Colleen Frakes is a cartoonist who is completely new to me, embarrassingly enough, so here’s her biographical information lifted directly from her website: “Colleen Frakes makes comics and works in a library. She was a member of the inaugural class of the Center for Cartoon Studies, and was awarded a Xeric Grant to publisher her book Tragic Relief in the fall of 2007. In 2009, her second graphic novel Woman King won the Ignatz award for Promising New Talent. Her most recent book, Island Brat, was published with help from Koyama Press.” I like the look of her work on her website so I’ll be seeking out her books.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Colleen Frakes: I’ve self-published three graphic novels, have a mini comic series called Tragic Relief, and drawn short comics for many many anthologies and newspapers. My work tends to be based in fairy tales and folklore.

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

CF: Probably my second graphic novel, Woman King, which won an Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent in 2009. Because of its popularity I’ve sold out of the initial print run, but you can read the entire book on my website.

WCP:How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

CF: Traditional brush and ink, with watercolors if the project calls for color.

WCP: Can you tell us a little about your books that you’ll have with you at SPX?

CF: I’ll have my newest book Island Brat, that was published earlier this year with help from Koyama Press. It’s about McNeil Island, America’s last island prison accessible only by air or sea. It was also my family’s home for ten years. In late 2010 the State of Washington decided to close the facility, and all of the island resident’s were made to evacuate their homes and abandon the island. Island Brat explores the history of this unique community, and the idea that you can never really go home again.

WCP: You’ve attended the Small Press Expo in the past – do you have any thoughts about your experience?

CF: I’ve attended SPX every year since 2007. It’s one of my favorite conventions, always very well organized and friendly.

WCP: What are you looking forward to buying or seeing or doing for this year’s event? Or who do you want to see, to catch up on old times, or to have a fanboy/girl experience?

CF: Can’t wait to pick up a copy of Melissa Mendes’ Xeric winning book, Freddy Stories, my tablemate Laura Terry’s Morning Song, which was nominated for the Ignatz Award at this year’s show, and I would be looking forward to Kagan McLeod’s Infinite Kung Fu, if I hadn’t gotten impatient and pre-ordered it. And I’m looking forward to catching up with all of the Center for Cartoon Studies alumni; SPX often feels like a class reunion.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?

CF: The format might change, but there will always be a place for comics.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?


The Small Press Expo takes place 11 am–7 p.m. Sept. 10 and noon–6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda. $10-$15.