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Tag Archive: Frank Cho


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 is known to be partners with Avengers missions.

This is the story of 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 good guys.  And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing for profit.

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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 (played by Cobie Smulders in the film series and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series) brings her in on a few missions in the pages of this new Black Widow series.  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 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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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

The producers of the Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art series of books will be holding a three-day convention in Kansas City in May, featuring some of the top American and international fantasy artists.

“Spectrum Fantastic Art Live!” will showcase 200 exhibitor booths featuring leading painters, sculptors, and digital illustrators, ongoing live art demonstrations, educational panels, guest interviews, a documentary film program, and portfolio reviews by art directors for Tor Books, DC Comics, Blizzard Entertainment, and other firms who will be scouting for new talent.

The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess

The five headliners for the show are Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy), Andrew Jones (Industrial Light and Magic, Nintendo), Ian McCaig (designer for Star Wars: Episode 1, Terminator 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Brom (World of Warcraft, Van Helsing, Galaxy Quest), and Phil Hale (world-renowned fine artist).

This is a rare opportunity for burgeoning artists and fans of fantasy art to interract with successful artists, illustrators and creators, including some of the people who have brought Batman, Harry Potter, Darth Maul, Conan the Barbarian, Alien, and John Carter of Mars to life on book covers, in comics, video games, and on TV and film.

Obi-Wan Kenobi by Dave Dorman

By advance sign-up, artists will be having portfolio reviews by talent scouts from various publishers, including Mark Chiarello (DC Comics), Irene Gallo (Tor Books), Jeremy Cranford (Blizzard Entertainment), Jon Schindehette (Wizards of the Coast), Lauren Panepinto (Orbit Books), Daren Bader (Rockstar Games), Zoë Robinson (Fantasy Flight Games), Sarah Robinson (Paizo Publishing), and Dawn Rivera-Ernster (Walt Disney Animation Studio).

Joan of Arc by Donato Giancola

The list of artists selected to appear in Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art Volume 19 will be announced at the awards ceremony at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri on May 19th, 2012 as part of the show, the first time.

Memberships are $20 for one day and $40 for all three days.  The event is focused on adult audiences, including artists and art retailers and distributors, however, anyone may attend the show, including panel discussions by the featured artists listed above, as well as Charles Vess, Gregory Manchess, and James Gurney.  Several films will screen during the event, including including Doctor Rossum’s Prodigal Son, the directorial debut of artist Frank Cho, who has work featured in the new Spectrum 19 book.  Artists selling works at the show include Donato Giancola (myriad works), Dave Dorman (Dark Empire), Julie Bell (Conan), and Craig Elliott (Hercules, Mulan) (all featured in the new Spectrum 19 book), as well as Boris Vallejo (myriad works), Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales), Gary Gianni (Batman: Black and White), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jason Palmer (Star Trek, Lost in Space), and hundreds more.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Another Sunday is here, and Easter at that.  (Happy Easter!)  When you think of laugh-out-loud Sunday funnies from years past you may think of The Far Side, Peanuts, or Calvin and Hobbes.  If you were lucky enough you may have read Frank Cho’s original Liberty Meadows strips.  If you weren’t so lucky, or if you just want to read them again (and you will), then we have good news:  Brandy the animal psychiatrist, Frank the veterinarian, Brandy’s roommate Jen, Evil Brandy from a mirror universe, Frank’s own alias Monkey Boy the chimp, Ralph the ex-circus bear, Frank the ex-frat house mascot pig, Leslie the hypochondriac frog, Truman the bowtie-wearing duck, Oscar the dachshund… all are returning soon to a bookstore near you.

Frank Cho announced on his website that he is releasing a two-volume set of books beginning this summer through Image Comics, reprinting all five years of the original Liberty Meadows Sunday newspaper strips. 

A preliminary cover draft by Frank Cho for the new Sunday strip collection.

First, in June, Liberty Meadows Sunday Collection Book 1 will collect year 1, 2 and 3 of the multi-award winning Liberty Meadows Sunday strips.  Frank says that half of these Sunday comic strips will be new to most readers since they were never reprinted after their initial newspaper publication.

Then by year end he will release Liberty Meadows Sunday Collection Book 2, collecting year 4 and year 5 of the Liberty Meadows Sunday strips.  Both volumes will include new material, too.

A variety of Frank Cho comic strips, including ones the syndicates censored, can be found at Frank's website, http://www.apesandbabes.com.

Not only is Frank Cho’s art from early in his career every bit as superb as his current work, his strips were as funny as any humor you’ve ever read.  You will laugh out loud, and if you drink or eat while you read, just be careful, as his humor is abrupt, and comes out of nowhere, and things may involuntary shoot from your nose.  Gross, I know, but I also know this from past experience.  You’ve been warned.  And you must share these strips with others or they may be annoyed, asking you “what are you laughing about?”

At Amazon.com Liberty Meadows Sunday Collection Book 1 appears that it will have a $24.99 release price available in a nice 160-page hardcover edition, however, pre-orders are available now at a significantly reduced price.

Expect some great art by Frank Cho in his new 2013 calendar, with pinups like this drawing the artist created last summer.

Along with several other projects expected this year, like the eagerly awaited Guns & Dinos first previewed here last year at Comic-Con, if you will be attending the San Jose Big Wow Comic Art Fest in May, Frank will be selling a limited supply of a new 2013 Liberty Meadows Pinup Calendar.

But while you are waiting for these new collections, Frank Cho’s original daily comic strips are available in previously released editions, each as hysterically funny as the other:

Liberty Meadows: Book One, Eden (v. 1)

Liberty Meadows: Book Two, Creature Comforts (v. 2)

Liberty Meadows Volume 3: Summer Of Love (New Printing) (v. 3)

Liberty Meadows Volume 4: Cold, Cold Heart (v. 4)

Liberty Meadows: Cover Girl  (reprints all the Liberty Meadows series covers)

And for some even earlier Frank Cho humor, check out his this edition:

University Squared: The Angry Years

 C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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