Dark Horse Comics rereleases Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey’s “Jenny Finn,” now in color for the first time.
Written by Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey
Illustrated by Troy Nixey
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
London’s dockside is threatened by the twin terrors of a plague that leaves bodies covered in tentacles and a slasher killing women in the night, all of which began after the arrival of a strange young girl who is followed by whispers of doom wherever she goes.
Mike Romeo: When I first saw this series being resolicited I was surprised. I always thought of this title as a sort of forgotten Mignola project, which was a shame. I guess the twin elements of not being an ‘in universe’ series and not being published at Dark Horse meant that the deck was stacked against it to begin with.
But now here we are, with a freshly colored return. “Jenny Finn” is a sweet spot for me, as it was the first time I’d ever seen Troy Nixey’s art. When the series was originally published over at BOOM! it was presented in glorious black and white, which really let Nixey’s art sing. He’s got what I’d call a squishy line style, which is not only perfectly suited for the subject matter, but it also sings when placed against a stark white background. Even though it would be Stewart coloring the new edition, I gotta admit I was a little apprehensive. I always sorta shirk away from black and white comics that get republished in color, but of course Stewart delivers.
So I first read this a bunch of years ago, but it’s your first go at “Jenny Finn,” right?
Mark Tweedale: Yeah, this book came out several years before I even started reading American comics. It was one I’d always meant to track down eventually, so I was very happy to see it republished.
It’s funny, I used to be very standoffish about coloring a previously published black and white work, but Steve Hamaker’s work on “Bone” and Nathan Fairbairn’s on “Scott Pilgrim” did a lot to change my mind. Color conversion can’t be done for everything, of course, but I’m much more open to the idea now. In the case of “Jenny Finn”, I’d never seen the black and white version, so Dave Stewart’s colors feel completely natural, like the book was drawn for color.
Mike: Something that I didn’t really absorb when I first read this series is that it really feels like Mignola is writing something he aims to have fun with, not unlike “Screw-On Head.” It’s not at all encumbered by history or continuity, which gave me a sorta light, bouncy feel to the way the narrative is executed. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a horror comic with some pretty dark themes, but it left me feeling like the reading was a little breezier than his usual Dark Horse stuff.
Mark I think that tone comes from the characters more than anything. Terrible things happen, but they seem relatively unaffected other than to say, ‘Well, that certainly was a bad thing.’ Also with Nixey co-writing, it feels both familiar to and yet starkly different from anything else Mignola has written.
Mike: There’s an interesting element at play in this issue that I like a lot. Mignola and Nixey do this thing where there’s a seemingly endless background chatter on these pages. It creates this weird mood where hushed gossip and voyeurism are the top agenda for everyone who’s not a protagonist. It sorta creates a sense of claustrophobia, with all these tiny little word balloons closing in around the characters. It plays off of Nixey’s art really well, I think. The guy’s got a knack for these tight, stone, old European-style cities where everyone lives elbow to elbow.
Makes me see why Mignola works so well with him.
Mark: The mob scenes ended up being my favorite part of this book. The way mobs are portrayed in media generally, they tend to function as a single character, and they still do in “Jenny Finn,” in that the mob acts in unison upon the story. However, their motivations are different. Mignola and Nixey do this thing, the muttering off the mob, where characters all have varying points of view on the scene, yet results in unified action. It’s a mob with more range of expression.Continued below
The range within the mob is where many of the best comedy beats come from too, especially in the more meandering mutterings or the overall lack of empathy. Even though they act as a group, these moments emphasize the manner in which each individual is wearing blinkers. They’re incapable of understanding needs beyond their own often trivial desires. They’d rather events be exciting than just.
This was an element at play in “The Black Sinister” from Troy Nixey too, and as you observed, it suits his art. He’s adept at conveying the energy of the crowd, pushed up against each other, without becoming a homogenous faceless horde. Though stylistically very different, Nixey’s approach to crowds reminds me a lot of Albert Uderzo’s bickering Gauls and crazy Romans in “Asterix.”
Mike: You’re totally spot on with all of that. Everything about the mob made it one of the best characters in the issue, I think.
Mark: I found Mignola and Nixey had an excellent grasp of the book’s tone. I can sum it up in a panel.
My only real quibble with the story, and it’s a very minor one, is that it’s lead, Joe, is the least interesting character. That seems to at least partially be by design, though. I’m hoping for more from him in future issues though.
Mike: Oh yeah, I’m totally with you on Joe. At points he’s more of an element that’s acted upon than he is a lead character. Almost like a catalyst for the narrative to spring from. But yeah, he’s got a bunch of story yet to get through.
What do you say we wrap this one up?
Mark: Sure. I’m giving it solid 8. I had a lot of fun with this book, and the addition of color to an existing work was utterly seamless. It’s good to finally read this one.
Mike: I had a bunch of fun with this one, too, but I’m gonna be a little less generous and go with a 7. Solid set up, great humor, but the character development still has a bit to go.
Final verdict: 7.5 – A fun read, definitely worth checking out (or revisiting if you caught it the first time around).