Finding Frank Frazetta's Freedom

Frank Frazetta's Freedom

Frazetta Comics spreads it wings a bit in March and brings in the second one shot installment following Frazetta’s Moon Maid in January - labeled as Frazetta Comics’ first “Frazetta Western” Frank Frazetta’s Freedom pulls no punches.

Mark Kidwell (Frank Frazetta’s Dark Kingdom, BUMP) comes back to script this classic Western tale, while John Cboins (Shadowline’s Graveslinger) illustrates.

“Kidwell came up with such a great story” Jay Fotos artist/editor to Frazetta Comics said. “When I first read it…it’s perfect! Even Frazetta himself commented how good it was, sure to be a hit! And John’s work fits perfectly. Having John on board really makes this book stand out and give the right look and feel.”

We had a chance to meet up with Mark Kidwell and John Cboins to get the inside scoop on what we can expect from Frank Frazetta’s Freedom.

Newsarama: Mark this is your second project with Frazetta Comics, after coming off of Frazetta’s Dark Kingdom with the Viking warrior Red Morden and with mostly working in the horror side of comics. How does jumping on a classic Western feel?

Freedom, page 1

Mark Kidwell: I grew up watching classic western films with my dad. We were junkies for all things John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and John Ford. Every Sunday, we’d get in at least one shoot-‘em-up, and I’ve been a rabid fan of the genre ever since. Having an opportunity to produce a Western/action script for Frazetta Comics is amazing and gives me a chance to spread my wings past horror and fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, horror and the dark stuff is my first love, but other genres like western, crime, noir, sword and sorcery, etc. are close seconds. There aren’t enough good Western stories being produced for comics or film right now and I’m happy to be able to provide some new material for fans like myself.

Several of my favorite authors hop across genre lines often, producing work in all of the aforementioned fictional spheres, so it just seems natural to me to move into those same areas. I’ve read Robert E. Howard’s Western tales, his boxing stories and his oriental adventure yarns and they’re just as entertaining as the Conan stuff. Also, Joe R. Lansdale, (a seasoned comics veteran now) has produced many Western or Western fusion tales that’ll knock your socks off. Genre skipping from horror to Western is a smooth transition with many of the basic story tropes the same. It puts a writer in good company.

Hell, maybe when we continue Dark Kingdom, I’ll give Morden a six-gun…

Freedom, page 12

NRAMA: John you’re pretty new to the comic scene, give us a little back-story about yourself. We mentioned Shadowline’s Graveslinger, are there any other projects out there that you have worked on?

John Cboins : I got my first shot at comics over ten years ago doing some inventory work for a Vertigo anthology series. Unfortunately that work got bumped in lieu of a more veteran artist so my stuff never saw the light of day. I spent the next decade or so making video games and have recently started illustrating again. Aside from Graveslinger, I have completed a short story titled “The Bounty Killers” for an anthology called Outlaw Territory for Image comics and several children’s books including Swiss Family Robinson and The Fox and The Grapes.

NRAMA: Fotos and the Frazettas see this book as an instant classic, give us your pitch, what can we expect?

MK: First off, let me thank Jay and Mr. Frazetta for the props on the Freedom script. It’s always incredible to hear folks you respect highly in the industry praise your work. It pushes you to do greater things and I appreciate it.

Freedom is a mixed bag; incorporating many of the things I (and hopefully, other western fans) love about the genre. At its core, it exposes some of the truths behind the wild and exaggerated stories that appeared in the famous Dime Novels of the day, in which gunfighters and outlaws were raised to superhuman levels of skill, brutality and ability with a gun. It introduces Mr. Aloysius Pendrake, a famed writer of said penny-dreadfuls and his protégé’ (and meal ticket) Flash Feeney aka The Freedom Kid. Together, the two ride the west from boomtown to cow town, filling the air with hot lead and filling cheaply printed booklets with tall tales. Arriving in the untamed streets of Deadwood three months after the heinous murder of legendary gunfighter Wild Bill Hickock, the unlikely pair encounter more than they bargained for as truth catches up to the fiction.

Freedom, page 15

There’s a lot for western and comics fans in general to like in Freedom. The story utilizes many aspects of famous films and novels from the genre, from the violent action and rough environments of Sam Peckinpah’s films to the factual events surrounding the period and year in which the story takes place. The script is peppered with real events, blazing gunplay and even a bit of gallows humor. It ain’t your daddy’s Western (or mine either, come to think of it.)

NRAMA: John, your style is pretty unique, give us the process on how you approach doing your art, from first reading the script to the finished page.

JC: I try to read the script once through first without thinking about camera angles or composition or anything like that: just once to absorb it purely as a fan of comics. Then I read it again and make all my notes and whatnot. Then it’s rough thumbnails, feedback from Jay, and then pencils. I˙ve gotten into the habit of penciling each panel on it˙s own page. It gives me a lot of room to work but it takes way more time to scan them all in and piece them together. I used to drag out all my paints and go the traditional route but I admit I love the ease of painting on the computer so that’s what I do now. I like to keep each step of the process as fast as possible.

NRAMA: From what we hear you have other projects in the works, what else can we expect to see from you in the future?

MK: Yeah, my wife and I used to enjoy building a fire in the fireplace at our house, but now there are too many darned irons in there. There’s a lot goin’ on, thanks for askin’.

The BUMP movie thing is still rolling along, and I’m polishing dialogue and other aspects of the screenplay. I finished another screenplay recently, a western/crime hybrid thing that’s just chock-full of violence, and it’s makin’ the rounds to a few studios. I’m doing interviews, short prose fiction pieces and book review stuff over at, working with Scott Licina and James Zahn there. They’re great guys and if ya like horror, the site is amazing. I’m producing a couple of new things with Jay for Frazetta Comics-hush-hush kinda stuff for now and have a couple of creator-owned things I’m noodling with.

Freedom, page 22

I also just completed the 362-page novelization of my Fangoria Comix mini-series, BUMP. It’s in the hands of some editors and proof-readers as of right now and once the final polish is done, it’ll hit bookstores and the web sometime early in the first quarter of this new, shiny year. Writing a novel is something I’ve always wanted to do, and it was a lot of fun (and a lot of work). I’ve got several more in mind and plan to sit down and get started on my second book soon.

Other than that, I’ve just been going to the dentist and screaming a lot.

In 2009 Frazetta Comics plans to release a number of Frazetta-inspired projects, announced thus far (with more to be announced soon) are Frank Frazetta’s Moon Maid, Freedom, Neanderthal, Sorcerer, Combat and Silver Warrior. You can visit the Frazetta Comics Forum at and for all the updates and previews.

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