By Emily Hoover | email@example.com
Photos contributed by Andre Frattino
For graphic novelist Andre Frattino, growing up in Gainesville and visiting St. Augustine as a child has spawned more than family photo albums.
His previously self-published graphic novel, “The Reaper of St. George Street,” has been published by Pineapple Press and can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
“I’ve been in love with the St. Augustine area ever since I was a kid, and I catch myself on many occasions almost calling St. Augustine my hometown,” Frattino, 28, said.
“The Reaper of St. George Street” was self-published under the name “Flagler’s Few and the Reaper of St. George Street” in 2009 on lulu.com, a book publishing and printing website.
The graphic novel follows three fictional Flagler College students and a wannabe pirate as they encounter the nation’s oldest city’s ghostly inhabitants. When they meet The Reaper, St. Augustine’s most hostile ghost, they must come together to rid the city of danger.
“Flagler College offered so many opportunities and elements for my graphic novel series,” Frattino said. “I felt that since the main cast would obviously have to be young adults, it made sense to make them Flagler students, especially since they’re so diverse and unique.”
Frattino said even though he attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)—he graduated in 2009 with a BFA in Sequential Art and minors in advertising design and storyboard design—he has always admired Flagler College.
“For a long time, I wanted to attend Flagler College,” he said. “The campus is really second to none as far as beauty and elegance, and being set in one of America’s most charming cities certainly must be inspiring for a lot of its students. To me, it was a win-win scenario if I attended, but SCAD offered me a full-ride scholarship and I just couldn’t turn it down.”
While at SCAD, Frattino said he worked as a ghost tour guide and “gave walking tours throughout the historic city.” But he said his interest in legend and folklore began in St. Augustine. He said he started conducting paranormal investigations at the age of 20.
In addition to investigating haunted areas, Frattino, who has relocated to Gainesville to pursue graduate school at University of Florida, said a former job as a consultant for the television series “Ghosthunters” allowed him to follow paranormal investigations all over the world.
“I got to work with some really amazing people [on Ghosthunters],” Frattino said. “I would call myself a ‘Legend Tripper,’ which is more a term for someone who encompasses the full spectrum of the supernatural. Nowadays, my paranormal investigating is limited to my graphic novels, and that’s okay because I get to create my own folklore and legends.”
After publishing the book on lulu.com–Frattino said he learned about the site from SCAD graduates who had self-publishing success–he was passionate about getting “The Reaper of St. George Street” traditionally published.
“When I first started, I hit the pavement and knocked on doors all over St. Augustine trying to get my book on the shelves of tour shops,” he said. “I had a lot of support from the local businesses, but really Flagler College was the most accepting. They put it in all their stores and helped spread the word. Since I wrote the book with students being the main audience, I really felt like I had my market set.”
Frattino said when he consulted literary agents to “shop the book around,” he said he received a lot of “positive feedback.” But because the book is unique to Florida, agents had trouble promoting it, he said.
“Finally, I built up the confidence to deliver the book to Pineapple Press,” Frattino said. “Within a few months of submitting I got a letter from the editor expressing interest in the book. I am especially proud to say that my book marks for the first time Pineapple Press has ever published a graphic novel in its nearly thirty years in the business.”
Frattino currently works as an illustrator for several publications, including Wild Onion Press, Red Stylo Media and Pineapple Press. He said he also works as a cartoonist for Florida Alligator, an independent newspaper in Gainesville.
In addition to “The Reaper of St. George Street,” Frattino published the children’s graphic novel “Here Comes Julie Jack!” in 2011 with Wild Onion Press. He said he also worked as an inker, colorist, and letterist on the ultraviolent graphic novel “Azteca,” which was written by Enrica Jang and penciled by a fellow SCAD graduate Jhazmine Ruiz. It is based on the 2012 apocalypse theory.
In the future, Frattino hopes to revisit St. Augustine in a graphic novel involving pirates and vampires.
“‘The Reaper of St. George Street’ is the first of a hopeful series,” he said. “I have planned out eight follow-up stories and if the sales are good enough I’ll hopefully get to visit all eight stories. The next book in the series, ‘Lost Souls of Savannah,’ is due out this September and is already available for pre-order on Amazon.”