LIBERTY MEADOWSMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Creators Syndicate
First Appeared: 1997
Creator: Frank Cho
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Some of the more controversial newspaper comics of the past few decades grew out of their cartoonists' work in those hotbeds of opinion, college newspapers. Doonesbury (which was preceded by Garry Trudeau's Yale paper series, Bull Tales) and Bloom County (an outgrowth of Berke Breathed's University of Texas cartoon, Academia Waltz) are only two prominent examples. A more recent
one is Liberty Meadows, where the tone was set in the comic strip that creator Frank Cho did for the University of Maryland, University² (pronounced "University Squared").
As in the Breathed example (where the characters Steve Dallas and Cutter John were common to both comics), Cho carried over a character from his earlier series into the new one. Brandy Carter, whose appearance was based on a woman Cho knew, but modified with elements of actress Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), model Bettie Page (who also inspired Cliff's girlfriend in The Rocketeer) and others. Despite her attractiveness (Cho tends to draw that sort of woman), Brandy seldom used her effect on men for unfair advantage, or even appeared particularly aware of it. The fact did not, however, go unnoticed by her co-worker, veterinarian Frank Mellish.
With Brandy starting her new job at Liberty Meadows Animal Rehabilitation Clinic, the strip debuted from Creators Syndicate (Wee Pals, Baby Blues) during March of 1997. The Liberty Meadows world is similar to those of Tennessee Tuxedo or Boner's Ark, in that human and funny animal characters mixed freely and talked to each other without impediment. Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd also share such a world. This makes Brandy's occupation, animal psychiatrist, a bit less nonsensical.
Animals who benefited from her work included squinty-eyed Ralph the Bear, who liked to invent things and wasn't too worried whether or not they endangered people; Truman the Duck, cute but dumb; and Dean the Pig, whose bad attitudes and worse habits made him poor company for some. The human characters were the sort you'd find working in or around that sort of place, along with various associates who were at least as weird as the animals.
Doonesbury and Bloom County were controversial mainly for their political content; but Liberty Meadows achieved that status more because of Cho's penchant for pushing the envelope on sexual imagery and references. The syndicate allowed a fair amount of it, but did rein him in more often than he would have liked. (University² had been more free-wheeling in that area.) Partly because of this, in 2001 Cho elected to withdraw it, and make new Liberty Meadows material available only in the comic book version. Since then, it's been available from the syndicate only in rerun form, like Tarzan and Li'l Abner.
The comic book had been running since 1999, first from Insight Studios, which had collected University² into book form in 1996. It started out reprinting the syndicated strip, with new covers painted by Cho. With its 27th issue it was picked up by Image Comics (Spawn, Savage Dragon). After #36 (2004) it went on hiatus. It supposedly resumed publication two years later, but so far, only one post-hiatus issue has come out. A couple of volumes collecting early issues have been published, and are kept in print.
In 2007, rumors began circulating about a possible animated TV version, but there's no definite word so far. Cho, who busies himself at least partly with Marvel Comics work, also hasn't given any definite word about a resumption of the comic book, so from all appearances, Liberty Meadows is once again on indefinite hiatus.