much work into it. The first book is called World of Payne: Ghost Dog, which sets everything up and get the ball rolling. Tom and I are partnering with Flesk Publications to kickstart it in few months.


BC: Anything for DC Comics?

CHO: Yup. You noticed the Diamond solicitations, I'm the new Wonder Woman cover artist for them. I'll be doing the next 24 Wonder Woman variant covers. Nei Ruffino, the colorist on my covers, is simply knocking it out of the park with her fabulous color work.

BC: Wonder Woman sounds like your perfect choice.

CHO: Wonder Woman is definitely a perfect match for my artistic sensibilities.

BC: There has been plenty of social media criticism of this. You're painted as the worst choice for the series – embodying all that is sexist and skeevy about comic books. Is it possible your covers will put women off the comic, or simply send a wrong message about the book?

As a life-long liberal Democrat and advocate for free speech and equal rights, it fascinates me to see when ultra-liberals become ultra-conservatives where they see injustices everywhere and cease to see reason, and start oppressing people who they disagree with. Thanks to the social media, we have entered into a dangerous era of Salem witch trials where no one is safe. Everything is being attacked everywhere in this hypersensitive atmosphere: The movie Grease (Sexualizes teenagers), Road Runner cartoons (Violence against animals), Game of Thrones. (Promotes rape and injustices against women.) The list goes on.

I have a huge female fan base. They are absolutely wonderful and they don't share the hateful political views of Mary Sue and Comic Alliance sites. If you look at the various message board postings, you'll see multitudes of positive notes of support for me and my art, especially for my Wonder Woman cover project. Let's face it, I was built to draw Wonder Woman. I'm a huge Lynda Carter fan. I fell in love with her when I first saw her Wonder Woman TV show as a kid. In many ways, Lynda Carter is still the main source of inspiration when I draw women.

It's very intimidating following Adam Hughes, Brian Bolland, Dave Finch and other great Wonder Woman artists before me. I'm just super excited right now that I'm drawing her. I have so much love and respect for this character and her potential. My aim is to make Wonder Woman look powerful and beautiful, let everyone see why she's a true superhero icon. And I hope I don't let my fans and Wonder Woman fans down.

BC: Any plans of doing interiors for Wonder Woman?

CHO: I do have a Wonder Woman story in mind that I want to write and draw. But that's way down the road. Right now, I'm going to focus on finishing and launching my creator-owned projects.

BC: You've been a centre of controversies in recent years, criticized by everyone from Robert Rodriguez to The Mary Sue site over your drawing of Spider-Gwen and last week Cammy: Street Fighter in that infamous Manara's Spider-Woman pose.

CHO: Yes. I'm still surprised and amused at the outrage over nothing. I've been a professional writer-artist for 19 years and I've never had any major problem until 2 years ago when some comic "journalist" decided to single me out and tried to scapegoat me into censorship over a drawing of a pretty woman requested by a fan.

BC: Have these scandals hurt you in any way?

CHO: Oh, god no. Quite the opposite. It blew me up into the stratosphere. The traffic on my webpages have tripled, interest and awareness of my art have gone way up beyond the normal comic community, and people treat me like a rock star at shows. I'm getting more job offers than I can physically handle, and getting constantly invited as a guest to various comic conventions, domestic and foreign.


BC: So you're not bothered by all the personal attacks online?

CHO: Naw. I actually enjoyed them. It spotlights the hypocrisy, unrealistic views and the victim mentality of these people. In my case, these critics of mine like most extremists and religious types, advocate mind control and censorship. They simply want to control what other people can and can not see. It's similar to what the Republican party does to the LGBT community. They bully and shame people into what they should like or don't like.

I'm simply fascinated by how these few critics came riding in on their high horse and tried to paint me into a monster. In their eyes, I went from an artist who writes and draws strong independent female characters to a morally bankrupt pervert overnight simply because I drew a comic book character for a fan that they found offensive. It's scary if you think about how much power the social media have given to these fringe voices.

The comic book market is a vast and bountiful table. There's a place for everyone. One group, because they don't like something, should not dictate what others can see and enjoy. That's simply wrong. If they don't like something, then don't look at it or buy it. As matter of fact, they should take all that hateful energy and create comics they want to read and art they want to see. Again, there's a room for everyone at the comic table.


BC: Lastly, I'm sure many long time loyal fans are wondering about Liberty Meadows? Are you going to bring that back?

CHO: I'm trying. I got my rights back from Sony several years ago at this point. My producer friend, Mike Polis, is talking with Netflix, WETA and other entertainment studios. But these things take time. As for the Liberty Meadows comic book, it's on my "To Do" pile for awhile longer until I get Skybourne and World of Payne out of the way. Like I said, 2016 is going to be an exciting and interesting year for me.

Certainly looks like I'll continue to have plenty to write about….

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.