By: Lawrence R. Smith
I have the honor of being Tom Franklin’s friend. I met Tom as a New Hope volunteer reading tutor. Tom wanted to become a better reader and I wanted to find an excuse not to go to the gym. Over the years, Tom has taught me much more than I taught him.
While reading a science-fiction thriller one day, Tom mentioned he liked “comics.” He said he was interested in working with comics. Silly me as I thought “comics” told jokes in clubs and appeared on Jay Leno or David Letterman. Other types of comics wore baggy pants and performed with circuses making children and adults laugh. Luck would have it that the annual Shrine Circus was coming to town. We waited and waited and planned our trip to see if Tom could become a comic. His tryout went very well. He was an instant success as you can see from the photo. We were told he was a natural and didn’t even need make-up.
Later Tom taught me about comics and introduced me to the fun of collecting serious animation art called cels. He took me to a comic collector’s show. We visited a gallery with animation art of all the superhero action figures. We looked through hundreds of original classic comic books. Many were protected in museum quality frames. Tom was the hit of the show. He is a walking encyclopedia of comic book literature and action hero history. While talking to a collector from Ohio, he found a rare copy of a TV Guide with a classic Green Hornet television series on the cover, starring a young Bruce Lee as the leaping Kato. Next time you see Tom be on guard, he might jump out and give you a karate chop. Ahh haaa….