Self described by the creators as "...the best way to go into this is imagining what would happen if Cormac McCarthy wrote an episode of The Andy Griffith Show," from Issue #1 at least I couldn't say who may be the Andy and Barney characters or possibly a Gomer, if there is to be one. Then again, if it were written by Cormac McCarthy, Aunt Bee would be exposing Opie to the wonders of peyote while letting a pie cool on the window sill, while plotting away. I get where they could be coming from with this analogy, the small town and all, but Mayberry seemed like the place where people would love to grow up or go there to grow old, while Wetumpka, Alabama, seems like the place everyone has an itch under their skin, and it exists there more of nature than nurture.
The construction of the piece is a bit hard to comment on, since I'm reviewing this from a PDF. I'm not sure if this is going to be available in print form, which I'm always a fan of a physical comic, because it's that touch of paper and ink that ingrains itself into one's subconscious. I wasn't sure if the lettering, which switched between handwritten and typed, was a conscious choice to provide a change in thought or attitude, a lack of time to get the book out to review, or possibly a lack of panel space where typing fits more, but it cuts away the nuance of the piece like replacing the squid from calimari with steak fat. They do the same job in filling you up or in, but hardly give you the same flavor that you have learned to expect and crave.
I must commend the art work of Mr. (release the hounds) Burns. Be it choice or ability, the art work truly captures the feeling of isolation and seclusion one can feel, even if filled with people that care for you. A life of routine: making dinner, taking care of the kids, saying I love you. These are things that some desire and some grow numb to after time. Or, that some force upon themselves, because it's what is expected of them. His use of shading and simplistic style conveys the small-town feeling of what some of the characters feel they need to escape from. One panel I was very impressed with the use not of shading, but erasing to create the illusion of light in a dark, dark wood. Much like the lighting style of Batman: The Animated Series, which started with sharp black panels and removed light or added color because it just made life easier, Mr. Burns took that concept and ran very well with it. Since this is (or at least looks) like it was drawn in pencil, the use of erasing and blending is quite eye catching and memorable.
It's always difficult to get a bead on a graphic novel and where it's going having read just one issue, especially the first in a whole new series. All the characters may not have been introduced, dialogue-free passersby in the back of a panel could come back to haunt in a following issue, or the whole first issue could be a MacGuffin to a completely different plot angle. In the case of White Devil, it's enough to see where it's going. I have a feeling it's going to run a certain course, but we can only wait and see. Not to say that we're going to think we've been running a Vermont bed and breakfast for years, then wake up one day next to Suzanne Plechette. If that joke is lost on you, you're to damned young. Now go get my ointment and my pills. There's a shiny dime in it for you, if you get back before Matlock starts. Git goin', young'un!
Visit whitedevilcomic.blogspot.com for more information about White Devil #1!