Saturday, September 10, 2005

This Comic Is Good: Fell #1

Preview: Right here.

Fell is an interesting experiment in comics format from writer Warren Ellis and artist Ben Templesmith. It's a new ongoing monthly series (from Image Comics), each issue with sixteen pages of self-contained story and a good handful of "backmatter," which, in this issue, is a behind-the-scenes text piece on the crafting of the origin and scripting of the comic. So you get a complete reading experience in twenty pages plus covers for only two dollars American. It's a "slab of culture," as Ellis calls it.

Fell utilizes a nine-panel grid for most of its pages, with some pages occasionally featuring larger panels but still holding to the basic layout. The art reminds the reader of Sienkiewicz at times; a looser, "controlled chaos" kind of style, reminiscent of some of the glory of the 80's. Templesmith also handles the colors, and he bathes the thing mostly in yellows and reds, with the occasional backdrop set in dark blues, which sets the mood immediately and fits the tone of the linework.

And then, of course, there's the writing. This is Good Ellis, not Mainstream Capes Ellis, and so, of course, it's excellently scripted. The dialogue is razor-sharp, and each character is immediately capitvating and wildly quirky, be it the lady seen in the picture above, the nun who looks like Richard Nixon, or Fell's boss, who is introduced to us with the line "I'm not crying" and leaves us with "I have to take quite a lot of pills now." My favorite bit player, however, is the department secretary, whose husband left her for the dog even after she agreed to role-play. "My throat is raw from the barking." It's all classic Ellis.

The plot hums along nicely. I realize I haven't actually said what Fell was *about* yet, so I'll get to that now: Detective Richard Fell has just been transferred into Snowtown, a hellhole with only three and a half cops (one of them has no legs). He is very good at his job, with an excellent gift at reading people, but if he's not careful, the town will eat him alive. On his way to work, he stumbles across a murder mystery in his own apartment building. The twist with how the crime takes place is brilliantly strange, but, as Ellis says in the backmatter, based on a true story. Truth, I suppose, is stranger than fiction.

Yes, the story is only sixteen pages, but I didn't even notice. There's enough story here to fill twice as much space, and that's why it works; it's a smart, dense (no decompression here) read that tells a complete story but leaves you wanting more.

Buy Fell. It's only two bucks and it'll do you good.

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Blogger Brad Curran said...

I was going to get off my ass and actually write something about this comic. Thanks for ruining my short lived inspiration, you jerk!

9/10/2005 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I'm sure we'd all love your thoughts on the book as well. It's just that we won't care as much. Heheh.

I had to get this up before someone beat me to it. And to actually review something current, for once.

9/11/2005 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think this is definitely one of the comics of the week, even though I'm an admitted Ellis homer.

My thoughts on it will be posted tomorrow at @ Guys Buying Comics

9/11/2005 03:19:00 AM  

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