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Frank Cho’s been drawing comics for a long time, but there’s a possibility you have only recently come across his work because he’s only started working for Marvel relatively recently in his career. He did a little work in Avengers vs X-Men and an issue of X-Men Schism. But now he’s taking on one of the primo Marvel characters in Savage Wolverine. From his creator-owned work through to his work with Marvel Frank Cho is known for drawing beautiful women.
This book is a collection of Frank Cho’s women and it has a wonderful sketchbook quality. Many of the images show an evolution from pencils to final artwork. And the early section even has notes on the characters. Unfortunately, because I was not familiar with his creator-owned work, these characters did not mean anything to me. Fortunately, it didn’t matter because they were beautifully drawn with great inking and colors.
The first section of the book is titled covers and it contains work he did on the covers of various comics. Again, you get a great insight into Frank’s mind by showing production notes followed by pencils, inks, and then colored images.
My favorite image in this section is the Army woman putting on makeup. It’s a great clash of masculine and feminine. Also, I was extremely interested in how there is one view from front and one from side. It shows Cho’s evolving process. Since the profile image is better at showing off the female form and since a lot of the power of this image comes from the masculinity of her job and the femininity of the task of putting on lipstick, it’s clear Cho made the right choice. His attention to detail also rewards the frequent viewer. It wasn’t until the third time I went through the book that I the bayoneted bad guy.
The next section is titled Brandy and it involves pinups and situational images of the titular character who was made famous by his syndicated newspaper column Liberty Meadows. My favorite image in this section tackles a favorite topic among those of us who are fans of the comic book medium: female superhero costumes. While they may be fun to draw and fun to look at, they are completely impractical.
With Liberty Meadows (and throughout all of his career, including at Marvel) Frank Cho has constantly had to deal with censorship of his images or themes. The reader does not have to worry about that! There is a very fun photo in this section that is not safe for work and wouldn’t be right for this website, but reveals a fun side to Cho’s work. Brandy is in a state of undress and trying to get her clothes on yelling “I’m Not Ready!” The image seems evocative of the great Daffy Duck short film “Duck Amuck” in which Daffy is having a conversation with an animator who is making his life difficult. In the same way, the image seems to have found Cho intruding upon her.
Speaking of images that aren’t safe for work, the final section of the book, titled Natural Beauty, contains many nude images. Many of them appear to be nude study sketches unrelated to any commercial works. But there are quite a few that deal with Shawna the She-Devil.
If you’re looking for a great art book, Frank Cho: Women Book 2 is a great book that has a lot to offer. It has workflows, pinups, covers images, and studies. There are great artists that are amazing at drawing facial expressions - key in the comic medium. There are others who excel at drawing bodies in action. Others can take a very cartoony look and still wring pathos from the images. But I don’t think there are too many comic artists out there that have mastered the realistic female form from head to toe as well as Frank Cho.