Noel Franklin, an award-winning Seattle Cartoonist who formerly lived in Kent, recently shared her craft with the public at the Kent Regional Library.
Franklin, who attended Kent public schools and graduated from Kentwood High, presented an installment to her graphic novel project, “Girl On The Road.” The sample chapter of the novel is part of Franklin’s fulfillment of the 4Culture Artist Project Grant she received for her memoir-in-progress.
The story is based on Franklin’s friendship with fellow Western Washington University art student, Deborah Penne. They travelled together frequently and moved to Chicago after graduation. The development of their friendship is traced through road trips, a shared aversion to settling down, and then the impact of losing Penne when she died due to the mechanical failure that led to the crash of Alaska Flight 261 in 2000.
The death of her friends and colleagues moved her to compose and sketch the book, a cathartic project.
” … It’s not the story of the flight but of the trips I had made before losing friends,” she said, “and how the incident contributed to driving me back to the road.
“I’m not going to wrap this up neatly in a bow and tell you everything is happier ever after,” Franklin said of her book. “I think grief is a mute-able, disturbing and strange companion that once you have it you just have to learn to live with. This idea in American that you go back to work the next morning and you sweep it under the rug and everything should be OK after you have a major tragedy is probably driving the biggest problems we have right now, which is another reason why I think this story is important.
“It’s this thing about grief. You just can’t put it in a box. You don’t decide, grief decides.”
Thematically, Franklin draws her lived experience as a woman from the working class, with a focus on stories that are underrepresented in the arts world – particularly that of friendships between women and travel. “Girl On The Road” explores both themes.
“I try to focus on stories that I feel are not being told often enough in mainstream culture,” Franklin said.
During her visit to the library, Franklin discussed her story, themes and process. The appearance was sponsored by 4Culture, with additional support from the King County Library, and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Artist Trust.
Franklin spent the majority of her childhood attending public schools in Kent, returning previously to produce literary arts programs in grade schools there as part of the Seattle Poetry Festival programming.
Franklin is an internationally published cartoonist. In early 2013, she chose to apply her degree in fine arts from WWU, and her modest success in literary ventures toward making fine comics. She attributes her unique style – building dark and light shapes from densely knotted lines – to her experience with stone lithography.
Franklin has recently been awarded a 4Culture Projects Grant, Artist Trust GAP Grant and City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture Artist Project Grant. In 2017, she received a Cartoonist Northwest Toonie award for Best Comic Book for Coyote and Butterfly Woman, was illustrated by Franklin and written by Anne Bean.
For more information, including publication listings, sample artwork and select press highlights, visit noelfranklinart.com.
Read Franklin’s recent interview with New York’s Design Arts Daily.