by Colleen Frakes
Woman King is a fable about battles that are fought but never won. Colleen Frakes uses the story of a girl raised by talking bears to drive the message home.
The bears say that someday, this girl will be their king and lead them to victory against mankind. They raise her as their own until she turns 18, at which time she determines her own fate.
The book is punctuated with statements about the girl’s age. “Part One: Age 3” “Part Four: Age 9” and so on, until the passage of time feels more like a series of snapshots than a sweeping history of her life in the wild. She’s a significant character, the central character, for much of the book, but she doesn’t utter a word until she takes on the mantle at age 18 and accepts what must be done. She behaves just like a child until she becomes just another cog in the machine.
Woman King is a very lovely book. Frakes has come a long way since her earlier mini Tragic Relief (which was later re-drawn for the Xeric-funded release). Her lines are confident and vivid, her backgrounds are lush, and she knows how to apply dry brush strokes in a really effective, elegant way. Attending the Center for Cartooning Studies has clearly had a huge impact on how she works. In Woman King, she’s found her style and hit it in stride. I look forward to seeing what she’ll do next.
Woman King is a square-bound hand-made book. Very ambitious work, and I appreciate it. I hope more cartoonists find unique ways of presenting their longer works, like this.
The book is 5″x5″, black and white guts with a color cover, square-bound, 88 pages and $7 from iknowjoekimpel.com.
– Sarah Morean