One Punch Reviews #65: Outfoxed
Webcomic short stories tend to make a big splash with two audiences: the people who read Reddit and the judging panel of the Eisner Awards. In 2009, for example, a whopping three short stories were under consideration: Speak No Evil, Vs., and The Lady’s Murder. A fourth, Bodyworld, was longer, but structure to come to a finite ending. It’s a format, that, in a way, is more appropriate of an award that bills itself as “The Oscars” of comics. There’s a complete story, a more cohesive theme, and character progression… things that Oscar-worthy movies are typically judged by.
This year, we also have three short stories vying for the Eisner. There’s Sarah and the Seed (which I looked at here), perhaps the shortest work every submitted for Eisner consideration. There’s Bahrain (which I took a look at over here), which muses about politics in the titular country.
Then there’s Outfoxed by Dylan Meconis. Ms. Meconis has, perhaps, more webcomic-cred than the authors involved in this year’s round of Eisners. Her previous works, Bite Me and Family Man, have taken a look at classical horror elements (vampires and werewolves) in historical settings. There’s nothing of the sort in Outfoxed. I mean, maybe a werefox… if that’s a thing.
Outfoxed is a short comic that Ms. Meconis have originally conceived for the Flight anthology, a comics series edited by Kazu Kibuishi to showcase up-and-coming comic artists.
Our story starts with a laundress, who’s hauling a bag full of filthy unmentionables. Soon, she enounters a talking fox, and she hides him from some scary looking hunters in powdered wigs who look like British Redcoats. Well, as it turns out, the fox is magical and a shapeshifter. He turns himself into a man, who looks kinda like the perpetually horny Marvel Comics’ character Starfox. What can I say: the devil hair is all the rage with fox-men these days.
The laundress scoffs. He can’t be a man. To be a man, he has to jet a job and fall in love. The fox-man tries on a variety of clothes and plays around with different jobs. He also declares his love for the laundress. The laundress tells him that she can’t fall in love with him because he’s a fox, suggesting that there’s something deep down that he cannot change.
So the fox turns himself into a lord… the same hunters who’d bedeviled him earlier. Now possessing social status, the fox-man throws it back in the laundress’ face that she’s just a laundress and rides off. In the end, the laundress is totally pissed off and screams Fox’s name like he’d just stranded her on Regula 1 after stealing the Genesis Device.
Outfoxed is a fine looking comic, rendered in muted colors and sepia tones. Ms. Meconis clearly loves drawing period clothing judging from the lovingly detailed outfits she has our fox try.
However, as the Duchess from Alice in Wonderland once said, “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” I’m not entirely sure what the moral behind Outfoxed is, though. That if you help someone in trouble, they become total jerks when they don’t get their way? Is it a cracked fairy tale — specifically the Frog Prince — where the girl stands up for herself? At the end, she doesn’t get any of the riches or power with marrying a lord, but she gains her self-respect and the right to fall in love with someone else who’s more up to her speed.
Perhaps I’m looking at it the wrong way. Maybe it’s not the fox that’s in the wrong, but the laundress? After all, her main problem with not being with the fox is not because he’s a total stranger who’s she’s just met. It’s because he’s a fox. So maybe our laundress is a little … prejudiced? And she pays for it when the fox proves to have upward mobility? Weirdly, I almost prefer that moral to, “Don’t bother helping people, because they will totally sass-back you in the end.”
Rating: Four Stars (out of 5).