Finding Frank and his Friend by Melvin Goodge

Finding Frank and his Friend
edited by Melvin Goodge
Curio & Co., 2010

An interesting behind-the scenes look at the creation of the seminal strip Frank and his Friend by Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley, which ran in American newspapers from 1975 to 1984 and was an obvious influence on Calvin & Hobbes.

Comics professor Goodge has collected together 52 previously unpublished strips, together with their preparatory sketches, and has exhaustively annotated them based on his detailed knowledge of Dooley’s life. This ranges from the informative: identifying different cartoon techniques by their commonly-used Nat Tatisms, to the slightly creepy: identifying the model numbers of items of household furniture used in the strip based on Dooley’s catalogue illustrations for Cudworth-Hooper Industrial.

The strip was published in New Zealand in the Hastings Herald Tribune, but the subtle colours were ruined by being printed in black and white and it only lasted for a few months before being replaced by Footrot Flats. The story of an over-imaginative boy and his ever-present doll companion Frank is slightly cutesy for modern tastes, but any notional cartoonist would be honoured by a detailed analysis like this.

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