Columns / Noel Franklin

Last Call

BY NOEL FRANKLIN

Noel Franklin,1FINALtitle1,Last Call 1Last Call #1: OK Hotel, Seattle

An introduction to the series:

Last Call developed from my research for a potential graphic novel. As a  beginning comics creator, I felt this project would do double-duty: it’s a way to practice the art form while accumulating an image bank to draw from in future, larger work. Much of what impacted my life during the era I am writing about is related to bars and performance venues (maybe that’s because I hardly left the studio when I was earning a degree in printmaking, and when I did, it was with friends to catch a show and/or a few drinks).  These places incite people to life. Last Call explores a history of bars that once served as culturally significant performance venues but which are now gone. Seattle’s OK Hotel became the obvious starting point for the series.

Among the challenges Last Call presents is deciding what portion of a venue’s history to include in very few pages.  Another challenge is sourcing documentation; much happened before everyone started carrying camera phones.  I worked from a few images from old newspaper articles, but most photographs I solicited from former employees and artists who frequented the OK Hotel, relying heavily on social media to get the word out.  Even so, I ended up inventing most of the panels by cross-referencing photos or using visual metaphors where actual references weren’t available–like the banter on page #2 between the bartender and the emcees.

It’s ironic that social media will play such a big role in this project, as I extoll the virtues of getting out to interact with the world in person.  I hope to rise to the challenge that a dearth of images may present, and be prepared to coax out stories regarding venues I did not know as well as the OK Hotel.  I plan to focus on venues I have enjoyed, for the first few Last Calls–including HotHouse in Chicago, Satyricon in Portland and New York’s CBGBs–but also want to include places I never had a chance to experience in America’s important musical cities.

Noel Franklin is a Seattle-based performance poet and visual artist with an academic background in fine arts printmaking.  Her poetry has garnered a Seattle Arts Commission grant, a Jack Straw Foundation Fellowship and placement on Seattle’s National Poetry Slam team.  Her visual art has been exhibited in Seattle, Sacramento and San Francisco.  “Arachnophobia,” Franklin’s fifth comics short story, is featured in the premiere issue of inkt|art, and serves as a stop along the way to bringing her graphic novel, Gone Girl, to fruition. Work from her newest series, Last Call, will be featured here regularly.

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