Trading Up: Fiction Clemens

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Written by Josh Wagner, who has created novels (Smashing Laptops) and plays (Ringing Out) and with art by Joiton, Fiction Clemens was originally released as a three issue mini-series by Ape Entertainment in 2008.

Like Rango, this is a unique spin on the Western genre, with a surprisingly effective space race angle thrown in for good measure. It’s a combination of unique characters and entertaining genres that works well, and serves to stamp “quirky” and “offbeat” on every page. Don’t be fooled by all the wacky shenanigans however, as it’s not necessarily an all-ages book, as it is very wordy and dialogue driven.

In this world, there are “sand farmers,” talk of UFOs on the news, oddly shaped cacti, flying whales, the mysterious Clockmaker, and a family who age backwards, like Mork and Mindy’s kids. As I said; quirky.

The tale begins in a bar when ranch hand Fiction Clemens is mistaken for sleeping with the lover of Tiberius Kitchens, son of industrialist Rothguard Kitchens, prime toothpick manufacturer. Father and son are greedy for more land, specifically the prime land and trade route of Spindle’s Web, and that’s when the adventure begins, with Clements, or Fic, as he’s known meets all sorts of wonderful characters and starts to understand the conspiracy at work around him.

Fic is a likeable and down to earth protagonist and his relationship with Dune Trixie is a charming hook, as they travel this Wild, Weird West and get to know each other. The plot is paced well and although madcap situations come their way, it all seems rather organic, even when Fic is mistaken for a woman and wooed by the younger Kitchens.

Joiton’s art almost appears to be something out of large format picture book, with exaggerated body types and a general cartoonish approach to expressions and environments. It looks like something from a Tim Burton animated film, and that’s a good thing, considering the story is far from realistic.

There are three colorists throughout these pages, and at times it does appear inconsistent and flat, but it’s never too distracting and thankfully the whimsical nature of the story is reflected well in the visual approach. The use of a more casual font for Fic’s dialogue is a pleasant addition too.

The trade features a new cover by Joiton and Alejandro Marmontel, and also collects pinups from artists including Camilla d’Errico and Chris Moreno.

Fiction Clemens is a full color 156 page trade paperback. It is available now and retails for $25.25.

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