Devil Water #1

Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Devil Water #1 Writer(s): Steven Barr
Artist(s): Tielman Cheaney
Publishers: King Tractor Press (Self Published)
From: USA
Price: $3.50 (US)

Devil Water#1 is the first issue in an ongoing story-line that mixes the Western and Horror genres. I might add that it manages this mix with considerable skill.

Steven Barr has a background in writing for film so he is more than able to produce a well paced story that features effective and believable dialogue. This apparently is Tielman Cheaney’s first comic book but you wouldn’t have picked it from what is on offer here. Artistically Devil Water#1 is impressive. Chearney’s confident use of shading and shadow as well as cross hatching adds visual appeal to almost every frame. Marry this with a delightful range of angles present throughout plus a fine variation of frame and general page composition and some beautifully drawn large frames and what you end up with looks pretty damn fine. The use of bold outline is effective and gives a real depth to many of the characters.

The opening draws us dangerously close to stereotyped western ideas as we meet the grizzled, old prospector and his stubborn mule. Even the arrival of the bad guys appears, initially at any rate, to be uncomfortably familiar. I must mention at this point though that arch villain Mr Pearson has a genuinely evil and sinister feel about him. I look forward to his development as future editions appear.

The story-line itself does not manage the transition from the prospecting "badlands" setting to the frontier town as smoothly as I would have hoped and the jump back again to the emergence of the devil creatures in the final frame is also a bit of a lurch. Putting that aside though the way the story moves from the western opening to the creepy atmosphere of the horror genre once the "villains" enter the cave is a treat. The entry of the young boy into the water and the events that follow have a real X- files / Lost feel about them. The tension in this particular sequence is so real that you can almost taste it. We quickly realise then that this comic is going to challenge stereotypes rather than adhere to them.

As you would expect in any effective first edition of a new title the basis has been laid and the readers interest aroused. Devil Water #1 looks good and has all the vital narrative elements necessary to allow it to develop into a captivating and intriguing title.

In a Word: Devilish.

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