A Las Vegas Valley artist is gaining attention for his humorous comic characters inspired by his pets. Graphic illustrator and cartoonist Francis Baytan, also known as Phranz, has created a multi-strip Chai and Mulligan! Unleashed comic strip book to be enjoyed by dog-lovers across the world. The Instagram-artwork-turned-book is available now on Kickstarter until November 26, with production scheduled to begin in early 2019. In preparation for the book’s debut, the artist will be showing off his works at the upcoming Great American Comic Convention from November 17-18.
Featuring funny glimpses into the everyday lives of millennial pets, readers can dive into a comic strip that brings to life two dogs who are the talk of the backyard. And talk they do! The strips star a Shiba Inu named Chai and an Australian Stumpy-tailed Cattle dog named Mulligan, both based on Phranz’s real life furry friends. The precocious pups live in the Las Vegas suburbs and keep boredom away by sharing insight into human lives, scanning social media and showing love for all things technology.
Using his years of producing editorial and commercial photography for domestic and international clients, Phranz is now diving into the world of content creation through expressive comic art. He evokes a mid-century modern aesthetic with whimsical lines and offset coloring, allowing him to develop a style that is distinctly his own.
“Working with photography clients is great but making something creative that’s your own and honors something you really love is quite satisfying,” said Phranz.
Supporters looking to back the Kickstarter project can choose from several pledge levels that come with a range of incentives sure to make their tails wag. This includes special book bundles, exclusive art prints of the dogs, even personalized drawings of the donator’s pet and more.
An Unexpected Inspiration
A devoted owner to the two pups with larger-than life personalities, Phranz has been drawing his dogs both on paper and digitally for years. In 2012, he decided to illustrate the dogs while using an app called Paper, a high-tech digital rendering program created by app developerFiftythree. The tool became an overnight internet sensation, now boasting over 25 million users and a “iPad App of the Year” win from Apple. With plenty of art apps to choose from, Phranz attributes Paper for helping him develop his signature style and speed.
Over the years, the works remained in his personal collection, only to be let out surreptitiously for a brief cameo in a one-off greeting card to friends and family. From the incredible response he received after sending the card, Phranz knew he was sitting on a comedy goldmine and set off to create a body of work that celebrated his four-footed friends.
After reformatting and updating his preexisting work, the artist converted single-panel pieces into multi-panel comic strips for a more refined drawing style. Unfortunately, during the process of updating the comics for the book, Mulligan became ill. Her health quickly deteriorated, and she sadly succumbed to cancer. Her passing brought a new resolve to finish the book, and to ensure her legacy would continue through art.
The limited-edition work will be printed using an industrial offset printer. Images will be rendered in full-color on a thick, matte paper. The cover, which features Chai and Mulligan, will be constructed with a meticulously-sewn, durable binding and protected by a laminated cover with an ultraviolet spot-gloss finish.
For more information about the Kickstarter campaign or to view more of Phranz’s work, visit the artist’s website at www.chaiandmulligan.comor check out new comics on the Chai and Mulligan! Instagram page.