For a some time now I’ve been considering expanding the scope of this column. What is a mini comic? They come in all shapes and sizes and are drawn by people as all levels of skill and success. Many are self published, but just as many are published by small imprints or other indie cartoonists. The idea that they come from people on the fringes of the medium; perhaps once true, is no longer the case. Though mini comics, in many ways, came out of ‘zine culture, the mini comic has transformed from an object to a genre. As such, it now encompasses a broad range of comics.
With that in mind, we will be looking today at two graphic novels from artist Colleen Frakes; Woman King and The Trials of Sir Christopher. In the interest of full disclosure, Colleen Frakes was a classmate of mine at The Center for Cartoon Studies.
Additionally, I was part of the critique group in which Frakes workshopped Woman King, and I was a member of the studio where The Trials of Sir Christopher was drawn. I will endeavor to remain as objective as possible. However, I have had the unique privilege of seeing both of these books as various stages of completion, and will likely draw upon that for my review.
Woman King is a lush and powerful book. Like much of Frakes’ work, Woman King has a timeless fairy-tale quality to it. It is the story of a girl who is adopted by a tribe of bears and groomed to lead them in their war with men. Like the best fairy tales, there is as much blood as there is sweetness, and Frakes’ spare drawing style heightens the grim circumstances in some unexpected ways.