Review: Will Sinister

One part Western, one part ‘whatever-we-can-call-Boylan’s-creative-madness’, Will Sinister is one of a few new books launching at this year’s Dublin Comic Con; we were lucky enough to be sent an advanced review copy. Hugo Boylan (MalevolenceHigh FantasyBlack White and GreySuperhero Helpdesk… you get the picture yet?) teams up with artist John Quigley (Malevolence) and letterer Kerrie Smith (Girls Like YouSuperhero Helpdesk) to bring us a new tale of death, violence, and broken expectations. With Dearbhla Kelly on cover colours, it makes for a pretty package with a rustic interior.

There’s an expectation from the book’s beginning for there to be some traditional gun-slinging and contextually appropriate racism (maybe not slurs, exactly…but hate), and in many ways we’re not disappointed. There’s a clear divide between the “cowboys” and natives, and an unravelling tale behind this particular snippet of history.

Typical of Boylan, there’s a twist in the feel of the book; also typical of him is the unpredictability of when something like this will happen. The particular splicing of spirituality with the Western tale is reminiscent of Jonah Hex and Preacher, and while the later arc of the book raises a few questions about the history of the comic’s scruffy protagonist that aren’t quite addressed, the blending of the natural and the supernatural works incredibly well in Will Sinister, while preserving the character’s dodgy integrity.

Quigley’s art gives the story a rustic, wild feel, perfect for the brutality of the dark reality of the era. Expertly capturing distress, agony and disgust, and he creates a visually disturbing narrative, with a few choice character designs standing out. As a bonus, the book contains the concept art for Sinister and his most intimate, primal companion. Perhaps its a bias for Irish small press, but it stands out as one of my favourite representations of the character.

Adding to the tale are Smith’s experienced lettering hands. There’s a sense of power given to certain characters, and the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are broken down further still with her inclusion in the book.

If I had to criticise the book, my one judgement would be that I felt like we’re left with a loose end or two by its final page, and no promise within its pages of a follow-up. Maybe it’s a personal thing, and a familiarity with continuing narratives across multiple books, but when a book ends the way Will Sinister does, I’d like to think there might be something to come later, and an opportunity for unanswered questions to be resolved. Don’t let it put you off picking up Will Sinister at Dublin Comic Con; think of this as an excuse to keep an extra close eye on future releases from this team of creators.

(Update: the story will continue. Confirmed by Hugo Boylan shortly after this review went live.)

Follow the creators on Twitter:

Hugo Boylan: @hugoboylan

John Quigley: @johnquigley209

Dearbhla Kelly: @dearbhlala

Kerrie Smith: @pocketkerrie

Malevolence Cover

Review: Malevolence

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.

Colourful Dread

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.

You can get your hands on Malevolence – and you really should – from Hugo Boylan and John Quigley directly. Hugo can be found at @HugoBoylan; John can be found at @johnquigley209.