Graphic novel dives deep into Alberta's history with tribute to Frank Slide
'It’s just such a ripe place for storytelling,' artist Ben Rankel says of upcoming novel, Frank
A Calgary artist hopes to inspire people to look deeper into Alberta history with a fictional graphic novel set around the Frank Slide — a deadly 1903 rockslide in Frank, Alta., that buried the eastern side of the mining town in limestone, killing more than 90 people.
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"It's just such a ripe place for storytelling."
Rankel's upcoming graphic novel, simply titled Frank, is set to be released in September but an 18-page preview will be featured by the publisher Renegade Arts Entertainment at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo later this month.
"It's about a young woman named Eve (Evelyn) Lee, who has to pull herself out of her bottle long enough to figure out what happened to her missing lover and try to sort everything out before the mountain comes crashing down on her," Rankel explained.
He learned after the project had been given the green light that he would not just illustrate the novel, but write it as well.
"Comics are a visual medium. That is the language of comics," Rankel said.
"The text is something I have to make sure I have enough of so it doesn't read too quickly, people just skimming through panels. That is the challenge, I do a lot of the storytelling through the characters."
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Rankel says he hopes his story, despite having fictional characters, will encourage people to learn a little more about Alberta's rich history.
"Anybody interested in crime, history or just into an exciting story or anybody that wants to get excited about knowing Alberta's history, even if it's a little bit fictionalized," Rankel said of his target audience.
"Anybody that wants to be inspired to tell their own stories about Alberta."
Rankel says he's excited about the future of the genre of graphic novels.
"For a long time, especially in North America, comics were kind of super heroes aimed at dudes. Now you are getting people like Raina Telgemeier and Faith Erin Hicks who are targeting younger girls in school and getting new readers so I think that opens it up."
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With files from The Homestretch