Following up the debut issue from 2018, Dan White brings us another two perfectly weighted and nightmarish horror strips in Sticky Ribs #2 all about giving you the chills with as much economy of storytelling as possible. Perfection across 24 pages and a worthy addition to the Best of British collection.
As I keep telling you, the Brit comic scene is flourishing and has been for many years. Part of what I want to be doing here at Comicon is promoting some of the very best of British, big and small!
And Dan White‘s work is some of my favourite comics for many years, with Sticky Ribs continuing his obsession with horror in all its forms. His work has always had a horror element to it, whether it’s the single-panel macabre strangeness of Terminus and Insomnia or the children’s horror title Cindy & Biscuit, where the monsters in the woods you see are never as disturbing as the imagery White cleverly puts into your head, filling in the deliberate blanks for yourself.
In Sticky Ribs, it’s all about the way White makes everything about the sense of dread, how he doesn’t go for the easy scare but develops a sense of unease. And the fact he does so much in so few pages is testament to how good he is at this whole comics thing.
With the first tale, Last Summer, it’s not a question of where it’s going but how skilfully we get there, with each page giving us more confirmation of what we’re looking at, never directly, never spelt out for us, just there as a moment, an image, a feeling even…
And the imagery is so delightful, White’s simple line does so much so beautifully…
Now, before we go on to the next story, let’s go back to White’s artwork, that page above, that very first panel…
The abstraction, the breakdown of the figure to fluid motion, it’s a singularly spectacular and striking image, and it’s something you see time and again, panel after panel.
And then there’s the second tale, Christmas With Bunty, just 8 pages long, each page a single, eerie image with text beneath, it tells of a Christmas in moments captured, as the narrator arrives to stay for Christmas with the aforementioned Bunty…
A change of tone, a change in art style, and although the horror here is different, it’s no less chilling, all told in that delightfully nostalgic tone of girls’ comics gone by, all delightful wheezes and thanks awfully, but undercut with a vicious horror, unexpected and frankly disturbing as hell.
You read each page and there’s a shiver going down your spine that gets bigger and bigger as the short tale goes on.
Every page, every single page, the final line just chills. That’s how good Sticky Ribs is.
Again, as with issue #1, Sticky Ribs is a perfect example of how to do horror in comic form perfectly; it’s not a medium that’s built for jump scares, but one where a more subtle approach, far more clever, far more difficult to get right, and Dan White gets it absolutely right.
Sticky Ribs Issue #2 is written, drawn, and published by Dan White. You can find more of his work, including this at Deadlight Comics, Mindless Ones and Milk The Cat Comics. As before, I’d absolutely recommend you part with some of your cash for Terminus, Insomnia, and Cindy & Biscuit, one of my favourite comics of the last 10 years.