Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Comics Shelfie: Colleen Frakes

Comics shelfie time, woot woot! This week with the fab Colleen Frakes, the Xeric and Ignatz award-winning cartoonists, who I first came to know via her unique memoir comics, Island Brat, narrating her experiences of growing up on one of America's last prison islands. Frakes has an immensely readable and engaging style, which seems simple enough but is incredibly difficult to emulate tonally. Her other major work is Tragic Relief, her  Xeric Award winning graphic novel, a 'wordless story of a man, his mother, and the (mostly supernatural) women that come between them.' More recently, she did a great comic review of Jamie Hernandez's The Love Bungler's for the LA Review, which you can read here (comic reviews in comics format are one of my favourite things). You can also find her on Tumblr here. But today, Colleen's here to talk us through her comics/book collection, so without further ado:

Page from Island Brat

'Since I’ve moved across the country twice and live in a tiny apartment, I only hold on to the books I really love (mostly mini comics). And since I work in a library have access to most graphic novels via interlibrary loan.  


One book bookcase, four shelves. I’d like something bigger, but lack a car to move it or the competency to put together even Ikea furniture. So it’ll have to do. In my day job I spend a lot of time putting books in their proper order, so can’t be bothered to do so at home. Can’t even be bothered to keep the manga in order, and they have big bubble-letter volume numbers on the side.




Second and third shelves are almost all comics! Second shelf is tiny books and long books. The shoebox at the end there is full of mini comics, and now you know how big my feet are. Third shelf is tall books, with a lot of the more mainstreamy trades like Hellboy and Top Ten. Bottom shelf has all the very tall comics and mini comics like Max Badger Woodring’s Oak or Kagan McLeod’s Infinite Kung Fu, neither of which have gotten the attention I think they deserve. Oversized minis (maxi comics?) are stored in the space under the book case. Also, there’s a scrapbook.


Probably the most popular thing I’ve ever put on the internet was this photo of my mini comics stored in a shoe caddy. The apartment I’m in now specifies we’re not allowed to hang anything on the “antique doors”, so instead I’ve nailed a smaller caddy to the side of the book case. The books aren’t displayed as nicely as they once were, but it still keeps the smallest ones from getting lost or damaged.


Some very important works of modern fiction on my dresser.


There’s a little space for book storage in my nightstand. More very tall books, old yearbooks, and a fancy illustrated version of Jane Eyre that was weeded out of a prison library! On top of the night stand is what I’m reading currently…and I just noticed they’re all books by First Second. Have no idea where I’m going to fit these once I’m done with them. And on the floor are a few pulpy paperbacks that I keep under the bed because I’m generally embarrassed of them. Like a vampire romance novel.


In the living/kitchen/dining/studio area of my tiny apartment I use the lower shelf of a bench for storing more books. There’s two cloth shoe caddies full of minis (I guess the lesson here is if it can be used to store shoes, it can be used to store comics) and then a stack with books that I picked because they had pretty spines: Habibi, Castle Waiting, a Douglas Adams collection, and Capacity.


Here’s a box of favorite paperbacks from my childhood that I hang on to thinking one day I might have a kid. Or a niece. Or a genetically engineered future cat that’s learned how to read…Hey look, it’s Harriet the Spy!


Of course I keep comics in the bathroom! Here there are mostly mainstream floppies, Free Comic Book Day offerings, and a few graphic novels that I’ve read a million times.


I’ve also got a shelf of books at work. It’s all either comics that friends have mailed to me or library books for research- a few on indie publishing and book binding, prisons, witch hunts, and one N. K. Jemisin book for fun.

Now I’m supposed to pick three books to talk about:



The Lover’s Library by Raymond Peynet
I haven’t found much in English on Raymond Peynet, but he’s huge in France and Japan. This cartoonist has four museums dedicated to his work! I’m a sucker for the simple character design, the playful sexuality and the visual puns. I think his influence on my first graphic novel is probably a little too obvious.



Wake by Jean David Morvan and Philippe Buchet
A fun hard sci-fi, space opera with a female protagonist! Spent all my TCAF earnings on these one year at The Beguiling. There are 16 volumes but only the first 7 have been published in English. I would very much appreciate if someone could translate the rest of these.



Lynda Barry is far and away my favorite artist, and I feel especially lucky to have a copy of her “The Evergreen State College Library Calendiary” as it encompasses all of my interests. And I can totally tell when library books are overdue just by smelling it.'

Many thanks to Colleen for her time and participation. You can view all the previous installments of Comics Shelfie here. Remember to stop by in a fortnight for the next installment.