This is a very unique and surreal comic book experience. The world of Fiction Clemens is unlike any ever encountered before. Your enjoyment of this comic will be completely dependent on your ability to take pleasure in the book as it flows over you, letting the experiences that Wagner and Joiton present pull you into their very special fictional world.
This comic is full of its own unique sort of manic energy. Joiton creates and presents a lot of that energy, with a unique and intriguing artistic style. Joiton is somehow very adept at presenting a layered look in his artwork, giving his pages an almost three-dimensional feel to them. For instance, there’s a breathtaking scene that takes place deep in a forest populated with munchkin-type creatures that has a very magical feel that is emphasized by the artwork. Water is boiling in a giant tortoise shell as our heroes wander into the village. Strange houses are built into trees, and the people have a unique look to them. All of those elements are presented on that page in a perfectly layered manner that puts all the elements in balance. That’s the sort of thing you just never see in most comics.
This comic is filled with scenes just as unique as that one. For instance, there’s a scene where our heroes are riding along in a dilapidated old car. The driver literally has his eyes pinned open so he can’t fall asleep, which gives him a look that’s both bizarre and spooky at the same time. As they ride in the car, the group plays a weird game that I just can’t figure out for the life of me. The moment is bizarre, but the way it’s depicted is fascinating.
I’m not sure if Josh Wagner intended this book to be cryptic, surreal or just plain weird, or if he has an underlying plot that will become obvious as the rest of this series is read. Certainly in this issue there are many intriguing and thoughtful scenes but an overall sense of the thing not quite hanging together. I kept wishing there were a few more points of clear plot in the story so I could follow it better, but I can really see how a reader could get completely tuned in to Wagner’s plot and love the hell out of this book.
I liked a lot of elements of Fiction Clemens – the imagination of the scenes and setting, the uniqueness of the characters, and of course Joiton’s gorgeous artwork. But I had trouble really following what was going on in this story, and I wish that weren’t true.