Frnk v1 cover by Brice Cossu

Frnk, v1: “The Beginning Begins”

Writer: Olivier Bocquet
Artist:  Brice Cossu
Colorist: Yoann Guillo
Lettering: Calix Ltd.
Translator: Edward Gauvin
Published by: Dupuis/EuropeComics
Number of Pages: 58
Original Publication: 2017

“Frnk” is an attractive adventure comic aimed at a younger, tweenie audience. It feels like something that would be a Disney Channel movie of the week.  I’m sure younger readers loved it as a serial in “Spirou Magazine”, where it initially ran. It would have served its audience there well.

 

What Is This One All About?

Some of the awkward foster families Frank has lived with.

Frank the Foster Kid is heading to a new foster family.  After bad experiences with previous temporary parents, he’s a bit cynical on the whole process.  So he runs away, chances across a cave in the forest, and falls into another world.  It’s a primitive world of another time, complete with cavemen, basically, plants that will eat you up, and no technology.  Life without GPS and Google can be tough. You don’t realize how much you take for granted…

They’ve updated “Land of the Lost” for 2017.

Frank falls and tumbles all the way down

When you read the book, you’ll see more stuff telegraphed as the story goes along.  The book is not subtle.  They aimed the story at younger readers. Those readers aren’t experienced enough in pulling apart fiction to see where this stuff is going. Creators should write stories for their audiences, not the critics.  This one aims well.

And, of course, Frank’s parents may not actually be dead, and he might just be a chosen one, and the janitor at the home he was living in knows more than he’s let on before, etc.

You have all the elements you need to throw enough at the stew to create a new series.

It’s not the most original set-up in the world, and parts of it wouldn’t likely survive a common sense test, but it still works.  Like I said before, this is the kind of material you’d find a 10 – 13 year old eating up as a television movie or a Netflix series or something.  It’s not offensive. It’s not bad.  It’s well produced and it moves along at a good pace.

 

A Good Looking Book

An obvious example of manga/anime influence

The manga influence on this book is obvious.  Just look at that reaction shot in the panel above.

It’s a mix of panel to panel storytelling in the Franco-Belgian tradition, but with plenty of flourishes borrowed from the popular comics of Japan.  It’s not overt, but the way Cossu draws faces and some of the occasionally extreme reactions feel pulled out of “Shonen Jump” more than “Spirou Magazine.”

It also feels very loose, and very modern.  The pages aren’t laid out in a strict grid format with every page clearly cut in half so the artist can take two boards to draw each page. The vast majority of the pages are still drawn with rectangular panels, and most in tiers, but those panel and tier sizes expand and contract to fit the story being told.  There’s no one template for the pages to use.  Cossu keepings interesting that way.

The art also doesn’t have that cold, calculated look that a serious manga might have, though, where all the backgrounds are drawn with perfect straight lines and perspective.  “Frnk” has life to even its backgrounds. Things aren’t perfect; they’re cartooned. Straight lines will bend if needed.

In the greenhouse, Frank has a chat with the janitor

This is a busy page, so it gets extra space on the page. Love the color scheme it’s using, too.

The coloring from Yoann Guillo is spot on.  It’s bright and colorful, with an attractive palette of colors. It has some shadows and some textures that all work together to set the scene without taking over the art.  I like the amount of rim lighting Guillo uses throughout the series.  I bet it’s something not many people notice, but it helps define light sources well, and keeps foreground characters popping off their backgrounds nicely.

The schemes are well thought out, too. The cool blue and green interiors of Frank’s home, for example, contrast nicely with the warmer and lush yellows and oranges we see in the new world he lands in.
 

 

Recommended?

Frank vol 1 cover image by Brice Cossu

Yes, I enjoyed it.  Like I said, there are parts of it that feel like a tween movie of the week, but I really enjoyed the art, storytelling, and coloring on this book. The rest is a game of plot mechanics.  Hopefully, as we learn more about the caveman folks, we’ll get interesting character development that will draw us harder into the story.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #94.)

 

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