While Frank Cho illustrates some of the most beautiful women in modern comics, he also has a penchant for drawing inhumanely cute anthropomorphic animals, ultra-realistic dinosaurs, and well, bodacious jungle babes…
Now think of all of those things with a “Marvel” on the front, as Cho has signed a three-year exclusive agreement with Marvel.
He first signed with Marvel in 2002 to work on Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel’s MAX imprint. He then entered into another agreement in 2004, renewed it in 2005 where he worked on New Avengers and helped launched Mighty Avengers with Brian Bendis.
In recent months, he’s drawn an eight-page She-Hulk/Red Hulk slugfest in King-Size Hulk.
Look for more Hulk action in the coming months as well as another new, top-secret project with Jeph Loeb (Ultimates 3.5 following Ultimatum) and two possible projects involving three of Marvel’s top female characters?
Newsarama: Since completing your stint on Mighty Avengers, you went on to illustrate King-Size Hulk, right? At what point did this three-year exclusive arrangement with Marvel come about?
Frank Cho: My exclusive contract with Marvel ran out in March and Marvel was happy with my work on their characters, so they offered me another exclusive contract when the old contract ran out. It’s funny, I was in talks with DC Comics to do a prestige Wonder Woman/Power Girl/Supergirl team-up mini-series which I was going to draw and co-write with my good friend Jimmy Palmiotti, but Marvel came around with an incredible offer that I couldn’t refuse.
NRAMA: What's the draw (no pun intended) for you this time?
FC: Jeph Loeb. It’s all Jeph Loeb. He’s such a joy to work with. Jeph’s the primary reason why I re-upped with Marvel. Him and the freedom to work on any Marvel characters I wish with minimum editorial interference.
NRAMA: Also, what's it like to be teaming up with Art Adams on King-Size Hulk and now, three issues of Hulk?
FC: It’s fantastic. I’ve always been a big fan of Arthur despite his orange beard. He draws one of the coolest Hulks I’ve seen. Sharing book credits with Arthur and Jeph Loeb is one of the high points of my comic career.
NRAMA: Did you have a chance to learn from the creator of Monkeyman and O'Brien? How does the collaboration work?
FC: I learned never to stand next to him during photo ops. Arthur’s tall as hell. He’s like 9’3”. I swear. If you took a picture of us, it’ll be like Gandalf and Frodo. Arthur and I are doing Hulk (issues #7, #8 and #9). He and I are splitting the book. He does the first 11 pages and I do the last 11 pages of each issue. It’s been fun watching his pages as they come in.
NRAMA: Who else do you look forward to collaborate with from Marvel's stable of artists?
FC: Too many to name. I would definitely like to share a book with Bryan Hitch and my buddy, Brandon Peterson.
NRAMA: The last time you were exclusive, you managed to complete seven issues of Shanna the She-Devil, two issues of New Avengers, and six issues of Mighty Avengers, right? That's 15 issues, excluding covers here and there. How many do you intend to do this time around?
FC: That’s a loaded question. On top of the Marvel work listed above during my tenure at Marvel Comics, I’ve worked on various Liberty Meadows film treatments, Liberty Meadows statues and collection books, co-created Jungle Girl with Doug Murray, worked on a special Hong Kong project, finished several oil paintings, four sketchbooks, one art book, wrote and drew Zombie King and its film treatment, launched a new website (www.apesandbabes.com), drew a whole line of Hasbro toy box art, and financed, produced and directed a short horror movie. Plus I had two beautiful daughters.
I’m hoping to do just as much work under my new Marvel contract if it’s possible.
NRAMA: And what might some of the new projects be, Frank? At the very least, provide us with a tease/wish list...?
FC: Jeph Loeb, Marvel and I have discussed and agreed our next project together after my Hulk run. I’m very excited about it. Jeph is definitely playing to my artistic strengths with this upcoming project. Afterward, Jeph and I have various ideas percolating.
Also, I’m finishing up my stint as the Conan cover artist at Dark Horse, pitching Zombie King as a movie to investors, launching the second Jungle Girl mini-series with Doug Murray at Dynamite Entertainment and doing couple of movie posters for independent studios.
NRAMA: Do you hope to collaborate with Bendis again?
FC: I hope so. Brian is a fantastic and dramatic writer.
NRAMA: Frank, deadlines on monthly work and you have often had a antagonistic relationship. How do you intend, this time around, to ensure that you meet all your deadlines? Have you been stockpiling issues, working ahead on completing a number of issues already? Last year, when we spoke about your decision to bid farewell to Marvel, you said you weren't happy with what you'd achieved and that you weren't "fast enough"... You also cited having too much to draw and mismanagement of time as two of major challenges that you'd faced...
FC: All those issues have been addressed and resolved. We’re stockpiling art as we speak. No more monthly books for me. Just mini-series and special graphic novels.
NRAMA: Are you hoping to write some of the upcoming projects at Marvel as well?
FC: Yes, definitely. I have a Black Cat/Spiderwoman story that I’ve been batting around, and a cool Black Widow/Man-Thing idea, too.
NRAMA: Say, aren’t you supposed to be working on the Mighty Avengers Annual? Whatever became of that project?
FC: Brian Bendis is swamped with Secret invasion and writing countless Marvel books [Newsarama Note: Besides Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Origins, there’s also Secret Warriors with co-writer Jonathan Hickman and Spider-Woman]. Once he comes up for air, we’ll talk and see what the status is.
NRAMA: Also, wasn't there supposed to be a hardcover edition of the Shanna series that'll include your original, uncensored pages?
FC: Uncensored Shanna MAX has been green-lighted and budgeted. Marvel’s just waiting on me. To be honest, I want to take my time on this.
NRAMA: You also said that you were hoping and planning on launching various projects as a writer and writer-artist. "Some long term and some short term... First is a daily humor web-strip that I'm co-writing with Aaron Williams and I'll be illustrating... Second project is called Dragon Line, a fantasy story that I'm writing and drawing. It's going to be a mini-series." How will those two as well as a third project that'll follow the first two be affected by your decision to go exclusive with Marvel now?
FC: Dragon Line and Glory Rose both have been pushed back due to my new commitments with Marvel. I’ve started work on both. Aaron Williams and I have written about 70 strips for Glory Rose. I’ve been drawing a panel here and there for Glory Rose. Once we have 100 strips done, we’re going to launch it as a daily web strip, free from censorship and editorial control. I’ve drawn about five pages of Dragon Line which Image Comics is patiently waiting for. I’m hoping to debut both early next year.
NRAMA: Wrapping things up, one question that we asked you the last time you signed an exclusive with Marvel and we’ll ask you again this time. What does it mean for Brandy and the Liberty Meadows gang?
FC: The contract has been signed and sealed. Watch for a big announcement soon.
NRAMA: Is Liberty Meadows moving to Marvel’s ICON line?
FC: No. Liberty Meadows will always stay at Image as long as Erik Larsen is the publisher.
NRAMA: Um, Frank, Erik Larsen has stepped down as publisher and Eric Stephenson is now in charge... Anything else that you wanna say?
FC: What? Erik’s gone? Screw this I’m outta here... Heh. Heh. I’m just playing around. I knew Erik stepped down after Heroes Con. He talked about wanting to go back to writing and drawing full time and who can blame him? I think Image is safe under Eric Stephenson’s leadership. And Liberty Meadows will always be at Image.