Minis Monday: Colleen Frakes

Posted by on February 1st, 2010 at 1:00 PM

We continue with the minis and self-published comics picked up at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland last year, this time featuring the work of Colleen Frakes.

Tragic Relief (ISBN# 978-0-9816909-0-2) and Woman King, Chapter Two

Colleen Frakes

Colleen Frakes’ Xeric-winning Tragic Relief stages a four-act fusion of mythic characters and psychological case study. As foreshadowed by the title’s twist of cliché, three parallel sections set up the predicament with an epilogue driving home the message to full effect. The story neatly weds the magical and the mundane in a way that emphasizes a coexistence of the impossibly fantastic and disturbingly conceivable. A clever tension exists between the formal structure of classical drama on one hand and a dark modern realism filigreed with horror on the other. The protagonist, already unusual in his unkempt chubbiness, gets lucky in a fairy-tale way only to become the tormented figure within a farcical approximation of Greek tragedy. Unusual too is his relationship with his mother; she, depending on your reading, is blind, short-sighted, or mercilessly clear-seeing … and perhaps, paradoxically, all three.

©2008 Colleen Frakes

Frakes’ almost wordless tale is carried by open, flowing, deceptively simple line drawings. There’s a light, roomy feel to the proceedings though the figuration is substantive enough to carry the story’s weightier implications. Intermittent, anchoring blacks reflect the emotional stakes of primal theater.

As a minicomic, the second chapter of Frakes’ Woman King swaps the wide white borderless possibilities in Tragic Relief for compacted frames that concentrate the dimensions of their predicament. If Tragic Relief is a play, Woman King is a morality tale of exacting counsel. Like the former, the latter is an alternative take on the knotty issues that underlie great narrative templates. Here a girl is destined to become king of a tribe of bears. This brief episode brings into sharp relief the full measure of such a fate by underscoring a difficult lesson in the run-up to leadership. This snippet suggests the completed Woman King is a tale well worth the anticipation.

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One Response to “Minis Monday: Colleen Frakes”

  1. cfrakes says:

    Thanks for the review! Hope to see you in Maine again this year.
    My current website is