Frank Cho may have made his name amongst superhero fanboys by delivering voluptuous super-women engaged in every kind of head-turning action from robot-smashing to spear-tossing. But readers who picked up "Jungle Girl," the Dynamite Entertainment series Cho co-created with writer Doug Murray for interior artist Adriano Batista, found Cho exploring a few more areas of interest in addition to his celebration of the female form, from giant prehistoric monsters to "Apocalypto"-style tribal action.
In November, “Jungle Girl Season 2” swings into comic shops to keep the Mesozoic mayhem rolling. The first season of the book dealt with the horrors a misplaced airplane crew faced after mysteriously crashing onto an island straight out of "King Kong," and the sequel follows directly on the heels of that story with a crew of astronauts walking away from their own wreck. Of course, the spacemen will have the savage smarts of Jana the Jungle Girl to help them survive… although that didn't help the plane folks too well.
"When we wrote the first series, we knew what the second miniseries was going to be about. It's one giant story," Cho told CBR of the reason for Season 1's cliffhanger ending. "It all actually makes sense. We're going to answer in the second series why these planes and other modern objects and vehicles are popping up on this island. I don't want to give away the twist, but it's pretty cool. It's one of those things where Doug and I were bouncing ideas back and forth, and we both naturally went to this conclusion of why things were popping up since day one."
And while Cho is keeping the details of his astronaut survivors under wraps, the creator opened up about the influences that have helped bring "Jungle Girl" to life and their hold on "Season 2."
"I've always been a big Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, so I try to incorporate a lot of that lost city feel," Cho said. "Or like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World.' Forgotten times. The original 'King Kong' movies by [animator Willis] O'Brian and Ray Harryhausen were a tremendous influence that inspired me to co-create 'Jungle Girl.' Doug and I have had fun in creating different tribes. We are just trying to make this island a complete civilization. We're trying to make it as -- I'm not sure if realistic is the right word, but we're trying to make it as exciting as possible with different factions on different parts of the island."
One faction that will play heavily into the next season of the comic series from issue #1 on are the mer-people who inhabit the waters around Jana's mysterious island. But while talk of world building and tribal struggles provide the action backbone for the book, Cho didn't shy away from keeping a little bit of his signature cheesecake into future installments. "I would love to see Adriano draw the mermaids. There's going to be a lot of wet and wild action," the artist laughed.
Although again, Cho made a point to temper the comic's beauty queen splashes with his craftsman-like fundamentals, and Batista is well on board for crafting a world of classic comic book characterization. "In the first series, I did a lot of the design work. Adriano sent me thumbnails of the first issue, and he tried to, I guess, draw what he thought I would like instead of following the story. So there was a lot of really beautiful pin-ups and stuff, but I did my own thumbnails of a large portion of the first issue and sent it to Adriano saying, 'No, no. Don't worry about the pin-ups and all the flashy stuff. We hired you because you're a really good storyteller. So just do pure storytelling.'
"For the second series, Adriano had pretty much everything down. We're very confident in his abilities, so we've been pretty much letting him go. But I am designing the villains, the lost sea creature tribe for the second series, and I need to send that to Adriano."
Cho has long term plans for the franchise, including the origin of how a modern-talking gal like Jana made her way onto an island stuck strictly in a B.C. mindset. "I think we're probably going to save the origin of Jana for ‘Season 3’ because ‘Season 2’ is dealing mostly with the underwater costal tribe and the reason why the flashing lights are bringing in planes and other modern vehicles to the island. But we have the origin of Jana already written and why she's connected to the island, why she's so strong and indestructible and what makes her so different from the native tribes on the island."
In between all the action, Cho himself will make his way past the covers of "Jungle Girl" and into the pages whenever his contract with Marvel Comics will allow it. "It really is a fun book. We've been putting everything we want to see into the Jungle Girl character. Because I believe in this character, I'm trying to find how to work in a separate, stand-alone story where I get to co-write it with Doug and draw it myself down the road. But right now Marvel takes precedence. But soon you will see a stand alone 'Jungle Girl' story by me."