Saturday May 2, 2015. The glorious holiday known as Free Comic Book Day. I wander the aisles of Captain’s Toys and Comics, determined to find a new book or two to go along my haul of goodies.
I ask Mike, the owner, what he recommends. He immediately replies that I should check out an Image Comics series called Nailbiter. Being a compulsive nail biter myself (don’t judge) who likes horror comics, I figure this might be something I’ll enjoy.
I was wrong. I did not simply enjoy this book. I freaking loved it.
Nailbiter has since become my favorite title among the many that I read each week. Williamson crafts a tale filled with fascinating characters and genuinely terrifying moments. He deftly walks the line between supernatural and realistic elements. Answers are given that lead to new questions. The question mark itself becomes a hook that cuts into the reader’s mind and constantly pulls them forward, always making us want to know more without betraying the narrative trust and knowledge that came before it.
The art by Mike Henderson is equal parts beautiful and gruesome. Every action and interaction bleeds off the page, while the dead and/or mutilated bodies just bleed…a lot.
…and he draws one heck of a scary/cool bad guy.
So when the opportunity to interview Williamson and Henderson arose, and my beloved colleague/arch rival David Brooke raised his hand to claim it, I leapt across the table and punched him square in the nuts. Twice. The charges from that incident are still pending, but Russ and Patrick said they thought my actions showed ‘gumption’ and gave me the assignment.
Of course I was glad to get to talk to the creative team of my favorite comic, but I also had some honest to goodness questions I needed to ask. If you’ve been keeping up with the book on a monthly basis, then you know that the dynamic (and setting) of the story are about to drastically change with the upcoming ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’ story arc.
After stammering out some incoherent praise and thanking them for writing such a great book, I asked Josh and Mike a little about what we can expect:
AiPT!: Even though I’m excited to see my home state of Georgia (especially after that killer Mike Henderson/Adam Guzowski panel of the Atlanta skyline from last issue), there’s still so much left to explore in Buckaroo. Will ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ split between the two locations, or are we taking an extended road trip?
Cue the best Ray Charles song ever.
Josh Williamson: The group will be split up over the two locations for issues 17-20. Mostly in Georgia but the mystery of Buckaroo is still being investigated by Crane back home. Both storylines are important to the future of the book.
Barker is the lead character in the Georgia stuff… and she’s really crucial to what we have planned moving forward in the book. As we showed with her flashes of murder in issues 11 and 12… and 15… Barker isn’t right in the head.
AiPT!: Edward Charles Warren has shown hints of being a sympathetic character…and sometimes managing to seem a little heroic. Is there a chance of him finding redemption, or will we get any reminders of what a horrible person he is?
Williamson: Ha, yeah… I love how people LOVE Warren… they really shouldn’t. I feel like we’re showing multiple sides of Warren, and eventually we will show the truly horrific side and it will be up to the reader to decide how bad he is. If they still love him by the end of the book, years down the line.
He might be charming and funny, and a complex character, but trust me when I say Warren is a monster.
AiPT!: Will Nicholas Finch still be a part of the upcoming story arc, or has he been sidelined for a while?
Williamson: You’ll have to read to find out.
AiPT!: The last death scene in issue #16 was pretty horrifying. Should we expect things to get even more gruesome with this new southern serial killer?
Williamson: Yes. There is a lot of violence in the next arc. Lots of horrific crime scenes… there is one in issue 19 that is pretty elaborate and brutal. But we don’t want to get gruesome just for the sake of it. It’s always part of the story. There are a few pretty bloody scenes that will shock people…
AiPT!: For [artist] Mike Henderson: When you draw death scenes, does it involve a lot of blood curdling image research on Google, or do you have a dark place in your mind you can dig into to produce them?
Mike Henderson: To be honest I did the Google thing for a bit, but it didn’t last long. I’ve gotten the hang of Googling as obliquely as I can so as to avoid the nightmare fuel a search engine generally pulls up. But in all I’ve found my imagination is generally close to the mark, but also over-the-top enough that people don’t stop reading the book out of pure disgust.
AiPT!: Without getting into specifics, how the heck is Sharon Crane going to handle/react to everything that’s happened up to this point?
Oh ho… that’s a big part of how this arc ends and leads into issues 21-25… let’s just say she makes a few unexpected choices.
AiPT!: What does Agent Elliott Caroll taste like?
AiPT!: I knew it!
And with that, we anxiously wait for November 4 and Nailbiter #17 to hit the stands. If you’re one of many people who go through post-Halloween horror withdrawal, then just hang in there a few more days. A brand new story from the best horror comic on the stands is right around the corner.