On its Kickstarter page, the project Anne Frank-N-Stein is introduced to potential readers with panning shots of beautiful, twisted and grotesque imagery, all cheekily set to Frank Sinatra’s “The Tender Trap”. Local writer Ezra Nickel certainly knows how to get peoples’ attention.
Promoted as “a five-part mini-series loosely based on the life of Anne Frank, set in an alternate reality”, Nickel’s world picks up where the iconic WWII diary leaves off. We are introduced to Stein, a monster-like character that Anne creates in the first instalment to help her fight Nazis and locate her parents.
The subject matter is certainly provocative, but Nickel didn’t write the series with controversial intent.
“The artist [Vancouver-based Rebecca Kremer] asked if I’d like to do a comic with her, and I had this idea on the backburner for a while... I have a bit of fun writing ideas based on puns. I also have a story called Helen Killer.”
While the original concept came from a play on words, Nickel was careful to respect the source material.
“Anytime I start writing something like this I do a few days of research before I start,” Nickel says. “This follows the timeline of World War II. None of the events change aside from the magical subplot.”
Though Nickel says the subject matter is considered “too racy” for comic industry pros who “wouldn’t touch the idea”, he has found a lot of freedom in being an independent artist and peers have been very enthusiastic about the concept.
Many artists have found success on Kickstarter, an international crowdsourcing website that has funded countless artistic endeavours including other indie comic books, films and even high tech inventions. Nickel was surprised and excited to find that people he didn’t know, from places like Thailand, Japan and Europe, were offering their support on the site.
The Kickstarter campaign fell significantly short of its $6,000 goal, but Nickel and Kremer have taken it in stride, citing the undertaking as a learning experience.
“We learned a lot from this attempt and don’t plan on quitting,” Nickel says. “We started with an ambitious goal for a niche project, which we knew was going to be troublesome. We should have started smaller and done subsequent campaigns. I’d do it again with a more finished product.”
The pair has continued to work, despite obstacles including their distance from one another and the failed fundraising attempt. They expect the first comic to be finished by late February and ready for a local launch at the Neighborhood Bookstore and Café (898 Westminster Ave.), where it will be available for sale.
Nickel has an optimistic attitude about the undertaking and insists that he will be enthusiastic about any result.
“Most of my work never sees the light of day,” he says.
To follow up on Anne Frank-N-Stein’s progress, you can visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnneFranknsteinComic.
Published in Volume 68, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 8, 2014)