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Tag Archive: Liberty Meadows


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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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).

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

First of all, there needs to be some ground rules when you tackle a “best of” list for someone as talented as Frank Cho.  With Alex Ross, we took his entire body of work and picked our 15 favorite images, whether from cover art, interior pages, or marketing pieces Ross painted.

But with Frank Cho, the world renowned artist known for his voluptuous women characters and funny and sarcastic animals, it was a bit harder to choose.  In particular, his work on Liberty Meadows, and before that, his hilarious college series University².  Cho’s drawings of Brandy and her animal friends are so expressive and fun that we think they beat out all his other work.  And we think Cho would approve–he told us this summer that he doesn’t sell any of his original Brandy pages.  We wouldn’t either!  You can see some of the Liberty Meadows covers behind Brandy in the image above from Cho’s great website, full of his blogging and galleries, apesandbabes.com.  If you don’t know Frank Cho’s comic strip-turned-comic book, we suggest you start with University², available in a compilation of comic strip humor called University Squared: The Angry Years that is my personal favorite.  Beyond that, Liberty Meadows is available via Image Comics in Liberty Meadows: Book One, Eden, Liberty Meadows: Book Two, Creature Comforts, Liberty Meadows: Book 3, Summer Of Love, and Liberty Meadows: Book Four, Cold, Cold HeartLiberty Meadows is about Brandy, a animal psychologist at an animal sanctuary/rehab clinic, her animal friends, and Frank, a veterinarian, who is in love with Brandy…but won’t tell her.  It is funny in the vein of Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, yet dramatic like Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise.

So before taking on a “best of” or “favorites list” for the other comic books series Cho has created covers for, could we select one Liberty Meadows piece that stands for them all?  We came up with this cover, with Brandy sporting her Beltsville shirt.  This image is classic Frank Cho.  But even this is sort of a cheat, since it is a cover to Cho’s Liberty Meadows: Cover Girl compilation book, as opposed to a regular series comic, but it is the cover Cho chose for the book on his own covers.  Hey, you try and pick the best from Liberty Meadows!

Oftentimes we think you can see his Liberty Meadows characters Brandy the brunette and Jen the blonde as the superheroes in the mainstream comics he draws.  They are fun to watch for.

It’s probably easier to discuss Cho’s best cover art by referring to each series he has drawn.  And we’ll focus here on just a dozen of his cover projects that blow us away.   You’re dealing with a body of work that includes Shanna the She-Devil, New Ultimates, Fear Itself, Schism, Ms. Marvel, Red Sonja, and New Avengers, and his many variant covers, which often eclipse the regular issue covers of other artists.

First up is his work with “dinosaurs, Nazis, guns and babes” in Shanna, the She-DevilThis cover to Issue 3 is a standout, with Shanna in about as much danger as a human in the Jurassic era can get into!  If you like this also check out his Jungle Girlseries, his Red Sonja series, and, coming soon, his Guns and Dinos.

A lot of Cho’s work has the feel of 1940s pin-ups.  This Dark Horse Comics Hellboy: Weird Tales, Vol. 2 cover image has a great retro look, and shows that, like Alex Ross, Cho gets to work with a variety of publishers’ star characters:

We only wish we’d see Cho take on more DC Comics characters!

Cho hasn’t come close to hitting his full stride yet, with some of his best work coming out in 2010 and 2011.  Check out these covers for the Ultimate Comics New Ultimates: Thor Reborn.  And his interior work is as good or better than the covers.  In fact, most of the cover work featured here reflects covers of books where Cho drew the interior art, too.  When you usually find a great cover but lesser art inside with other creators’ books, Cho’s books give you top illustrations, cover to cover.

   

Cho practically re-ignited Ms. Marvel through his drawings of this once minor Avenger.  Two covers with Ms. Marvel stand out:  the Mighty Avengers cover that was redone for the Irredeemable Ant-Man series, and this stunning cover for her own series:

  

The other Avenger Cho brought into the limelight was Spider-Woman, especially in this cover to New Avengers (left), yet check out this incredibly powerful image in the variant of Secret Invasion (right), with Cho showing his pre-Raphaelite influence:

 

Cho has said that his favorite superhero to draw is Spider-man.  Here he drew Spider-man in contrast to this dark, Gothic, seemingly medieval woodcut-inspired image in Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man, one of his best variant cover pieces:

  

The second piece above is the Scarlet Witch from Ultimates 3: Who Killed The Scarlet Witch? (v. 1), and it is just another example of a great Cho female character.

Right now on the shelves, Cho returns to his Gothic imagery with the Fear Itself: The Fearless series with these two incentive comic covers from one original grand Cho artwork.  Contrasted with his beautiful Valkyrie on the left is his self-described “fugly” character Sin, daughter of long-time Marvel villain, the Red Skull.  Good luck to whoever gets in the way of either of these women.  Doesn’t look like anyone will stand a chance against either of them.

 

Keeping with the angel theme, this early Witchblade shows another, earlier Cho style, likely influenced by the paintings of Maxfield Parrish:

Finally, to get the full effect of this next image, Cho’s magnum opus of X-Men in X-Men: Schism, you’ll need a wide screen.  In the alternative, click on each image to see how nicely done this new pentaptych is close-up.  Again, Cho’s work gets the exclusive variant edition status…those comics that don’t easily get into readers’ hands, unfortunately, because they are issued in limited numbers to comic shop owners as incentives.  But no doubt the trade edition will include these images not long from now.  Pretty hard to pick a favorite just from these five covers:

Although the most recent work isn’t out in trade versions yet, a lot is still on the shelves as individual issues (see links in the series names above to check out what is available).  Original prints of Cho’s work and other cool stuff is available at Cho’s website.

So… what do you think?  Any glaring omissions?

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

*All images posted above are owned by Frank Cho or the respective publishers listed above.

 

 

 

You could probably count on one hand successful comic strip writers that then move on to their own comic book titles and also become known for their powerhouse cover work.

I met Frank Cho at Comic-Con in 2008 and have never met a more mild-mannered artist at a Con.  I went all fanboy on the guy and he responded as a pretty humble guy.  Probably what you get when you thank someone “on behalf of a grateful nation and all men on planet Earth” for his work (or something like that).

Along with Terry Brooks of Echo and Strangers in Paradise fame, Frank Cho is among the best artists ever to draw one subject superbly: women.   But he also writes hysterically funny stories.  His compilation of his early comic characters featuring a pretty college student and her animal friends in University² The Angry Years!  is one of the only pass-out-from-laughing-too-hard books I have ever read.

DW and I caught up with Frank this year at the San Diego Comic-Con International and it was a real treat.  As I have found at Comic-Con, you can spend a lot of time with any of the creators on Artists Alley if you hang out there and drop by at the right time.  Even to see the best of the best.

 

I think we talked with Frank for well over half an hour, about his super feature in the Washington Post Magazine (he gave us his copy–talk about cool swag!), his gallery show in France, selling original art, moving into a new home from a cramped apartment, a sneak peak at his new Brutal comic book series with Image comics coming out next year, a pitch for a brand new series he’s been working on for years, and last but not least, that his rights to Liberty Meadows are now safely back in his hands so we may yet see more issues of that bestselling series.  And we could have chatted with Frank for the remainder of the Friday afternoon.

Frank said he was selling original art pages via a gallery in France, and lucky for us he had them under the table and let us flip through them–sci-fi chicks in space, superhero sketches including trial pages he decided to start over with–you name it.   Something I think Frank has in common with other creative people is that he says he is a perfectionist–no page is ever quite perfect in his eyes.  Blaspheme, I say!  Frank said he never sells any Liberty Meadows pieces and he generally does not do commissions.  I liked the fact that he was sentimental about his characters from Liberty Meadows.  He will draw you sketches of his animals from that series, however, if you get him at the right time. 

Now he is busy with several projects, and he said he is looking forward to a new series he was going to pitch to some people the very next day.  He showed us his pitch book–with most people this would include pre-inked sketches and plot summaries, but Frank’s pitch book read like (as you’d expect) a stunningly professional, finished, comic book!  We were definitely sold on it and hope it does well.  Shanna fans will be happy to see a paleontological theme to this new project. 

Frank appeared at his booth with the new writer for Brutal, Joe Keatinge (sorry, Joe, for the photo of you looking like you’re about to sneeze).  He showed us this preview image the day before it’s public release at his panel.  Expect some good action out of this new series.

Check back soon and we’ll run down the top covers and images of Frank Cho’s brilliant career so far!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

The last day at Comic-Con!  What’s that mean?  Making sure you get to every last booth and panel you want to see, buying that last comic book or art page, getting that last autograph, and more great costumes.

I collect comic book sketches and it wouldn’t be a con without adding a new one.  This year Patrick Scullin sketched me this great classic Green Arrow.  Thanks, Patrick!

 

Donato Giancola, fantasy artist extraordinaire, was selling limited edition compilations of his work and beautiful prints.  You probably know him best from his painting that was used as the cover of The Hobbit graphic novel–the only Tolkien illustrated adaptation out there.  Great stuff and a great guy!

Everyone’s favorite wookiee attended the convention this year again–Peter Mayhew was signing autographs at his booth.

Superb comic artist Frank Cho (University squared, Liberty Meadows, Marvel, etc.) and Joe Keatinge (background) unveiled their new series coming in 2012–Brutal

Check out that punch, and that’s no guy’s arm!  They actually showed me the details Friday but I swore not to post until the public unveiling.  Promise kept!  Cho walked me through some original pages and cover art going to France for a gallery sale.  Stunning pieces.  But no Brandy art for sale–he’s keeping those (wouldn’t you?).  The REALLY big news?  Frank said the rights to Liberty Meadows reverted to him!  So if he can just get through all his other projects we may see Liberty Meadows start up again someday.

Note to self:  When I get older and gray(er), keep coming to Comic-Con!  Check out this great Ben Kenobi:

And Comic-Con is not just for adults.  These kids at the DC Comics booth had great outfits.  That Speedy outfit looks like he came out of the classic Neal Adams series.

And you might be saying “enough Green Arrow already” but here’s a great Smallville Green Arrow costume.  This guy made it by hand in three weeks.  Nice work!

Here, Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG’s Counselor Deanna Troi) appears to be sizing up Rod Roddenberry at the Lightspeed booth.

And one last pilgramage to flip through the stunning original art of the late, great Michael Turner at the Aspen booth:

I also got to meet comic book writer Jai Nitz, who has written for Marvel, DC Comics, Image, Disney and Dynamite, including Kato Origins, Green Hornet:  Parallel Lives, and Tron: The Betrayal.  With all the comic book artists at Comic-Con, you don’t see all that many writers at this venue.  So great to meet up with Jai!

More news from Comic-Con coming this week.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com