Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Jenny Finn, Jenny Finn, Where You Been?"

It's taken some time but, as of today, I've finally finished reading the complete Jenny Finn series.

Not that finishing it is some major achievement, I just remember way back when the series first debuted from Oni press, the negative review that I wrote of it and the surprise I got from Troy in San Diego 2000 when he came up to me and said, "So, you didn't like Jenny Finn #1, eh?"

And it's true, for the most part I didn't like the first issue. There were too many things left hanging, the dialogue led the reader nowhere as far as moving the plot along and, although the artwork was typically and wonderfully Troy's, it looked very cluttered and the line weight didn't do a good enough job of distinguishing between objects without colour or texturing. If you've ever seen Troy's Bacon or Trout stories (which ran in 3 or 4 issues of Oni Double Feature and Dark Horse Presents, respectively) they were better composed and executed as black and white stories, in my opinion.

Anyway, thanks to BOOM! Studios, Jenny Finn got a new lease on life as a two-volume prestige format series that reprinted the first two published books as well as the two that never saw the light of day.

Having read the whole story in its entirety, I think I have a little better appreciation for it. I still don't think it's the best thing I've ever seen from Troy, but the plight of the main character, Joe, now has some genuine purpose to it and that goes a long way to making a 'meh' story all right. I would also say that hindsight is 20/20 when it came to the overall strangeness of the background characters and environments. Before you just got a sense of oddness for oddnesses sake, but, again, seeing how Jenny's and Joe's story has played out has given me reason to go back and give it at least one more reading.

One disappointent with the new version is that the fourth chapter is not drawn by Troy at all. It's unfortunate that he was unwilling or unable to complete the book to maintain some visual continuity. Farel Dalrymple, while an adequate replacement, doesn't seem to be giving this last bit his all and it comes off feeling a bit rushed and pushed off. It takes something away from the big finale, as it were, but if it came down to Farel drawing it or never seeing it at all, I think Troy and Mr. Richie made the right choice in publishing it as it is (and for the record, I do actually like Dalrymple's work elsewhere, so I'm not just bashing the new guy).

Not a glowing review, I know, but I did think I owed it to Troy and the book to give it one more pass with a review since I never was able to see the complete picture back in '99 or 2000 when it first came out.

Oh, and before I forget, I should give kudos to BOOM! for a) bothering to publish it all and b)giving it such a decent presentation. The two Mignola covers and the squarebound format are very attractive and did play a role in my picking up the book this second time around.

Onwards and upwards!


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