Frank Cho is returning to creator-owned comic books, but unlike Liberty Meadows there's no talking animals.
The upcoming Skybourne mashes up Arthurian lore with Biblical legend as the three immortal offspring of Lazarus fight over the fabled sword Excalibur with a villainous Merlin.
Trading off his recent work on Totally Awesome Hulk and Wonder Woman, Frank Cho's Skybourne is his first time writing and drawing a creator-owned work in over a decade. With the five-issue series scheduled to debut September 7, Newsarama talked with the artist about jumping back into his own stories, and the intricacies of turning these legends into his own story.
Newsarama: Frank, thanks for doing this. What can you tell us about Skybourne?
Frank Cho: Skybourne is a story that I've been thinking about for 10 years. It's a story of an immortal who's looking for a mystical weapon that can end his long life. It's a cross between Highlander and Indiana Jones with a dash of Cthulhu myth thrown in.
Nrama: Abraham, Thomas, Grace - who are they?
Cho: Lazarus after his miraculous resurrection fathered three children - three immortal children, Abraham, Thomas, and Grace. Besides longevity, each were blessed with super strength, impenetrable skin and invincibility. The main story revolves around Thomas Skybourne and Grace Skybourne.
They both work for an ancient company, The Mountain Top Foundation, funded by the Vatican. It's a secret organization that capture or destroy magical beasts and artifacts to protect the world and the Catholic dogma that magic doesn't exist. Thomas and Grace are essentially secret monster and relic hunters.
Nrama: Their father is Lazarus, from Biblical lore I presume. Where is he in all of this, and who is the mother?
Cho: That part of the lore I'm not touching right now. Instead, the main focus of the story is on Thomas and Grace's adventures.
Nrama: The solicits also mention the legend of King Arthur. How does that factor in here?
Cho: The magical sword that can kill the immortal Thomas (and Grace) is discovered and that sword is Excalibur. But someone else wants the Excalibur sword for a more sinister and genocidal purpose. And that someone is Merlin.
Nrama: Merlin's almost always been portrayed as a good guy. How'd the idea come for you to develop him as the antagonist of Skybourne?
Cho: Merlin, in this story, is Merlin from the original legends. Merlin is a child of nature who shuns people. Basically an old mystical hermit in the forest. I decided to make him a curmudgeon of the first order who wants to give the planet back to nature by wiping out mankind.
Nrama: You've been talking about Skybourne for years - what led you to do it at BOOM! Studios?
Cho: Ross Richie, Filip Sablik and I've been friends for years. I always wanted to do something with them at BOOM! Studios, but I was tied up with my Marvel work. Now that I'm free, I've felt and decided BOOM! Studios was the perfect home for Skybourne, my first creator-owned series since Liberty Meadows. Lucky for me, Ross and Filip felt the same way and have been very supportive from the start.
BOOM! Studios is officially launching Skybourne #1 at Baltimore Comic Con, my hometown show, on Labor Day weekend. Then Skybourne #1 will be released in all comic shops three days later.
Nrama: How much ahead are you in drawing the book, and how many issues do you plan for this to be?
Cho: Skybourne is a five-issue miniseries. I'm following the Mike Mignola's Hellboy model and planning on doing a new miniseries every year or two. Right now, I'm half done with issue #2 and started laying out issue #3.
Nrama: What are your big goals with Skybourne?
Cho: Well, I guess with a name like "Skybourne,” sky's the limit. I hope people enjoy Skybourne as much as I enjoyed writing and drawing it. And hopefully it transitions into other mediums outside comics.