Comics corner: Fashion Beast (Moore, A, McLaren, M., Johnston, A., Percio, F. )

I might as well warn you, this blog might have some pretty heavy spoilers.

Fashion Beast is a 10-issue comic series, based on a movie script Alan Moore wrote in the 1980's. It is an odd mixture of cold war paranoia, mysticism, the shallowness of fashion industry, lost people and mental disfiguration. It is a tale, that presents a lot of interesting questions and ideas, but doesn't really lead to a satisfactory conclusion. The journey it takes feels, after all, is said and done, that it only takes you halfway there, and leaves you to wonder what it all really was about.

Doll is a coat check girl at a trendy club, trying to make ends meet. She is booted to the streets after someone messes up the coats she was supposed to keep in check, so she finds herself looking for a new job, which she manages to find a fashion house of recluse designer Celestine, a man sitting on the absolute top of the industry.

But as soon as Doll manages to get the job, she learns that Jonni, a dresser, and an aspiring designer, who messed up her previous coat check job, is working for Celestine, sparks begin to fly. Doll thinks Jonni is an asshole, Jonni thinks Doll is nothing but a fame-hungry opportunist. And what's worse, Jonni spurts out a couple of ideas for making Celestine's designs better, which Doll presents as her own ideas. Things get tense, but from some reason, Jonni finds a muse from her.

And then there's Celestine. Odd, recluse Celestine, a man, who sits in a prison of his own doing, as he is horribly disfigured. There he looms in his office, looking down to the catwalk. There he does his work and flips down tarot cards in order to see the future.

Everything is changing. Doll is famous, the world is more and more afraid of upcoming nuclear winter. It's snowing all the time, the weather is freezing. But Doll has a new role. Not only is she a well-known model, she also has Celestine's ear. But what does he have? What is in his cards? Change of course, as everything changes, no matter what the people would hope or want. Celestine knows as he has faith in not only his design and long-dead mother but in the cards as well. And unlike anyone else, he's not afraid of the future, as he already knows what is going to happen. It doesn't matter if the old ladies running the business side of things are trying to stop the change. Their want is meaningless, as the cards have already spoken.

When the change comes, you won't fit in the old world you used to exist in. That's something Doll finds out after she takes a stroll on her old neighbourhood. It was a place she wanted to leave and after she's done it, she doesn't fit in anymore. Jonni is trying to tell her how unique the streets are, but Doll already knew that there's no magic there if you'd lived there from the childhood like she did. Jonni is, from her point of view, full of shit and romantic ideals harboured by schools and money paid by parents.

Sometimes the old needs to be destroyed so something new can be born. That's the core of Fashion Beast I think. Doll's coat check was a minor destruction. The job she got at Celestine's was her fire where she was reborn like a phoenix. Outside the fashion house, the fire for the rebirth of the world is the looming nuclear winter, the fear of the nuclear bomb.  And inside, the fire for the rebirth is Jonni. As Celestine dies, he knowingly gives the reins to him, as he knows that Jonni will destroy what he has built and from that, something new will rise. Something more glorious.

In the end, everything has changed. All is different than it was in the beginning. Jonni and Doll are in Celestine's office, ready to make love, and then he finds Celestine's hand mirror, the same mirror that distorts the way you look. And while all is different, it still might be the same, as in the end, we all might be a bit disfigured, mentally or physically. We all fall into the same trap, no matter where we are.

I take it back, Fashion Beast doesn't feel like it's half finished. It is finished. It is a complete story, a narrative that goes to places and in the end is quite satisfactory. I just had to write this little piece in order to get there myself.

If this feels like a journey you want to embark yourself, you can get it digitally from Comixology. And I guess it's also available in print as well.