Horror Comics: "White Devil" #1

White Devil #1
Writers: Matt Evans, Andrew Helinski
Artist: Nate Burns
Publisher: Self published

With the recent movie hit ‘Magic Mike’ and the literary sensation ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ series, newcomers Matt Evans and Andrew Helinski (along with artist Nate Burns) give us a timely play on the bored housewife trope that seems to be sweeping the nation.

Judy is said bored housewife, who lives with her unremarkable nuclear family in a sleepy backwoods Alabama town. Although she is more or less happy, and has little excuse to feel depressed, she is nonetheless empty and unfulfilled.

Rather than buy a ticket to Magic Mike or pick up a copy of ‘Fifty Shades’, one evening Judy leaves the house to join her friend Betty under the guise of a book club (the book of the month is supposedly Flannery O’Connor’s brilliant ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’). What Judy and Betty are actually headed to is probably best seen for yourself, but it’s safe to say that the hijinks that ensue are very NSFW.

That said, the NSFW moments are the real treat for reading something produced outside of the system. The gore and sexual content are somewhat shocking, and Nate Burns stark black and white art (reminiscent of an early Kevin Eastman of ‘TMNT’ fame, with maybe a touch of James O’Barr thrown in for good measure) does an excellent job setting up an innocent tone in the first half of the book only to go brutally dark in the second half. It’s a nice nod to Evan’s and Helinski’s storytelling abilities that during the first bits we are essentially in a rural suburban setting, but in the second half in a dark, almost claustrophobic forest.

The title ‘White Devil’ itself is possibly in reference to the 17th century play of the same name that in part is allegory about how we present ourselves to the world with a certain pure, innocent demeanor, but inside we harbor dark natures. As this is the first of four issues, it will be interesting to see how these themes play out.

The main drawback to the book is the lettering, which is sort of all over the place. Often, there simply seems to be too many tiny words crammed into single balloons, and Judy’s internal dialogue is hand written, which at times is nearly impossible to read. While the art is mostly effective, there isn’t a straight line in the piece (to include the panels themselves). This is likely Nate Burns’ intent, but readers used to traditional comics might feel that the style is sometimes hard on the eyes.

‘White Devil’ is clearly a self-published labor of love. While it’s very rough around the edges, I couldn’t help but admire how bold the creators are with the material, and I’d be a liar if I said I wasn't curious about issue two.

And Hell. The price is right.

Read the first issue for free here

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