Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 in Review: Jason Franks

Over December I'll be running some brief year in review interviews with Australian and New Zealand cartoonists and comic folk. Kicking things off today with a good friend of mine, Melbourne writer/cartoonist Jason Franks.

Jason Franks

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2012?

Without question, the highlight for my own work has been McBLACK TWO SHOT. It's not the first time I've worked with Bruce Mutard but it's the first of our work together that's seen print. Putting his highly polished and traditional art style next to Luke Pickett's brilliant crayon-and-notepad sequence, then Rhys James' super-modern digital painting and J. Stew's atmospheric, underground nightmares... I am ridiculously proud of this combination of artists.

Who are some of the comics creators that you've discovered and enjoyed for the first time in 2012?

This year has been all about Image for me. I've been mates with Justin Jordan for many years, so Luther Strode probably doesn't count, but a lot of my favourite new mainstream books have been Image stablemates. Green Wake by Wiebe and Rossmo. Who Is Jake Ellis? by Edmondson and Zonjic. Also this is the year I finally cottoned onto Locke and Key by Hill and Rodriguez.

My other big find has been Naoki Urasawa. I tried Pluto a couple of years ago and it wasn't my cup of tea; but this year I discovered that three of the manga books I was most interested in (old and new) are by Urasawa. Monster and 20th Century Boys are every bit as good as they are reputed to be, and I'm dying to get my hands of an English version of Billy Bat.

What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed this year?

I've probably found myself reading more prose than I have for the last few years. This year it's been a lot of Richard Morgan, John Steinbeck, Greg Palast, Evan Wright, China Mieville and Richard Stark. Some of these are old favourites, some are something new. On TV the only thing I've really cared for has been Breaking Bad.

Have you implemented any significant changes to your working methods this year?

I'm trying to put out a bit more prose fiction than I have in the last few years. Publishing my first novel has sort of opened my eyes to the opportunities in that world and the comics business is a bit sickly right now. I mean, when using Kickstarter to avoid the entire traditional marketplace is the great white hope for original comics you know there are problems. That said, I have a LOT of comics projects in the works and hopefully a lot more of them will drop in 2013 than we've seen in the last 2 years. I'm focusing on longer work--graphic novels and miniseries, as opposed to short stories and anthologies--and it takes a lot of time to get these bigger projects up and running.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Putting out more comics. There should be more McBlack and more Sixsmiths, but also, if things go well, a bunch of completely new stuff in a variety of genres. Hope to sell my second novel, too. I'm also looking forward to watching the continued growth of the local scene and to reading awesome new comics from local publishers. 

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