Writer: Eric Palicki
Artist: Vinnie Rico
Colourist: Joaquin Pereyra and Fred C. Stresing
Release Date: 30th March, 2015
A tooth fairy murder mystery. That’s the premise for the ‘Fake Empire’ series from Darby Pop Publishing. Influenced by the words of J.M. Barrie, Palicki’s fairies live in a world where their very existence is reliant upon mankind’s belief in them. Distrusting of human adults, the fairy kingdom instead place their survival in the hands of the world’s children and place their trust in one individual to keep this belief alive: the tooth fairy. From each generation of fairy royalty, a tooth fairy is selected. So far, so Buffy. Tragically for Jill, the latest tooth fairy, she doesn’t make it past the first couple of pages.
Surprisingly given the stakes, the plot for the first book is fairly low key, as we’re introduced to the rest of the royal family. Whilst the characters do play to stereotypes (the stalwart cop, the expectant father, etc.), Palicki provides some light and shade in their individual personalities. Lucy is the clear stand-out, with her spunky attitude nicely offset by her distress at the death of her sister and the subterfuge surrounding her role in this family drama.
Despite the fantastical elements of the book (theatre buffs will enjoy the nods to Shakespeare), the book feels very much grounded in reality. The focus is as much on establishing the lore of the fairy kingdom as it is on the characters and building their relationships. In both aspects, Palicki is clever in giving enough details to set the scene, but leaving enough unsaid to provide intrigue for future books. For example, whilst Charli’s reaction to the death of her sister seems strange and unaffected, given the dialogue later in the book, I’m inclined to believe the reasons for this will unfold as the series progresses.
For me personally, however, the biggest selling point is the artwork. The first two pages are simply gorgeous, even if they do depict the murder of a fairy. Rico’s panel layout is inspired, particularly on the first page where he depicts the murder sequence from the New York skyline to Jill’s falling body (wings and all). The book has a dreamlike quality throughout, from the soft line edges to the muted colouring. However, much like the storyline, the characters’ look supports the real world setting the creators are trying to achieve. At times, it really is a feast for the eyes.
This book is unlikely to knock your socks off, but it’s a neat concept and something different from the norm. It’s the comic book equivalent of a palette cleanser if you can see past the twee overtures: light and enjoyable. I’d recommend it, even if only based on the series’ potential from the platform established in this first book.
The writer of this piece was: Claire Stevenson
Claire Tweets from @cookie___raider.