Interview with Rachel Dukes about Frankie Comics #4 Kickstarter

I had the great pleasure to do a quick email interview with Rachel Dukes, creator of Frankie Comics and the upcoming graphic novel Let Me Walk You Home and hero to cat people everywhere, where we talked about her currently running Kickstarter campaign to print the newest issue of Frankie Comics (as well as some pretty adorable dolls).

Full disclosure for journalistic integrity: I am a backer of this Kickstarter, and consider Rachel Dukes a personal friend.

Guy Thomas: Let’s get right into it. Could you tell me about your Kickstarter campaign?

Rachel Dukes: The Kickstarter campaign is fairly straight-forward. I want to raise $8,500 to fund a run of plush Frankie dolls and the printing cost for Frankie Comics #4. The Frankie dolls will be 6" tall and handmade. (The plan is to debut those at Comic Con next month.) Frankie Comics #4 will be 20 pages of brand new Frankie comics. Black and white (half-toned) interior with a black and white cover on colour stock, just like the previous three issues.

I'm offering several different rewards aside from the doll and issue 4. There's an exclusive 1.5" button, a sticker, past issues of the comic, a t-shirt, and original art all in the standard reward tiers. If we make it past the initial goal there's also stretch goal including new button packs, stickers, patches, and a tote bag.

Thomas: I understand this is your return to Frankie Comics after a long hiatus to draw your upcoming graphic novel, Let Me Walk You Home. When can fans expect to see regular updates online again? Will the content in the new mini be exclusive to that?

Dukes: I'm planning to have regular updates again starting mid/late July after Comic Con International. Right now, I'm focusing on getting through the Kickstarter campaign and getting everything finalized for Comic Con in a few weeks. After that, I'll be able to dedicate myself to drawing and updating comics full-time again.

While Frankie Comics #4 is full of short jokes like Frankie Comics #1-3, it will also include a short story about how/when we first met Frankie. If I can't find a way to easily publish that story on the website, it may end up being exclusive to the mini-comic.

Thomas: The doll is super cute. Can you talk a bit about the process of getting it made?

Dukes: With the guidance of toy creator Claire Sanders, I first started contacting manufacturers for price quotes way back in January. I quickly chose Gann Memorials to use for production. The founder, Chris, was informative, friendly, and enthusiastic about producing the dolls.

When I first contacted Gann I was hoping they could do a build "like a Beanie Baby" but with Frankie's face on it. I sent them a rough sketch of Beanie Baby cat bodies that I drew with Frankie faces. After two different prototypes (leading in to the end of February) I realized they were more comfortable building dolls with a static pose/build so I altered the design to reflect that (and sent them a sketched turn-around of Frankie sitting).

Over the next few months we went through 9 more prototypes: fussing over her stance and the shape of her face. Finally, in May, she was "just right" and ready to go into production. (Here's hoping that the whole batch turns out as cute as the prototype!)

Thomas: You’ve been doing Frankie Comics for a few years now, what else have you done?

Dukes: I do a lot of freelance work and work for anthologies. I drew a comic in the recent Steven Universe: Greg Universe Special #1 by Boom Studios (written by Liz Prince) another in the upcoming Beyond anthology (written by Gabby Reed), and another in Jonathan Baylis' So Buttons: Man of, Like, A Dozen Faces (written by Jonathan Baylis). I have an illustration in Rachel Ann Millar's upcoming Mermaid Book and am currently drawing a comic for the upcoming Oath anthology (written by Megan Rose Gedris). I have a handful of personal projects that I'm currently planning to work on in 2016 but nothing worth mentioning by name yet. Right now I'm primarily a cartoonist for hire when I'm not working on Frankie Comics or Let Me Walk You Home.

Thomas: Is there anything you would like to add?

Dukes: Only that I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone at Gann for putting in so much effort on the dolls and to everyone who has backed (or does back) the Kickstarter. I'm so excited about the dolls and can't wait to see the final batch and send them out to Frankie fans everywhere.

Thomas: What’s your favorite sea creature?

Dukes: It's so hard to choose! Gut reaction? Top three: sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and sea horses. Runners up include: sea otters, starfish, and manta rays.

You can find Rachel’s Frankie Kickstarter here. You can also find her on the web at, Tumblr, and Facebook.