PIGEON FORGE — Today is the day that Dolly Parton officially becomes a member of “Female Force.”
The Sevier County native is the subject of “Female Force: Dolly Parton,” part of a series of comic books dedicated to telling the stories of women whose impact is far-reaching.
TidalWave Productions releases the 22-page comic book on Parton today in print and online.
Writer Michael Frizell says the project was especially fun because, “It’s Dolly Parton!”
Though he already knew a lot about Parton, Frizell researched her life just as he does with other comic book subjects.
“I enjoyed watching her interviews because I don’t think I’ve ever seen her give a ‘bad’ one,” he said. “She’s just effervescent. I also tend to listen to the music created by my subjects when I write, so my Dolly Pandora station got quite the workout. If you’re wondering what my favorite Dolly song is, it’s ‘Jolene.’ I also love the cover by Miley Cyrus. Dolly’s strength is writing a hook that sticks with you.”
Parton has composed more than 3,000 songs and is known worldwide for her philanthropy, including her literacy nonprofit Imagination Library. Her business ventures include Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, as well as Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction.
“Even though I was familiar with Dolly Parton, I always research,” Frizell said. “I’m looking for video interviews, transcripts, news articles that directly quote Dolly and many more sources. The research informs the structure of the book. I try to think of each comic book as a photo album with narration.”
The “Female Force” series includes comic books dedicated to Cher, Tina Fey, Kamala Harris, Mother Teresa, Michelle Obama, Gloria Steinem, Barbra Streisand and Betty White.
“The ‘Female Force’ line of comics are biographies that attempt to capture a person’s life in about 22 pages, which equals about 100 drawings,” said Frizell. “The story, then, is Dolly’s life. I attempted to focus more on her celebrity and philanthropy while not treading over familiar ground. Everyone knows about Dolly, right?”
Once Frizell had the story in mind that he wanted to tell about Parton’s life, the project expanded to collaborators such as illustrator Ramon Salas.
“It took about two weeks to write the script, a week of editing and fine-tuning and about a month for the artists to do their work,” Frizell said. “The artists include a penciler, inker and colorist. After that, it takes about a week for lettering, then it goes back to editing and then, finally, to press.”
He explains that TidalWave Productions uses a print-on-demand model for its comic books.
“I know some stores are getting exclusive covers, but those are short-print runs,” said Frizell. “You’ll want to check with your local retailer or follow TidalWave Comics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for stores that carry your favorite cover.”
Darren Davis, publisher of TidalWave Productions, provided information on the Tennessee independent comic book retailers that will carry Parton’s edition with a custom cover.
“We are working with … Z’s Comic Lair in Murfreesboro, Mountain Empire Comics in Bristol/Johnson City and Infinity Flux in Chattanooga,” Davis said.
Long before he wrote about Parton’s life for a comic book, Frizell had an encounter with her that he clearly remembers.
“I met her once — in a roundabout way,” he said. “When I was 21, I was a manager at a McDonald’s in Branson, Missouri. She came through our drive-thru. No, I don’t remember what she ordered, but I just happened to be working the window giving an employee a much-needed break.
“She was in the back seat of the car and just smiled and thanked me,” Frizell continued. “Why do I remember that so well? Again … it’s Dolly, but a few years later, she opened the Stampede on the Branson strip. It was right next to my apartment.”
Information is available at www.tidalwave comics.com or 503-941-5851.