Aspiring artists, have your pencils at the ready and prepare to head to the drawing board! This weekend during Comic-Con International, Image Comics announced "50Girl50," a brand new series written by Doug Murray ("Jungle Girl") and designed by Frank Cho ("Mighty Avengers") with an interior artist to be chosen through a worldwide talent search beginning later this year.
Described as a "cross between 'Star Trek' and 'Quantum Leap'" by Cho, "50Girl50" will chronicle the adventures of a 50-person exploratory unit jumping through a wormhole to find a suitable substitute for a dying Earth - there's just one catch. "Only women can go through the wormhole," says Cho. "It appears that any man - anyone with a Y chromosome - dies during the trip. They're not exactly sure why, but if you're a guy trying to go through this wormhole, you die. As Earth is dying, they need a new planet to survive. Basically, they're going to do a mass migration. Earth sends out 50 of their best pilots, all women: 50 women astronauts - 10 teams of 5. They all go through the wormhole to look for a new planet."
However, the real surprise of the series is yet to come. While Murray is set to script and will be the man in charge of the show, Cho will be taking more of a backseat role, doing covers and interior design work rather than providing pencils. However, the two co-creators have turned this project into a unique opportunity for up-and-coming artists across the globe. "Doug and I decided to have a big American Idol-like talent search," says Cho. "We're going to post the first six pages of the script online and people can download it or read it online and draw the first six pages. They have to submit those first six pages to us, and we'll see who's good enough to come on board as the artist."
The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria including general aptitude, drawing skill, storytelling strength, and the ability to take direction. The search begins shortly after Comic-Con, with the winner to be revealed at Baltimore Comic-Con in October 2009. Although Cho and Murray are shooting for as yet undiscovered talent, anybody is free to enter - including established industry professionals. "There are a lot of people out there who can draw, so we're shooting for mostly unknowns, but there are also a lot of professionals out there who aren't working," says Cho. "We'd be more than happy to see what they are capable of. My impression is that it doesn't matter who you are, as long as it's the right fit for you. I'm actually really excited about seeing what kind of talent is out there. I can't wait to see who answers when we really launch this contest."
After the winner is chosen, Cho will be working closely with the artist to deliver a finely tuned finished product. "The first issue, I'm going to be looking over their shoulder, maybe doing thumbnails or something like that. That's what I did with 'Jungle Girl' at Dynamite, where I kind of laid out the entire first issue with thumbnails," he says. "If the artist is really solid and really doesn't need any guidance, then I'll pretty much give them a little more freedom, but if they're really green and unsure, then I'll walk them through the whole procedure."
The contest to discover the new interior artist for "50Girl50" will be officially announced shortly after Comic-Con International concludes, with the script, character designs and rules posted on the Image Comics website.