Franklin and Ghost. You Better Give a Fox
Updated: May 19, 2020
The indie comic scene has many unusual books, but I'll bet you anything that none of them has a trash-talking fox and a flying skull in flames as its protagonists. Well, none except the amazing Franklin and Ghost series, of course.
This graphic novel series is written and created by Garrett Gunn, illustrated by Nicolas Touris and published by Source Point Comics. It tells us the story of two prisoners from an alien planet who escape to Earth in order to avoid the monotony of their lives as miners. Being of a parasite species, they choose the very first thing they could find as hosts for their minds. In the case of Franklin, he chose the body of a fox, granting him a humanoid appearance. However, Ghost landed on a cementery and ended up living inside a skull, which flies using some sort of psychic energy manifesting in the form of blue flames (which is metal as hell, in my opinion). The unlikely duo goes through hilarious adventures as they try to figure out what to do next and how to escape their fate. They are joined by Delilah, a prostitute turned Sarah-Connor-Can-Hold-My-Beer badass who becomes the leader of the group.
This is an adult comic, with sexual references, ultraviolence and foul language. You know, a cool book, but not something you’d want the kids to read. Franklin is constantly breaking the fourth wall, on a way that reminds us of Looney Tunes characters like Bugs Bunny or Disney princesses like Deadpool (I’m allowed to say that now, right?). The general vibe of the book seems to be inspired by shows like Rick and Morty, combining science fiction tropes with absurd comedy and great dialogue. Nicolas Touris’ art is a perfect fit for the series, with a cartoony style that has evolved with each new release and has increasingly surprised fans and gained followers for the franchise.
Recently, it was announced that Franklin and Ghost will be adapted to animation, on a move that proves how much indie comics are increasing their content and reach.
I got in touch with Garrett Gunn to discuss his influences, work, adapting his comic to animation and future projects.
1- Where do you come from and how did that influence you as a creator?
That's a tricky question. I sort of come from all over. I grew up primarily in California, but as a kid, my family moved around a lot. And even as an adult, I lived for a short while across the country in places in Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh. When I joined the military that theme continued as I was sent to Texas, Hawaii, and Afghanistan. So, like I said, all over. I think that , inherently, may be my influence. I’ve lived SO MANY places and met so many incredible people from all walks of life. I think a little piece of all those places sort of stuck with me. And probably influence, even subconsciously, a lot of my stories. Those interactions and connections to people.
2- What inspired you to write this story? I think everybody wants to know how the hell did you come up with a comic about a talking fox and a flying skull fighting aliens.
You know, it wasnt just one thing that inspired it. I’ve mentioned previously in interviews that Franklin and Ghost is sort of my Fantastic Four. By the time I had written the first issue of FnG, I had already published a handful of comics and had been screwed by publishers, creators, friends, etc. It was wearing me out. I was afraid that the love I had for comics would be destroyed by the negative impact of working in comics. So I was ready to walk away, happy that I even had the chance to hang out in this world for a bit. My wife, who had seen some of the concept art I’d done for FnG and a bit of the story, sort of told me, “Why don’t you just do this one?”. It was very difference from everything I had written previously. I had stopped trying to make the “next Walking Dead” and just tried to make something that I personally enjoyed, not caring if anyone else liked it. Luckily they did.
3- Franklin and Ghost’s friendship is very realistic and heartfelt. Was it inspired by your time in the US military and your relationship with your partners?
I think it’s inspired by every friendship I never had. I've had a number of great friends in my life, but they often seemed to be short-lived, mostly because of the necessity to move, either due to my parents or the military. So I think this idea of these two characters willing to cast everything aside for the sake of their friendship was something I wished I’d had in my life and was trying to emulate. Wow, that sounds depressing. Haha. Luckily I’ve found my Ghost these days.
4- You are one of the most successful indie creators out there. What are some of your thoughts on the future of indie comics and their impact in the industry as a whole?
That feels insane to me, to have someone say I’m one of the most successful creators. I’m just a dude trying to make ridiculous stories and connect with people. I truly believe indie comics will replace the mainstream someday. I mean, the majority of people I know who collect mainstream comics, do it on speculation that those books will be worth something someday because of crossover with Hollywood media. These people aren't buying them for the stories, they are buying them in hopes that Punchline gets popular and shows up in the movies so they can sell their copy of her first appearance for 100x what they bought it for. People buy indie comics because they like the creator, or the story, or want to support what they feel is the underdog. Because they are dissatisfied with the status-quo in comics.
5- How did the production of the Franklin and Ghost show start? How has your experience been so far adapting your comic to animation?
It was sort of a no-brainer. Travis McIntire, EIC at Source Point Press, and I were having a conversation and it just sort of came up. We were like “Why aren't we doing this?”. It really started to take off with the involvement of Billy Bob Thornton, who I’d worked with previously and had shown an interest in being involved. When he signed on, it was real. Like, damn, this is an A-List actor who believes in this property enough to put his name on it. We teamed up with an animation studio out of Ireland and things just started to sort of snowball. The addition of the other cast members, Sean Schemmel, Christopher Sabat, and Veronica Taylor, was another huge deal. These are some of the most influential and successful voice actors in the industry and they fell in love with the story as well. Now we feel like we have an obligation to these people to deliver thje most amazing product we can, and I think everyone on our team is ready to deliver that. The important thing to me is, and always will be, making something special that honors the source material. Luckily the animation team, the actors, and the leadership at Source Point Press all share my vision.
6- What can we expect from the franchise in the future? And more importantly, what is next for Garrett Gunn?
So much. Holy cow. I recently started a company called Last Wolf Legion with Sean Schemmel, Michael Calero, and Chris Campana. We have a number of properties in development that are being pitched as comics, television, film, and more. Our book, Cold Dead Hands, debuts in Diamond Previews in June for solicitation. Cold Dead Hands is a three-part miniseries published by Source Point Press which follows aspiring mercenary Kit Kelso, who comes wrist-to-wrist with the deadliest hands in history. We also have an all-ages novel, Spero, being released this summer. Franklin and Ghost, in addition to a television show, is preparing to launch a board game and should be debuting a full animated trailer in the coming months. I am so incredibly lucky to work with so many talented people, and I am thrilled to show you what all of us are up to next.
You can purchase Franklin and Ghost at https://oxeyemedia.com/collections/graphic-novels/products/franklin-and-ghost?fbclid=IwAR3awVcInvL3ta9ggfDxD6ZsScNDzz2wyb0oM0nOQaUxTBgz6GWDjVOwK84
And you can get an exclusive first look at the Franklin and Ghost show here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqyw5vmtVWk
Daniel D. Calvo is a Cuban writer, editor, translator and comics journalist currently based in Pennsylvania, USA. He is a published author in both English and Spanish, having his work appear in anthologies, magazines and literary websites. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Konkret Comics, working on titles such as “Akolyte”, “Absolver” and “Odina”. His translation credits include books, comics and film. He is the head writer of Konkret Spotlight, featuring professional reviews and interviews with several figures from the indie comic world and other mediums. Among other ventures, his first creator-owned comic “Andy Starboy” is set to launch on 2020.