Alex Fellows Ice CreamI don’t even know how I ended up finding this week’s piece of pop culture. I have definitely been on a comic book tear lately, though, and am glad to work something new and local into the rotation…

SO. Through a series of clicks and searches, I somehow ended up finding Ice Cream, a comic being published online by Alex Fellows, a Montreal-based cartoonist. This is not Fellows’ first foray into serialized online publication – his graphic novel Spain and Morocco was also originally posted online, albeit on a more consistent schedule. So far, Fellows has posted chapters one and two of Ice Cream, in June and October respectively. I’m hoping that he continues this… “quarterly” publication schedule and that we’ll be seeing something new in January. Because I think I might be **hooked**.

Ice Cream Ch 1

The story itself seems, at first blush, both eminently relatable and mayyyybe overdone. Our hero, John, is a cartoonist struggling to make ends meet. He has overdrawn his line of credit and cannot make a needed payment on his brand new, $3000 refrigerator. The refrigerator his wife has just filled with $200 in food. His once-popular comic strip, Bride and Groom is no longer enough. He desperately needs a win. After some navel-gazing, he and his wife come up with a plan.

Money problems – perhaps the most relatable topic of all time. Dudes suffering from a lack of capital – perhaps one of the most common protagonists in literature, film, etc. etc. The artist writing something we may assume is a thinly veiled portrait of his one life, just slightly fictionalized – also a tale as old as time. So what sets this apart?

The art.

Ice Cream 2

This comic is beautiful. In the first chapter, the characters in the foreground remain uncoloured.  Instead of realistically portraying the scenery, Fellows uses colour to reflect the protagonist’s emotions – a scene will transition from yellow to deep red as John becomes increasingly frustrated. His wife and child bring a much-needed dash of lightness and optimism when they arrive, and the watercolour background changes accordingly. The second chapter feels even more promising, and an entire rainbow appears in the background (until, of course, John has to deal with an overpriced food truck… when everything turns a dusky purple until the transaction is complete).

In case you can’t tell by the excessive image posting I have going on here… I cannot get enough of this artwork. I would cover an entire room in these prints. Fellows’ line work is clean, his characters are expressive, and the watercolours are just icing on the cake. This story could have been a total drag, but the ICE3artwork makes it something much better than it could have been. The emotions, and above all, the optimism that comes in during the second chapter, redeem what might have been a stale plotline. I finished it quickly and eagerly looked for more

While it’s not exactly the same thing (at all), the use of colour in Ice Cream reminds me of the use of colour and style in Asterios Polyp – which by the way, if you have not read it, you are doing yourself a *grave* disservice. I’ve included a panel so you can see what I mean – as two characters with different views begin speaking to each other, their worlds visually collide.

 

HAVE YOU READ THIS YET???

 

Sidebar: As much as I’ve been won over by more mainstream comic books – not even graphic novels, but straight-up paper comics I will go to the store for every month – the use of occasionally abstract/expressionist art as opposed to … something more realistic? Is what really sets the comic apart for me as a storytelling medium. I love when comics and graphic novels do something cool with the art for a reason, whether that be to add an emotional dimension (as in Ice Cream), to reinforce the emotions we already know are happening (as in Asterios Polyp) or, if we go waayyyyyyy back to something more traditional, in Watchmen, where Moore uses a comic-within-a-comic as a counterpoint for the main plotline. I know, I know, framing and POV and action shots vs. still shots are also all telling a story, I just like when it gets a little… comico-literary about it.

Anyways.

Ice CreamThe story could have been mediocre but the artwork turns it into something extraordinary – I can’t divorce the feelings I get from the background colour from my impressions of the plot, which is the point and strength of the comic as a storytelling medium. That means that the only real negative I can find is the fact that only two chapters have been published so far. That’s only a bad thing because we’re still in the beginning stages—I’m always mildly terrified that if I like something new, especially a comic, it will tank. This is what happened with the first comic book I bought on my very own, and is the reason I used to wait for at least two trade paperbacks to appear before even thinking about buying the first one. But I recently realized that… the only way anyone will know to keep going is if people show their support in the early stages. SO. I followed Ice Cream with my now-defunct Tumblr account (from that summer I was severely overqualified for my job), and am hoping that somehow, magically, this will keep going.

 

Images from Ice Cream found at: http://ice-cream-1.tumblr.com/ and http://ice-cream-chapter2.tumblr.com/
Image from Asterios Polyp from: https://christophermccarthythesis.wordpress.com/

(uhhhh by the way, that last link is a whole THESIS that I, for one, am probably going to at least scroll through. It looks pretty amazing.)

 

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