Webcomic Weekly: Chris Doherty’s ‘Video Nasties’ – You Will Have Nightmares.
by Richard Bruton
Webcomic Weekly – It’s time to give you another bit of online sequential artistry with another incredible bit of spine-chilling comic brilliance with Chris Doherty‘s Video Nasties.
A little while ago I looked at Chris Doherty‘s Lowry Walk, his stunningly scary new webcomic. And I mentioned that he’d already got form writing really scary, really good horror comics with Video Nasties that ran from 2007-2011.
Well, Video Nasties is still online and still brilliant, so time to take a look at that one as well.
It’s a teen horror tale told across seven chapters that takes its sweet time to really get into the true horror of it all, but that’s all to the good, as it allows Doherty to really get into his characters and develop them properly. So that when the twist hits and the blood begins to flow, and it does, it’s all the more impactful.
Everything starts off as a teen drama, focused on Evan, the short, awkward kid at school who’s deep into films, particularly horror films that are just that little older than he should really be watching, although a friendship with the guy behind the counter at the local video store (yes, remember those?) gets him access to the video nasties of the title.
Doherty spends the first couple of chapters really establishing it all, focusing on horror obsessed Evan and his circle of friends; there’s Victor, his enabler at the video shop, whose friendship with the teen Evan can’t help but come across as creepy; Emily, the object of Evan’s affection/lust, the impossibly cool girl; and his friends Jeremy & Beth, the one’s grounding him just that little bit.
But in the background of it all, we have the 10 year anniversary of the disappearance of three kids at Evan’s school, Sylvie, Nick, and Rebecca, with Evan pulled into making a video documentary for the occasion.
The combination of Evan’s on-screen horror obsession and the real-life horror of the disappearances is brought into sharp contrast from the end of Chapter two onwards when Doherty begins jumping back and forth between the now of Evan’s school life and the then of the life of little Sylvie Baker, one of the trio of kids who will disappear.
And from that moment on, things get very dark, with Sylvie seemingly a magnet for all the bad things in the world, that classic cinema trope of the creepy little kid who knows way too much, her ‘imaginary’ friends leading her into the darkness, that sort of thing.
The skill that Doherty entwines the two storylines is just so good, the way it all suddenly takes a sinister twist, whilst still having the surface veneer of continuing the teen tale is such that you can’t help but keep reading, desperate to see how it all turns out.
There’s a moment in Chapter five where it all switches and it all slowly comes together, with the events of the present and the past crashing together, that ‘Oh my God’ moment where everything changes and the story’s darkness is completely revealed… all leading us down a truly nightmarish path to the finish.
And through it all, Doherty’s artwork shines in fine black and white. At its best, it’s a great mix of Paul Grist and Philip Bond, whilst also having enough of Doherty’s originality in there to make it a thing all it’s own. It’s not without its flaws and its roughness, there’s a problem at times where the character work isn’t clear enough and there’s an unfortunate issue over getting the ages of his characters right, but on the whole it’s a joy to see.
And if there’s one other small issue with Video Nasties it’s that things just spiral that little bit too much out of control by the ending, Doherty pushing it all into a place it needn’t have gone, a conspiracy thing that just wasn’t needed. But again, when you compare the slight mis-step of the final couple of moments, it takes very, very little away from Video Nasties.
The whole experience of Video Nasties is one to be relished and one I want you to share in, I want you to have that same delicious experience of the chill forming, the fear creeping, the expectation of horrors to come that I had all the way through. That’s why I’ve shied away from anything even remotely looking like a spoiler. This is just too good to spoil.
But I can’t resist one or two final moments that at least give you something of the horrors to come…
Him? Oh, that’s just Mr Snuffs.
You’re going to meet Mr Snuffs in one form or another in Video Nasties. And no, he’s not very nice at all.
So, if you’re after something thrilling, chilling, horrifying, and absolutely quite wonderful, don’t delay, go and check out Chris Doherty’s Video Nasties.
Video Nasties is available here. Doherty’s brilliant new webcomic, Lowry Walk, can be read here.
You can buy collections of his work and more at his webshop. And of course, you’re going to want to sign up at his Patreon.