Turning Canada’s worst natural disaster into a historical mystery graphic novel

Here’s my chat with Ben Rankel about his new graphic novel Frank.

Ben Rankel

Ben recently signed with Renegade Arts Entertainment to draw and write Frank, a historical mystery graphic novel set in one of Canada’s worst natural disasters — the Frank Slide. His comic work has also appeared in Avenue Magazine and at the Roq La Rue gallery in Seattle, Washington. His comic, illustration and design work on Sidney York’s 2015 album <3s (HEARTS) was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. He has also published a handful of short comics and pin-up art through various comic book companies including Image Comics, IDW, Monkey Brain and Penny Farthing Press.

During our chat, Ben talked about Frank and why he choose this particular event as the central focus of his graphic novel. “Frank Slide was like a geographical thing that I drove through on a regular basis. As a kid, my parents would take us to BC to visit our grandparents and we’d go through Crowsnest Pass which is where this happened. You’d drive through this giant field of rocks that were just laying across the highway…it was really just a fertile ground for my imagination as a kid.”


At the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Alexander Finbow, publisher at Renegade Arts Entertainment, talked being a small press publisher in Canada. Ben explained why he worked with Renegade rather than do the book on his own through Kickstarter. “I wasn’t actually looking to throw into a book until Alexander approached me and asked me if I was interested….The impetus behind it was through our conversations.”

Ben plans to particate in the Panel One Comic Creator Festival in Calgary. He explained that during his talk he’ll focus on his process for working on a historical book. “I saw so many things while I was researching — too many to even count…There’s just so much of that stuff that we don’t hear about Canadian history or even specifically Alberta history.”

Ben is a big Pokemon fan and has a keen interest to do a Pokemon comic. “I have my Gengar statuette right next to my desk. He’s always there keeping an eye on things.”

You can discover more about Ben on Twitter at @benrankel and online at benrankel.com

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