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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 08/26/2010

'FRANK CHO's WORLD': Pulling back the cover on the 'Liberty Meadows' cartoonist

By Michael Cavna

Early this year, my fellow Postie Annys Shin came to me with a seemingly simple question: "What can you tell me about Frank Cho?"

Simple question, sure, but mine turned out to be a one-hour answer.

That's because for anyone who has followed Frank's fascinating rise from community-college cartoonist to the University of Maryland's Diamondback newspaper, from comic-strip syndication at age 23 (the highly regarded "Liberty Meadows") to Marvel runs with the Avengers, his is a professional journey that has required negotiating at least several hairpin turns.


Thus is the curse, perhaps, of being an outsize talent who isn't afraid to chart a new course when he's none too pleased with the current career scenery.

Exhibit A: "Liberty Meadows," which grew out of Cho's popular strip in the Diamondback (which within the span of a few short years also featured the work of fellow success stories Jeff "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" Kinney and Aaron "The Boondocks" McGruder).

"When I first did 'Liberty Meadows,' it launched in 30 papers and snowballed to a peak of 100 papers ... ," Cho tells Comic Riffs. "Once you break in to syndication, you're supposed to have made it -- on the road to riches. But then my client list [shrunk], I was getting charged late fees, I was getting in fights [over content] with my syndicate [Creators], where I had five different editors, and they were changing my strip -- most of the time without my knowledge. And then the money just wasn't there."

"I remember that I got married and my [now ex-wife] was pregnant with my first kid," Cho continues. "It's so sobering, so I thought: I need to get a real job -- a $14,000 income was not doing it, so I quit. There was no safety net."

See what I mean? When addressing the curves in Cho's career, even discussing his first syndicated strip isn't fairly a five-minute reply.

Like the persistently curious reporter she is, though, Annys stuck with it, peeling back the layers of Cho's profession and personality -- hanging with him in his post-divorce home that puts the "studio" in "studio apartment," following him to his favorite area comics shop, even traveling to Paris as the 38-year-old Korean-born cartoonist met his French fans for the first time.

In this Sunday's Post Magazine, you can read Shin's full profile, "Frank Cho's World." You can also check out the full multimedia presentation, including an excellent video of the photo shoot behind the magazine's cover.

By Michael Cavna  | August 26, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Comic Book, The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Frank Cho, Liberty Meadows, Marvel  
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