Stephan Franck is Back with Another Neo-Noir Powerhouse!

Writer:  Stephan Franck

Artist:  Stephan Franck

Inks:  Stephan Franck

Letterer:  Stephan Franck (it’s so hard to get good help nowadays)

Publisher:  Dark Planet Comics

Price:  Variable, depending on Kickstarter pledge level (Palomino alone is $20)

Available:  On Kickstarter through May 13—so get on it, True Believer! (Publication Date is July, 2020)

Up for backing on Kickstarter now until May 13 is Stephan Franck’s country western neo-noir graphic novel, Palomino.  A follow up (though in no way thematically related) to his previous self-published release, Silver, Palomino offers a father/daughter bond amidst a sea of loss, confused hopes and dreams…and murder.

From Franck’s press release:

The year is 1981. The American Century is running on fumes, but the end isn’t anywhere in sight. The cowboy is still America’s most central symbol—and from movies, to music, to the President himself, it all hails from Southern California. Welcome to PALOMINO, cartoonist Stephan Franck’s all new neo noir graphic novel series, set in the lost culture of Los Angeles’ country music clubs.

The age of urban cowboys is in full swing. Cowboy hats and rhinestone suits are all the rage. Kenny Rogers “Lady” is Billboard’s number three song of the year. Dolly Parton is a national icon. And across LA, six nights a week, working musicians, TV actors, stuntmen, cops, hustlers, and broken souls all play their part in the cultural myth making. Most of them are just trying to survive—on the B-side of the City of Angels.

Stephan Franck is an award-nominated animator, writer, and director who has worked on some of the most beloved animated films of all time, including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Iron Giant, and currently is Head of Animation on the MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE’s first animated series WHAT IF? For the last five years, Franck has been writing, illustrating and publishing SILVER, a graphic novel series that mashes up the world of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula with action, adventure, humor, pulp storytelling and modern sensibilities.

And now Franck and his company, Dark Planet Comics, are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund PALOMINO, the first part of a planned four-part graphic novel series. PALOMINO captures Los Angeles’ spirit, with hardboiled dialogue, honkytonk music, and details from the city’s weird and forgotten history.

“Cowboy culture is central to California’s history,” said Stephan Franck. “It came out west with the Dust Bowl Okie migration that Steinbeck depicted in Grapes of Wrath, showed up again in Easy Rider and the hippy generation’s cosmic cowboys, and in one form or another sold the American century to the world and to America itself. On one level, PALOMINO is about the lost subculture of LA’s country western music scene of the 1980’s, but it’s also about people living inside the myth-making machine, motivated by the belief that, here in the west, you can always reinvent yourself.” 

At the center of PALOMINO is a unique father-daughter relationship. Eddie Lang’s an ex-cop turned working musician with big dreams, but dreams don’t pay the rent. So Eddie reluctantly works as a private investigator to provide for his teenage daughter, Lisette. Eddie and Lisette share an unbreakable bond and a dry sense of humor. But they’re stuck. They’re haunted by a terrible loss and an unsolved crime that looms large over their lives. They’re running out of time to fix their family.  And just as things seem at a stalemate, a new murder case upends their lives. 

This is PALOMINO — where Farrah Fawcett hair reigns supreme, where Ronald Reagan is beginning his first term as President, and where LA’s hottest music spot is North Hollywood’s historic Palomino Club.

I can tell you, having read Silver and its fascinating companion piece, Rosalynd (both also available via the Kickstarter, and highly recommended), Stephan Franck is an outstanding storyteller and artist.  Silver is a fast-paced, Ocean’s Eleven meets Dracula noir mash-up and was a blast to read beginning to end, and I have to imagine Palomino will be much the same. With art reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke and writing that’s equal parts Elmore Leonard and Christopher Moore, and a murder story set firmly in the world of would-be Kenny Rogers and Dolly Partons, how could it not?!?

Palomino achieved full funding within a couple days of its posting, and its tentative shipping date looks to be July of this year.  I can tell you from having backed Franck’s Silver, he works very hard to meet his publication estimate with extraordinary quality, so your investment’s in good hands here.

Review by Andy Patch,

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