Comic books have almost exclusively become the drawing boards for upcoming films in recent years. I’ve seen comics written with the express intent on becoming a feature and miss the mark completely. I feel some writers are losing focus on what matters the most; the story. When I find a title that grabs me, holds me by the throat, and shakes me until I’m desperate to know the answers, I’m thankful to feel alive again. I’m thankful to know that a graphic novel can still keep me on the edge of my seat with every panel. I’m thankful for independent creators who are still busting their humps to create original content that’s never been seen or read before and that’s why I want to make damn sure The Rattler by Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle gets into as many hands as possible.
The Rattler follows Stephen Thorn, a writer and victim’s rights advocate, who witnessed his girlfriend, Catherine, being kidnapped on the side of the road. The details of the kidnapping are played out in the first nine pages of the novel, but I was completely hooked by page 6. Ten years after the kidnapping, Stephen is still looking for Catherine, but has also become the face for victim’s rights by instituting “Thorn Law.” He also goes out of his way to ensure that “rehabilitated” sexual predators have a tough time finding work and housing. His strong opinion gets him in some hot water with an escaped convict named Marion Boyd and he shows up at Stephen’s house. After a bit of a scuffle, the voice of Catherine escapes the lips of the dying Marion Boyd begging Stephen for help. Quickly, she gives him details of her surroundings to help give him an idea of where she is being held. Stephen is then thrust into a journey to not only find Catherine, but to find out how far he is willing to go to see her again. My mind was racing to conclude what would happen but I was kept guessing until the very last page. Quite frankly, this is a sad love story that will break your heart a little more with each panel.
The novel is beautifully drawn by Greg Hinkle using mostly black and whites, but uses red for blood. Good black and white comics are pretty rare, but it was done on purpose for this title. Unlike others that do so to skimp on printing costs, The Rattler uses the technique to create depth of drama; specifically the blacks. With every shadow, I was terrified of what was waiting to jump out at me in the next panel. Hinkle has a unique way of displaying points of view to create urgency in some key scenes in this book. I was amazed by how the expressions on some characters could make me physically feel their desperation and every time that blood red color crept its way into a panel, I felt a sort of sick joy for what was to come.
If you are a fan of enthralling writing, and intense artwork or even if you just have a passion and respect for the craft of comics, you should help out with getting this book made. Working with Jason McNamara when writing this review, I can tell he really cares about his characters and he wants to share them with you. There are plenty of incentives to get involved with the production including signed versions of the graphic novel, prismatic post cards, a co-conspirator credit, and even an original piece of art by Greg Hinkle if you pledge enough to the project. Since finishing this book, it has stuck to my brain like glue and I believe that to be a testament to the quality. This is one of those novels that I’ll be pressuring all my friends to read for months to come and for that, I give The Rattler 5 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
Please, go check out the Kickstarter page for more information and if nothing else, share it with your like-minded friends, give your local comic shop a heads up, and give Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle a shout-out on their twitter accounts.
The purpose of this kickstarter is to publish our finished graphic novel, The Rattler, and share it with you. The 96-page story will be presented in grayscale with red highlights and printed in a 6 by 10 inch softcover edition. In the vein of John Carpenter and Dario Argento, The Rattler is an atmospheric thriller that delivers strong characterization, a dark sense of humor and moments of abject terror.
Jason McNamara is a Xeric award-winning comic book writer and self-publisher. His previous titles include Short-Hand, From Mars with Love, The Martian Confederacy, First Moon, Continuity and Less Than Hero. When he’s not talking about himself in the third person, he’s dressing up like Michael Myers and scaring his neighbors. No really, he does that. See for yourself at Jason-McNamara.com
Greg Hinkle received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Traditional Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. After self publishing 3 mini-comics, he was featured as a guest artist in the pages of Image Comics’ GLORY. He is also the artist for the upcoming Image Comics series, AIRBOY, written by James Robinson. Greg lives in the greater Los Angeles area with his wife and dog.
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