For the last two-plus years, Frank Cho has been working on a dream project – designing, art-directing and co-plotting the adventures of Dynamite’s Jungle Girl. A throwback character, but at the same time thoroughly modern, Dynamite’s Jungle Girl (who also goes by the name Jana) lives in the (wait for it)….jungle, is a stunning beauty, and from issue to issue, wears as few clothes as possible. While the throwback nature of the character and the series, as well as the nods and homages to classic “jungle girl” stories over the decades may be lost on some, the book and character have found a loyal fanbase, and in June, those fans can get something to sit on their shelves beside the comics – the first Jungle Girl statue from Dynamite.
Designed by Cho and sculpted by Tom and Joy Snyder, the statue (7” wide, 8 ½” wide, 6” deep) re-creates Cho’s cover to Jungle Girl #1 from the initial 2007 miniseries.
We spoke with Cho about the statue, and his involvement in pulling Jungle Girl from the two dimensional pages into a full three dimensions.
Newsarama: Frank, creating Jungle Girl's look and style was your gig from the outset. So when it came time to get a look and design for the statue, did Nick [Barrucci, Dynamite President & Publisher] come a calling, or was this something already agreed upon from the start?
Frank Cho: It was something that we all planned from the start. Quite frankly, I wished we got the statue out sooner.
NRAMA: Start from the ground up here - the statue is roughly your cover to volume 1, #1. Why go with that design for the statue in the first place? Did you have other designs and poses that you were considering?
FC: It was Nick's call. I was slammed with work and didn't have the time to get heavily involved until later. Nick thought the image from the first cover would make a great statue.
NRAMA: How did you produce the design that was given to the sculptor? Was it a series of turnarounds on paper/computer, or do you do actual 3D modeling with your computer?
FC: It was a straight forward process. Nick hired Joy and Tom's Studio to sculpt the figure. I came in afterward to make sure everything was good. I asked for changes and tweaks as the sculpture progressed.
NRAMA: Going into the initial sculpt, what were your immediate concerns? What was essential that the sculptor had to nail from the very start?
FC: The overall "feel" and likeness. It's like building a house. If you don't get the foundation right, the house will suffer. We had some rough patches in the beginning from lack of communication on my part but we were able to overcome the problems as we moved forward and understood what I was looking for.
NRAMA: How did you decide upon the level of detail that made it into the final design? There's the macaw and the geckos...but where did you draw the line on how much to put in there?
FC: It's mostly a manufacturing call. I would have liked to have it done bigger and with more details but the economics of it discouraged it. But with the tight perimeters, Joy and Tom Studio did a fine job.
NRAMA: Also, when speaking of deciding how much to put in there - dude - you can see her butt. Was there any pushback on that design element, or was that set from the start?
FC: I really didn't think about it until I got the initial rough model. I noticed that her butt wasn't quite up to my standard. So I made sure the sculptor give some extra tender loving care on her butt and add some meat on her.
NRAMA: After you designed it, and the design was tweaked and approved, what was your involvement with it? How many more approvals did you have?
FC: It went through several approval stages. Lot of nights of pulling hair in frustration but at the end, Joy and Tom came through.
NRAMA: End of the day, is it something you're completely happy with, or does the artists' practice of always seeing their imperfections still apply - even after the design has been translated into three dimensions and sculpted by a third party?
FC: I think it came out great but I'm my own worst critic. There are elements in 3 dimensional form that you don't see in 2 dimensional form. I would have liked to toy with the clay myself and played around with different visuals, going beyond what was on paper. Maybe next time.