Fell (Ellis/Templesmith) - series discussion [spoilers]

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E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
Anyone pick this up?

I subscribe to Ellis's Bad Signal newsletter, so I've received a steady stream of email after email talking about the numbers on this book. It was to the point where I was tired of hearing about it.

But I was in my shop yesterday and had a light week, and happened to catch the first 2 issues on the shelf so I decided to check them out. They're only $1.99 cover price.

The premise is not just about story - it's basically a cheap, self-contained book that anyone can buy - cheap - and read without having to know a bunch of backstory. Sounds familiar? Yeah, to me too, but it really works well so far.

So the pages have 9 panels and the book has less pages than your typical book, but it is very much a complete and self-contained story.

So that's the gimmick. The story is pretty good, too. The characters are solid. Basically it follows a cop in a wastehole of a city and he deals with cases that Ellis gets out of the "Bizarre News" pages of the paper.

Each issue also has a sort of essay by Ellis - the first 2 issues deal with the concept of the book, but are pretty interesting.

The art is...odd...but fits the stories.

I would definitely recommend it. I was surprised I liked it, really, since I heard about it so much that I was tired of it before I'd seen a page. At $1.99 you can't really go wrong.

EDIT - if you don't want any more spoilers for the series or any given issue, don't read any more.
 

Ice

Teh Sexy Monkey Queen
Never heard of this. Is this some creator owned work from Ellis?
 
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E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
Re: Fell (Ellis/Templesmith) - series discussion

icemastertron said:
Never heard of this. Is this some creator owned work from Ellis?
Yep, and put out by Image. It's like a detective book, sort of, but it doesn't get super deep. It's not meant to be a superinvolved multi-part story...the best thing about it is that any given issue has a complete, self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end.
 

compound

Well-Known Member
Are open spoilers allowed here? (I'm assuming the answer is 'no', if the purpose of the thread is to win over new readers.)

If it's okay with you, would you mind posting a summary of the second issue (hidden behind a spoiler tag, if necessary)?

One thing that confuses me about the set-up of the book is that if each issue is meant to be self-contained, why does it feel that certain elements are being introduced as part of a larger master narrative (possibly dealing with the origins of Snowtown itself)?

For example, in the first issue, there was that bizarre nun-looking figure with the long hair that Fell notices (I think) in the alley near his apartment. Was she there just to add to the creepy vibe of the neighborhood? Because she had no obvious connection to the runaway girl, her family, or the Vietnamese bar-tender. Is she seen again in #2?
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
Re: Fell (Ellis/Templesmith) - series discussion

Fell is good. I was really looking forward to it, and it doesn't dissapoint. I even commented on it in hte weekly shipping threads to hopefuly get you guys to check it out. Creepy, atmospheric art, odd, uniquly ellis-mcguffins, and $1.99 Can't go wrong I say.

Compound, the Nun was in issue two watching him and eating an Ice Crteam Cone, through wat looked like a mask. Fell said something to the effect of "I need to find something to arrest her for" and then was sidetracked. Ellis said that there would be more Nun in issue three. But mostly bombs.
 
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MoS

Well-Known Member
Re: Fell (Ellis/Templesmith) - series discussion

Each issue of the series is meant to be self-contained, main plot wise. There are continuing characters, however, and continuing interaction threads. In issue #2, the main plot is about the murder of several pregnant women.

Just like his Apparat singles, I like Ellis' commentary in the back of the issue. The general idea of Fell is that it is a 16 page, single issue storyline for $1.99. Each month, you pays your money and you gets your complete story. The other idea was to explore the use of the 9 panel grid on every page. No big splash pages, none of that. Not to say that there are exactly 9 panels per page, but you can see how each page divides into 9 sections. The disadvantage to the low page count is that the story has to be laid out quickly and solved fairly quickly, and it cuts a few corners to do it.

Templesmith's art and colors are just incredibly eerie and suit the story and the quirky characters very well. Here's a link to his Livejournal, which has some art examples. Instead of narration boxes, they use yellow post-it-notes - sometimes on the panels, sometimes IN the panels, on the characters or sets or props, and it's very unique.
 

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
compound said:
Are open spoilers allowed here? (I'm assuming the answer is 'no', if the purpose of the thread is to win over new readers.)
I've amended the title and first post, so yes - spoilers galore from here on out.

If it's okay with you, would you mind posting a summary of the second issue (hidden behind a spoiler tag, if necessary)?

compound said:
One thing that confuses me about the set-up of the book is that if each issue is meant to be self-contained, why does it feel that certain elements are being introduced as part of a larger master narrative (possibly dealing with the origins of Snowtown itself)?
Yeah, I did notice that, but I think what will happen when they address the nun (next issue, I believe) is that you won't HAVE to know that there were 2 issues of buildup to it, you know what I mean?

compound said:
For example, in the first issue, there was that bizarre nun-looking figure with the long hair that Fell notices (I think) in the alley near his apartment. Was she there just to add to the creepy vibe of the neighborhood? Because she had no obvious connection to the runaway girl, her family, or the Vietnamese bar-tender. Is she seen again in #2?
She was seen again looking creepy and eating ice cream, that's it. Like Baxter said she'll be dealt with in #3.

Baxter - I'm sorry I missed your recommendation but I will say here that I agree with it and second it.

I'm not totally sold on the art. Baxter is right that it is is creepy, but it looks...amatuerish for lack of a better word. That's probably a poor choice of word because it implies that it's "bad" - it's not bad, I'm just not used to it. Ellis compares it to Sienkwitz (I know I spelled that totally wrong) but it's not the same at all to me. It's rough in the same way but not nearly as...finished. But it absolutely does fit the story, so it's not distracting at all.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
UltimateE said:
Baxter - I'm sorry I missed your recommendation but I will say here that I agree with it and second it.

I'm not totally sold on the art. Baxter is right that it is is creepy, but it looks...amatuerish for lack of a better word. That's probably a poor choice of word because it implies that it's "bad" - it's not bad, I'm just not used to it. Ellis compares it to Sienkwitz (I know I spelled that totally wrong) but it's not the same at all to me. It's rough in the same way but not nearly as...finished. But it absolutely does fit the story, so it's not distracting at all.
I've gotten used to it. As long as you guys try some of this stuff I'm happy.

I don't think I'd call Templesmith Amaturish. I'd say more experimental, and I'd rather see an artist try new things with thier art than rehash the same onld things we've seen for years. I think it helps add to the sureal feel of the book too. Like a caricature of a city and police series.
 
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compound

Well-Known Member
I'm actually intrigued by the larger mystery as much as I am about the individual cases Fell will be solving.

Are there any more clues in #2 about the history of Snowtown itself? Or at least hints about what the freaky protection symbol really means?

Anybody have some preliminary theories?
 

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
compound said:
I'm actually intrigued by the larger mystery as much as I am about the individual cases Fell will be solving.

Are there any more clues in #2 about the history of Snowtown itself? Or at least hints about what the freaky protection symbol really means?

Anybody have some preliminary theories?
Not a clue. Ellis writing this kind of book is very unpredictable, and I'm not familiar enough with this writing style to be able to see anything coming.

It might make me naive, but I kind of prefer it that way.

I do think the symbol is cool, though. There is definitely some sort of underlying conspiracy or something around it. Even a loner like the fetus carving guy respected the symbol...weird.
 

MoS

Well-Known Member
Well, Ellis tends to write through his organs, and you can pretty much tell which organ is involved by how the book FEELS. Desolation Jones (even though it deals with a silly "Hitler porno" MacGuffin) is mostly heart, Fell seem to be written primarily from the head with a bit of the heart involved plus a bit of "**** you" to the standard comics media theory. Transmetropolitan was Ellis' whole body and quite a bit of his soul (at least the first couple of trades - I stopped reading somewhere around the sixth trade).

He's not much of a believer in HEA (happily ever after) or what most people would call romance or sentiment. (Though there is a scene in Desolation Jones #2 where the damaged hero spends the night with an equally damaged heroine and it's very "romantic" - just in a, uhhhh, damaged kind of way.) His characters seem to be wounded and flawed in critical (and often similar) ways, not so much heroes or antiheroes quite so much as forces of nature. His work-for-hire stuff -- he often doesn't play nicely with other people's toys. His Iron Man is going along in a surprisingly respectful-to-character fashion and I think his Constantine (Hellblazer) is one of the better versions of the character, but I think you'll see in Next Wave, due out through Marvel next year, that superheroes are not always his favorite thing, despite comprising his bread-and-butter (well, "Red Bull and alcohol.")
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
Crap. I forgot about this. I want to pick this up. Someone bump this thread on Wednesday so I remember to get it on Thursday. 8)
 

ourchair

Well-Known Member
UltimateE said:
Anyone pick this up?

I subscribe to Ellis's Bad Signal newsletter, so I've received a steady stream of email after email talking about the numbers on this book. It was to the point where I was tired of hearing about it.

But I was in my shop yesterday and had a light week, and happened to catch the first 2 issues on the shelf so I decided to check them out. They're only $1.99 cover price.

The premise is not just about story - it's basically a cheap, self-contained book that anyone can buy - cheap - and read without having to know a bunch of backstory. Sounds familiar? Yeah, to me too, but it really works well so far.

So the pages have 9 panels and the book has less pages than your typical book, but it is very much a complete and self-contained story.

So that's the gimmick. The story is pretty good, too. The characters are solid. Basically it follows a cop in a wastehole of a city and he deals with cases that Ellis gets out of the "Bizarre News" pages of the paper.

Each issue also has a sort of essay by Ellis - the first 2 issues deal with the concept of the book, but are pretty interesting.

The art is...odd...but fits the stories.

I would definitely recommend it. I was surprised I liked it, really, since I heard about it so much that I was tired of it before I'd seen a page. At $1.99 you can't really go wrong.

EDIT - if you don't want any more spoilers for the series or any given issue, don't read any more.
Compound has my copy, goddamnit. It's impossible for him to get comics these days, and impossible for me to get them from him as well.

But I'm getting it from him today. *looks at compound* YOU'D BETTER NOT FORGET.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
New issue, we're getting a bit more of a look at the lawlessness of Snowtown and how our detective needs to adapt. The crack dealer was especialy a nice touch.

Oh. And the nun has a gun.
 

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
I forgot to pick up #3 with my weekly stack so I had to go back yesterday to get it and I read it today.

#3 is the best issue yet. I'm very impressed how self-contained issues are but still fit into the bigger picture.

Basically Fell is looking for a suit - he finds a thrift shop kind of place being run by an old woman. They get to talking, and it turns out her father was a policeman also. She offers to give him a suit, and he goes to try it on, and finds a man with a bomb strapped to his chest sitting in the dressing room. The man wants to blow up the store and kill the lady, because apparently she's been distributing guns that her father owned during the war to the senior citizens in the city to protect themselves. One of those guns was used to kill the bomber's brother. But the lady tells him that the brother was actually robbing people and he was shot in self-defense. Fell talks to him and eventually disarms him.

Great issue. Everyone should be reading this.
 

MoS

Well-Known Member
I wrote a quick opinion/review for my LJ & MW -

Fell #3 (Ellis/Templesmith; Image) "X Marks the Spot." This started a little slow and a little rambly ( I do NOT get the Nixon nun thing), with Fell wandering the streets in search of a new suit, but then it picks up pace beautifully - on reread it's obvious it was supposed to be that way, to set up the random chance, random life aspect. My favorite issue of the series so far, the plot is simple, but the characters and the motivations are interesting - never quite a full twist so much as a gentle bend on expectations. The layout is wonderful - I've been reading much discussion about the dreaded "talking heads" in comics and Ellis and Templesmith thumb their noses at all that in nine pages that consist almost entirely of head shots of the characters talking. And it WORKS.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
Rhyo said:
I've been reading much discussion about the dreaded "talking heads" in comics and Ellis and Templesmith thumb their noses at all that in nine pages that consist almost entirely of head shots of the characters talking. And it WORKS.
I've got no idea why people complian about "Talking Heads". With a good writer it can be used to establish all sorts of important plot and characterization bits, and helps build up the action, instead of gratuitious big men hitting each other for no real reason.
 

compound

Well-Known Member
Did anybody else honestly anticipate the gun in the interrogation room in #5? I kinda suspected it was coming, but it was still a damn good reveal.

Any good preliminary theories about why Snowtown appears to be "cursed"? Is it just a nasty, poorly-managed area that happens to attract some very unbalanced individuals? Or is there something more paranormal to it?
 
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