When it comes to gore I generally hate the genre. Books, movies, art, you name it. A lot of writers will use gore as a way to hide terrible plot and poor dialogue by giving its target audience as much disgust as possible. Saw movies come to mind. In fact I’d given up on ever coming across any good gore stories at all. That changed when I saw the cover of Nailbiter by Image Comics.
The cover of the first comic is a nice, deep red with a mouth ready to bite the fingers on a hand; the next page beautifully assaults you with the end goal. It is gory but the art style is deep and disturbing while still telling a story all on its own. It’s not for the squeamish or faint of heart and the artist makes sure you know that upfront.
When I picked it up, I quickly wanted to know what it’s about.
A small town in Oregon has been home to 16 of the worst serial killers in the world. An investigator tried to find out why and went missing, encouraging his violent NSA Agent and friend to come search for him with the help of the local police and a notorious serial killer. Along the way, everyone involved finds more deadly questions than they do answers.
Most of the art is classic comic book style but your mind is interrupted by scenes involving blood, cannibalism, dead bodies, and the mysterious Edward Charles Warren’s uncomfortable gaze. There is only one bright and happy panel in all the first five books and even that left me feeling uneasy. Even the scenes of dead people are done in a way where the eyes look empty and shallow.
The fact that the artist Mike Henderson can give a soul (or lack thereof) behind eyes, realistic scenes of dirty lived-in homes, and tension between two people is impressive enough. In between the gore, though, is a solid story line by Joshua Henderson.
I can read what every character says and believably move on without stopping to think, wait that makes no sense. Every part makes sense with the scene, the characters, and the timeline. I liked this story enough to buy the second volume. I hope they make this into a book, a movie, a Netflix original, any medium I can devour into.
If you don’t believe me, check out the goodreads review.
Trigger warning galore.
Do not read Nailbiter if you can’t handle scenes of blood because there’s a lot of it. There’s also a ton of…dismemberment, and did I mention people die in this story? This is not a graphic novel to give to your twelve year old nephew for his birthday unless he’s into the creepy and unsettling. Gore and horror–especially good ones–takes a certain personality to like. This series is one Dexter and Mr. Brooks fans will love.