Fishtown by Kevin Colden

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By Kevin Colden

kevincoldenfishtowncoverWhen I first reviewed Fishtown, back in January, the artist was using Act-i-vate to publish a page a week of the book, which is based on a true story and follows four Philadelphia teens who brutally murder and rob their friend Jesse (the character’s name in the book). Now Fishtown is out in hardcover, courtesy of IDW, which means that readers can take in the rest of what began as an emotionally charged, upsetting, and incredibly well executed comic.

In the latter part of the book, Colden maintains the same narrative distance with which he starts. He reserves passing judgment on the kids, focusing instead on fleshing out the characters and approaching the tale as something of a question or a puzzle. This feat is particularly impressive given that this section of the book includes a reenactment of the murder. Colden’s drawings–whether they show the run-down Philly neighborhood of Fishtown all in inky yellow and blue and black or the horrifying scene of Jason’s slain body, stained in pink blood–are haunting. But the most affecting panels are the ones depicting the four teens—Adrian, Keith, Justin, and Angelica—committing the act of murder.

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XO #1-3 by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner

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XO #1-3
by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner
Silber Media

Format can do a lot to influence the attractiveness of a book, but even unique and unexpected styles of bookmaking can blend in at big conventions like MoCCA or APE. However, at a small Midwestern show like the Madison Zine Fest, unconventional books have a chance to really stand out.

It was there that I noticed three ultra-mini minis (1.75×2.25″) sleeved in small plastic bags and sitting unattended on a banister. I thought about taking them. They would fit in my pocket. No one would know. The sensation passed, however, and good karma struck back. The books were given as a gift to my table mate who gave them to me. Now I share them with you.

Baby corn, puppies, doll-sized furniture – typically these and other small things define cute. One might expect that XO, a series of mini minis would be cute as well. Even the series’ title XO implies kisses and hugs and touchy-feely stuff. However, these books are anything but cute, because each contains a story of murder.

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