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Christian Comics Pioneers

Kevin Frank - thenKevin Frank (USA / CANADA)

Born in 1962, Kevin started drawing cartoons at about the same time he became a believer, around age ten. Quite naturally his very first cartoons often reflected his newfound faith. He drew his own comic book, "Captain Clod," for the other kids at school. ("The captain used non-violent methods of catching criminals... like turning them into giant chocolate chips.")

His first published cartoons were religious ones featured in his little Mennonite church's bulletin. These were illustrated Bible verses, none of which are still extant ("and probably just as well..."). The only one Kevin can clearly recall was the Proverb which reads, "He who rolls a stone will have it return on him." (The cartoon showed a man running from a giant "Indiana Jones-sized" boulder.)

His only Christian Comic influence at this time was Jack Chick. Kevin says, "I collected all his tracts, more to study than to hand out. Say what you will about his later beliefs, the early Jack Chick was my only link with Christians and comics. That and the Al Hartley (Archie) Christian comics which I discovered around the same time."

After High School ("where I graduated as the art department's outstanding student, thank you very much") Kevin moved from "sleepy Peoria, Illinois to windy Chicago" and joined an inner-city ministry where Kevin became a staff artist in 1982. "Many crazy years followed," he reports, "Often working around the clock with (now) antiquated equipment like waxers and stat-cameras."

During all this deadline madness he created a two-page full-color comic feature called Oboe Jones. It debuted in 1984, and ran until 1998. One of his comics ("Memento Mori," detail shown here, above right) won the Evangelical Press Association's first place in 1989.

Kevin's work on Oboe was also praised by Tampa Tribune editorial cartoonist Wayne Stayskal who wrote: "Kevin's some kind of cartoonist. He gets us to laughing about real life situations long before we realize he's touching our souls, challenging us to be better than before. Never condemning; always uplifting. He's a rare talent."

An anthology of these Oboe Jones comics was released in 1992 (cover shown here at left) with some new panel strips. Kevin mailed a copy to Charles Schulz, who responded with a very kind letter of praise. ("I also sent copies to other newspaper strip creators, including Bill 'Calvin & Hobbes' Watterson, who never responded at all. Good ole Sparky Schulz!")

On a whim, Kevin later sent a copy of the Oboe book to King Features Syndicate. To his surprise, he was contacted by the editor there who was interested in creating a similar strip for newspaper syndication--a Christian strip! ("The editor thought that there might be a niche market for it. Imagine my joy! The culmination of my life-long dreams! And an international witness to boot!") However, after some five years of working on and off in the development stage, his Christian strip "Second Nature" was scrapped. "It was always a little 'too Christian' for my editor," says Kevin.

He began doing freelance artwork about this time and has been blessed to have drawn for publishers including Cook Communications, Group Publishing, Christianity Today magazine, Tyndale House Publishers, and others.

Over the years Kevin's work has also appeared in Christian comics publications such as Paro-Dee (1993), Safe Comix (1988), Graven Images Redeemed (1997) and Christian Comics & Games Magazine (1995-96).

Kevin moved to a tiny town in Canada ("because I married a wonderful Canadian woman, see..."), and in 2002 he launched a syndicated comic strip with Universal Press called "True North" ("The story of an American from Chicago who marries a Canadian and moves to a dinky town in Canada... hmmmm"). The strip won an award from the Ontario Community Newspaper Association, but sadly it was carried by only a handful of newspapers in North America and was soon cancelled. ("So it may be destined to become a collectors item, like the Edsel.")Kevin Frank - now

In 2004 and 2005 Kevin produced the "Zed" comic feature for Campus Life Magazine. The Thanksgiving 2004 "Zed" comic strip snared Kevin his second Evangelical Press Association award.

Currently Kevin has a color Sunday strip feature entitled HEAVEN'S LOVE THRIFT SHOP that is syndicated internationally by King Features Syndicate. He has also published Balaam's Chicken, a 130-page Bible cartoon book. He is allowing anyone who buys the book to reprint his cartoons for their own church's bulletin or newsletter - "as long as it's free, and credit is given."

In 2010 Kevin started The Oboe Blog ("For anyone who still remembers") featuring "all of the Oboe Jones comics from 1985-1998, and a few extras."

Kevin and his wife Kate have two sons, Warren and Graham, and a daughter Renee.

Heaven's Love Thrift ShopKevin Frank's comic strip "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" is distributed by King Features Syndicate, which also handles strips such as Blondie, Spider-Man, Baby Blues, Dennis the Menace, and Mutts!

"Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" is the story of Wilson, Cassidy, and Dag, who run a charitable thrift shop which supports outreaches including a soup-kitchen and homeless shelter. The strip is available as a color Sunday feature to newspapers across North America.

If your local newspaper doesn't have "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" please contact the editor and ask them to add it today!

See samples on the King Features website!

More Kevin Frank on the Web

Kevin Frank - Humorous Illustrator (Official Site)

The Oboe Blog ("For anyone who still remembers")

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