The pairing of witches and werewolves as romantic interests is nothing new — one only needs to look to Buffy’s Willow and Oz — but in the newest comic by queer, Texas-based cartoonist Ashley Robin Franklin, she explores what happens when a witch and a werewolf go on dates and deal with the infatuation and awkwardness typical of a new relationship.
The comic, That Full Moon Feeling, is a magical queer romcom that features all things supernatural, spooky, sweet, and swoony.
Admittedly, Franklin spends a lot of time creating content that falls more on the horror end of the spectrum, but for That Full Moon Feeling, she wanted to explore something a little more lighthearted with a sprinkle of the occult.
“I think my main two modes are spooky and goofy, so this felt like a natural mode to switch into,” she said. “I enjoy making horror comics, but I’m also really interested in telling a lot of other kinds of stories too.”
While she was writing That Full Moon Feeling, she was reading a lot of “cute yuri manga,” which inspired her to write a cute lesbian love story of her own.
“I’d also just started dating my girlfriend a few months before, so I was really in the romance zone,” Franklin explained. “I wanted to play around with writing about those exciting new crush feelings and just have fun with it.”
The comic features a witch named Suzy and a werewolf named Jada who meet online and go on three disastrous dates. While getting to know one another over dinner, at the farmer’s market, and at the movies, they also pair up to fight off the monsters, skeletons, and giant bugs that interrupt their time together.
During the creative process, Franklin also consulted with artist Cathy G. Johnson for her feedback in hopes of improving the story and flow.
“I’m a teacher and cartoonist myself, so through my education work and professional writing groups, I’ve offered editing and advice on lots of graphic novels over the years,” Johnson said. “It was really fun giving notes to Ashley; I was very honored to be asked to do it!”
As Franklin told it, Johnson’s edits helped improve the quality of the comic.
“She pointed out things I wouldn’t have ever noticed myself: lots of small shifts and changes that helped make the story a little tighter and easier to follow,” she said.
Franklin, who is 31, has been making comics on and off for more than half her life, and it was manga that first got her into them.
“I used to draw lots of Sailor Moon- and Inuyasha-inspired comics about me and my friends when I was in middle school,” she shared. “In high school, I’d make these long, like 10-page comic notes for all my friends — and crushes — that would take me days to draw.”
In her late teen years, she fell away from drawing and reading comics, but they reentered her life in her mid 20s when she was studying creative writing and art at the University of Texas–Pan American. A college professor shared work by artists like Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel, and it changed the way she thought of comics.
“I hadn’t realized there were comics like that — ones that weren’t like the manga I’d been into, or superhero stuff,” Franklin said. “I started finding and following a lot of folks making indie comics on social media, and seeing that made cartooning feel more accessible, so I decided to just go for it.”
She made her first mini comic in 2016, and in 2018, she self-published Like Like, which was her first intentional foray in autobiographical comics.
“I made all the comics for it over the span of about a year,” she shared. “I risograph printed it in my friend Connor’s garage, and I still really love the way the final product came out — like the kind of messy analogue quality of the printing and the really simple black and white art. And I liked the balance of sweet and sappy in those comics. They were so fun and easy to draw, and I want to make more autobio stories like that at some point.”
In 2017, Franklin did her first Inktober comic, On The Inside, which she credits for getting her into making horror comics.
“I did daily horror comics for the following two Octobers, and the most recent one, One Million Tiny Fires, was published by Silver Sprocket this past year,” she said.
“In my spare time, I’m still writing short horror comics; my brain can’t seem to get off the spooky train.”
Before COVID-19, Franklin worked part-time at a local arts education non-profit, where she taught comics and visual art to kids in an afterschool program.
“I’d work on my own stuff in the mornings, then go make comics with kids,” she said.
Once the pandemic made that job impossible, Franklin began to focus her new-found time and energy on her forthcoming YA graphic novel, The Hills of Estrella Roja, which is scheduled to be released in 2023 by HMH’s new graphic novel imprint, Etch.
“This is my first time tackling a really long project like this,” Franklin said. “It’s got some of the goofy and sweet romance elements of That Full Moon Feeling, mixed in with the creepy vibes of my horror comics. And of course, it’s queer and set in Texas.”
When not working on The Hills of Estrella Roja, Franklin has plenty of other projects to keep her busy as she figures out how to make art a full-time job.
“I like to always have a couple of other smaller projects on the back burner that I can chip away at when I’ve got the time,” she said. “I’m working on comics and art pretty much full-time and still trying to figure out a sustainable work-life balance.”
When asked what supernatural creature she’d want to be, Franklin didn’t second guess herself.
”I’d 100 percent be a werewolf,” she said. “Hopefully the cool kind that can just wolf-out whenever and wears an excellent leather jacket — I’m talking MTV’s “Teen Wolf” — and not the classic tragic Wolf Man type.”
That Full Moon Feeling will be available at your favorite comic book store this month. You can buy it here.
“I hope folks will have fun reading That Full Moon Feeling,” Franklin said. “It’s pretty goofy, and I had a lot of fun making it, so I hope they can feel that when reading it. If it can inspire some laughs, and maybe feel a little relatable, then I’m happy.”
That Full Moon Feeling is available wherever books are sold, and can be purchased direct from the Silver Sprocket online store.