Mr Watkins is a successful businessman whose successful life hides a dark secret. A harem of young women are kept imprisoned in his basement: three white girls – a blonde, a brunette and a redhead – and a black girl. After brutally murdering the latter when she accidently breaks a glass – “the black ones never last long” – he goes out hunting for a replacement and comes across the teenage Cass.
As you have no doubt already gathered, Little Girl Black is not a pleasant read. Soaked in the greasy sleaze of ‘70s grindhouse, the story is well set up for a kidnap-abuse-revenge tale, with a repugnant central concept and an utterly loathsome villain (that his prisoners are all required to call him Daddy adds another level of revulsion).
It’s halfway through the comic before our heroine Cass is introduced, and even in the brief time we spend with her it’s clear she’s a girl possessed of the kind of grim determination that makes you imagine her growing up to become any one of the kinds of characters that made stars of Pam Grier or Tamara Dobson. However, we’ll have to wait for the next issue to see how she reacts to her new situation.
Unlike McCulloch’s previous horror and sci-fi comics, Little Girl Black is less easy to classify as a strictly genre tale, and is all the more unsettling as a result. Denied the filter of unreality that accompanies genre fiction, the reader is forced to acknowledge the all-too-real setup, which makes the events in it that little bit more plausible and subsequently that little bit more abhorrent. There’s nothing with which you can convince yourself there’s no way this could happen in the real world, and if you’re aware of any of the real-life cases of not entirely dissimilar crimes, the story becomes frighteningly plausible.
This first issue is a tale of callous and hateful abuse and utterly unrepentant misogyny, and actually makes you feel a little nauseous from what it forces you to endure. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it) it’s still a compelling start, and promises to get much, much worse before any glimmer of hope may eventually be revealed.
LITTLE GIRL BLACK #1 / AUTHOR: JAMES MCCULLOCH / ARTIST: PEDRO MENDES / PUBLISHER: COMICHAUS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW