Artwork & Story by Chris Doherty
A few years ago I went to the Birmingham Comic Convention with two friends to launch a comic we collaborated on. During the two day convention we got chatting with several people on neighbouring tables and met some interesting and inspiring creators. One notable comic creator was Chris Doherty. His comic-book series ‘Video Nasties’ had grabbed my attention due to the punchy title and, despite his mild-mannered nature, I suspected that I was in for something more wayward and dissident than the usual indie type offerings i.e. merit-less attempts to mimic Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns.
‘Video Nasties’ begins with teenager Evan viewing some obscure low budget horror film in bed and admitting to himself that, ‘I don’t half watch some shit’. His passion for old films from the video nasties era fuels the story and he is lucky enough to know Victor, a former video store employee and expert in the genre, who has converted his old workplace ‘Videodrome’ into his home (with minimal changes).
Evan’s fascination with a loathsome but attractive girl at school leads him to be railroaded into helping with a documentary tribute about 3 pupils who mysteriously disappeared 10 years earlier. As things progress we are also introduced to the sultry Gwen and the murky world of the more extreme horror conventions. I think that to reveal much else about the plot and characters involved would diminish the quality of what I felt was a decent murder mystery and bloodbath of a book.
For me where the strength of ‘Video Nasties’ lies is that, once the set-up is over, it simply does not hold back. In one particularly disturbing scene we see a person abducted from a familiar looking northern UK street at night, only to later reappear on a VHS tape being slowly sliced to death by a panda-eyed macabre clown. One small narrow panel simply showing the fading but still present life in the victim’s eye left me feeling very cold. Things also briefly and bravely move into some very dark waters indeed, albeit in a way that was wisely handled with skilful caution. I also liked how Chris chose to base his story in what seems to be Greater Manchester, and found that the familiar look of the streets added to the menace of the nastier scenes for me.
Doherty’s style has echoes of the character work of Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and the Clerks comic era of Jim Mahfood, perhaps even with a hint of Gilbert Hernandez in some of the longer street shots. His use of chiselled, minimally shaped characters gets sharper and stronger throughout the book and, by the final chapter, it’s obvious that he has subtly evolved since the offset as an artist & storyteller.
‘Video Nasties’ is creator-published by Manchester based Doherty which, priced at a tenner for a signed/sketched in copy of the 200+ page book, offers the same excellent value for money as one of his character Mr Snuff’s many sinister films. This is a raw and uncompromising tale that for me stands a wielded axe height above the average UK indie book.
Overall rating 7.5/10
Chris Doherty’s website: www.bittersweetfatkid.com
‘Video Nasties’ is available to buy here: