Friday, 27 April 2012

Two Knuckles Deep...

...and with that thoroughly tasteless effort, I seem to have exhausted my reserve tank of Gripper puns. Basically, the book's about a guy who strangles people - that's what I've been getting at.

White Knuckle is now just a couple of weeks from launch, and the advance reviews are coming in. This first one is from FutureQuake editor and co-organiser of the Hi-Ex International Comic Expo, Richmond Clements:


White Knuckle Review

Okay, I’ll try to get through this review without it turning into some kind of back slapping exercise.

We’ve been falling far behind with our reviews of late, so have missed out entirely on reviewing Cy Dethan’s previous two books: The Indifference Engine and Broadcast.
So, briefly: they’re both awesome and you need to buy them.

You may remember our review of Slaughterman’s Creed a while ago, which was a taut, frightening thriller that really deserves to be a movie.

White Knuckle is the story of Seth Rigal, a ‘retired’ serial killer, who is living his life out in more or less quiet seclusion, or at least as close to normal as it is possible to get for a former strangler. However, events take a turn – whether these are for the better or the worse is up for debate – and he finds his quiet life is no longer as quiet as he wants it to be.

As always, Dethan has populated the story with a believable cast of characters. The dialogue is authentic – even characters with only one or two lines come across as fully rounded and real.

As he did with Slaughterman’s Creed, he uses flashbacks to flesh out the story and add pathos to scenes – this is helped in no small measure by the art (more of that soon).

I’m reluctant to talk too much about the story, but I will say it’s a perfectly paced slow burn as events gradually escalate into, well, the ending. Which I will not talk about either, save to say that it, too, is perfect. And annoying, in a good way, as I really should have seen it coming, but such is the skill of Dethan that I did not.

Now, on to the art. Valia Kapadai is quite wonderful. I was lucky enough to meet her briefly at the Bristol Convention a year or two back, and I must say that there is a certain level of dissonance to be found in the bloody and violent images she beautifully reproduces and her own gentle and sweet self!

She has created an impressive body of work here, with page after page of glorious, fully painted work. It’s a mind-boggling amount of pages to paint, and the fact that she has not only done it, but maintained a very high quality of art throughout, is a testament to her skill.

So, as I said with Slaughterman’s Creed – this should be a movie, or at the very least a TV mini-series.

Never mind your Scalped or whatever other US thriller type comics you’re reading. You should be reading this, and everything else this writer puts out. He’s probably the best kept secret in British Comics, and if I had my way, he would be a secret no longer.

Buy this.

White Knuckle is published by Markosia

Next, we have this write-up from Darkfell and Jake The Evil Hare creator, Sam Medina.

Review: White Knuckle by Dethan, Kapadai & Wilkinson

White Knuckle is a another visceral tale from the mind of Cy Dethan, beautifully illustrated by Valia Kapadai, and elegantly lettered by Nic Wilkinson. Published by Markosia Enterprises, this book weaves the complex tale of a former serial killer known as “The Gripper,” who is tormented by the delusional visions which drove him to kill when he was young, and a seemingly chance encounter which leads to his involvement in the life of the family of one of his victims.

Now, I do try to review without giving the story, so we are going to gloss  over details which would turn this into a spoiler, and for that I ask your indulgence.

I was immediately intrigued by the cover art, which is elegant in its simple, yet forceful appearance. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case it seems that the cover makes a promise of violence and drama, and delivers on it in spades. The opening scene immediately seizes the reader’s attention, and the one which follows makes for a jarring confluence of emotion as the the story unfolds. 

Dethan crafts a tale which takes you on a journey of compassion, guilt, hope, horror and courage, cowardice and despair– a journey which takes a long, hard, and ultimately revealing look into the nature of violence and the raw humanity of it all.

Valia Kapadai’s artwork is loose and dynamic, with a cinematic feel that turns each panel into a visually gripping (no pun intended) scene. The sepia tones which dominate the palette work beautifully to create the mood throughout the book, and the page layouts shift as these moods go from poignant and sorrowful to tormented and terrifying. I was equally impressed by how even the “gutter” areas of the pages were used to great effect in establishing mood, pacing, and atmosphere.

Nic Wilkinson is a masterful letterer, with a style that is refreshingly understated in an era of over-the-top lettering that often obfuscates the story. At the same time, there’s a raw, vital energy that bursts onto the page just when it’s needed.

Overall, this was a book that surprised me with a very different take on the “serial killer,” and had me re-reading pages because they were so well put together. If you are a fan of these gifted storytellers, you MUST read this. If you aren’t a fan, you will be by the time you’re done reading it.

Pre-order your copy today right here.

If you're at all curious to hear my side of the story, then you're very welcome to check out Episode 52 of the Wayne's Comics podcast, where I do my incoherent best to discuss the themes, influences and execution of the book.

Race you to Bristol...

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