Wednesday, August 23, 2017

STGCC 2017: An Interview with Controversial Artist-Writer Frank Cho (Outrage!)

A couple of years ago, comic book artist and creator Frank Cho was flung headlong into controversy when a segment of fans went nuclear over his Milo Manara spoof sketch cover of Spider-Gwen. A discussion about misogyny and "appropriate depictions" of female characters in the comic book industry, exploded all over the internet. It seemed like everyone and anyone had something to say about Frank Cho's art choices.

The intense backlash has not hurt Frank Cho's career, and he probably has not stopped trolling his haters ever since. Many may find his sense of humour and cheesecake art offensive, but Frank Cho is also a wonderful writer, and recently, he has been concentrating on his own creative works.

With "Skybourne", a five-issue series published by BOOM! Studios, Frank Cho puts his own spin to the Arthurian legend, and propels it to the modern times. "Skybourne" is his first creator-own publication since popular comic strip "Liberty Meadows", and the fantasy-adventure tale has been very well received by readers and critics.

Other projects include "Guns & Dinos" at Image Comics, and "World of Payne" with novelist Tom Sniegoski for Flesk Publications. He is also the cover artist for DC Comics' "Harley Quinn".

Frank Cho has been announced as a guest for this year's STGCC, and Agent W and Red Dot Diva decided to team up (with a healthy dose of Outrage!) to get some dibs prior to his trip here.

Agent W: People often forget you cut your teeth on daily strips "Liberty Meadows", and your covers are like one panel strips that tell a story with a punchline, what’s your favourite cover/one panel punchline you have done recently?
Frank: It’s hard to choose which cover I like the most. It’s like choosing who’s your favorite child. Humor and art are very important to me, so I often agonize over each and every cover I do. I’m currently on Harley Quinn cover duty which is perfect for my artistic sensibility. Off the top of my head, there are several humorous covers I’ve created that I enjoyed: Harley #12 where the Joker kicks the snowman-fire hydrant, Harley #17 where she tries on her old costume and Harley #23 where Harley and Poison Ivy are dancing the Batusi, and many more.

Agent W: Again with "Liberty Meadows", your humour seems to have caused people to interpret it wrongly, leading to the now famous Outrage panel! Do you see that as your lasting legacy? (insert outrage panel!)
Frank: Ha! I hope not. I’ve done so many work over the years with different mediums and in different fields, from drawing newspaper cartoons to oil painting landscapes to writing comic books. The whole “outrage” sketch covers was something I did for fun which snowballed into a funny internet battle cry. I hope people will look at my overall artistic output and not just one small sketch cover taken out of context before they judge me.

Agent W: How did you feel receiving a piece of art from Milo Manara, lauding your work?
Frank: Manara is simply great. It’s a surreal and delightful experience. To have Manara, one of the great artists of the industry, acknowledge and approve of your work is absolutely fantastic and humbling at the same time. And to top it off, to have him draw something just for you is one of the great highlights of my career.

Red Dot Diva: With the advent of social media around the world, there is a lot of noise - generally, in just about any topic there is out there. How do you achieve a comfortable balance between being socially interactive and blocking out the static or negative aspects of feedback?
Frank: It’s very hard. Social media is a vast and invasive thing that is part of our lives and culture now. When I first started my professional career, the internet was in its infancy and there was no social media. People actually had to write in fan letters, good or bad, which took effort and thought. Now anyone and everyone can just spout out the first inane thought that pops into their head and dump it into the internet, which then gets amplified to a point where opinions and facts have the same weight and importance. The only way to shield myself from these negative and constant feedback is to grow a thick skin and ignore them, and limiting my time interacting on the social media.

Red Dot Diva: In your opinion, what's the most controversial thing you have ever seen in a comic book page?
Frank: I’m an avid reader with a very open mind who reads everything and anything. Nothing shocks me anymore. But there are certain things I don’t like reading or seeing such as violence against women and children.

Agent W: What have you heard from your Marvel colleagues about Singapore (they say Xandar (in GOTG movie) is based on Singapore) and what do you hope to see and eat?
Frank: I didn’t know that Xander in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was modeled after Singapore. Everyone I’ve spoken to about Singapore said that Singapore is a very clean city and has the best food on the continent. My manager, Steve Morger, who is a devout foodie, he and I will try our very best to seek out the most delicious and weirdest food in Singapore. Being a huge seafood fan, I’m gonna try my best to eat the best seafood Singapore has to offer, too.

Red Dot Diva: Any new projects that you are working on that you can share with us?
Frank: My schedule for the next two years will be packed. I’ve currently finished writing and drawing "Skybourne" for BOOM! Studios. I’m now co-writing and drawing "World of Payne", a horror action comedy, with my buddy, Tom Sniegoski, for Flesk Publications. Then I move on to another creator-owned science fiction adventure book called Fight Girls which I’m writing and drawing. I’m in early stages of putting a new art book together showcasing my ballpoint pen drawings. And somewhere along the way, I’ll be writing and drawing a secret project at DC Comics. Also, I’m in talks of designing several statues for Sideshow Collectibles and DC Entertainment. Yes, it’s going to be a very busy couple of years.


You can meet Frank Cho (with or without your own Outrage!) at STGCC 2017:

When: 9 - 10 September 2017
Where: Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Halls D/ E/ F (Basement 2)
Tickets: Various prices, depending on your whether you want the VIP tickets, or just want to access certain areas, like the gaming hall, and the Akiba zone, which caters mainly to cosplayers. Check out the list at this link.

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