On a cool evening on the swamp, a figure appears dancing across the water. A human figure, but far from a human form. A Ghost, a young girl spirit that seems to have lost its way. A good Samaritan owl decides to help against the wishes of his animal brethren.
What mysteries does the ghost girl hold the secrets to and what will happen when she and the owl unlock them together? Will they find out what happened to her? Will she find her way to where she needs to be? What will happen to the animals in the swamp and surrounding forest? An adventure with the most unlikely of pairs, The Ghost, the Owl.
The Ghost, The Owl from Action Lab Entertainment will be avilable May 15, 2018. Writer Franco opens up about crafting a modern fable below!
Ashley Kronsberg: The Ghost, The Owl tells the story of a lost spirit who is aided by an owl to unlock the mystery of her passing. What inspired you to write this story? What is the significance of the Owl being the spirits guide?
Franco: The inspiration for this story came from conversations I had with Sara about what kind of project we wanted to work on together. We had talked it over a bit but ultimately I asked her what some of her favorite things to draw were and at one point she said ghosts and owls. That statement from her then pretty much cemented what you have out on the book shelves right now.
Why is the owl the guide... Owls throughout the ages have always had this mythical quality. If you go back to the Goddess of Wisdom from Ancient Greece, owls were her most revered creature of feathers. She found it to be wise and beautiful. I knew that our owl was the driving force of this story so I wanted him to have very clear convictions. Things from his past have shaped the things that he does now, the things that he believes in now. That wisdom comes from someplace. Wisdom happens in any being when they go through trauma, when shown what kindness is, all of those experiences make all of us who we are. The owl’s purpose here is to help.
Ashley Kronsberg: The art in this story is highly surreal and unique, working perfectly alongside the elegant story you have told. What brought you and Sara Richard together to work on this project?
Franco: Sara and I have know each other for a few years now. We would always see each other at conventions in different cities across the country. I’ve been a fan of her work for quite a while. One particular convention we happened to be seated right next to each other and conversations usually happen in those instances. At this convention she had this beautiful print of one of her paintings of an owl that she was selling and I kept admiring it all weekend and said to her you should really write and illustrate a book with owls.
She said that she wasn’t much of the writing type to which I blurted out “I’ll write a story” before she even finished her sentence. I really felt that the story needed to properly stand up to the ethereal quality of her work. We decided very early on that it would not look like a traditional comic book, nor did I want it to look like a children’s illustrated book, but something in between. The very first page is the only page with a traditional comic panel but then it quickly breaks from that and each page is a fully painted image. We put a lot of effort into making the words and pictures flow with each other, we wanted the words to become part of the image.
Ashley Kronsberg: In the story, we see the Owl face some push back for trying to help the young ghost spirit find her way. Why was it important for the Owl’s peers to disapprove of his attempts to help her?
Franco: In life you will always find obstacles. In today’s society there a lot of people that give push back on everything. Your own ideas and beliefs are always under constant scrutiny (attacked even) from people that don’t believe in the same things that you do. I wanted to show this. I wanted to show that at times others are not willing to help at all, some might be willing to help to a certain point and others will take you to task for the things you feel/know are right. I wanted to show what the established rules are and what ‘should’ be done and who would be willing to do that and who wouldn’t.
Ashley Kronsberg: SPOILERS! At the climax of the story, we see the Owl and the swamp in a situation where they could lose everything to our antagonist. What went into the creation of our villain? What characteristics did you think were important to incorporate into him for him to fit into the rest of the story you’ve constructed?
Franco: Almost every story needs an antagonist of some sort. This antagonist was set up to be the complete opposite of our protagonist in every way. He is selfish and gross and absurd. His actions are the vilest and I wanted to show how that would play against the owl who knows what the right thing to do is and what others are telling him he has to do.
Ashley Kronsberg: Can we expect more collaborations between you and Sara in the future to bring more modern fables to light?
Franco: I hope so! She has been such a pleasure to work with. Talented as all get out and professional to a T. We have talked about doing another project together but honestly with the initial reaction this book has been getting from friends and others that have seen/read it I think it might be a good bet that we would revisit this world again.