Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for your new graphic novel series, Palomino. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this ongoing story?
Stephan Franck: Palomino is a neo-noir LA-crime story set in a unique setting: the subculture of LA’s country music clubs in 1981. The main character is Eddie Lang. He used to be a Burbank PD detective, who is now disgraced and begrudgingly working as a PI by day, and as a musician by night as the famous (and historic) Palomino Club in North Hollywood. And meanwhile, he is full-time father to Lisette, a rebellious teenage daughter who is quite the chip off the old block. The bond and love between them is unshakable. Like many of the characters I like to write, those two have a wicked sense of humor that is their coping mechanism as they go through life. Yet the family is broken by an unresolved tragedy that unraveled their life. As we find them, they are stuck and running out of time to fix things, when a mysterious crime wedges itself into their lives and upsets the apple cart. As we follow Eddie and Lisette into their world, we encounter a colorful cast of characters who are all broken, hysterical, and endearing in their own way.
BD: In the series, you deftly intertwine the noir and western genres with Los Angeles as the backdrop. What can you tell us about your creative process in melding these genres in bringing the story to life?
SF: Many of my readers know me as an animation and comics person and may not know that as a musician myself. I played in clubs since the time I was a kid until a few years ago, and especially upon playing the country music clubs in LA, I became excited by the idea that this would be an incredible setting for a noir story. Most musicians I know are hopeless romantics, hiding it with moderate success behind a mask of hard-boiled cynicism and a sharp sense of humor. How much more noir than that can you get? Then, beyond the musical setting and the colorful personal drama, we’re in 1981, and the Palomino is a hub where the music business, the Valley side of Hollywood, the local political and economic power structure, all collide, at a time when the American Century is beginning to falter, and the seeds of the world we’re living in today are being planted. That’s a lot of opportunity for the hard case characters in Palomino to trip over--and they will. Lastly, life in LA itself--in particular in the Valley--which I love, is a character of its own right. LA is a town that, even in normal times, could fool you into thinking it’s standing still, and yet everyone has ten different hustles going on. But my favorite take on noir in this book is Lisette. I see her as an old soul and as hard-boiled as her dad is. Yet, she also has the natural innocence and generally confused brain of a teenager, so she is really fun to write! And whether she was inspired by a mix of my two daughters when they were teens--I can neither confirm nor deny.
BD: What are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute to your campaign?
SF: The central focus of the campaign is the first volume of Palomino in trade paperback. I am very excited to share it with people, as I personally feel that is the strongest work of my career to date. People know me in comics for the Silver series which was a bold, expressionist, black-and-white book that was a modern revisiting of classic newsprint pulp stories. But Palomino is in color, and it captures the spirit of the late '70s / early '80s, and the color lets me play with a vast palette of expressivity and emotion. When I do comics, I always try to combine the cinematic language of my animation work with a graphic-design quality that is native to the medium, and I try to make each page memorable and unique. That’s why some of the art from the book also lends itself to make awesome art prints that we are also offering as part of the Kickstarter. Then, we have bundles that combine Palomino with the 4 Silver books and their prequel, Rosalynd. It’s a great opportunity for Silver Universe readers who may need to complete their collection, and binge-worthy for those who just discovered us.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Palomino’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
SF: One of the most fun aspects of Palomino is the richness of its cast of characters. While they all play their role in a crime plot, they are all fully human people. I started by writing their own storylines as independent short stories, almost like segments in an Altman movie, to explore their individual points of view and their humanity. Then, I retold the story in its linear form and tried to represent them as well as I could. This first volume in particular is about getting to know these characters, to fall in love with them and with their world, and to get you anxious about the trouble they are getting into. It is about characters living through a story, and I believe that they will invite you in and stay with you.
My personal way into Palomino was the father/daughter story at the heart of it. Last year, my youngest of three kids finished college and embarked on her own creative adventures, and as a page was turning in my life, it made me want to look back at my own adventures on parenting. What made it work... What could I have done differently? And most importantly to examine the very nature of the bond and relationship between parent and child. If I may offer my opinion, I believe that the absence of judgment is the key.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Palomino and its Kickstarter campaign?
SF: To find more about Palomino, this campaign, and all Dark Planet Comics books, you can go to the campaign’s main page or follow me or Dark Planet on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and by visiting the Dark Planet Comics website.