Since discovering Garth Ennis’ Preacher series, I’ve been entertained by the themes of religion and violence. A stand out character is the Saint of Killers, a supernatural cowboy who doubles as the Angel of Death. Introduced as a villain, the Saint was dispatched by Heaven to track down Jesse Custer and kill him. But as the series progressed, he was revealed to be much more than just a one-note gunslinger.
The Wild West was a time of uncertainty and chaos, a time where men were forced to find civilisation among the wilderness. When you add a supernatural element to that kind of atmosphere, you have an intriguing story. This is the case with Dave West’s and Gary Crutchley’s WesterNoir series, featuring monster hunter, Josiah Black. Book Two takes Black into the swamps of Louisiana to deal with a cold-blooded threat against humanity.
The best kind of stories can creep up on you when you least expect it, which is what I found when I came across Eric Powell’s Hillbilly: Volume 1. Powell is best known for creating The Goon comics and after reading Hillbilly, I can say he’s one hell of a writer. The graphic novel focuses on Rondel, a supernatural wanderer in the Appalachian wilderness who battles monsters, witches and demons. It’s part western, part fantasy and a damn good read.
Over the past couple of years I’ve really come to appreciate western stories, which is why I was excited to read the WesterNoir: Book One graphic novel created by Dave West and Gary Crutchley. Published by Accent UK, the series combines horror, western and steampunk themes to show the darker side of human nature. The protagonist, Josiah Black, finds himself drawn into a world that he didn’t think existed, but has no choice but to embrace it if he wants to survive.
“Listen carefully, my son. You are not meant to right all the wrongs in the world. Seek justice in everything you do. But do not seek a fight. Violence only if it comes to you. These are not the teachings of the tribe. These are my teachings. You are your own man, Red Wolf. The world is changing quickly. You may not always understand it, but right and wrong will never change. The world is always talking to you, Red. If you rush to fight it, you won’t hear it. And if you can’t hear it speak, you can’t answer to it with justice.”
One of the great things about comics is the diversity of characters on offer. So, when a graphic novel focuses on a Native American superhero, it offers a fresh perspective on a well-known genre. Red Wolf: Man Out Of Time, written by Nathan Edmondson, follows Cheyenne warrior Red Wolf on a journey through time as he tries to balance his life as an outsider and protector.
Over the weekend, I appeared on Hannah’s Bookshelf, which plays on North Manchester FM every Saturday. Hosted by Hannah Kate, the show is about the world of writing and publishing. Hannah runs an independent press called Hic Dragones, and it was a pleasure to go on live radio for the first time.