Michael Cho, ECCC Interview 2016
Me: “I’m here with Michel Cho. He’s one of the big influences for me to come up here to Seattle. He’s a great artist, a cover artist primarily. We were just talking about how he got involved in the industry. If you want to explain that a little bit.”
Cho: “I come at comics from a really weir angle. I’m an illustrator I was mostly an editorial illustrator and so I spend half my time doing comics and half my time doing editorial illustrations for magazines or stuff like that. I always loved comics since I was a kid. I was one of those kids that knew who inked a panel by looking at a quarter of a panel. I was one of those guys. So when I came out of college I had a comic style already and it made it easy for me to do illustration work and all my friends were drawing comics and I knew how to draw comics so I just sort of got into it. Went to a bunch of shows they went to and met a bunch of editors and art directors and seemed to hit it off. So that’s how I broke into comics.”
Me: “That’s a bit of different story from some people. Everybody has their own story. Right now you’re primarily cover duty. It’s a great place to be because it shows how much of an impact he’s made in the past couple of years, to get to a level like that. Is there anything else that you’re working on at the moment?”
Cho: “Well, I had a baby (well, my wife had a baby, technically). Were just now raising the baby and that’s part of the reason I only do covers at the moment. I don’t have the brain-power or the sleep to do interiors and do like 14 hour days. But you know what I really like, is that comic covers are changing. They used to be comic covers and you had to approach them with a comic’s mindset. But over the last few years you’ve seen the major comic companies (and the indie companies as well) really open up that style to allow more unique and funky styles to emerge. And with that has come, like a different approach to covers. So for me when I started doing covers I had to think like a cartoonist and think what’s the big superhero money shot and how could I add more action to that. And now I approach comic covers like I approach doing a magazine cover or a book cover. There’s more of a design element, there’s room for me to play with a more illustration oriented angle, rather than what would be in traditional comics approach and I really like that.”
Me: “For sure. These [images at the table] are definitely very artistic covers and it’s just beautiful art in general. We talked a little bit about influences and similarities with the late great Darwyn Cooke and you still being able to put your own stamp on things. Would you say that he was an inspiration to you?
Cho: “Yeah, we were kind of similar in the first place anyway. I met him when his studio was three blocks from my house. We hit it off because we both liked the same artist. I love the Avengers strip artist of the 1930’s. Those were the guys I really looked up to. He loved Frank Robins and I didn’t know Frank Robin’s stuff at all. I just knew him from his later Marvel work and then he showed me the stuff from the forties and it glued on. We both have sort of similar approach. I learned a lot from Darwin. Nothing I ever do will ever top Darwin’s work. So I don’t want to compete in that field. The man was tremendously talented. He could do it all. Like if he had to draw a horse, he could draw and ink the full on charging thing in like five brush-strokes and it was dead on! And if you know artists, horses are one of those things we hate drawing. He was just immensely talented. I have a pile of stuff of his, because we used to trade drawings. He would ink some of my stuff and I would ink some of his stuff. So as far as influences go, yeah, because he was a good friend. He was a great guy. He was great with any young cartoonist. The first thing he would say is: “Get off your ass and do something!” And the second thing was: “Hey, if you ever need anything.”
Me: That’s an amazing story in general. There’s some amazing work here. Kind of-throwbacks to the forties that’s great stuff and helped you make a splash. And I don’t think you’re going
anywhere. Are you going to stay in the industry for a while?
Cho: “Yeah, yeah I like to oscillate between the two. I spend half my time doing illustration and half in comics and I view it like one is work and the other is vacation. And you don’t know which one is. Sometimes I’ll draw superhero stuff for a while and I’ll go “I’m kinda burned-out I want to go do some illustration work” then I’ll go “I’m kinda of burned out I want to go draw people punching each other”. So, I follow the views
Me: “Well I think it’s safe to say that anybody who’s seen your work really finds it very amazing. So I hope we can continue to see it. It’s A+ and definitely your own.”
*Well Mr. Cho, Thanks for being so generous with your time. A good chunk of the books I brought with me were because they had your art on the cover. I know you have a lot on your plate. But I will continue to enjoy your covers and dream of the day you have the time to do interiors. Having talked to you it’s easy to tell you have the”brainpower” for it.