Dixie Vixens is a beautifully illustrated story. Unfortunately it’s filled with a lot of tropes and three main characters that desperately want to be more than just descriptions. After several pages of a smoking man in a muscle car driving we’re finally introduced to our three main characters Kat, Alley and Darcy. They’re on a road trip, to where we don’t know. After a long introduction to Kat’s character as she sweet talks a young boy for directions at a gas station we jump over and meet two new characters. The two men rodeo professionally and are on their way home from a rodeo when a man in a pickup truck tries to run them off the road. The story jumps back to the three ladies about to embark on the same gravel road. There’s more information on Kat’s backstory and we jump back to the two men as they run into trouble. Bad trouble.
There’s a definite pacing problem. It takes a long time to introduce the players in the story; our muscle car driving Sherriff, our three college ladies and our two Hispanic cowboys. They’re all necessary to the story, but they’re all given several pages of introduction and none of it actually helps the story or their characters any. Our two cowboys in particular are only playing the role of victim for our three ladies to stumble upon a KKK group that protects that gravel road and “way of life” in those parts. As it stands we know more about the two men then we do our lead characters.
Speaking of the leads, Kat’s a fleshed out character for the most part. We see how she interacts with people and some of her backstory, though we’re missing the big puzzle pieces about her. She’s a pretty stereotypical southern belle and I wish that was interesting, but it’s not. It’s also shocking that three friends know nothing about each other before coming to school. Alley is a computer geek which is hammered over our head a lot and also very nervous. I can’t say I blame her. Darcy is on her way to being a journalist and for some reason takes photos of random things.
Therein lies the problem, I can’t tell you anything real about these ladies other than their major or the fact that Kat is looked down on by her friends for using her boobs to get information. And did she really need to lean over the counter to sway a 16 year-old boy into giving them directions and five bucks extra of gas? I don’t know maybe, but it seemed like she was over selling her confidence rather than playing up to.
There’s an obvious hostility among the friends and as a reader I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or the writer putting too much foreshadowing into the group for when they break under pressure. The blame game is sure to be a part of this story. At this point it’s obvious because the buildup was too quick and clunky.
Another difficult part of the story was the fact that every character takes a turn at long winded dialogue. Granted that happens in the real world, but it’s not very interesting to actually read. Kat’s story about hunting when she was a girl could have been a throwaway bit of dialogue. It’s clear that it will play into the story later on, but there didn’t need to be a long list of animals killed at her hands in order to instill that confidence with a weapon. Especially since she doesn’t use a weapon in this volume.
The art is the bright spot for this tale. It is the reason I read the series because if I’m honest if the art was different I would have skipped it. The story is nothing new and I can only hope that the journey along the way gets better. It’s following a pretty tight formula for the genre though so I don’t really see that happening.
Back to the art the coloring is watercolored and looks amazing. The ladies all have their own color and so does the other characters in the story. The art is really detailed and nearly photorealistic, but with an animated look. The women are curvy and beautiful, but distinct. It’s the only thing distinct about them really as they most sound the same when they speak.
The watercoloring really adds to the visuals and makes it wonderful to look at. Without it the linework would still be great, but more in line with the style a lot of British artists use. Here it does capture that southern feel just barely. I wish that I could say that it really felt like the south, but it honestly could have been anywhere with woods and dirt roads. The cars are also wonderfully illustrated. They don’t play a major role in the story, but it’s nice that they don’t look out of place with the rest of the art.
The story isn’t terrible, it’s just one that I don’t normally bother to read. Since I took the time though I hoped it would knock my socks off, but it played it safe for the most part. There’s only so many ways this tale can end and usually none of them are happy and always a bit predictable.
Other than the pacing the characters are holding back the story a lot. They’re not fleshed out or very distinct outside of their design and stereotypes making it hard to care about them. That’s a bad thing because the next chapter of this story is going to rely on you caring about them. The art elevates the weak spots of the story, but not enough to really make it shine. If anything the art is held back by the script.
For the next volume I’d love to see the art take the lead and the characters become three-dimensional. If it can do that then there’s hope for the series, but if not I’m afraid it will just be a great looking book with a ho-hum story.