Jason Franks is a comics writer and novelist based in Melbourne. He’s the writer of the religious satire-oriented Sixsmiths graphic novels, the horror Left Hand Path series, gonzo sci-fi/noir with McBlack, and probably three dozen short stories. In a past life Franks quips that he was an anthology editor, notably for the Kagemono series.
Why did you start making comic books?
“I don’t know. I always wanted to be a writer, and when I discovered comics in my late teens that just got subsumed into the desire. I had some idea that I would be a comic artist as well, although I’ve found — to nobody’s surprise — that I much prefer the writing side of it. I guess what drew me to the medium was the way it was so open about genre. Prose at the time was quite stratified, but in comics you could do whatever you liked.”
Who were your local comic book influences?
“Mark Sexton and John Petropolous‘ Bug and Stump was the first time I really saw local comics. Michael Michalandros and Tim McEwen‘s Greener Pastures wasn’t far behind. And then, after awhile, I realized that Eddie Campbell was living in Australia — he as big an influence too. I think you can see all of those quite clearly in both McBlack and the Sixsmiths.
“As an aside: I had the opportunity to work with Tim McEwen recently, and that was quite an incredible experience.”
Do you believe there really is an Australian comics renaissance right now?
“Yeah, I do. I started seriously doing comics when I lived in the ‘States, where there was a big community, and when I moved back here I went looking for similar. What I found here in Melbourne was much smaller, this was back in 2007… but, boy, has that changed. I remember the monthly comic meetups would have 10-12 people in attendance, maximum: now we get sixty-plus without even trying.
“I think that those open-door meets were a large part of it. People started to hear about them, and actual comics started to appear from creators who attended and I think that word got around. Also, we have the internet growing in ubiquity and digital printing becoming ever cheaper and more accessible. Suddenly it was easier than ever to find a community, to find collaborators, to get your work printed and in front of people.”