Now in its fourth issue, this self published comic has been gathering a cult following, occasionally popping above the radar to great acclaim and appreciation.
The story is a very unique and original interpretation of a classic part of Irish mythology. The hero, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, or Finn here, featured in the Fenian cycle of Irish pre Christian mythology, stories of adventure and heroism. They are well known to every Irish child and Fionn is famed for his skills, leadership of the Fianna and of course how he came about to be so intelligent, in the story of the Salmon of Knowledge.
It is this salmon, that forms the Fish element of this story, and it does so brilliantly. Creating a Salmon of Knowledge angle to any classic piece of mythology is risky and requires a level of storytelling skill, and that is what Hamilton indeed manages to pull off.
The story is enriched by the artwork, which incredibly fittingly is of a Manga style, using many of the media’s tricks, from exaggerated faces, to miniature figures and creating a truly very beautifully portrayed set of characters. The art media that Hamilton uses, changes through the series, going from clear line ink to a more mature and detailed ink style and then to pencil, which posses a ghostly otherworldly feel that suits that issue. Hamilton also explains her process using a computer art programme as part of added material at the back of an issue. All the time, there is a distinctive style bringing real precision to the artwork.
I know when a manga looks like it could be from any of the main studio’s and this is one of them there is a professionalism and beauty to the lines and features facial and an understanding of movement and the anatomy that makes the artwork perfect.
There is much hilarity between Finn and the fish, for which Finn is a vassal of sorts and we follow them both on what I hope will become a series of adventures. Finn never really sure of himself, and the fish continually a blessing or thorn n disguise.
I especially liked in issue number 3, where while working as an apprentice for Fear Dubh, Finn has a private conversation with his master and all the fish can do afterwards is pester Finn about whether he was touched inappropriately. This modernist approach to humour with a wink and a teenage smirk is hilarious.
The adventure of Finn so far has been nice told, Hamilton uses considerable licence and ably creates a great feeling for the world that Finn exists in, and then as a character he frets so, has a phobia of animals, which is unfortunate, for he seems smitin with Sabh who seems to embody certain animal elements , and is not at all like the character I have known from childhood.
Yet the story deftly possess so much of the feeling of the mythology, itself a spoken word story, that it as valid as any interpretation, a real Celtic sensation eminantes from the comic,and it has the potential to bring new audiences to the lore.
There have been a number of comics, recounting tales from the the Irish Mythological cycles, Colmán Ó Raghallaigh has created a series of 5 books telling specific tales in Irish; An Sclábhaí, An Táin An Teachtaire, An Tóraíocht and Deirdre agus Mic Uisnigh and are indeed stunningly beautiful, but really should be picked up by another publisher to be made available to those with a Gaelic deficit. While Pat Mills work for nearly thirty years on Sláine has brought many elements of Irish Mythology to comic readers, the character himself even possessing elements of Cú Chulainn and the stories featuring weapons, lands and villains from Irish Mythology.
I really appreciate this interpretation of a classical character though. It’s quite an inspired story and setting, being rather original in approach and found this comic very funny while I was extremely impressed with the calibre of the art and the scripting, overall Hamilton does a stunningly good job.