Liberty Meadows 4: Cold, Cold Heart by Frank Cho

Liberty Meadows 4: Cold, Cold Heart
by Frank Cho
Image, 2006

The introduction by Jeph Loeb asserts that Cho is no mere cartoonist, but an illustrator influenced by cartoonists, which is why he’s so good. I’d agree with this – he’s an astonishingly good artist whose exploration of his own cartoon world has been utterly meagre. The timing in his strips is excellent, but his characters are awfully flat compared to those of his role models. Charlie Brown, Calvin and Opus the Penguin were loveable – despite being the best-drawn woman in comics, heroine Brandy is a terrifying blank.

Cho quit syndication in 2001 because he couldn’t stand the limitations of the strip format and the censorship (his website has a hilarious section of rejected strips) but it’s tempting to speculate that he withdrew Liberty Meadows from newspapers because the characters and situations had developed as far as they could after only four years. It takes a certain skill to write and draw the same characters every day for fifty years (Charles Schulz), forty years (Garry Trudeau) or even ten years (Bill Watterson), and if you can’t sketch your characters out quickly in broad strokes and then invest considerable time filling in little details of personality, and have them grow and develop, you might as well not bother with comic strips.

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