YabYum Seven: Noel Franklin

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All photos courtesy of Noel Franklin

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Noel Franklin. Glad you asked! I am a cartoonist, illustrator, poet and grant writer. I primarily create short pieces of comic journalism and autobiographical stories. Nonfiction is mostly my thing, though I do enjoy an excursion into dark folk tales every now and then. I’m from Seattle, and I used to draw for the local entertainment newspapers there. My comics have also been published in anthologies world-wide, such as Outre (Norway), Skulptura? (Serbia), The Strumpet (UK), and Not My Small Diary (United States). In 2017, I was awarded around $12,000 from Seattle arts funders to support the development of my first graphic novel – it was in process when my partner passed away. I am returning to creating book-length work presently.

How did you get your start?

I earned my degree in fine arts printmaking from Western Washington University. Somehow it never dawned on me that stone lithography is hard to access outside of a college arts department. Lacking a printmaking studio, I channeled my energies into poetry, which is free to create, and continued doing other forms of visual arts like painting and drawing. I pursued the whole Slam Poetry thing in the 1990s, touring and even opening for grungy rock bands as a spoken word artist. While I don’t do much poetry anymore, it turns out the economy of words that poetry requires, combined with a compact drawing style, works well in creating good comics.

noel franklin 03What inspires you?

My art has been primarily motivated by the need to process negative experience. It sounds stupid and moody, but darkness inspires me. Struggle. So many people are going through hard times, but our society doesn’t allow for much conversation around this. We’re just supposed to smile for our selfie and sweep the darkness under the rug, where it festers and contributes to even greater pain. I want to tell dark stories so other people know they aren’t alone in their difficulties. There is a great new anthology out there, inspired by the #metoo movement titled Drawing Power. It’s a POWERFUL anthology, I highly recommend you read it, and not just because I have a story in it! I’m currently working on a graphic novel that deals with addiction, depression and suicide – all are epidemic right now and I want to talk about how I experience them, survive, and find happiness.

What do you like about AZ?

Moving to Mesa from Seattle felt like moving to Mars. I was making jokes about this when I was informed the Mars Explorer is controlled out of ASU. Like the Mars Explorer I am most interested in landscape–the physical beauty of the state–than anything else. The other thing I like about Arizona is that Arizona’s iteration of “Obamacare” is better than Washington State’s in the areas where I need it the most.

Where can we see you(r) work?

I have a lot of work online. You can some stories on inktart.org and link to more from my website at NoelFranklinArt.com. I have a fun short animated YouTube video promoting the book Hollow Kingdom . Besides the anthologies I’ve mentioned previously, I will have stories in the upcoming 20th Edition of Not My Small Diary and also the Take A Stand: Art Against Hate anthology. I will have work showing as part of original comic art from 1911 to the present that will be on view in the exhibit “Women in Comics: Looking Forward, Looking Back.” That will be at the Society of Illustrators on East 63rd Street in New York from March 11- June 6 2020 concurrent with the independent comics festival: MOCCA Fest. Locally, I will be part of Pravus Gallery presents “Put A Bird On It” at The Newton, which opens December 2.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I want to travel internationally. I want to develop spiritually. And I want to return to my printmaking roots. I would love to one day create a graphic novel using stone lithography as my medium.

Noel Franklin 02What is your mantra?

Because I am a recovering alcoholic currently living on Mars, my daily mantra is “The Next Indicated Step.” I have amazing things going on right now. Showing at the Society for Illustrators with my personal comics heroines? Yes, please. I also just got hired to do grants management for an agency that mentors high school seniors into carriers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering fields. There’s a lot to do, and I get overwhelmed easily, so I do the next indicated step and eventually get somewhere. As an artist, though, my mantra is “The Process Informs Itself.” I just keep doing the work and responding to my mistakes, successes and happy accidents. I continue to get better.


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