On Frank Cho quitting

Frank Cho quit his current gig drawing the covers to Wonder Woman for DC Comics.

It feels like in recent years Cho had become more known for his commissioned artwork which pisses people off, his talking public stances and getting into arguments than for his artwork. That's a shame because Cho is a very good artist, has been from the start of his career. I first came across his work in the late 1990's when he was writing and drawing Liberty Meadows. He went to work on a bunch of comics at Marvel and Image and Dynamite. He published an art book from Flesk a while back.

The thing is, Cho needs to shut up and draw.

I interviewed Cho in 2014 and he said this:

"I'm pulling back and transitioning to more personal projects, all of these creator-owned projects that I've been writing for years. They've been gestating and I never had the time to devote any attention to them. I decided, I'm 42 years old, and I've got to pull the trigger on these" 

Cho had lots of projects lined up. He was going to draw World of Payne, which was a book series he was going to do with writer Tom Sniegoski, who had a number of books plotted out. Cho was going to write and draw a series of books including Skybourne at Boom, Guns and Dinos, which he was doing for Image in the US and Delcourt in France. Then Cho was going to return to Liberty Meadows and wrap up the series.

When I spoke with him, 2015 was going to be the year of creator owned projects. Then he gave an interview to someone else a couple months ago in which he stated that 2016 would be the year of creator owned projects for him. Skybourne is finally coming out this fall from Boom. I haven't heard anything on the other projects.

Look, I know how life can derail all your plans and throw everything into a tail spin. It's entirely possible that's what happened and I wish him the best.

And really, Cho can do whatever he wants. He's a talented artist and he's earned the right to do what he wants. If he wants to keep working at big companies, running up against walls, getting frustrated, lash out–go for it. They pay him and he's free to go that route. The problem is that he doesn't own any of these characters. His exclusive deal at Marvel runs out and he announces he's drawing covers at DC.

Cho can rant all he wants about how Greg Rucka is awful and shouldn't get to dictate the covers. Well, Rucka doesn't dictate the covers. Rucka doesn't own those characters. Rucka does have the right to complain to his editor if he thinks that the covers and the what he and the artist are doing in the book clash. The editors and the publisher can make a decision depending on whether they agree.  In other words, if Rucka was the "only" person who felt this way - as Cho claims - then nothing would have happened. Anyone who knows anything about comics knows that.

Anyone who knows anything about large corporations knows that with a Wonder Woman movie coming out next year and her being a key figure in a Justice League pair of films that hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line and the company is paying a lot of attention to WW right now.

Cho is not the first person to work at DC or Marvel who has been asked to change something for a million different reasons.

Cho will not be the last person to work at DC or Marvel who will be asked to change something for a million different reasons.

Also Cho wasn't fired. He chose to quit rather than be edited or art directed.

Anyone who thinks that working for a large corporation does not involve editing, oversight or having to re-do work ever is deluded. Quitting over this is not a moral stance.

Cho's obituary can read that he had a syndicated strip after he got out of college and then wrote and drew some miniseries for Marvel Comics and drew the Avengers. He drew a lot of variant covers and was very popular at conventions. He was perhaps best known for getting into fights with people on the internet.

Based on everything he's said, that's not what he want. He wants to be known as a creator. That when he finally dies, he will have left a shelf of books from different genres behind him. He doen't want to be remembered for working on the IP of large corporations, but to create his own characters and his own stories.

I've always liked Cho and have been reading his work for years. I thought he had the potential to be great. I still do. What is holding him back from greatness though isn't Greg Rucka. It's not editors at Marvel and DC. They are not holding him back. They are not keeping him from greatness.

He is.

What's holding him back is not finishing projects, not publishing miniseries and graphic novels, not producing work where you can do what you want.  

Maybe those books won't succeed. Maybe they won't sell. Maybe they'll fail. I don't know. No one does. We won't know until he does it. His covers on Wonder Woman were never going to define whether he - or anyone - is great. They pay bills. But doing your own work is terrifying and intimidating. It's hard work. I don't think people recognize just how hard it can be.

If Cho is serious that that is what he wants to do, then he should turn off the internet and go pick up a pencil. That's what he says he wants to do. That's what we want him to do.

We're waiting.

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