What the Hell is Frank Cho Doing?

Wonder Woman sketch cover by Frank Cho

Detail of Wonder Woman sketch cover by Frank Cho

Frank Cho draws a pretty superhero picture. And Frank Cho draws a sexy woman. Frank Cho has lately been drawing some pretty sexy superhero women and pissing people off.

This story starts with an infamous cover of Spider-Woman by Milo Manara:

Spider Woman by Milo Manara

Spider-Woman variant cover by Milo Manara

Milo Manara is a gifted Italian comics artist whose work has appeared in Heavy Metal many times. Sometimes his work is adult in nature, other times it’s not—but of course, he’s best known for the adult stuff. Manara was commissioned to do some variant covers for Marvel comic books, and the one he did of Spider-Woman really set people off. Too sexual, people said, and Marvel spiked the cover. Maybe it was a fair reaction to the cover, maybe Manara’s signature on the image is really what did it in. Whatever the case, it was considered inappropriate and Marvel didn’t use it. That was August 2014.

Enter Frank Cho. In January 2015, he offered this tribute to the rejected Manara cover:

Spider-Woman by Frank Cho

Spider-Woman sketch cover by Frank Cho

That sort of pissed people off. He followed it up with this, posted to his site on April 5, which pissed more people off:

Spider Gwen by Frank Cho

Spider Gwen sketch cover by Frank Cho

You can read a good deal of the saga in this Comics Alliance post.

On April 8, Cho wrote on his blog “Instead of me wasting my breath and precious time over this non-issue … I’ve drawn another cover sketch in response which will, hopefully, answer all the questions.”

Harley Quinn by Frank Cho

Harley Quinn sketch cover by Frank Cho

Amazingly, that Harley Quinn image didn’t answer all the questions, or any of them. People were still pissed off about Spider-Gwen. On April 15, Cho again went to the well:

Wonder Woman sketch cover Frank Cho

Wonder Woman sketch cover by Frank Cho

There’s comedy in the progression here—Spider-Man was effectively giving out a Gomer Pyle “go-o-lly!” on the first two covers and the Joker was cynically telling Harley Quinn it would advance her career on the third. Batman, who has seen it all before, is creeped out by Wonder Woman’s attempt to be edgy. She’s trying to be scandalous—pulling a Madonna, and Batman’s reaction is all Drake.

But the story didn’t end there. Yesterday, Cho announced that he was donating the $1000 generated by Spider-Gwen to House of Ruth, a charity for battered women.

But back to the question: What the hell is Frank Cho doing? The answer is: Pretty much what he’s always done.

The Spider-Gwen sketch cover was the major fiasco, but it’s not like Frank Cho doesn’t regularly adult-ify and oversexualize familiar characters. It’s one of his favorite hobbies, and while it’s not every reader’s cup of tea, he hasn’t been hiding it, as the examples below demonstrate.

Rogue X-Men by Frank Cho

Rogue sketch cover by Frank Cho

Black Cat by Frank Cho

Black Cat sketch cover by Frank Cho

Star Wars Leia by Frank Cho

Slave Leia sketch cover by Frank Cho

Wonder Woman by Frank Cho

Wonder Woman sketch cover by Frank Cho

She-Hulk by Frank Cho

She-Hulk sketch cover by Frank Cho

By the way, Frank Cho doesn’t just draw superheroes being dangerously sexy. He also draws more typical comics art, and he’s masterful. Here’s art for a Spider-Man cover that he posted on his blog:

Spider Man cover art by Frank Cho

Spider Man cover art by Frank Cho

Hmm, maybe he just needs to be publishing his work in Heavy Metal? We’re fairly sure he has a few crates of our classic issues in his collection. Let’s talk, Frank—just, you know, ixnay on the Ider-Gwenspay.

And this is interesting: A tribute to Cho’s tribute to Manara, by Thomas Mason:

Darth Vader by Thomas Mason

Darth Vader by Thomas Mason

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