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Tag Archive: Frank Cho


Ryan Sook Futures End cover 1    Ryan Sook Futures End 14 cover August 2014 release

We’ve delved into some great cover artists at borg.com in the past three years, from Alex Ross to Mauro Cascioli to Frank Cho and Mike Mayhew.  With his cover run on the DC Comics New 52 series Futures End, Ryan Sook is the artist you just can’t miss these days.  His cover for Issue #14 (above right) of Futures End is being solicited for August 2014 already, and it showcases several styles.  If you take a look back over the past few years you can see one of the best artists around developing his style and craft, putting his mark on the covers of some great comic book series.

You can see Sook as the cover artist of choice to start up several new series with the number one issue out of the gates, for series including Robotika (2005), Giant-Size Hulk (2006), Friday the 13th (2007), Batman and the Outsiders (2007), Death of the New Gods (2007), Countdown Specials, Countdown Presents and DC Universe Specials (2008 and 2011), Broken Trinity: Aftermath (2009), Blackest Night: Wonder Woman (2010), JSA All Stars (2010), The Magdalena (2010), B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth series (2011-2013), Victorian Undead II (2011), DC Universe Online: Legends (2011), Kirby: Genesis (2011), Justice League Dark (2011), Lord of the Jungle (2011), Rose & Thorn (2012), Sword of Sorcery (2012), and The New 52 Futures End (2014).

Sook is able to render men and women superheroes equally well, yet his women really stand out.  Here’s his Wonder Woman, showcased in the Blackest Night series:

Ryan Sook  Blackest Night Wonder Woman 1 cover    Ryan Sook Blackest Night Wonder Woman 2 cover

Less stylized than Cliff Chiang’s current angular Wonder Woman look, Sook may have created a modern twist on the definitive look of the classic character for other artists to emulate.

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BigTrouble_01_coverA   Frank Cho color Big Trouble cover

Who would have thought that a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China would look a lot like Clint Eastwood’s Every Which Way But Loose?  Actually it makes sense.  Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe had his big rig and his trusty companion orangutan Clyde.  Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton also has his own big rig, and in Issue #1 of BOOM! Studios new monthly comic book series Big Trouble in Little China, he brings along his own slobbery companion for John Carpenter’s 1980s trip back through Chinatown.

BigTrouble_01_coverC   Qk.Template90.Cvr.rev

Or maybe this is more like Han Solo and Chewbacca?  Or the 1980s Flash Gordon movie?  Whatever it is, it’s crazy fun, and Kurt Russell hasn’t looked this good since, well, since his Big Trouble in Little China.  Will Kim Cattrall’s Gracie Law make an appearance?  James Hong’s Lo Pan make a visit from the other side?

You’ll just have to check out the series to find out.  And keep an eye out for a whopping FOURTEEN cover variants for this issue, including covers by Frank Cho and Adam Hughes.

Gabriel Hardman Big Trouble part 2Gabriel Hardman Big Trouble cover

After the break check out a preview of Issue #1 courtesy of BOOM! Studios:

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Black-Widow-5-by-Phil-Noto

In the same way that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series took us by surprise as the best new series of 2012 (and hasn’t let up in 2014), Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow monthly comic book series is proving to be at the top of the 2014 titles.  Strange that the duo of Hawkeye and Black Widow is well-known to be a second tier partnership within the Avengers, yet they are the stars of some of the best monthlies the Marvel universe has to offer.

The Black Widow series follows Natasha Romanova and her attempt to atone for her past sins as a mercenary, assassin, general all-around “bad guy.”  She selects missions these days very carefully.  Her goal is making money but not hurting anyone in the process.  And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing in her plans is about profit-taking.

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That doesn’t mean she won’t be tapped for S.H.I.E.L.D. or Avengers projects from time to time.  Former agent and now director Maria Hill (who you’ll recall is played by Cobie Smulders in the live-action Marvel universe) brings her in on a few missions.  They make a great team.  Edmondson has a great feel for Romanova.  In the same way Fraction was able to show the personal side of Hawkeye, Edmondson scratches the surface of what makes this lethal heroine tick, but her character shows great depth.  Yet as she says at the beginning of her series “my full story will never be told”.

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Savage-Wolverine_1

If someone gave you the brass ring, let you write and draw your own comic book series, including combining your favorite characters and places, and heck, even an image of yourself and your college roommate, what would you do?  If you were that lucky you might put something together like Savage Wolverine So many components of Issue #1-5 of this year’s new series screamed “win” that it’s no wonder Marvel kept charging ahead with the monthly series after Frank Cho’s initial story arc.

Frank Cho is of course the biggest reason to check out the new hardcover and trade paperback edition now on newsstands.  Cho is simply the best at rendering women and dinosaurs and guns and bringing them all together.  And while we’re all still anxiously awaiting the long-delayed Guns & Dinos series that was supposed to land in 2011 (where the heck is that anyway?), Cho is forgiven as this is the next best thing.

Savage Wolverine Cho art

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Ghost 1 cover

If you’ve read Dark Horse Presents or past mini-series featuring Elisa Cameron aka the Ghost, then you’ll likely say “it’s about time”.  We thought Ghost deserved her own monthly series months ago when we reviewed here at borg.com Issue #1 of last year’s Ghost limited series back in October 2012.  Now previous Ghost writer (not ghost writer) Kelly Sue DeConnick, who has proven she knows this character well, is partnering with writer Chris Sebela, and they are teaming up with the awesome artistry of Ryan Sook to carry Elisa’s story forward.

Elisa is back with her two male investigator friends as she tries to learn more about her past, before she became part of the spirit world.  Dr. October will return to the series, too.  DeConnick wastes no time plunging Elisa into battle with the demon world.  Will she reclaim her memory?  DeConnick creates an easy-going story that will allow readers old and new easy access to the three main characters, mixing the light-hearted with the dramatic.

Like Phil Noto’s beautiful renderings in the mini-series, Ryan Sook’s equally lush characters and landscapes will make the new series a must-read for fans of his work.  Where Noto’s pencil work leaned toward the Adam Hughes camp, Sook’s Ghost could be interchangeable with Frank Cho’s pencil work.  This means that along with DeConnick’s compelling story telling, as with the mini-series you’re in for an equally great looking book.

Check out this preview of Ghost Issue #1 courtesy of Dark Horse Comics:

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borg dot com benchmark logo tape

We kicked off borg.com as a way to catch up on entertainment news, books and movies back on June 10, 2011.  We’ve posted what’s new each day to provide “your daily science fiction, fantasy, and entertainment fix” for two years now and continue to forge ahead as we tick past our 800,000th view by readers today.

We want to say thanks to you for reading.  It’s a lot of fun (and hard work) keeping up on all the great genre entertainment out there, be it on TV, in theaters, in books, or comics.  We also want to thank all the comic book publishers out there that provide us with preview review copies, as well as book publishers and TV and movie studios and collectible companies that allow us to give you first available previews and reviews.  We cover only what we’re interested in and excited about–we figure that if we like it, so might you.

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Some of the most fun we’ve had is meeting new people as we keep up on the coolest happenings in the genre realm, some at conventions, some are friends we are grateful to chat with each week of the year.  And lucky for us, borg.com has allowed us to meet some of our own favorite celebrities over the past two years, sci-fi stars like Mark Hamill, Joss Whedon, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Anthony Stewart Head, Scott Bakula, Adam Baldwin, Lindsay Wagner, Saul Rubinek, Zachary Levi, Eddie McClintock, Wil Wheaton, and Mark Sheppard.  Sci-fi and fantasy writers like Peter S. Beagle, Connie Willis, James Blaylock, and Sharon Shinn.  And comic book creators like Frank Cho, Jim Lee, Sergio Aragones, Neal Adams, and Howard Chaykin, and scores of other great comics creators like Mike Mayhew, Mike Norton, Michael Golden and Mikel Janin (and several not named Mike).

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Cho Savage Wolverine Banner

Marvel Comics, under its new Marvel NOW! brand, released Savage Wolverine #1 Wednesday, Frank Cho’s new writer/artist project.  And it’s everything you want it to be.  Better yet, it might as well be titled Shanna and Wolverine.

My wager is that, if there were enough artists that drew Shanna like Cho, you could have as many Shanna titles at Marvel as DC Comics has Batman titles.  Savage Wolverine definitely is a Wolverine book, but it wouldn’t be a Frank Cho series without one or more beautiful, spirited women, and of course, dinosaurs.  And it has all that.  So even though it isn’t the long-overdue, eagerly-awaited Guns & Dinos, it might as well be, sans guns and armored tanks.

Savage Wolverine 1 cover

As for the Wolverine angle, because issue #1 was also written by Cho, we get to see some of Cho’s humor come through in Logan/Wolverine’s dialogue, humor we haven’t been able to see in a Cho series in a while.  And this humor includes an appearance, albeit short-lived, by none other than Cho’s old pal Mike McSwiggin, well-known to avid Frank Cho fans, this time as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.  What I would do to be mentioned in a Frank Cho book…

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By C.J. Bunce

You can spend your weekend at Comic-Con wandering the exhibit floor looking for mass market collectibles, talking with dealers of original art, talking with writers and artists of current and classic comic books, attend panels and see comic and other creators, TV and movie stars and get the low-down on coming projects, go offsite for parties and studio and publisher events–the biggest problem is doing all you want when there is nowhere close to enough time to do it in.  If you’re in for only a few days, you really have to pick up your pace and narrow down what you want to see.  Since I spent a whole day in panels and did not stay for the entire weekend, any encounters I had with creators and studio celebrities were pretty much based on happenstance this year.  Many creators are now friends, others I gawk at like everyone else from afar.  So who did I see?

First of all, in panels I saw the cast of Community, Firefly, and the new series Arrow, including guys I’d love to talk in person someday–Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel from Bones, and the guy you may know as Bud from Married with Children, David Faustino, who is doing voice work now for Nickelodeon, and he voiced the character Mako as part of the Legends of Korra panel.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, waiting in line allowed me to meet and get a photo with Joss Whedon.

The Soup host Joel McHale, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, former Angel star David Boreanaz and Korra’s David Faustino really stood out as funny guys in these panels–surprisingly quick-witted people who got the crowd cheering with everything they said.

I saw the main cast of the Syfy Channel series Haven during their signing session.  They really looked like they were having a good time–like they really get along with each other.  Also signing in the Sails Pavilion were Richard Anderson, who was the classic character Oscar Goldman from one of borg.com’s favorite borg shows: The Six Million Dollar Man, and Cindy Morgan from the original Tron and Caddyshack.  I hoped to run into Bruce Boxleitner, JK Woodward and Scott and David Tipton but my panel schedule caused me to miss meeting them.

On the exhibit floor I watched Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) talk with fans and sign autographs.

Arnold Schwartzenegger was coming into the hall and I staked out a photo op location but his handlers moved him out of the hall so I missed seeing him.

As a Star Trek fan, I was very happy to finally meet and have a nice conversation with Brent Spiner.  He was a great guy who was as nice in person as you’d hope him to be from years of watching his lovable character Data.  I also had a brief chat at day’s end with Levar Burton, also a friendly guy, signing photos of Geordi LaForge for fans.  I’d met Marina Sirtis before so I didn’t chat with her this round, but she was also signing Counselor Deanna Troi photos in the hall.

Earlier this year I reviewed Table Top, a new, fun Web series hosted by Wil Wheaton with the Geek and Sundry creators.  I met him near a Starbucks and shared my feedback with him on his show.  We talked about some of the games and he graciously introduced me to his wife and friends.

Wheaton is truly “one of us” and a really personable guy.  Of everyone at the Con, he is probably my first pick of someone you’d like to wander the Con halls and chat with.  Another show host, Blair Butler was attending the Con from the popular genre cable channel G4.

Of the comic book realm, I met Cat Skaggs, a well-known comic book artist who was signing cover prints to Smallville Season 11 #1 and she sketched a great Green Arrow bust for me.

I also met Neal Adams–a comic book legend who created the look of the Silver Age Green Arrow and I finally was able to add one of his sketches to my folio.  Neal was sketching non-stop for fans just like the newer, younger artists in Artist Alley–a real “working artist” even after all these years.

I ran into my friend Freddie Williams II also, and he also was busy sketching for fans throughout the Con and selling original art from his various DC Comics series.

David Petersen, known best for his Mouse Guard work, was working on commissions for attendees and selling shirts and art at his booth in Artist Alley.  I also lucked into getting a sketch from him and enjoyed talking with his wife, who manned the booth when he was doing signings elsewhere.

I ran into Frank Cho again this year and he said he is still expecting to get Guns & Dinos out soon.  He was selling a great pin-up calendar featuring Brandy and the Liberty Meadows gang.  More on that in future posts.  A nominee for the Eisner in two categories this year, Rachel Rising creator Terry Moore was busy talking with fans.

As with last year, Jim Lee could be found at several panels and signing throughout Comic-Con.

As with Freddie Williams, I met up with several folks from back in the Midwest.  I ran into artist Ande Parks and met his wife, while hanging with Sean and William from Elite Comics and Chris Jackson who runs Planet Comicon.  Parks was chatting with his frequent cover artist Francesco Francavilla, this year’s Eisner cover artist of the year winner, and someone we have talked about here at borg.com all year long for his great cover art.  I ran into Star Trek author Kevin Dilmore twice on the exhibit floor–my third year seeing Kevin at the Con.  It’s crazy how you can be in your hometown and never run into anyone, and then fly to San Diego and see so many people from back home.

Review by C.J. Bunce

As Navin Johnson said, “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!”

OK, not a phone book, but something much better.  Pretty much on schedule, Frank Cho’s new hardcover Liberty Meadows: The Collected Sundays Book One has been released and it is a great collection of early Frank Cho art and humor.  You can find it at comic book stores, but I have not seen it released elsewhere yet.  As you might know from reading past reviews at borg.com, the world can always use more Frank Cho art.  What you might not know is how brilliantly funny Cho is at writing quick-witted, humorous shorts.

His very best humor can be found in University², and now in this compilation that collects Cho’s college newspaper strips while he was in nursing school.  Some of the best laugh out loud humor around is in that book.

So how is this new compilation?  It’s the kind of humor you used to get from the Sunday funnies.  So it has the feel of a toned down version of University².  After all, these appeared alongside Cathy and Peanuts and Family Circus (in one strip a character practically reaches across the newsprint to take on Cathy Guisewite’s character Cathy from the comic strip of the same name).

It’s definitely cute, slightly irreverent, and just plain good humor that was perfected and refined in the later Liberty Meadows comic book series, where Cho’s writing, and art, really shined.  You’ll find Brandy and Frank and the animal crew here as well as stories you might compare to early Charles Schultz strips.  And interspersed are pieces of true fine art–days when Frank got new pens he would draw Brandy as a modern Pre-Raphaelite lounging on a fainting couch or resisting the affections of Frank’s own representation–a funny monkey.

As format is concerned this bright and shiny hardcover edition is big and pretty.  The interior design has one negative: The pages open with a giant “Strip 001″, etc. legend to the left of each two-page spread, taking up a strangely large amount of space.  As a reader you wonder whether this could have been avoided with a slightly larger but thinner paged-volume.

The interior design quirk aside, the content is what you’d expect from Cho and will stand nicely along with your Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts hardcovers on your bookshelf.  Look for an excellent forward by Cho’s college friend, Mike McSwiggin, too.

Liberty Meadows: The Collected Sundays Book One is available in bookstores with a publication price of $24.99, (pretty cheap considering DC’s trade paperbacks sell at that price), and a discounted version is available online (and still at the discounted pre-order price as of June 27, 2012).

If you have spent much time at all chatting it up with comic book writers or editors at comic conventions, you have probably heard several mentions of the phrase “creator-owned comic” or “creator-owned project.”  The conversation usually goes like this:

Fanboy: Hey, Awesome Comic Book Creator, what are you working on?

Awesome Comic Book Creator: I am working on a big project right now featuring Huge Comic Character for [insert DC Comics or Marvel here].  [And then they look like they are pondering something deeply as they say:] I am also working on a creator-owned project that I have had in the works for several years.

It was Frank Cho last year at Comic-Con who let us in on a project he had been thinking about for years:  Guns & Dinos, a project he said he had been thinking about ever since an image came to him of an archaeologist discovering an arm with a modern gun in a dig along side a dinosaur.  Guns & Dinos (yet to be released) is a creator-owned project he was trying to generate interest in.

Hitting the stores this month was a new book with an odd title: Creator-Owned Heroes #1.  It’s a collaborative new ongoing book between writing partners Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (who are at the top of my favorite comic writers right now with their All-Star Western series), Steve Niles, Kevin Mellon, and Phil Noto.  The point?  Get away from big publishing house content and bring some diversity into comics–stories you might not see reaching readers from the big houses.

The book features two eleven page stories that will have readers easily coming back next month.  It also has several interviews with the creators in the nature of “here’s what this is all about.”  It also includes photos of the creators with fans at conventions, an interview with a cosplayer who Palmiotti asked to create the costume of one of the stories, and an interview with Neil Gaiman.

The two stories were superb.  We’ll come back to those.

For the first issue of a new type of publication I didn’t have any issue with the interviews and explanations.  That said, I’d rather have more than 11 page stories or a third story for future issues.  $3.99 is a fine price but a comic sized magazine with columnists as opposed to news is not really something I think can last too long.  And I haven’t read much new from Gaiman in the last several interviews with him I’ve seen so that didn’t add much value for me.  I am interested in what these creators think, but are most comics readers readers who just want to read new stories or do they also care about the behind-the-scenes so much?

So back to what is great about this book–two very interesting stories.  First Palmiotti, Gray and Noto take on cool muscle cars in a dismal, futuristic world of survival in American Muscle.  Great title, great idea.  The dialogue is believable, the images make the reader feel the environment.  I just hope future issues focus let us in on the cars themselves (they probably can’t specify actual makes and models because of licensing reasons from the auto dealers).   Niles and Mellon give us one part Leeloo Dallas, one part human-Cylon, one part David 8, one part la femme Nikita, and one part Ultraviolet in their Trigger Girl 6.   That actually should give you all you need to decide whether to check out this one.  I’ll just say the pacing of the story was spot-on and the dialogue and art top-notch.  I also really liked the color choices in both stories.  If this is what creator-owned is, then give us more please.

The publisher of Creator-Owned Heroes is Image Comics.  I’ve always viewed Image as sort of a “fourth network” like Dark Horse and Dynamite.  I do wonder why Creator-Owned Heroes didn’t try something like Terry Moore and his Abstract Studios publishing company.  If you don’t make it big at the major publishing houses I would think Moore has created the model to make it big on your own.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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