Friday, September 22, 2006

Pleased to Meet You: Frank Miles and The Living Chronicles of Psychi-Man

I've decided to throw still more caution to the wind and add a new column to Speculative Friction. "Please to Meet You..." will be an occasional feature designed to provide a quick introduction to previously unknown, overlooked or criminally neglected artists, writers and various other creators of comics and pop culture that I've met over the years.

Yeah, in a real sense, it's an adjunct to my "Baker's Dozen" interview column on the World Famous Comics website, and in some sense will ideally accomplish many of the same goals as its predecessor. However, "Pleased to Meet You..." will tend to be more a short feature or spotlight article. Which means, while not ruling it out, you won't find many "Q & A" style conversations here. Mainly, it'll be me holding forth on the work of someone I've met, or encountered some other way, why I think more folks should know about them, and directions on how to learn more yourself via a website.

And I honestly can't think of a more appropriate choice to inaugurate this column that Frank Miles and his creation, The Living Chronicles of Psychi-Man.

Now, if you haven't previously heard of Frank or his comics, well, it's not really that big of a surprise, really. That's because the comic itself hasn't been officially published yet, and his first website was just unveiled this week. About the only way you could have encountered Frank or his fictional psychonaut would be to have met him previously, or, as I did, discover him amongst the joyously overcrowded labyrinth of booths during the New York Comic-Con in February of this year.

As it was, I actually didn't see Frank or Psychi-Man until, quite literally, the last hour of the show. I was walking back to the Airwave Publishing booth, past a row consisting of small press publishers and indy creators, when I caught a glimpse of Frank, sitting quietly in his booth, watching folks walking by his spot. Realizing I had no recollection of him or his work, I stopped briefly and glanced at the back wall of his booth where he'd posted the entire first issue of The Living Chronicles of Psychi-Man. Even from the distance of 10-plus feet, I could tell that there was something...different, and maybe even special...about his work. So I decided to get a closer look, and that was it--I was hooked.

Frank's striking character, panel and page designs, coupled with his native understanding of the mechanics of visual storytelling and his explosively expressionistic sensibilities just blew me away. As I examined the pages before me more closely, and read a bit of it, I realized that here was a real and true attempt to do something completely different than the norm with the medium. Even better, this choice was fully reflected in the work's subject matter, as well as its visual and verbal narratives.

If I was going to make comparisons, I'd say that Frank is part Robert Crumb, part Harvey Pekar by way of Hunter S. Thompson, all alloyed with a wholly individual and compassionate understanding of the human comedy. By turns deeply moving and touching, sensual and raunchy, absolutely original and strangely familiar, Psychi-Man is also wise and laugh-out-loud funny--sometimes simultaneously. And while it's not for everyone--and is certainly not intended for kids, as its subtitle, "An Adult Karmic Book," clearly indicates--Frank Miles' The Living Chronicles of Psychi-Man is well worth a serious look.

You'll find the entire first issue of Psychi-Man, along with Frank's biographical and contact information, at There's a simple and clean elegance to the site, one which beautifully, if paradoxically, compliments the artist's ethos. Best of all, Frank's promised that there's a lot more to come. When he called the other day to let me know that the website [which was designed by Paul Michael Kane, the webmaster of Blood in the Gutters, but completed by John Schwarberg and the good folks at Integrated Web Solutions --] was up and running, Frank also noted that he'd recently completed issue # 2, and that the entire issue will be posted in a week or three.

And it's all free.

Enough from me. Go meet Frank Miles and read The Living Chronicles of Psychi-Man for yourself. I suspect it'll be unlike anything else you've ever read--or experienced--before.


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