Comic Review: Video Nasties

PrintE-mail Written by P.M. Buchan

Created by: Christ Doherty / Published by: Self Published / Format: Paperback / Release date: Out Now

Absolutely the best horror graphic novel released in 2011, Video Nasties reads like Twin Peaks meets Grange Hill by way of your barbaric local video store.

Released independently in seven issues between 2007 and 2011, VN is unquestionably the most accomplished and compelling original British horror comic that I’ve ever read. Based around the disappearance of three students from Redbrook Secondary School ten years ago, Video Nasties combines teen angst, mystery and a disturbing ring of snuff films into a timeless tale that brings to mind the notion of childhood trauma that Stephen King mines so effectively in his novels. There’s no overt gore or gratuitous violence that would compare to Video Nasties’ namesakes, visually this is a comic with its roots firmly in the British small press scene and it could easily be mistaken for a Top Shelf graphic novel. Don’t be fooled by aesthetics, despite the lack of visual savagery this is a narrative more mature than anything that most sadistic gore-hounds ever achieve. Protagonist Evan Reilly and his circle of friends are completely believable and every sadistic plot twist is grounded by their realistic relationships, whether it be unrequited crushes or the savage vehemence that comes so naturally to adolescents.

The most common complaints that have been levelled against Video Nasties are about a tonal shift midway through the story when high school drama becomes something more sinister, but accusations such as these must surely say more about the expectations of reviewers than the author. How could readers expect any less from a story about disappearing children called Video Nasties?!? I urge anybody that values content over spectacle to give Video Nasties a read, either online for free (here) or by buying a copy through the online store. This is exactly the kind of home-grown content that British comic-buyers should be supporting, by an artist at the beginning of what will doubtless be an illustrious career.

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