There are a lot of comics out there but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we take a look at Image Comics’s “Fishflies.”
Who’s This By?
Genre master Jeff Lemire once again returns to do a quiet, disturbing, and contemplative fantasy horror limited series from Image Comics. Lemire bounces around publishers that allow him to create all sorts of new stories and if he isn’t working with indie publisher Top Shelf to drop books like “The Underwater Welder” or “Essex County,” he tends to head over to Image or Dark Horse Comics for these small scale horror fantasy tales that are created to make you look at your inner most emotional workings.
I have called him this before, but Lemire is a modern day Rod Serling. The man just knows how to take horror, sci-fi, and fantasy and take everything about those genres (and all of their sub-genres) and mold and mash them together to create these unbelievable works that will hit you with an emotional punch rarely seen in any fiction storytelling, let alone comic books. God forbid you have experienced loss, or are a parent, because his writing is going to pierce your heart until you absolutely can’t take it by the time you reach the final page. Although we are still early on in this miniseries, I can only assume that “Fishflies” is here to do to us what works like “Royal City,” “Frogcatchers” and “Mazebook” have done to readers in the recent past.
What’s This All About?
Returning to the setting of the Essex County area of Canada that Lemire knows all too well, a young girl named Fran who comes from a pretty bad homelife befriends a large mutant bug man, who unbeknownst to her, is a wanted violent criminal. This newly formed creature cannot speak to her, but her pure nature and willingness to look after this “monster” is clearly warming his cold buggy heart.
Prior to this, the story opens with a group of tween boys being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Heading to the local convenience store just as the fishfly season has begun, they stumble upon a robbery in progress and the desperate criminal with a gun, shoots one of the boys, critically injuring him. It is after this point that the gunman is mercilessly attacked by the fishflies, biting him until he collapses in a barn on the outskirts of town. This is where the tale crosses the threshold into fantasy and horror as fishflies are completely harmless bugs that live for such a short amount of time with such a specific existence, they are born without mouths and cannot bite.
As this bond between this creature and Fran begins to grow, and changes into more of a friendship rather than her just bringing him food, there is a beautiful lightness to their interactions, but being a Lemire book, the mounting dread in the back of my mind is there all the time.
So, Why Should I Read This?
As a major fan, Lemire’s name alone is the reason for me to pick up this book, but even if I weren’t, “Fishflies” is definitely the kind of book that would have me hooked even without prior knowledge or experience with his previous works. Other than the lettering, which is done by industry stalwart, Steve Wands, Lemire does the writing and all of the artwork. This is typical for a lot of Lemire’s smaller run, or standalone graphic novel releases and it is usually a sign that the story he is writing is so personal to him that he had to do the art himself. Lemire has a very specific and distinct art style. And whether you love it or don’t, it is so exact and tied to Lemire’s most personally effected pieces that you cannot help but feel something very powerful when he uses his own art to tell these incredible stories.Continued below
His use of color, or lack thereof, is being used in a very interesting way in this series. For the most part the palette consists solely of various shades of blues and grays, but the color red is the one standout that draws focus to very distinct details, most notably any time blood shows up and Fran’s winter coat. There is a cinematic precedence for a red winter coat, or other articles of clothes, being the one use of color within a visual story. And if Fran’s coat is being used in a similar fashion here, it can only mean something bad is on the horizon.
In his writing, Lemire will target heartbreak, loss, nostalgia, and coming of age moments that will touch anyone, but if you are older than say, 25, make sure you have a box of tissues ready. “Fishflies” has not hit those emotional heights, but the foundation for them is absolutely there. Beautifully tragic is a term I would use to summarize most of Lemire’s work and that suit “Fishflies” just fine.
How Can You Read It?
Issue three was released this Wednesday, November 15th, and now is as good a time as any to catch up on the previous issues leading to this point. The series is running for seven issues so you will be able to enjoy this series fairly quickly without wondering how many years this could be running for. Found anywhere comic books are sold.