MuZz vol.1 (SLG Publishing)

muzz_header.jpgOne-eyed Farllee wakes on a train that is on its way to MuZz, a strange place for forgotten ideas. Surrounded by figments of human thought, she has no idea who she is or how she got there, but quickly discovers that her presence in MuZz is far more important than she could ever dream.

 

 

 

The cover to MuZz by FSc. Click for a larger image.228 pgs. B&W; $14.95

(W / A: FSc)

 

Bad enough to wake up in a strange place surrounded by strange people, Farllee wakes to discover that she’s also missing an eye! Not only that, but her companions are bizarre things, actually cast away half-thoughts whose "minders"—the humans who began to think them—never properly formed them. They’re all on the MuZz Express, a train bound for a happier land where they hope for better lives than their often bleak-minded creators gave them. The problem for Farllee is that, while she knows she’s not an idea, she also doesn’t know what or who she is! Farllee’s adventure takes her from the train to a repackaging plant to an enchanted island with mutant fruit and finally to the realm of Dreamkeepers. Along the way hints about her past start to emerge, but above all it become patently clear that Farllee is far more than she seems.

Interior art from MuZz by FSc. Click for a larger image.Quite simply, I almost broke my brain trying to make any sense of MuZz for the first half of the book. It’s almost completely nonsensical and random, and the only thing I could grasp hold of what that there was a girl, Farllee, who had one bloody eye socket, who didn’t know what/where/who she was, and was surrounded by things that could be rejects from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. That comparison is, in fact, pretty accurate. Farllee’s train companions are, for lack of a better word, humans’ fleeting thoughts. Every time their "minder" dies, they appear on a train bound for a supposedly better place. These "halfways," as they’re called, sound like they desperately need a happy place to get to as it is. They nearly all despise their creators, who have created them bleak both in personality and in appearance. Their purposes, however brief, are also usually stomach-clenching, such as the darling elf-like girl who was given neither arms nor a voice, or the pickled baby with an intact spine who was tortured every night. This pretty much sets the tone for the entire book, which is more than a little dark.

MuZz does not focus exclusively on the dreary lives of the halfways though, and does continue by throwing in some intrigue about Farllee. It turns out there are several higher-up beings who really don’t like her, although she can’t figure out why, and we discover that she has a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. Suffice to say she pretty much collapses the entire world of Htriber, and then destroys a pirate ship. After this disjointed and creepy interlude Farllee—though it’s unclear if she’s still the same Farllee as the beginning—winds up with a strange person called Edward, and learns that that the world of dreams and Dreamkeepers are a part of her story as well.

Interior art from MuZz by FSc. Click for a larger image.Any fans of Jhonen Vasquez (author of Filler Bunny, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee!) will probably enjoy MuZz a lot, since it has a similar dark storyline and humor. There is a lot of explicit swearing, violence, spurting blood and gore, so readers be warned. Coming from Singapore, author FSc’s manhua (Chinese comics) style is evident. FSc (a.k.a. Foo Swee Chin, co-creator of SLG’s Nightmares & Fairy Tales with writer Serena Valentino) draws artwork that is unnervingly graceful for the story she tells, but given that it’s about thoughts and dreams, her fragile and whimsical style is actually appropriate. Almost everything in the pages flows together at some point, especially characters’ costumes and the freakish backgrounds of the worlds Farllee and the others go through. Chin’s lines are thin and clean, but when taken together panels often look like rough sketches done in some frenetic state of mind. This sometimes—especially in the beginning—makes the panels both hard to read and to follow. Although MuZz may look somewhat similar to Japanese manga style, readers should be aware that it does not follow any of the conventional manga literary styles. This story follows no guidelines, and stands all on its own…in the corner…in the dark.    

MuZz is not for the timid reader, nor for those who demand conventional storytelling structure with a definitive plot laid out from page one. It is a twisting, mind-boggling story that is a morose treat for the eyes and intriguing to the mind. Once you decide to get on the MuZz Express, it’s best to just hang on see things as they come. Ultimately however, the story of MuZz and Farllee is about the lost trying to find their way home, and a young girl trying to find her place in the world. | Elizabeth Schweitzer

Click here for a 9-page preview, courtesy of SLG Publishing!

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