Jenny Finn, by Troy Nixey and Mike Mignola: the review

Jenny Finn, by Troy Nixey and Mike Mignola: the review

Jenny Finn, by Troy Nixey and Mike Mignola

Victorian-era setting, magic and spiritism, steampunk contraptions, heinous murders along the lines of the famous Jack the Ripper and monstrous creatures of the best Lovecraftian tradition. This is the perfect mix of Jenny Finn, a graphic novel created by Troy Nixey and Mike Mignola arriving in Italy thanks to Editoriale Cosmo. An artfully created combination that harmoniously blends some of the most compelling literary topoi based on Victorian settings, bearing the unmistakable signature of a screenwriter such as Mignola.

Jenny Finn, taking its name from its disturbing and mysterious protagonist, it takes us through the imperial streets in the midst of vices, beliefs, folklore and embodied monstrosities; unfortunately this is not enough to save the graphic novel from what are evident flaws, however we appreciated the work of Troy Nixey and Mike Mignola and we explain why it deserves a chance to be read.

Jenny Finn, where have you been? Where will you go?

In London in the late nineteenth century, individuals live their lives unaware of the presence of a dark and latent evil crawling through the most sordid alleys of the city. While some prostitutes are found brutally murdered and the serial killer still seems to be at large, another malevolent presence snakes through the population, transforming some individuals into creatures with the appearance of sea monsters.

Here Joe, a man who works in the slaughterhouse, addicted to alcohol and prostitutes, meets by chance a girl who attracts him by unleashing in him the unconscious instinct to protect her from the dangers and ugliness that inhabit these places . Her name is Jenny Finn, her life is destined to work in a brothel, but under the guise of a helpless girl hides a disturbing being with superhuman powers capable of subverting the laws of nature and attracting numerous proselytes to herself.

Thus, while a secret society tries to take over the girl's frightening powers through heinous murders that can completely awaken him, Joe tries to bring the truth to the surface, finding himself discovering that evil can have countless faces and actually originate from the very same men who shun monsters.

A successful mix

The sea depths, unfathomable places populated by darkness and mystery, exert an irresistible charm in literature since from the most remote times. Even today, although we are able to explore the aquatic depths to levels once unthinkable, we can only still feel a sacred terror for what could be hidden in the dark: unknown creatures, with unimaginable shapes, which if fortuitously were to show themselves to man would appear almost like beings from another world. This is a theme so dear above all to the authors of the beginning of the last century (to name one "at random": Howard Phillips Lovecraft) from which many of today's writers have taken the legacy to transpose it into contemporary books and comics.

A legacy that Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey know well, declined within narratives that also involve mythology and folklore visible above all in Hellboy and its collateral comics, as well as in the dark works of Nixey (director of Not Being Afraid of the Dark, for example). In Jenny Finn we could say that we have the apotheosis of certain themes, transplanted into the fertile ground made up of the Victorian years and in general of the horror-steampunk genre that goes perfectly with this setting. The ingredients are all there and are blended together without exceeding too much towards one aspect or another, but in a balanced and wise way. A port district frequented by sailors who have witnessed the most bizarre things at sea; frightening sea creatures capable of transforming men into their fellows; the man of the street launched against his will into the dark secrets of the abyssal world, made aware of truths that lead anyone to madness.

Troy Nixey, at the end of the volume Jenny Finn, makes some sort of mission statement:

Clearly there is a common Victorian theme; at the time, in the late nineties and early 2000s, I was obsessed with drawing anything that had to do with that period ... Who am I kidding? I am still obsessed with designing antiques, old architecture, uncomfortable woolen clothes, warm clothes and, of course, adding monsters to the whole.

An objective that, we would like to say, has been fully achieved, thanks to a screenplay that, even if it adopts recurring and sometimes inflated elements in literature, is not taken for granted and develops gradually until the final climax in a balanced way . Together with Mignola, Nixey in fact combines the horror-abysmal background with the presence of a serial killer of prostitutes who certainly refers to the figure of the famous Jack the Ripper; a secret society like the Masonic one that intends to acquire powers bordering on the divine for its own, smoky purposes; characters wearing strange mechanical contraptions clearly inspired by steampunk. The love of the authors for these elements is almost palpable and defines a comic in a certain sense original: it is not easy to find such a well-made mix in a comic book, especially for what concerns the horror-steampunk setting genre. Victorian.

What could have been improved

On the other hand, you can't expect too many twists from Jenny Finn and in some points the authors were perhaps too "cautious" . The comic by Troy Nixey and Mike Mignola has enormous potential that nevertheless seems not to have been exploited adequately: it is as if it is always about to take off, but somehow it rises only a few meters above the ground without ever taking flight in earnest. . Jenny Finn could have used her three-dimensional characters, her evocative and mysterious setting, her disgusting half-marine creatures to dare much more and create something intense, incisive, one of those stories that make you think "I'd be curious to see a film or a TV series based on this comic ”.

Unfortunately, this does not happen. Although Jenny Finn gives strong emotions in certain passages, she never fully expresses the range of feelings she points to: horror, amazement, empathy, disgust. In short, for a story that makes its different human types, often showing the lowest aspects of each, one would have expected a more decisive, less "shy" and somehow more impressive approach, while especially at the end the plot is diluted and goes a little to subside without materializing in a noteworthy epilogue. Nixey thinks about saving Jenny Finn largely with illustrations that seem to capture the authorial intentions and the spirit that animates the narrated world (while the beautiful covers by Mike Mignola made in his unmistakable style deserve a separate note).

The lines are thick, hard, embodying the ruthlessness of the roads on which the bizarre events of Jenny Finn unfold. The human figures are not embellished with breathtaking faces and bodies, but instead made more alive by defects and shapes that are sometimes disproportionate: big noses, missing teeth, sagging breasts. The throbbing life that trudges, crawls and climbs in this Victorian-era London is real and brutalized by the normal and harsh course of an existence in the shadow of beliefs, myths, crime, prostitution, hunger, ruthless jobs that consume souls of individuals. The coloring somehow recalls the light and dark shades so dear to Mignola, inserting many sepia and violets that go well with the “marine” theme. The city outlined, in the final analysis, is not only a scenography, but an active part of the plot: a monstrous creature in disguise, a bit like little Jenny Finn, capable of devouring men who dare to try to tame it. >

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