The Best Of British: Sticky Ribs – A New Serving Of Horror From Dan White

by Richard Bruton

The comic scene in Britain right now is an incredibly rich and diverse one, with a huge number of smaller publishers and self-publishers creating and publishing work that deserves to receive worldwide recognition. And, with The Best Of British here at, that’s just what I plan to do. I’ll be regularly shining a light on British creators and comic books, from all genres, across all styles, starting with Dan White and his magnificent new horror comic, Sticky Ribs.

Dan White is a British comics creator who deserves wider recognition. For a decade now, he’s been making comics; brilliant, clever comics, all with varying degrees of horror shot through them. His single-panel comics, Terminus and Insomnia took the classic single-panel gag cartoon and twisted them into subtle, clever horror comics, where the real brilliance came with what was left unsaid, all the better for the reader to scare themselves with what they bring to the comic. And then there’s Cindy & Biscuit, his delightful and unsettling all-ages comic, a perfect horror comic for kids featuring the feistiest girl, her loyal doggie companion, and a wood full of monsters that aren’t anywhere near as horrific as what young Cindy has to put up with at home and at school.
But, enough of Dan White’s older work, although I’d wholeheartedly recommend you go looking for it (see the links at the end). His new comic, Sticky Ribs, is White returning to adult horror, and it’s a perfect piece of comic horror, reminiscent of Charles Burns in its ability to unnerve and unsettle.

Sticky Ribs is an anthology comic, with two tales in issue one, both showcasing just how inventive and marvellous White’s comic work can be. The first tale, Your Body, is the more straight-forward horror, the one which instantly called to mind the work of Charles Burns, all the body horrors, the grotesquely beautiful pustules and boils, the fascination with obsessions, all underplayed to perfection. And that’s just what White does here, a perfect tale of encroaching horror, of obsession, jealousy, of a cycle of horror that goes on and on. All that in just 10 amazing pages.

The second tale, Jackie Goes To Hell, showcases both White’s fascination with the medium and his ability to find a rich vein of comedy in whatever horror comic he’s doing right now. Even shorter than Your Body, at just 8 pages, it still manages to do more in such a small page count than graphic novels ten times the length often manage. Each page of Jackie Goes To Hell is a single image, big and bold cartooning, with a short text piece beneath, something of a return to the work he did with both Terminus and Insomnia, but here, the single pages form a single narrative, of Jackie’s mission to save her sometime boyfriend from the bad place. First things first… hop on a bus…

Each single-page gives you just a hint of the tale, a moment of Jackie’s life, and it’s to White’s total credit that, with so few words and that simple imagery, he forces the reader to do the work. You find yourself lingering on the imagery, on the ideas behind the words, embellishing the life of Jackie, creating her history, imagining her hopes, dreams, speculating on her relationship. And yes, just like Jackie’s mom, you do wonder just what sort of idiot sells his soul in the first place.
There’s more of Dan White’s playfulness in Jackie Goes To Hell than in Your Body, with something on every page, whether it’s the ridiculousness of the monsters she meets, the circumstances she finds herself in, or something clever and witty in the text, making you smile your way through the story. And of course, White’s artwork is a beautifully simple thing, but in that simplicity, you have so much at work, such is his consummate skill at his craft. A magnificent example of how good you can do comics, how effective horror comics can be when they’re this clever, and proof, if you ever needed it, that sometimes, shorter is sweeter.

Sticky Ribs Issue #1 is written, drawn, and published by Dan White. Two brilliant strips, showcasing just how good short comics have the potential to be, plus delivering thoughtful, spine-tingling horror. All good. Oh, and there’s two very well written pages from White talking about An American Werewolf In London, his favourite horror film ever since seeing it at the tender age of eight.
You can see more of his work at his new site Deadlight Comics. But, there’s also plenty of his older work available at both The Mindless Ones and Milk The Cat Comics. There you’ll find his single-panel horror comics Terminus and Insomnia, and his incredibly good all-ages comic Cindy & Biscuit, one of my favourite comics of the last 10 years. You can, and should, get hold of four volumes of Cindy & Biscuit; Cindy & Biscuit Volume 1: We Love Trouble (2014), The Bad Girl Parts 1 & 2 (2015/16), and Sundays (2017).
Here’s just a little idea of what to expect when you dive into Dan White’s back catalog…


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