Comic Close-Up #4: Nailbiter Vol. 1

NAILBITER_V1_COVER-OCTOBER-PREVIEWSI came across Nailbiter during a trip to Galena, IL. A few friends and I were exploring the town and went into their comic book shop, Have Fun Collectibles. As we browsed for things we could not afford, the saleswoman began asking us about our interests and tastes.

A quick reminder to all of you, I am from Chicago, IL and go to school in Mt. Vernon, IA. I have traveled to San Diego, L.A, and even Paris. Never in my life have I been in a place that provided such incredible in-store, customer service as Galena, IL. And my experience at Have Fun Collectibles was the best I ever had at a comic book shop. But retail tangents aside, I told her I loved Saga, Sex Criminals, ODY-C, and Superman Red Son. I emphasized my proclivity for Image comics and told her I was looking for something new. She pulled several items for me and, after offering me 20% off of 3 or 10% off of 2, I left with 3 comics that day. Nailbiter was the most appealing/familiar looking so I decided to start there.


Nailbiter is an ongoing comic written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Mike Henderson. Published by Image Comics, you can currently purchase Volumes 1-4.  As far as genre this is somewhere between a horror/mystery/thriller comic. The premise is this:

“Buckaroo, Oregon has given birth to sixteen of the vilest serial killers in the world. An obsessed FBI profiler investigating the town has suddenly gone missing, and now an NSA Agent must work with the notorious serial killer Edward “Nailbiter” Warren to find his friend and solve the mystery of “Where do serial killers come from?”

love it and will keep reading

Art that drives the story

Obviously all art helps drive the story in all comics, because it’s a medium that integrates both writing and illustrations. But in the case of Nailbiter, the layout and sequencing of the panels is really well done in that it adds to the intensity of the written narrative. What makes horror effective is when it gets your mind to start assuming the worst and when the worst things are the things you don’t see.

Below is an example of one page and the first panel on the following page

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Suddenly something as innocent as eating at a diner makes you think the worst. The panel art consistently keeps me on the edge of my seat.

Dynamic Characters

All the characters are really well written an avoid common cliches: the renegade cop, the trouble making teen, the femme fatale. None of those are present in this and they easily could’ve been. Instead, this first volume gives us insight into our 2 protagonists–Sheriff Crane and Finch–that make us wonder about their true motivations. Meanwhile another main character  Alice has yet to reveal herself as another protagonist or a new antagonist. The information we get on all these characters leaves us with more questions than answers. This helps drive the reader’s curiosity in ways the enhance our initial intrigue (i.e what happened to Finch’s friend Carroll and is there truly something happen in Buckaroo, Oregon that extends beyond coincidence?).

Recommended for…

~people who love gory comic art
FullSizeRender (12)
^so that speaks for itself.

~fans of the related genres (horror/mystery/thriller)
As I mentioned above, Nailbiter does its genre(s) justice and lives up to its name in more ways than one.

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