Writer Tee Franklin talks horror comic series ‘Jook Joint,’ trigger warnings, and more



“Yep. I definitely sound like a serial killer.”

Jook Joint is a comic that horror fans will love, and those who want more complex and thought-provoking stories will adore. It’s a series that came out like a bat out of hell, opening with a trigger warning due to its subject matter and violence, and then paying off with some graphic violence indeed. It’s a comic I enjoyed for its complexity, which is why I just had to talk to series creator and writer Tee Franklin.

You can find issue #1 on comic stands today and issue #2 will hit stores on November 14th. In this interview we talk about the subject matter, inspirations, writing horror, and more.

AiPT!: What made you fall in love with comics?

Tee Franklin: A family member used to “bribe” me with comics so I wouldn’t tell his mom he had a girl in the house while he was babysitting me. I thought they were the coolest — he used to draw too, so I also got drawings as long as I stayed quiet. I thought I had a good deal!

As I got older I used to read them regularly from friends, then when I got married I had to set them aside as I just couldn’t afford them anymore.

AiPT!: I enjoyed Jook Joint for a variety of reasons, like its message about abuse, the trauma people face, and a cast of characters that accept others for who they are. hat was the bud that inspired you to write this series?

TF: Thank you so very much! I had come off of a suicide attempt and my therapist strongly suggested that I do something constructive with my life, and I just so happened to be writing about my trauma. I was hurt, in pain — emotionally, physically and spiritually — and I just had to get it out.

I know for a fact that I wasn’t built for jail, so the only way that I can get true revenge was on paper. Jook Joint was born from all of that trauma, I wrote three issues in a few days.

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AiPT!: This is a socially conscious horror story, but a horror story nonetheless. When you write horror, how do you approach implementing gore or other visually terrifying things?

TF: Yes, it’s definitely horror, so we needed some blood and guts! Honestly, it’s just how I envisioned it while I was writing. This is definitely going to make me sound serial killer-ish, but these are the things that I wanted to do to people who hurt me.

I wanted to rip someone’s balls out and stuff it in their mouth. I wanted to claw someone’s eyes out. I wanted to rip out someone’s guts. These people HURT ME and dammit, I want them to suffer.

Yep. I definitely sound like a serial killer.

AiPT!: What are some of your favorite horror films or books?

TF: I love Japanese horror! My favorite horror movies would have to be Odishon, Battle Royale, Infection, Ju-on, listen…I can go on and on and on! Takashi Miike is my favorite director. Ichi the Killer? Wooooow!

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AiPT!: Are there any unforeseen challenges when writing a period piece like this?

TF: Since most of the book is set in the swamp and the actual Jook Joint, we don’t get to see much of New Orleans. Alitha Martinez does such an amazing job transporting us to the 1950s; add in Shari Chankhamma’s colors and it’s just so gorgeous and perfect. On top of all of that, we have veteran Taylor Esposito on letters. I’m sooo not worthy to have this fantastic team.

AiPT!: The comic opens with a trigger warning, which not only prepares readers but also offers helpful information for those who need it. One aspect of trigger warnings that Neil Gaiman writes about in his book Trigger Warning is how the warning itself can somehow augment the experience. Do you think that is the case here (or in general, even) and do you think the reading experience of Jook Joint can change depending on reading this warning or not?

TF: I knew I wanted a trigger warning in Jook Joint because we deal with some very triggering things. I was shown a trigger warning in an issue of Kelly Sue and Valentine De Landro, B---h Planet, and was inspired. I wanted to have not only the warning but to have numbers where people can get help if needed.

I know it might be kinda controversial to have a trigger warning letting people know what’s going on inside, but I feel people should know. For example, if I’m reading a book and it has a woman in a domestic violence situation, I need to know because I may also be in a domestic violence situation. I need to prepare myself to read that, not be surprised.

Those who want to read Jook Joint will, and I don’t believe that the trigger warning deters readers.

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AiPT!: If Jook Joint was getting a film adaptation (or maybe a TV show) are there any specifics you’d hope for (director, channel/studio developing, etc)?

TF: I’d LOVE for Jook Joint to have its own television show. If Law & Order can be on for twenty years, there can definitely be a supernatural Law & Order type show with blood, guts, cannibalism, and sex! I would be interested in Monkeypaw and Blumhouse, they both do some fantastic things. I know Lionsgate would be a good choice as well since Saw was full of torture porn.

I think it would be hella dope watching Black women kill men that are abusers.

Jook Joint #2 arrives in comic shops and digitally November 14, 2018.