The Cartoonists by Susanna McLeod        [email protected]

   

Kevin Frank, Creator of "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop"

January 30, 2014

   

Faith has always been a part of Kevin Frank's life. Belief in Christianity has formed the foundation from which Frank has built a career in the arts, from graphic designer to illustrator, and on to syndicated cartoonist. Through wonderful gentle humour and great classic art, the creator of "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" is trying to share a message with readers: not only is there a God, but God loves you.

   

Frank's illustrations and cartoons come from his heart and flow right out through his pen. The northern central United States was the birthplace of Kevin Frank. At approximately age 10, he delved into religion and cartooning. His new faith gave him an abundance of inspirational ideas to draw and share.

Frank made his first attempt at creating a comic strip to entertain his classmates. Captain Clod "used non-violent methods of catching criminals... like turning them into giant chocolate chips," Frank was quoted in Christian Comics International.

Expanding his reach, Frank found an appreciative new audience for his cartoons when he drew illustrations for the Mennonite church newsletter. It was no doubt good practice for his future.

Kevin Frank, Creator of "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop"
Cartoonist Kevin Frank

The mold was cast. On graduation, Frank moved from Peoria, Illinois to Chicago to join a faith-based charity. The inner-city outreach ministry helped the homeless and less fortunate. Along with volunteer work at a thrift shop and a homeless shelter, the young artist was employed as graphic designer and staff artist at Cornerstone Magazine, one of the ministry's publications.

"I designed projects ranging from magazines spreads to music packaging and T-shirts," Frank told Stan Guthrie in "Q&A: Kevin Frank on Christian Comics" (September 12, 2006). "I learned the craft on the job, beginning in the pre-computer days and later making the transition to desktop publishing.

 

While at the magazine, Frank created "Oboe Jones," a two-page full-colour comic. Popular with readers, the feature was published from 1984 to 1998. The Evangelical Press Association also loved the cartoonist's work, honouring Frank with his first award in 1989.

With an "Oboe Jones" anthology book published in the early 1990s, Frank sent a copy to the editors at King Features Syndicate. The comic sparked interest and the strip went into the development stage with the title of "Second Nature." Five long years later, the Syndicate decided the Christian strip wasn't quite what they wanted and set Frank free in 2002.

But you just can't keep a good cartoonist down. Picking up freelance contracts, Frank's illustration and cartooning work appeared in some pretty grand places: Tyndale House, Cook Communications, the Discovery Channel and more.

Meanwhile, Frank met his bride-to-be in Chicago, a young Canadian woman named Kathryn.. The pair married and moved to southern Ontario. Frank's career never missed a beat.

"Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" weekly comic  
Weekly comic "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" by Kevin Frank, King Features Sydicate  
Collection by Kevin Frank, Cartoonist

Developing a strip called "True North," Kevin Frank shared his impressions of winter-living in snowy Ontario. Syndicated by Universal Press in 2002, the strip won the Ontario Community Newspaper Association Award. Unfortunately, "it was carried b only a handful of newspapers in North America and was soon cancelled," said Christian Comics International.

A new feature took up the slack for the talented cartoonists. "ZED" debuted in Campus Life Magazine in 2004 and 2005. The Evangelical Press Association gave Frank his second award in 2006 for the comic published at Thanksgiving 2004.

In 2006, King Features Syndicate introduced Kevin Frank's next feature, "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop." The Sunday-only strip centres on the lives of Cassidy, Dag, and Wilson as they operate a Thrift Shop, soup kitchen and shelter for the homeless. All things in which the cartoonist has found the humour from the inside view.

   
Collection by cartoonist Kevin Frank (2008)    

Noticing religion was taking a bigger stage (with blockbuster movies like "Passion of the Christ"), Frank considered it the right time for a Christian comic strip. Frank has ambitions for his comic. Along with being entertaining for all cartoon fans to enjoy, his "goal is very simple: To remind people that there is a God, and that God loves them," Frank said to Guthrie. "If I can accomplish this on a regular basis in any number of newspapers across North American, I will consider the strip a success."

Smaller newspapers have been open to the comic; however, "Heaven's Love Thrift Shop" has not yet captured the larger newspaper markets. Along with "True North," Frank as well has published "Balaam's Chicken," with cartoons based on the Bible, and a kids' book, "There's a Monster Under My Bed." His artwork also graces the cover of "Adventures with God: Devotional Reading for a Year." The illustrator's work continues. One of his latest projects was creating cartoons for a video about Sarnia, Ontario.

According to Cartoonist Interview #79 on David-Wasting-Paper, (February 21, 2010) Frank's classic-style cartoons are produced with a pencil and fine-point Sharpie, on "cheap bond for the roughs, and slick glossy stock for the inking." The delightful cartoons are produced on a small desk at home in Ontario, surrounded by supplies, computer and the art of his three children.

View Kevin Frank's web cam and find lots of information on this talented Christian cartoonist at Kevin Frank: Humorous Illustrator. And have a look at the Oboe Blog, too!

   
© Susanna McLeod 2014
TheCartoonists.ca  
"Balaam's Chicken" by Kevin Frank