What would you get if you combined Star Trek, Quantum Leap with a healthy dose of Wally Wood space girls?
According to famed cartoonist Frank Cho, it’d be his upcoming series 50-Girls-50. In this series, Cho has teamed up with veteran comics writer Doug Murray (’Nam) to pen this “babes-in-space” concept. The book was announced at 2009’s Comic-Con International, but it was missing one big piece – an artist. Although Cho is more than capable of drawing this all-female space adventure, he’s booked up for years to come on such titles as Marvel’s Ultimates, so with more ideas than time to do them he sought a solution to prevent this idea from staying on the backburner.
That’s where last year’s competition came in. Cho and Murray put out a call for artists to draw several script pages of the book utilizing character designs provided by Cho. After 148 submissions and two rounds – including a last minute additional assignment to break a potential tie, the pair of comics veteran found their artist in Mexican artist Axel Medellin.
“It’s been surreal,” said Medellin. “I’ve never won a contest in my life before 2009; not a drawing contest, not a spelling one, not even a pie-eating one. And this year my webcomic Earthbuilders won the Zuda contest and then I won the chance to draw Frank Cho and Doug Murray’s 50-Girls-50. I worked tremendously hard on both contests, and on both of them the competition was tremendous, and the contenders had amazing talent. I got shocked seeing several submissions, thinking I hadn't done good enough work. On both contests the result was a really close call, and I'm giving my absolute best effort so I can live up to these responsibilities. I'm trying to make these series shine.”
Image has tentatively penciled in the series to begin Spring 2010 with a four issue story arc to start with a possibility to do more based on the fans’ reception. With the 50-Girls-50 artist competition over and a creative team in place, the next step was to begin the actual comic – and they’ve taken to making the book like fish to water.
“Axel has gelled really well with Frank and I,” said Murray.” At this point, he’s already done most of the first issues – inks as well. He draws girls really well – and fast,” laughs Murray,” so I’ve accelerated writing future issues to keep up with him.”
Cho and Murray have both talked on several occasions here at Newsarama.com about the details of the story, so we decided to let the newcomer – Axel Medellin – tell us more from his fresh perspective.
“It’s a fun story that combines the fast pace and eye candy of the best pulp adventures with some high concept science fiction,” explained the interior artist. “A space mission crewed by a special group of women is mankind’s best hope for finding new worlds with much-needed resources for back home on planet Earth. Each one of this all-female crew is the best in her particular field of knowledge, but all of their abilities combined may not be enough to cope with the alien menaces they’ll come in contact with.”
For more, we turned to Murray who will be doing the primary scripting for the series based on the initial ideas and back-and-forth with Cho. “Somewhere in the not-too-distant future, Earth is low on resources. They’ve mined nearby moons and asteroids, but getting out further is impossible. Although some sort of “star drive” is impossible, scientists do come up with a way to create a wormhole that allows you to go from one star to another. The catch is that it kills anybody inside the wormhole.”
Big catch. But there has to be a loophole for the wormhole, right?
“It’s discovered that a rare genetic three X sequence – as opposed to XX for women and XY for men – can go through a wormhole without dying. An interesting tidbit is that our first title for 50-Girls-50 was Triple X, but we thought it might be too much,” Murray laughs.
“Getting back on the subject, scientists discover there are fifty women on earth who have the three X chromosomes. The big plan was to create 10 starships and put a crew of five on each, and load it up like big rigs for exploration through the wormholes. They test it out with the flagship Savannah, sending an extra crewmember onboard. They successfully go through the wormhole, trade with locals in the extraterrestrial star system, and make their way back to Earth… only to find out they’re lost. The mechanics of travelling through a wormhole turn out to be more difficult than they thought,,, the wormholes are only one way.”
“The first storyline presents a series of different problems the girls must overcome. It’s kind of like a series of puzzles – with a lesson in each one with mathematics, physics and plain-old ingenuity involved to solve them. In many ways, it’s a true sci-fi story that’ll make people think.”
“And did we mention the book is full of gorgeous girls exploring alien planets?” added Medellin.
While drawing a bounty of beautiful women might be new territory for Medellin, it’s familiar ground for Frank Cho with work like Liberty Meadows and Shanna The She-Devil under his belt. So for Medellin to come in behind Cho to draw a comic dreamed up and adorned with covers by Cho might be a big task for anyone.
“No pressure here, right?,” Medellin laughs. “Just imagine, as I've told elsewhere, Frank is in my short list of favorite artists ever. It's a dream come true, it's also a bit overwhelming. I'm doing my best to stick as faithful to his designs as possible, without doing carbon-copies of them. No one draws women as him, so this is a huge responsibility, but his designs and rationales behind them are crystal-clear, so I can't say Frank and Doug Murray aren't making things easier for me. I think this is as big a challenge as I have ever found in my career, so I am giving it my best.”