We have an appropriate comic to consider this holiday season, a story involving a toy maker. But this story is not as sweet as it may seem, as often is the case with the good stuff.
Fall Out Toy Works is an unusual comic. If you follow Comics Grinder, you know I’m a huge fan of Brett Lewis, the very talented writer of the cult classic, The Winter Men. Well, he’s shifted gears here from his gritty crime fiction but not completely. This time, instead of the Russian mob, you’ll find guys in suits beating up a little boy bear and a tiny bumble bee cell phone. And when a toy maker comes to defend them, one of the thugs looks up and says, “We’re lawyers from Los Angeles…We do whatever we want!” Very strange but very cool.
The story is not only inspired by Fall Out Boy but the band’s front man, Pete Wentz, is credited among the creators. He seems to share some of Gerard Way’s vision for The Umbrella Academy. And that works well with the stylish artwork to this comic that also fits in with the ethereal quality of Phongram, anime and manga. There’s also a tip of the hat to Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and Barbucci & Canepa’s Sky Doll. Lots brewing here for this comic but done with its own distinct flavor.
As you can see from the above samples, artist Sami Basri has a remarkable feel for characters. He loves them as much as Brett Lewis and together they hook the reader into something special. The story itself, involving a toy maker and his creation may not be exactly new, but the way it’s handled here is unique with one hook after another connecting the reader. One scene, for instance, does well in laying out the premise. The Toy Maker is speaking with a cyborg geisha and he’s discussing the notion of fabricating emotions. He wonders if it can really be done and concludes it will be difficult. She says, no, it will be painful.
In these last two issues, we’ve seen the Toy Maker become consumed by the process of manufacturing love, as it were, the perfect mate for a strange and powerful man who leaves very little reason, if any, to be trusted. Bit by bit, Tiffany is created. The Toy Maker even calls in his childhood mentor, the Rabbi, to help him. And it is the Rabbi who supplies the missing piece to the puzzle, a perfect heart-shaped blue diamond. It is only through this diamond that all the emotional information can be properly stored and used. The diamond must be blue, of course, since it’s boron gas that’s needed for conductivity. And so on. In the meantime, Tiffany has come into her own and has snuck out to explore life after dark. She goes to a club. A man asks her to dance. She says she’s not ready. By the end of this second issue, the Baron arrives to snatch up Tiffany along with the blueprints to make more ideal women. She was supposed to be one of a kind and the blueprints were supposed to stay with the Toy Maker. The Baron had promised! The Toy Maker is enraged.
What is cool about The Umbrella Academy is that, despite all the naysayers who said Gerard Way had no business in comics, it comes across as being something with its own reason to be. Same with Fall Out Toy Works. The comic has a similar love for speaking poetically about love and existence. The name of the band may be attached directly to this comic but the ideas are expressed with care and subtlety. The Fall Out Boy song, “Tiffany Blews,” is echoed in the comic but only in the most indirect way. Whatever the creative process was behind its conception, the end result is that Fall Out Toy Works has taken on a life of its own.
Visit Image Comics, the awesome publisher of Fall Out Toy Works and then go see the official Fall Out Toy Works Web site and always check in with the Comics Grinder Web site just to see what’s up. Here is wishing all of you a peaceful, productive and purposeful new year.