Top Ten Irish Comics: Jennifer Wilde
“At the start of the Jazz Age in Paris in 1921, young French artist Jennifer Chevalier becomes embroiled in death, espionage and revolution which takes her across the three nations of France, England and Ireland – ably assisted by the ghost of Oscar Wilde.”
Jennifer Wilde is an original 3-part comic book series published by Atomic Diner. Jennifer Chevalier receives an unannounced visit from her estranged father and some short time after we find him meeting an untimely death, and the untold hidden life of this man begins to unfold. While going through her grief and her dead fathers possessions, she comes across sketches and drawings that depict a man immersed in the arts and a character clearly at odds with his public persona as a war hero. Jennifer asks for help as she realises her father has led a hidden life, and the smooth apparition of Oscar Wilde appears to ‘ably assist’. Putting pieces of the past together, Jennifer begins to paint a true picture of her fathers’ shadow character, with light added via the dry wit of Oscars ghost. The series mixes historical events in with the personal mystery as the plot as her father’s story is intertwined with the cause of Irish freedom (issue two sees a great scene in Liverpool Street Station where, on the apparent behest of Michael Collins, an assassination is about to take place but is called off at the last moment). Maura McHugh has crafted a layered tale with depth and consequence that oozes authenticity. Stephen Downey’s art is a huge selling point for this book. His black and white style is incredibly beautiful with a huge amount of detail gone into every page. When you see the first page of issue two, shown below, you ignore any text just for a minute just to study the art with its great layout and visual representation of a smoky 1920’s railway station that just about jumps off the page. The whole book is like this with great panel layouts especially when the script calls for something dynamic like the visual from the last page. The book was nominated for an Eagle Award this year for best European Comic. The series is also being made into a game.