Local artist Kevin Colden’s comic, Fishtown, chronicles the events of the 2003 murder of a 16-year-old boy, an act that shocked Philadelphia for the brutal nature of the murder and the lack of remorse by the four young suspects. In Fishtown, Colden focuses on the four youths and their tumultuous lives leading up to the murder and the subsequent trial they faced.
“When I read about it, I was really disgusted by not just the brutality of the murder itself,” Colden said. “My hope was that by making a transparent roman à clef-type book, that it might lay bare some of the fallacies and assumptions that we make about sensationalist events.”
In the comic, the drug-addled youths are painted across familiar backdrops of Fishtown, which Colden said he based on actual locations, notably Frankford Avenue and Penn Treaty Park.
“I envisioned the neighborhood itself as a character in the story, and every outdoor shot is an actual location in the area, “ he said.
Colden won the Xeric Award for his comic, but turned down the grant money, because it would not have enabled him to release the story online for free. Already gaining some acclaim for his story, releasing one page a week online, he did not want to ostracize his growing community of fans.
“It’s a bit fascinating that everyone who reads the book seems to have read a different book than everyone else,” Colden said. “But that was part of the intent, to leave enough open that the reader could interpret it in different ways.”
Kevin Colden’s Fishtown can be read online here.