Shiny Shelf


Jenny Finn: Messiah

By Mark Clapham on 27 October 2005

It’s been a while. The first two issues of Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey’s ‘Jenny Finn’ were published by Oni Press in the summer of 1999, only for the remaining two issues to never appear. Mignola and Nixey had a similarly Lovecraftian, albeit higher profile, collaboration on a ‘Batman’ mini-series for DC, but of the second half of ‘Jenny Finn’ there was no sign, with Oni Press by all accounts unhappy about the collapse of the project.

In the intervening six years, ‘Jenny Finn’ has gained something of a reputation as a curiosity. Those first two issues are nothing if not intriguing – Mignola and Nixey’s script combines the squalid Victoriana of ‘From Hell’ with the unspeakable creatures of the deep that Lovecraft was so keen on, along with a very Mignola bit of steampunk, some talking fish and even a few ghosts. The plot is both straightforward and strange: a beast of the sea’s malign influence is spreading via the touch of a young prostitute, the Jenny Finn of the title, and only good hearted lunk Joe and his flower girl admirer Pippa Platt have any hope of finding out what is going on and stopping the spreading infection.

The odd concept, Mignola’s covers and Nixey’s distinctive art have kept the memory of the series alive. Now Boom Studios has revived and completed the project: the two existing issues were collected earlier this year in ‘Jenny Finn: Doom’, and the story is now, finally, concluded in ‘Jenny Finn: Messiah’. Nixey is back providing art for what would have been issue 3, while the concluding quarter bears the artwork of Farel Dalrymple, who with a name like that sounds like a character in ‘Jenny Finn’ rather than one of the creators.

Has age withered Jenny? Not really. This remains a good story, and this is a satisfying conclusion to that story, regardless of delays. In terms of script, this concluding half reads like a straight continuation of the first, to the extent that I wouldn’t be surprised if the scripts have just been sitting on a shelf for six years, completed but undrawn. Even when he’s not drawing a story himself, Mignola tends to write very visually. That’s very much the case with ‘Jenny Finn’, and Mignola and Nixey’s script works mainly through striking images rather than memorable dialogue.

For the first half of this issue, Nixey’s work has clearly developed since he drew the first half of the project: the almost Hogarthian grotesques are still all present and correct, but with a tighter, less chaotic line and some more straightforward characterisation than before. Nixey’s art is still notable for its striking sense of design, depth and detail, and it’s a shame he couldn’t complete the story himself. However, Farel Dalrymple provides an able replacement: his line work is far simpler and scratchier than Nixey’s, using harsher lines rather than the fluid swirls of his predecessor. There’s something of Eddie Campbell about Dalrymple’s work here, which is no bad thing – the Dickensian caricatures are still in full effect, and he can certainly draw a fishy, icky tentacle well enough.

While a different artist for the final quarter of a story started over half a decade ago isn’t ideal, it at least means the damn thing is now finished. The conclusion is suitably crazy, descending into computer game logic before twisting for a satirical, bleak finish. For those of us who read the first couple of issues back in the last millennium, this is a worthy ending, as much as ending so delayed can be. For anyone else, it’s well worth picking up both ‘Doom’ and ‘Messiah’ and reading ‘Jenny Finn’ on its own merits – now it’s out there, this series deserves to rise above the notoriety of its delays and get credit for what it is, a uniquely grotesque and surreal horror comic by interesting creators.


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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named markclapham.com.




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