Tee Franklin is not only the first black female writer at Image Comics but also an activist and the instigator of Black Comics Month. She's also received some well-deserved critical acclaim for her touching LGBTQIA romance comic, Bingo Love.
Her first graphic novel, Bingo Love was published via a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $60,000. The story centers on two black queer women named Hazel and Mari who met and fell in love in the 1960s but were separated by their prejudiced families and society. Meeting again decades later while in their mid-60s, the two grandmothers rekindle their romance when they come to realize they still love each other.
SYFY WIRE recently sat down with Franklin, who explained how comics were actually part of her life for decades and shared a funny story as to how it all happened. Going back into comics a few years ago after she had to give it all up to raise a family, she realized that the world of comics did not really represent black, queer, disabled women like her.
"Back in 2014-2015, when I finally got back into comics, I just noticed that finding someone who looked like me — not just on the pages of the comic but on the cover of a comic — was really far and few between and it just really irked me and I wanted to yell about it. But when you're on social media, you can p*** people off. And I noticed me talking about the fact that there were no black women writers in Marvel, people listened," Franklin told us.
Before Bingo Love, Franklin's debut into comics was actually a four-page horror story titled "Skin," published in Image Comics’ Nailbiter #27. She then went on to crowdfund Bingo Love, raising three times the amount she was targeting in just five days.
"I could have taken it to Image from the beginning or Dark Horse," Franklin said. "But I wanted the people to tell me… I wanted the public to say 'no we don't want to read this crap' and then I would know that 'okay, thought I had something.' But it just took off." The book ended up selling out at Image Comics before it even hit comic book stores, with Image promptly ordering a second printing. "People might be tired of superheroes and the same recycled stories," she added.
Franklin then spoke about her next comic book title, Jook Joint (which she wrote after her four-page horror story), which Image describes as a "five-issue time-period horror miniseries about a brothel/jazz club exposing the social evils of racism, rape, domestic violence, and inequality." Penned by Franklin with art by Maria Nguyen, it's set to be released in October, right on time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Dive deep into our video interview for more with Tee Franklin, including how listening to Beyoncé's Lemonade helped her tap into her inner serial killer for Jook Joint.
Additional material by Nathalie Caron.