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When it comes to covers that sell comic books, there are a handful of artists whose work is guaranteed to give a bump to sales whenever they lend their talents to a series’ cover. Guys like J. Scott Campbell, Art Adams, Alex Ross and Frank Cho, can name their price for supplying cover art. They’re that good, and that popular.
Frank Cho first came to popularity with his comic strip Liberty Meadows, the story of an animal sanctuary run by an unbelievably hot young animal psychiatrist named Brandy.
The sancturary is populated with an assortment of very funny animals… and they’re all overseen by Frank Mellish, a nerdy veterinarian whose love for Brandy knows no bounds… yet goes unspoken.
From there, Frank moved on to work at Marvel Comics, where he continues to work on various projects, all the while honing his craft… and drawing beautiful women.
And it is that craft, his artistic style and method, that are the subject of his latest book, Drawing Beautiful Women: The Frank Cho Method. As this is our “HOW TO DRAW” month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk with the “Monkey Boy” himself, and discuss his art, his influences, Liberty Meadows, and more!
PREVIEWSworld: Please tell us a bit about yourself!
Frank Cho: I'm Frank Cho, writer and artist at Marvel Comics, and creator of Liberty Meadows. I started my professional career in the newspaper comic strip market with my syndicated comic strip, Liberty Meadows. After five stressful years of editorial censorship, I quit the newspaper comic strip market and took Liberty Meadows to Image Comics. Soon afterward, I was recruited by Marvel Comics as an exclusive writer and artist. People say that I've helped to revive the whole “jungle woman” genre and brought wider attention to Dejah Thoris and other ERB characters to the comic market.
PREVIEWSworld: The big question from most fans: When can we expect to see new Liberty Meadows?
Frank Cho: Marvel has been keeping me so very busy that I don't have any free time to devote to Liberty Meadows! That being said, it is my goal to wrap up the final wedding story within the next 2-3 years. This is mostly due to the financial success and freedom provided by Kickstarter. So look for a big announcement in a year or two.
PREVIEWSworld: Where did the nickname “Monkey Boy” come from?
Frank Cho: The name "Monkey Boy" came from college. Guys love to insult each other, especially if they like you. One of the names my college buddies and I used to hurl at each other was "monkey boy" which came from the movie, Buckaroo Banzai.
PREVIEWSworld: What are your favorite projects you’ve contributed to over the past decade?
Frank Cho: Some of my favorite projects that I've worked on were Shanna the She-Devil and Volume 1 of Savage Wolverine (JAN140802) for Marvel Comics. (I prefer to write and draw my books when I can.) Then there's Volume 1 of New Ultimates (JUL110746) with Jeph Loeb, and Volume 1 of Mighty Avengers (JUN082432) with Brian Michael Bendis.
PREVIEWSworld: What are you currently working on?
Frank Cho: The next two years will be career-changing years for me. After 12 years, my exclusive Marvel contract will be drawing to a close. I have 10 creator-owned projects that I've worked on over the years and six of those projects are fully fleshed-out and ready for me to draw and launch.
1) Drawing Beautiful Women: The Frank Cho Method (See Page 430!)
2) World of Payne (co-created by Tom Sniegoski).
3) Skybourne Book 1: Dragon Lines
4) Fight Girls
5) Jungle Queen
6) Guns & Dinos
PREVIEWSworld: Can you tell us more about your new book, Drawing Beautiful Women: The Frank Cho Method?
Frank Cho: It’s an art instruction book that I've been thinking about creating for years.
I've been doing my free female figure drawing class at the San Jose Big Wow Comic Fest every year, and I kept getting asked the same questions about drawing women.
So I decided to put all my advice, drawing tips and lessons, into one book for everyone to see.
My buddy and publisher, John Fleskes of Flesk Publications, has been wonderful putting this book together, making the whole thing classier and better with his insights.
PREVIEWSworld: Do you have a schedule that you stick to? Do you do full pencils or breakdown and finish at the inking stage?
Frank Cho: I have no real schedule. I wake up, and then write and draw until I'm too tired. I'm essentially a workaholic; I basically work 12-hour days with several breaks throughout the day, 7 days a week. As for my drawing, I don't do tight pencils because I'm the only one who inks my stuff, so my pencils are fairly rough and I do my finishes during the inking stage.
PREVIEWSworld: You are known as a “good girl” artist. Does that limit you or make you want to show your range in other jobs?
Frank Cho: No, it doesn't limit me in any way. It actually helps me. People hire me for my female drawings but are often surprised by my range and command of various styles, and handling of different subjects and techniques. They are happy to get more than a mere "good girl" artist. My buddies call me a “triple-threat” in that I run my own cottage industry — I write, draw and paint my own projects.
PREVIEWSworld: Who are your influences? What did you learn from them?
Frank Cho: My influences are all over the map. I tend to gravitate toward artists with classic aesthetics and ideal of beauty. Here are some of my influences:
Drawing: Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, John Buscema, Don Newton, Franklin Booth, Alphonse Mucha.
Painting: John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell, John William Waterhouse, Gustav Klimt, and most of the 19th century academy painters.
Cartoons: Walt Kelly, Wally Wood, Berke Breathed.
PREVIEWSworld: What titles are you currently reading?
Frank Cho: Due to my workload, my comic reading has been drastically cut back. But these are the books that I do read regularly:
Manhattan Projects Volume 1 (JUN120470) by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. This is by far my favorite book of the year, and Jonathan Hickman is my favorite writer currently in business. His story and ideas are so clever, insane and entertaining! Manhattan Projects is one of those books where I have no idea where it's going, but I know it's going to be fun.
Rachel Rising Volume 1 (JAN120780) by Terry Moore. This book caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it but Terry created a truly creepy and off-center horror soap opera book. A fun read!
Invincible Compendium Voilume 1 (JUN110511) by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley. One of my perennial favorites! Fast-paced, fun and violent, Robert's story reminds me of the old-fashioned superhero stories that I grew up with, but with a modern twist. Ryan's artwork simply gets better and better — it's intense and energetic.
Day Men Volume 1 (MAY141152) by Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson and Brian Stelfreeze. Clever and offbeat vampire story with gray characters in a rich colorful world. I'm liking what I've read so far!