JFK, blown away, what else is there to say? Well …

As the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination approaches, so too does a deadline for a Copenhagen-based American animator to finish a graphic novel about the president’s life – post-1963

Does 22 November 1963 ring a bell? A smart alec might tell you it was the day the British writers Aldous Huxley and CS Lewis departed this Earth. And most average Joes, had they been alive then, would be able to tell you what they ate for lunch, what the weather was like and exactly who they were with on the day that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.

As the 50th anniversary approaches, the date is a particularly resonant one for Copenhagen resident Craig Frank, 52, a celebrated American film director whose works included the 2008 animated flick ‘Rejsen til Saturn’ (‘Journey to Saturn’).

It is the deadline he set himself to finish an intriguing new graphic novel, ‘JFK Secret Ops’, in which the president survives the ‘Dallassination’ and sets out to hunt down everyone involved in the conspiracy.

Despite having two pieces of metal bolted over the massive hole in his head, Kennedy still looks like his old self and must move covertly on his mission in case any of the public spot him speeding along lost highways in his 65 Buick Riveria to kill conspirators or meet film stars, who you also thought were dead, for “presidential hanky panky”.

 Frank has funded the 200 plus-page novel through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. He received pledges from 225 backers to hit his target of just over $17,000 in May – funds that have enabled him to engage the assistance of another writer to help him with plot and dialogue.

“Your support permits me to focus full time on the mountain of visuals in front of me,” Frank told his backers on Kickstarter. “This job might eat my brain, but I’m looking forward to 13-hour days of painstaking work on this unimaginable story of epic proportions.”

With no publisher lined up at present, it doesn’t look like the novel will come out this year. However, Frank is as determined to publish as JFK is to leave gaping holes in the skulls of the men who conspired to have him shot. “It will take a lot longer because I would need to work to pay bills and to purchase stale bread for nourishment,” explained Frank on Kickstarter.

Earlier this year, The Copenhagen Post caught up with Frank to find out more about his career in animation.

What was your big break in animation in Denmark?
Getting employed by A. Film Production, Scandinavia’s largest studio, back in 1997. Although I moved here in the 1980s, I hadn’t worked for any other studio before then.


How would you describe the Danish animation industry?
While animation in Denmark is very laid-back, there are still many people who are as talented as anywhere on the planet, and those who are able to provide quality within a low budget. Film animators, game animators, TV animators, commercial animators and effect animators – all in a little country.


What do you specialise in?
I work in all different styles of animation, from Disney 2D animation to limited digital flash, from sophisticated CGI to stop motion to low budget after-effects. I’ve always felt proud of the fact that I jumped right into the many styles and I love each type.


 What did you do at A. Film?
I was hired as head of commercials and ran the department. It was an exciting time because it was the dawn of CGI and we had the crème of the crop of young animators.


So how did you get into films?
I got the chance and took it. I read the comic book ‘Journey to Saturn’ on a train and saw it would make a lovely film. It took me a year to persuade the owner to sell the rights. It also took lots of persuasion to get my bosses excited about it. I actually pitched it to some head guys in Nordisk Film who ended up telling my bosses that it was a good idea to try financing it. This was my first film and it took about four years from the moment I read the comic until it was in the cinema. I know many filmmakers use more time, but I thought it was an amazing amount of time.


What was your favourite part of making it?
I loved every stage. It was a very thrilling time, learning new things at every step. It was a privilege to be able to create such a fun story and turn it into a film. I was lucky we had a great team also. My co-director was very talented and our scriptwriters [one of them was Nikolaj Arcel] were world class. And the reception of the film was overwhelming. It sold 402,000 tickets and 80,000 DVDs, which for a country of 5 million is quite a percentage.


 What happened next?
I started my own company [Frank Productions] because A. Film went bankrupt and everyone scattered. Although the original owners of A. Film got together to make another company, I was able to survive fine with my own little business, making corporate videos and commercials, the most famous of which was a campaign for ElSpareFonden, which won me quite a few awards and new clients. I was also lucky to produce another film for the cinema called ‘Jensen & Jensen’. It was a film similar to Saturn in humour and low budget, but it was not the financial success I had wished.


Which comic book would you most like to adapt?
Hard to say. It’s funny, but comics that I was not fond of have become good films, like the first ‘Iron Man’ and ‘X-Men’ films. And I’ve always been very found of ‘Hellboy’, but hate the films. These days I like a buttload of the new graphic novels and Dark Horse comics: ‘Walking Dead’, ‘Artemos Fowl’, anything Alan Moore writes. I’m such a sucker for drawn pictures with witty dialogue.


What does the future hold for the genre?
Definitely a revival of comics. I’m sure the money men wouldn’t say so, but I think there is a revival of many nerdy things, and comics are high up there because the Geeks have taken over the Earth.

The interview with Craig Frank was carried out by Amy Strada

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