From the blackened mind of a man that obsesses over human trafficking and thinks that fist-sized brain tumours might lead to other worlds comes White Knuckle, the new Markosia graphic novel in which the past catches up to a retired serial-strangler. Written by the eloquently perverse Cy Dethan, lettered by frequent collaborator Nic Wilkinson and illustrated by Valia Kapadai, the dissonance between the dark subject matter and Valia’s charming artwork plays out superbly, imbuing the characters with a warmth that defies their troubled pasts. As with the best of Dethan’s work the past and present clash jarringly, with an aged killer known as The Gripper inadvertently intervening in the life of his only surviving victim. The dialogue has Dethan’s usual gutter flair across an engaging plot and a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of a killer. I’d go so far as to say that Dethan engages with the human side of this story more effectively than he does with the sci-fi and supernatural elements that characterise much of his other work, meaning that like Slaughterman’s Creed before it White Knuckle is a resounding success. Obviously not everybody will share my macabre bent or interest in serial killers and some readers might find this graphic novel outright repulsive, but it isn’t needlessly sadistic and doesn’t relish in gore like so many modern horror comics, rather it relies on strong characters and plotting to capture a story that just might be the most sensitive portrayal of a monster you’ll read this year.
Issue #378 of Starburst also features a one-page comic strip by Mr. Buchan, entitled "Zingo's Lament", showcasing both his own writing and the equally ghoulish art of Joseph Whiteford.
Another item in the win column over the last week was Lee Grice and Stacey Whittle's take on the book, which you can hear during the first 20 minutes or so of Small Press Big Mouth #39. Also tackled in a review-packed episode are Porcelain, The Butterfly Gate, Disconnected Vol 1, Sgt Mike Battle #17, Leroy and Popo, Robot Shorts and No More Heroes #1 & #2.
SPBM is always a great show, and I find the episodes where nice things are said about me and my creative collaborators particularly gratifying. So much so, in fact, that I am forced to resort to a "smiley". Apologies to those who may take offence. :)