Year of the Artist, Day 128: Dylan Meconis, Part 5 - <i>Outfoxed</i>

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today's artist is Dylan Meconis, and the comic is Outfoxed, which was self-published and dated 2011. Enjoy!

For the final day of Dylan Meconis's art, I'm taking a look at Outfoxed, and there's going to be a SPOILER. I haven't mentioned spoilers at all this year, because I figured most of what I'm showing is so old that any grace period for warning people is over, and I usually try to avoid them anyway, but Outfoxed is pretty new, and I kind of have to spoil it if I'm going to show some of the artwork. So you've been warned, all right?

For this story, Meconis goes a bit more angular, hearkening back to her early work but showing how far she's come since then. So the young lady has a sharp nose and black dots for eyes (as does the fox), but her face, for instance, isn't as sharp as Claire and Lucien from Bite Me! She's gotten very good at expressing emotion with very little, as she uses just a few lines in Panel 1 to show the fox's panic. She's back to using some hatching, as we see the thin lines on the laundress's basket, showing that it's probably made out of wicker or some other reedy substance. Meconis decided to use red as the base color here, which works really well for the background, as the trees are red against the black sky and the silhouettes of the hunters and their dogs stand out very starkly. In those silhouettes, we again see how well Meconis draws action - the figures are fluid, and the small clods of dirt the horses and dogs kick up help make the scene a bit more frenetic.

The hunters confront the laundress, and Meconis gives us this tremendous page. The layout at the top is wonderful, as she reduces the laundress in size compared to the hunter, creating an even bigger separation between the well-born lord and the low-born laundress than we get simply from the guy on the horse looking down at the woman standing on the ground. In Panel 1, the view we get is from high above the laundress, and in Panel 3, Meconis puts the dogs in the foreground as the sniff at her basket, pushing the woman to the back and reducing her further. Meanwhile, in between those two panels, we get the hunter in his tricorner hat, which seems to push the two panels on each side away, making them smaller. Meconis does a wonderful job contrasting the hunter and the laundress - she has the dots for eyes, while he has thin slits with no eyeballs. She has a simple "V" for a nose, he has a thick, slightly bumpy nose. Meconis doesn't do much on the laundress's face, retaining a sense of innocence about her person, while on the hunter, she uses thick inking lines to give him imposing jowels, and in Panel 4 she adds even more blacks to make him more sinister. Meconis brushes the laundress's face with red in Panel 5, but other than that, she leaves her face unadorned. In Panel 2, we even get a terrifying horse, as Meconis leaves its eyeballs out as well and rims it with white, making it look the tiniest bit supernatural. When the hunters ride off in Panel 7, we get the laundress alone on a dark road, receding in importance in the hunter's mind as he rides away. He's probably already forgotten her.

The fox turns into a man, because he wishes to be one. Then he decides he loves the laundress, who doesn't love him back. YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING!!!! Anyway, we get this page, where he pulls a jacket out of her basket (which is oddly magical) and "becomes" a shopkeeper. Meconis does a really nice job with the man, as he retains some of his foxy - no, wait, that's not right, let's check the Internet ... vulpine features (INTERNET FTMFW!!!!!), with Meconis giving him flared hair and the slightest hint of fangs. His pointed nose has a bit of a bend in it, which is - wait for it - foreshadowing! Meconis once again contrasts the "lowly" laundress with the suddenly bourgeois "fox," as she still uses inking lines on the laundress's basket while the new man's jacket is crisply inked and his neckerchief is inked a bit more lushly, contrasted against her simple clothing. Once again, in the final panel, the laundress is reduced in size, as the man begins to distance himself from her. And, of course, we get the superb lettering, which adds a tone to the dialogue quite clearly.

The man turns into a hunter, which perhaps isn't too surprising, but it's still a very cool transformation. The laundress rejects him one last time, and notice how Meconis returns to the point of view of the earlier page, with the laundress in the second panel being looked at from up high and being reduced in the process. The "fox's" nose has widened, his jowls have become more defined, and his face has become sharper, especially in Panel 4. Meconis uses thicker blacks on his face, while she still leaves the laundress's face largely unhatched. The "fox" still has the black dots for eyes and red eyebrows, which are the only vestiges of his earlier self and sets him apart from the first hunter. Despite his suddenly fearful appearance, Meconis does a nice job with his disappointment at being rejected - his mouth is set in Panel 3, and he turns away angrily and a little bit sadly in Panel 4. The new man just wanted someone to love, and he believed it would be easy. When it turns out that it's not, he retreats further into his new life. It's a disturbing way to finish the story.

Meconis continues to work on Family Man and write for PvP, and she still has a lot of comics creating in front of her. I, for one, cannot wait to see more of her work. But for now, we'll have to move on, and tomorrow, I think I'll do an incredibly popular artist whose distinctive work has been wowing people for 40 years. Come back tomorrow to see who it is, or spend some time in the archives!

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