The Lions of Chile: Franko
Thousands of years after the fall of man, a young lion stalks the deserts of Chile…
Franko: Fables of The Last Earth
Kickstarter ending 4/28/16[Note from the editor: Franko’s “Fables” is safe for work and none of the links in this post go directly anywhere that would raise an alarm, but they’re all one click away from some deep awkward.]
I hope my mate doesn’t catch wind of me writing this. He’s a hyena. They have a thing about lions. But I had to write about this one, because…
Because Franko is really cute.
There are other reasons. It’s an appealing character with a nice design; the artist, Cristóbal Jofré, consistently brings me joy when I see his work on FurAffinity; if I see the graphic novel in translation maybe I’ll finally learn what that damned squiggle on Franko’s chest is about; Franko’s friend Shin is really, really hot; every three or four hours a different picture of Franko and Shin turns up on my monitor, and I remember that I promised I’d write this one. Because, again, Franko really is that cute.
So, what’s it about? Besides lions in statistically insignificant amounts of clothing?
Franko: Fables of the Last Earth, published originally in Spanish in 2013 (That recently? huh!) is the story—well, stories—of the young lion Franko, his friend Shin (about whom see above, or here, or here…), and the various people, demons, spirits, and other strange things they encounter in their distant-future Chilean wilderness. The stories are framed as fables, little mythologies with messages. This is a storytelling mode that reaches as far back in time as the stories do forward: a modern mythological journey.
Obligatory name-drop: Franko is the work of writer Ángel Bernier and artist Cristóbal Jofre. Thanks to a lifeline thrown me by Sofawolf, I can say that Bernier is a writer and editor, working with comics and fanzines since 2006 (“Tinta Negra,” “Informe Meteoro,” and others.)
Of the latter, Jofre has worked on several titles, including the fascinating but frequently NSFW virtual anthology comic “Blanco Experimental,” art-mag/comic “Solar Storm,” and some previous work for Sofawolf. He’s been bopping around the fandom for quite some time, as Franko just celebrated his tenth birthday on FA (and here’s the original Franko! I love seeing how he’s evolved over the years!)
I’d love to know if there’s any common traits among the anthro artists in South America and Spain. Of course every artist has a unique style, but I’ve been so impressed by Juanjo Guarnido‘s stunning Blacksad, Oscar Martin’s dark Solo, and of course Jofre’s Franko…do they draw from a common well? Franko’s a different category, of course, charming rather than gritty.Helpfully, the upcoming translation of Franko will have some cultural notes to help unpack the story for its English readers.
(I’ve read that paragraph a few times now, and it just sounds worse each time I read it. Life goes on.)
Franko’s current Kickstarter and upcoming graphic novel in translation are both the work of the Kickstarter veterans at Sofawolf Press. They’ve had remarkable success with established product, with Vernon’s Digger and Bruton (et al)’s Dark Desires. Products which, interestingly, all incorporate some really powerful mythic elements. Does one of the happy canines at Sofawolf study Comparative Mythology? I hope so.
Sofawolf’s campaigns tend to be pretty generous on the physical reward front, and this one’s no exception. Plushies, a bandana-mask, stickers, and other oddments. Amazingly, there’s still a few pieces of original artwork left, for backers with only modestly deep pockets. There’s a chance that these aren’t moving as well as, say, the recent Anubis project did, since Jofre still occasionally takes commissions and is fairly approachable. And in fairness, it’s hard to compete with the combined star power of Dark Natasha, Bruton, Smith, Light, Miles, and Stein. (Whew!) But Franko’s absolutely delightful, and I’m so glad Sofawolf took a chance on him! Maybe we’ll see the second graphic novel, “Stories in Glorious Black and White,” at an upcoming con.
As of this writing the title is about $2000 under it’s 8K goal. The team can easily close this distance in the two weeks remaining, but it looks like it’s been a slow road to success. Unfortunate, I’d love to see the hardcover book happen, but the softcover translation alone is going to be a treat.
There are several ways to follow the illustrator. A few months ago Jofre (AKA Negger) kicked off a Patreon, but it never really got much traction, and seems to be inactive at the moment. You can get regular art updates from him on Tumblr (right this second worksafe, unless you scroll down a lot), FA (not remotely worksafe, you have been warned), and DeviantArt (Slightly more worksafe than FA but really that’s not saying much). Log on, +watch, and show some lion love!
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