2 out of 5
Well something went wrong here.
There’re some guesses to be hazarded, and here’s mine: Troy Nixey befriended Guillermo del Toro on Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and showed him some sketches of Lovecraftian goopies – and maybe a Hellboy sketch or two – and del Toro said, “let me hook you up with my buddy Mike Mignola and maybe youse toose dudes can doose a comics together.”
(This is a pretty accurate representation of del Toro’s speech patterns, from what I’ve gleaned from my made-up research.)
Nixey’s pin-ups, in this guesses-at scenario, are reprinted in the back of the collected Jenny Finn trade, and sure, I get it: his heavy, loose style and fondness for tentacles is Mignola-adjacent, and there are some compelling steam-punk images there, as well as some I’d-write-a-story-about-that pics of guys wearing tentacles as hats and whatnot. And whether or not any elements of this were part of the reality, they back-up the reading experience of the book: a wholly unnecessary story, created wholesale just to fill space, and an incredibly uncomfortable match between Mignola’s pacing and clipped writing style and Nixey’s rambling pencil line and desire to draw explosions of fish guts.
Letterers Pat Brosseau and Ed Dukeshire have a butt of a time trying to force pacing on things by using different lettering styles to represent crowd chatter, or Mike’s ‘doom’ omens, but Nixey isn’t there for that, operating in pure indie style – character slopping from panel to panel on a flat plane – and not great at creating atmosphere or personality in black and white, such that the ‘Joe’ we’re supposed to be following as he gets mixed up with the titular Jenny, and her tentacle-cursed ways, is a complete blank as a character, and visually too easily mixed up with any other given person in a panel. Some steampunk curiosities make their way in the form of a police-ish force, trying to stem the tentacle tide, and Mike wakes up from his writerly snooze with some light lore regarding a group of individuals maybe trying to pull a Hellboy (‘we want to use you to start the apocalypse’) on Jenny, but it’s just another random bit in a mess of pencils and otherwise uninteresting dialogue. Farel Dalrymple shows up in ‘Part 4’ and formalizes the style appreciably.
There are some inspired scenes of calamity, and I do like the general gist of Innsmouth-type horrors revisited as a plague, but that’s all Jenny Finn is: a lot of generalisms, mushed together in the hopes of forming a story.