Comic Review: 20 Fists

Frankee White writes a powerfully moving story of relationships under pressure in his miniseries entitled 20 Fists. It’s 2 AM in the big city, in the small bar, where we […]

Frankee White writes a powerfully moving story of relationships under pressure in his miniseries entitled 20 Fists.

It’s 2 AM in the big city, in the small bar, where we join two groups of young adults, each occupying their own corner. They glare at each other across the empty room, one group wearing big jackets. Posing and snarling, it’s a tense time for them all. Something’s up. Then, it’s verbal taunting, drinking, then the spilling of drinks and blood. Pound for pound, it’s a gang fight! Round One!

This is not a series for the faint of heart, with its feints left and right, its body blows, its same-genderness, bitterness, lack of tenderness, the resistance is futile.

Frankee White (creator of Broken Bear, Project: Starless Daydream, etc) delivers deep tension and release here, with body clinches and taps to the head. The dialogue is arresting. Artist Kat Baumann (Ferdinand Magellan, Broken Plastic Horses, etc) brings a wonderfully detailed line art drawing style to this series. It’s printed in black and white. Baumann’s use of lights and dark shadows, her renderings of the characters (their hair is astonishing, btw) in love and in battle, the mannish and feminine mannerisms all wonderful. There is a freshness to both the writing and the artwork; it’s thought out, deliberated, but not laboured.

It begins with two women connecting across gangs. Making friends with the enemy. Mingling with tingling, where angels fear to tread. But it’s a fighting dynamic that draws everyone together. Five fighters per crew, no cops. Ten people, 20 fists. The rules are simple, and perhaps perplexing to us on the outside… why are they fighting?? No matter, it is what it is. Billie and Chel, hanging out.

Though the story starts out simply, it gets deeper as we progress. The love appears more coercive, less flighty, and flirty. The dynamics are in flux, and the mood becomes much more serious and violent. There is so much to read into a gift, a gesture, a hopeful suggestion. I suggest that if you are up for a heavily packed story of same-sex relationships, 20 Fists is worth your investment.

First offered as a Kickstarter release, this title is almost completely sold out. The three print issues of 20 Fists are now only available as a set, when you make a $15 donation to Brave Space Alliance, and then show that receipt to Frankee White, the writer. See the contact information below.

According to their website, Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city.

https://www.bravespacealliance.org/

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!