England, 1983. Kettering, to be precise. The UK finds itself under attack by an insidious, unstoppable enemy that threatens to corrupt our lives and lay waste to our decent society. The Video Nasty has arrived.
Mario Covone has decided to use the media hysteria that accompanied the rise of the Video Nasty (basically low-budget horror movies that exploited the UK’s lacklustre regulatory system for VHS rental cassettes) back in the early 80’s as a backdrop to his own horror mystery, and has gone all-out in making sure that every aspect of this comic – right down to the fantastic series of covers, brought to life by acclaimed horror movie poster designer Graham Humphreys – fits the genre he’s paying homage to.
A man is brutally slaughtered by a knife-wielding maniac, the second in what seems to be an ongoing series of murders. Echoing the very real reaction of the time, the media are quick to blame the ‘Video Nasty’ for encouraging this maniac. A struggling director sees this as a personal attack on his livelihood, and makes his way to England to help clear his name. The premise for Video Nasty is a fairly simple one, on paper at least, but it’s the execution that really makes this small press release shine. The first issue, outside of the first few pages, is something of a slow burning affair, gradually introducing our main characters and setting up the structure of the story. This isn’t a non-stop gorefest like the name may suggest, but rather a more character-based horror mystery. And, in my opinion, is all the better for it.
Covone has a measured approach to his dialogue, and while it can come across a little exposition-heavy in places, I can only assume that once the first issue is out of the way and the story starts picking up momentum of its own, this minor niggle should fall by the wayside. His dialogue is natural and flows well, and he does a great job of creating distinctive characters and drawing us in without giving too much away up front. The cast of characters is kept relatively small, which benefits the writing as it gives Covone more time to spend developing each one individually.
Vasilis Logios’ atwork is perfectly chosen for a title like this, enhancing the grimy, menacing mood with his gritty linework and heavily-inked style. The opening scene is a testament to the man’s abilities when it comes to tension and action, and bodes well for the series moving forwards. And while the bulk of this book is made up of conversations between various characters, Logios does an admirable job of keeping the visual aspect of the story interesting, and his creative panel layouts go a long way towards achieving this as part of his incredibly ‘cinematic’ style.
As a first chapter in an ongoing story, Video Nasty #1 does a terrific job in laying out its premise and characters in an interesting, engaging way. And while those of you looking for a non-stop gorefest like the movies the book shares its title with may find yourself a little disappointed, there’s definitely a lot to like about this title, and I’m definitely going to be on board for the rest of the six-part series.
As well as being available at London Super Comic Convention on the 15th and 16th of March, the first issue of Video Nasty can currently be bought through www.MarioCovone.com, as well as through selected comic shops through Diamond Distribution.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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