"The Golden Life of Francis Fairview" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written and Illustrated by M. Strickland
2010, 49 Pages
Most people would agree that there are problems in today's society. The rich get richer while the poor struggle to survive. It's unclear where this path of greed and capitalism will lead to, but The Golden Life of Francis Fairview offers one such possibility. Years from now humankind is threatened with an oxygen crisis and an element called thineon is discovered within the earth's crust that could lead to salvation. Then there's Francis, an odd boy with an even odder family that could be the key to everything.
Or not. It's rather unclear. See, The Golden Life of Francis Fairview focuses primarily on the title character as he struggles to figure out his place in the world after being abandoned by his family at a young age. He uses his considerable wealth to investigate his father's past. Along the way, society is drastically changing around him and this has little to no effect on him. He just kind of mopes throughout life, time passing by in leaps and bounds with civilizations rising and falling. Francis is little more than a puppet floating around, barely speaking. The narration explains what he's doing and thinking. He could have been replaced with a stuffed animal and it wouldn't have made much difference.
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Writer / artist M. Strickland has created an amazing landscape to surround a relatively boring character. There are tales of greed, corruption, plague, destruction, and more that are touched upon as background information, explaining the world that Francis lives in. Any one of them would have been a far more intriguing tale as Francis is not very interesting or relatable. He's just kind of there.
Strickland's artwork is unlike anything I've seen in comics. It's like something out of a TOOL video. The people are twisted and deformed with straggly hair and beady eyes. It's somewhat fitting that they live on a planet that is slowly dying. There is no bright light at the end of the tunnel in this book. It's dark and desolate across this land of no hope.
The Golden Life of Francis Fairview is anything but. It follows a young man as he figures out who he is and where he came from, using a whole lot of money to do so. It's like a weird version of Batman where instead of fighting crime, Bruce Wayne becomes a Howard Hughes-esque drillbit maven with daddy issues.