Those who were reading webcomics during the early 2010s might be familiar with Rachel Dukes’ cat, Frankie. Dukes’ short online strips provided a small window into the joys and tribulations of life lived alongside a cat. For anyone unfamiliar with them, Dukes’ comics are charming and warm, leaning into the coziness of domesticity and having a cat to love. The strips tilt towards the humorous and sweet side, always finding joy—even in what might seem frustrating to others. There’s not a whole lot of action (unless you count a cat leaping over a shower door to avoid incoming water) or tragedy (unless you count a cat paw in the coffee), but Frankie stories never feel like the cotton candy that they could be, because Dukes excels at capturing the small realities happening in the background of Frankie’s antics. Many of these strips have now been redrawn and collected in a new hardcover edition from Oni Press.
While Frankie is always at the front and center of the book, a life does continue to exist around her. Frankie disrupts things for the better, which makes it easy to believe her existence has made things brighter for the in-comic Dukes and their partner. Whether Frankie is waking her owners at an outrageous hour or plopping her body in the most inconvenient spaces, she’s drawn and seen through the lens of sheer adoration. It’s love that makes Frankie Comics interesting to read, and it’s love that makes them good.
Unfortunately, for those who are already Frankie fans, there aren’t many new Frankie adventures in this volume. Almost all of the strips have been published previously on Dukes’ site. Of course, the art has been redrawn, and the book adds color, but it’s a little disappointing not to have many new Frankie stories to look forward to. However, Dukes’ style for the book is clean, inviting, and bold. The warm color choices do well to imbue those two enormous blue eyes with the playfulness and fussiness that we’ve come to expect from Frankie, and Dukes continues to be an expert at capturing the impossibility of cat physics.
Frankie Comics would be well-served as a gift for cat lovers; it’s very accessible to readers of all ages as well as non-comics readers. Given most of us find ourselves at home more often than usual, reading about someone discovering pleasure and happiness in the quiet moments might resonate a bit more than it used to. In turbulent days like these, it’s nice to have a quiet and charming book like Frankie Comics on hand.