Launched at Dublin Comic Con, and then again in a library in Clonmel (because libraries are cool, and that’s where the artist lives), Malevolence is a new horror comic from writer Hugo Boylan and artist John Quigley, with Dearbhla Kelly on Colours and Kerrie Smith on Letters. John asked me, before I met him at DCC and talked the ear off him (and attempted in vain not to be sold almost everything from his table), if I would review Malevolence. As usual, don’t take the review too critically – I know I won’t while writing it!
One word sums up the book. Twisted. From Boylan’s writing, to Quigley art, Kelly’s colours, and even Smith’s lettering. The individual elements of this comic twist together to make something uniquely engaging. I wouldn’t want to spoil the plot for you, but the basics you need to know about Malevolence are these simple facts:
1. The comic takes place across three decades.
2. The comic is filled with fleeting moments of madness.
3. The comic wouldn’t make much sense without Kelly and Smith’s contributions.
Most comics can get along with a strong story and a skilled artist. Black & White is an acceptable standard for storytelling. But colour brings this one to life. Colour is the only way we know when we are within the story. Colour invites us through three decades of horror. Without colour, an element so vital to this book, everything else would need to change. The book would need to be re-panelled, re-organised, maybe even re-written to a more linear story. But linear is common. Colour allows for Boylan and co. to create their non-linear nightmare.
Colour is the vital piece of dread that the books need to truly come alive.
When Smith’s lettering gets taken into account, the genre of the book is really played up expertly. There’s a lesson to be learned from letterers all-over about how to turn a writer’s words into part of the art itself within Malevolence.
The book builds upon a beautifully horrid concept and executes it in terrifying fashion.