There’s an exciting new Kickstarter out there for you to check out! I talked with Tee “Vixen” Franklin, #BlackComicsMonth advocate and rising comic book writer, about her new project Bingo Love!
Mexi Gremillion: Tee, what brought you to writing Bingo Love? What inspired you to create this novella?
Tee Franklin: I was watching TV and a commercial with two older Black women walking the streets of NY together popped up. I saw them smiling and then giggling and staring at an older Black gentleman and my mind started to wander. Next thing you know, I created a world for the two women and Bingo Love was born.
MG: You’ve worked on a variety of fantastic projects, including Nailbiter, Elements, and Love is Love. What makes Bingo Love stand out from the rest?
TF: I have written a total of fifteen published pages and they’ve all been different. Nailbiter’s “The Outfit” was horror, “A Blazin'” in the Elements Anthology was a fantastical fire story, and the “Tears” page in Love is Love was about tragedy. I create several worlds in my head and I pick and choose which world I want to play in.
When it comes to Bingo Love, I wanted to tell a Queer romance story, but also add tragedy elements to it. Bingo Love is 80 pages, full of love, heartbreak, love, marriages, divorces, children, acceptance, tragedy and so much more. This is a story that needed to be told as there is a lack of inclusion out there – especially Black Queer older women.
MG: I find Bingo to be an intriguing way for two young characters to meet. How did you come to the conclusion that a Bingo room for older ladies would be the best location for Hazel and Mari’s meet cute?
TF: I personally love Bingo and when I have gone, I’ve seen grandparents bring their grandchildren with them, so it was pretty much a no-brainer for me. As far as when they meet later on, it’s just them meeting again full circle. Sometimes when you get bit by the Bingo bug, it stays with you.
MG: Not only the meet cute, but the time periods and location you have chosen are interesting to me as well. Why did you choose to skip through time? Why the 2030, 2015, and 1963? Why New Jersey?
TF: Well for starters, I’m a Jersey gal. Also, who said I skip time periods? Hmmmm????
MG: You have a fantastic team, Tee! Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San, Cardinal Rae — they’ve all done great work. How has it been working with them all? What have they brought to the table?
TF: I. LOVE. THIS. TEAM. You do not understand the love that I have for Jenn, Joy, Cardinal Rae and Erica. Holy SMOKES! These creators are on top of everything. I couldn’t ask for a better team, I love these people so much. Everyone is in sync with each others and the creative juices just flow. Jenn’s inks, Joy’s colors, Cardinal Rae’s letters and Erica’s editing; I’m blessed!
MG: Tee, you seem to know a lot of really cool creators who will be helping with rewards for the Kickstarter. I was wondering why you chose to create a Kickstarter for this project and are publishing the project under your own publishing company rather than going to a bigger company. What brought you to the decision that this was the right way to produce this novella?
TF: Let’s keep it funky, Mexi. We all know that this is not the type of story that the comic industry is interested in.
Strike 1. I’m a Queer, Black, disabled woman.
Strike 2. This is a book with two Black women leads.
Strike 3. One of the women is plus sized and dark skinned.
Strike 4. They’re BOTH Queer.
Strike 5. These women are in their mid 60’s and eventually turn into their mid 80’s.
There are so many strikes against this comic that doesn’t fit in this straight white male comics dominated world.
Black women comic creators that have books with a bigger company are so few, you could probably count them on both hands (I might be exaggerating both hands). You have to be a Black woman in the literary world to be a Marvel writer as it is. Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Boom — where are the Black women comic writers with their own books or a licensed book?
That’s why I decided to Kickstart Bingo Love. Why should I take a chance, put together something and have them tell me no, when I can do it myself with the help of people who actually want a book like this?
I’m truly blessed to have heavy hitters like Gail Simone, Marguerite Bennett, Kelly Sue, Scott Snyder, Al Ewing, Steve Orlando in my corner and wanting me to succeed. Blessed to have Dark Horse’s Patrick Thorpe and Top Cow’s Bryan Edward Hill to donate their time to have this book come to fruition. These people believe in me and want me to tell these amazing stories.
MG: From the few pages I’ve seen of Bingo Love, I’m extremely excited to see the entire novella. The art is beautiful and the writing is strong. What has been your favorite scene in the comic to write?
TF: I’m glad you’re excited and loving what you’ve seen, this pleases me so. My favorite scene that I’ve written is the wedding. I’m a sucker for weddings and when Hazel and Mari get married…grab those tissues. If I had the time and money to pay everyone, I would write a twenty-two page story just on their wedding. It’s pretty damn beautiful.
Hopefully we will reach the stretch goal where Marguerite Bennett and Jules Rivera create a short story for Hazel and Mari’s honeymoon!
MG: Besides Bingo Love, are there any other projects that you are excited about?
TF: Yes! In Femme Magnifique, I have a story with the super talented Brian Stelfreeze. I can NOT wait to see how that story works out.
There’s also another story on the table that I’m trying to close the deal on and it’s definitely something that comics isn’t ready for. Like I said earlier, I’ve created a lot of worlds in this beautiful brain of mine and can tell stories for days.
Bingo Love has made its initial goal on Kickstarter — $20,000 in just five days — but stretch goals are still available and you do NOT want to miss this chance to get in on the ground floor!