Cartoonist: Daniel Williamson
Publisher: Green Horn Comics (Self Published)
WHAT IS IT?
A black and white webcomic about a fictional world in which the economy is based entirely on fashion, everyone's a monster, and theft is an accepted part of day-to-day living.
Think The Town (2010) meets The Devil wears Prada (2006) with a big dose of Ah, Real Monsters! for visual flair.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the Banished Zone, a deep, inescapable hole in space where the worst of the worst from across the universe are dumped and forgotten, people are left with only the clothes on their backs. Naturally, that clothing became the only relevant currency in this backstabbing world of lunatics and, with it, the time-honored practice of stealing.
Cheerfully living in this zone for freaks and criminals is Fabiana, a psychotic cyclops that lives for the thrill of stealing clothes, no matter the quality. But she can't get by in this world alone, and her attitude has left her homeless with no bridges left unburned and no one willing to work with her. Right when she's about to hit rock bottom, she meets MeeMee, a violent model with a big hammer and some interest in Fabby's well-being. But will this partnership last? And what are MeeMee's true intentions?
Williamson's janky, angular art is wonderfully expressive and a joy to look at. The characters evoke a certain early '90s cartoon aesthetic that you don't see in mainstream illustration anymore.
Each character has a delightfully insane, yet unique and distinctive quality about them. All of them are absurd without seeming samey within the world of the fiction. Likewise, their extreme qualities don't break the reader's immersion or come across as unbelievable.
The core concept at play is fascinating and imaginative. There's tons of potential for future issues and plenty of content to mine out of this zany world. It keeps the reader interested and yearning for more.
Williamson is a talented cartoonist, effortlessly blending his art, script, and lettering into one seamless product. It's not often a reader gets to see a product this fully integrated even with the best teams of comic creators; it's clear that this is a single vision from a single mind.
From the noticeable stuff like balloon sizes and shapes to the tiny details littering the background, the letters always match the energy of the scene and aid in creating a tone and intent behind every character and line of speech.
Williamson doesn't hesitate to make full use of the illustrated medium, often cutting to impossible or metaphorical shots that aren't often attempted across comics despite their creativity and dynamic nature.
The pacing, though often going off on tangents, is chaotic and energetic enough to remain engaging, even when it's hard to decipher what's actually going on. Speaking of...
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
By far the largest problem with the comic is that it's confusing. It frequently introduces characters and subplots without giving the reader the information they need to anchor themselves. I found myself asking basic questions that weren't answered even by the end of the first issue: "What's this character's name? What does this plotline contribute and what is happening in it? What is this character's motivation?" I like when world-building is natural and unapologetic, but this goes too far and fails to allow the reader to grasp the basics of what's happening, who it's happening to, and why.
There's nothing unique or specific done with the core concept in the first issue. The fact that it's clothes the characters are stealing and fighting over doesn't impact the plot in such a way that it couldn't have been money or food or shiny rocks. I hope this is explored in a more interesting way in future issues.
The art is sometimes difficult to decipher. Without using color as a crutch, it's sometimes hard to get a firm perspective or depth of field, and the comic suffers for it.
I can see why its there and where some people may disagree with me, but in my opinion the frequent cursing clashes with the art style and the tone of the writing in general. As psychotic and unhinged as the world is, there's a sort of cheerful nihilism that gives the book its charm; the cursing takes me out of that. (Being clear, I am not a puritan and don't mind cursing in its own right, but it has a time and place, and I'm not sure this is it.)
WHY SHOULD I BUY IT?
In a world of highly polished, overly detailed, realistic-to-a-fault comics with subtle manga influences that, however impressive, all look more or less the same, Fashion Fiends stands out as a uniquely drawn, energetic outing from a fresh, young cartoonist. It's a fun, lighthearted comic with a compelling core conceit and a ton of potential.
If you like explicitly cartoony art styles, chaotic characters in unique settings, or just need a breath of fresh air from mainstream and big indie releases, Fashion Fiends might just be for you. It's not flawless, but its certainly worth your time and if you let it grab your attention then you, like me, might be clamoring to see what happens next.
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
New Lieutenants of Metal by Joe Casey & Ulises Farinas
Camp Weedonwantcha by Katie Rice
Money Shot by Tim Seeley and Sarah Beattie & Rebecca Issacs
If you like the art:
Cage! by Genndy Tartakovsky & Stephen DeStefano
Spookids by Marc Jackson
Äga And The Wyrm by Annemarie Rogers
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Daniel Williamson – Cartoonist
New Face: Dan has been drawing since he was 8 years old and even released a short-lived indie series at 16, but Fashion Fiends is his first major project.
Self-Taught: Inspired by animation, film, and Captain Underpants, Dan chose a career in art without much in the way of formal training. While he did attend the Arts Academy of Benjamin Rush, he asserts that most of what he learned was done independently.
Outside of work, Dan puts all of his time, energy, and money into his art, and occasionally keeping his fans up to date on his twitter, @onecreatordan
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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