A chilling portrait of teenage angst gone horribly wrong by threading fact with fiction, reality with fantasy, and weaving a tapestry of connected vignettes that add up to a devastating treatise on the human condition. – CBR
Created by Kevin Colden.
“Like any big city, Philadelphia is accustomed to almost daily homicides, some of them brutal, some committed by teenagers. But this one was different, and the accused teens’ apparent callousness and utter lack of remorse has shocked even this tough, gritty town.” – David Zucchino, LA Times, June 26, 2003
In the spring of 2003, four teenagers beat and murdered their friend Jason Sweeney. Sweeney’s girlfriend lured him to a secluded area, where the three boys surprised and killed him with a hatchet, a hammer, and bricks. He had just gotten paid—$500—which was the only known motive for the horrific crime.
This incident is the gruesome inspiration for Kevin Colden’s award-winning graphic novel, Fishtown (named for the Philly neighborhood where it all takes place). A story nearly impossible to digest, its a dark work that broods philosophically over the complexity of human nature as it explores what circumstances and social forces led these teens to commit such a heinous crime.
Anjelica is the center of this murderous group. We open with her clad in her school uniform, getting stoned in a bathroom. Soon thereafter we meet her accomplices Justin and brothers Keith and Adrian – there is nothing typical about their high school experience, these are kids with terrible problems and often, terrible surroundings. The root of this dysfunctional group’s bond is their shared high of heroin, weed, and other drugs. Trouble is they rarely have the money to score a hit. But Justin’s friend and Angelica’s boyfriend Jesse has a paycheck coming, which will be cashed by Friday. The boys consider hitting him on the head with a rock and mugging him. But it’s Angelica who comes up with the better idea of just killing him.
Angelica will later take the stand as the prosecution’s star witness in the murder trial, pleading guilty and testifying against her three accomplices— showing no remorse for the life that was taken or the lives that will be destroyed.
Told in an elliptical, non-linear fashion, it’s not a mystery or an investigative drama. We know who did it and what happened from page one, but the why is the big question, through a series of confessionals, flashbacks, and cross-examinations, Fishtown explores the bewildering nature and causes of evil.