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Writer Tee Franklin Dishes on Her New Comic Bingo Love

Writer Tee Franklin Dishes on Her New Comic 'Bingo Love'

Writer Tee Franklin Dishes on Her New Comic 'Bingo Love'

Tee Franklin is giving the comic industry a run for its money with a brand new comic about queer Black women whose love spans decades. 

Tee Franklin’s been making waves in comics for quite some time. As a writer and activist, she’s consistently been outspoken about the lack of inclusivity in the comics industry. And she’s isn’t playing around when it comes to making changes.

Exhausted by the idea of not seeing more racial, sexual, gender, and disability inclusion in comics, Franklin founded Inclusivity Press. Then, in early 2017, Franklin took an even bigger step to mark the changes she’d been fighting so long and hard for: she launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her own comic,Bingo Love.

Bingo Love is what Franklin describes as a Black, queer, romantic graphic novella. The comic tells the love story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, who meet at church bingo and fall madly in love with each other. The story spans 60 years, following Hazel and Mari well into their senior years—a rarity in LGBTQ media and representation.

We spoke with Franklin to get some insight into her creative thought process and hopes for Bingo Love, which will be released this Valentine’s Day!

PRIDE: Your comic, Bingo Love, is coming out in February, and it’s a queer love story that spans several decades. What made you want to tell this particular story?

Tee Franklin: When it comes to LGBTQ representation, besides the fact that it’s lacking period, it’s usually a tragic ending to further someone’s plot. I know I’m not in the minority when it comes to being sick and tired of being killed to further the main character’s story, or being the trusty "sidekick." As a queer, disabled, Black woman, there’s not enough representation as it is for someone like myself, let alone someone’s who’s young. I wanted to tell a story where the LGBTQ youth knows, for certain, that happily ever afters aren’t just for straight people.

P: It’s rare that you see relationships between older people in queer media. Based on the response to Bingo Love so far, do you think there’s a bigger market for queer stories that feature mature characters?

TF: I would hope so! Why does stories have to be just about young people or adults? And for that matter, why are the only older people in comics usually white men? Magneto, Professor X, Uncle Ben, Pa Kent, come to mind when I think of seniors in comics...oh, and Aunt Mae.

I plan to change all of that with Bingo Love. As long as there’s an audience, I will be telling their story. Because guess what? We get old too.

P: You wrote Bingo Love, but you also have an artist, a colorist, a letterer, and an editor onboard. How did you go about assembling your team?

TF: I have such a badass team! I actually found artist Jenn St-Onge and colorist Joy San via Twitter. Erica Schultz is the editor and she knew Cardinal Rae. The team is smooth like butter. We work extremely well together and I couldn’t have been able to tell Bingo Love without them.

P: What kinds of challenges or obstacles did you face while creating Bingo Love? How did you overcome them?

TF: Goodness. There are some racists and bigots out there. Holy crap! I’ve been called the n-word SEVERAL times along with pervert and other derogatory names just because I created Bingo Love. It even got so bad I received death and you-know-what threats. It was discouraging because all I wanted to do was tell a story. I had no idea that I’d receive this much hate from creating this beautiful and touching love story.

It hurt. I cried several times, but never once did I want to give up. It’s gotten worse since the image announcement and I just don’t understand it. If it wasn’t for my friends, Erica Schultz and Shawn Pryor, I honestly don’t know how I would’ve gotten through it.

P: What can you tell me about your creative background and how you got started in comics?

TF: Well, I don’t have much of a creative background. Once upon a time I was a comics journalist and due to me speaking out against the lack of representation in comics, I gained the respect of several well-known comic creators. In turn, they "peer pressured" me into creating comics and I haven’t looked back.

P: You’ve spent some time speaking out about the lack of diversity and inclusivity in comics. Have you seen any positive changes in the industry? If not, what can comic lovers and creators do to bring about change?

TF: I’ve seen very few, but nothing that I’d celebrate. There’s no reason why it should take 75 years for a comics publisher to hire a Black woman writer.

If comic creators are truly allies and want to bring about change, reach out to marginalized comic creators and give them a backup story in your book. It’s how I got my start thanks to Joshua Williamson. Or better yet, let them do a one-shot. Or how about just hiring us from the start??

P: What advice would you give to aspiring comic creators who aren’t sure how to get started?

TF: If you want something done, do it yourself. I did Bingo Love myself because I knew publishers would turn it down. There’s Kickstarter, Webcomics and Tumblr out there. Put your work out there and promote the heck out of it. The only one who’s gonna stop you is you.

P: Where do you see yourself creatively in five years?

TF: I’d love to be a TV writer. Scratch that. I see myself writing a few episodes of Bingo Love for TV. Email me Netflix, Hulu, Amazon—let’s talk! 

P: Aside from Bingo Love, do you have any other projects in the works?

TF: I’m working on a horror project and a YA series right now, in addition to some things I can’t share. Let’s just say 2018-2019 is going to be extremely interesting! Thank you to everyone for their support and I hope to see you at a Bingo Love signing near you!

To learn more about Tee Franklin and Bingo Love be sure to visit the official website, BingoLoveComic.com. Bingo Love is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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Tm Obscura

TM Obscura is a writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.

TM Obscura is a writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.