Recently wrapped-up, Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson never quite made my radar while it was being published. Honestly, I didn’t know much about it other than it leaned toward horror. After tackling Buffy Season 11 over the couple of days, though, I was in the mindset for it. And I have to say, this book excels in a way many books do not. It seamlessly combines familiar and beloved elements of serial killer stories. Everything from Twin Peaks to Scream, from Zodiac to Se7en influences this book, and to the book’s extreme benefit.
30 in 30 - Day 3: Nailbiter vol. 1 – There Will Be Blood
Title: Nailbiter vol. 1 – There Will Be Blood
Storytellers: Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson
Publisher: Image Comics
Year of Publication: 2014
Page Count: 144
"Where do serial killers come from?" and why has Buckaroo, Oregon given birth to sixteen of the most vile serial killers in the world? NSA Agent Nicholas Finch needs to solve that mystery in order to save his friend, and he'll have to team up with the infamous Edward "Nailbiter" Warren to do it. Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson deliver a mystery that mixes Twin Peaks with the horror of Se7en!
SPOILERS FOR NAILBITER BELOW
What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Writing
In truth, Nailbiter is a goldmine, so it’s hard to narrow down what I learned on this first read-through. The use of sound in the first issue, though, really stuck with me. The book opens with a heart-racing standoff between The Nailbiter, a serial killer, and the police. Throughout the scene, Williamson employs a “thump” sound effect over and over. This has the effect of suggesting a heartbeat. That same sound effect comes back around at the end, again to suggest something, though more sinister.
Circular storytelling is such a great device in general. When a story comes back around, though, and shows a particular aspect of the narrative or art in a new light, it feels extra satisfying and keeps readers on their toes. I this instance, there’s an extra air of creepiness, too.
What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Art
Mike Henderson is a talented artist and Nailbiter’s art really pops, especially when it matters. Perhaps the most interesting thing, to me, about his art is how diverse his camera angles can be during talking-head shots. The panel framing varies, never settling on an angle used previously on the page.
Talking-head shots are practically unavoidable, and the chore of keeping them interesting largely (exclusively?) falls on the artist. Henderson does an incredible job of keeping the camera moving and keeping these shots from getting flat.
Recommendation: A (Must Read)
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