Frankie, an adorable Siamese kitten, appears on Rachel and Mike’s doorstep and changes their lives forever. Energetic, hilarious, and an endless source of affection, Frankie becomes the centre of the couple’s universe. If you enjoy Rachel Dukes’ Instagram comics, this book is perfect for you.
Rachel Dukes (Writer and Artist)
August 25, 2020
I love cats. The sheer number of comics I have reviewed just because they feature cats is beginning to get ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading cat books! Of the cat comics I have read, I love the stories about real people and their cats—and that’s exactly the itch Frankie Comics scratches. Writer and artist Rachel Dukes lovingly illustrates life with their adorable and active cat. 140+ pages of cute comics later, I still want more.
There is no doubt that Dukes and their partner, Mike, adore Frankie. It’s in the text, of course, but it’s also in the art. Frankie has tons of personality and so many vivid facial expressions. You know what this little cat is thinking even if you don’t speak cat! I loved the amount of movement we see on the page in Frankie Comics. Frankie likes to run, leap, and knock things over, and you get a sense of that through Dukes’ subtle artistic touches. Though this story is about how Frankie came into both Rachel and Mike’s lives, this book is definitively centred on Rachel’s relationship with Frankie. The two spend a bulk of time together; like many creatives, Dukes works from home, and most of Frankie’s play-time and cat-needs are handled by Dukes. There is a clear progression of how kitten-Frankie becomes accustomed to her home and family, as well as her growing likes and dislikes—which, unsurprisingly, change during her time with her human parents.
Near the start of Frankie Comics, kitten-Frankie makes her displeasure for bath-time abundantly clear—she takes a flying leap right out of the bathtub and over the screen to make her getaway. It’s adorable but also, Frankie’s got mad skills! Admittedly, Rachel and Mike don’t exactly handle the situation very well. They’re still new kitten parents and they don’t quite understand how Frankie will react to the evil entity known as water. Conversely, by the end of the book, Rachel is well-versed with Frankie’s interests; during bath time, they give Frankie plenty of notice about the evil water coming towards her and that she may not like what she feels. It goes off swimmingly. It does help that grown-up Frankie doesn’t hate the water that much.
I was fascinated to read about the dynamic between cat-parent and cat and Dukes shares moments that one might not have considered. Such as when Dukes has an episode of sleep paralysis, leaving Frankie so disconcerted, the cat pretty much thumps right into Dukes’ solar plexus, thus bringing them back to the waking realm. Frankie is terrified for a while, but for Dukes, their cat had just brought them out of a very disturbing state that they couldn’t control. This is the kind of situation non-cat parents wouldn’t think of (I certainly hadn’t) and it gave me a completely new understanding of how people and their pets can come to rely on each other.
There are some genuinely fun moments in Frankie Comics where Dukes pokes fun at themself and Frankie for the sillier things they get up to. Like the plethora of nonsensical nicknames Dukes gives Frankie, despite her having a perfectly wonderful name. From what I understand, most pet-parents do this, to the point where some can’t even remember their pet’s original name, so this was an apt chapter in the book. Dukes also plays fetch with Frankie, completely forgetting that Frankie isn’t a dog. Dukes expects her kitty to bring her hairband back after catching it. That doesn’t work quite the way Dukes expects, and instead of training Frankie to bring her things, Frankie has Dukes trained to pick items up from her! Cats! They’re not your pets—they’re your managers.
Since I’ve never had a pet cat (though I have made cat friends along the way)I must live vicariously through adorable comic books like Frankie Comics. This book beautifully defines why cats are so much fun to be around and bring so much joy into their humans’ lives. The art is gorgeous and adorable, painting a clear picture of what life with kitties is like. I can’t wait to read more of Frankie’s adventures in the world of humans. It will undoubtedly be epic.