Sick B*stards was the first black cover Matt Shaw book I ever read and I always thought it would translate well to other mediums. Now, a couple of years and a ton of success later, we have the graphic novel adaptation just about ready to release and I am excited to say I have read it and want to share my review of it here. As you know, Matt and I have worked together on and off over the years and chat daily about mostly pointless things, I and I know trying to get this off the ground has been both stressful and expensive, so I want to say how happy I am for him that not only has he done it, the results are spectacularly good. So, to the (Spoiler free) review.
First up, as a word of warning, the black cover range of books carry a warning on the front and, as readers of Matt’s work will know, he pushes beyond the boundaries of taste and makes no apologies for it here. The opening pages of Sick B*stards follow that theme and are both graphic and shocking, setting the scene for what is to come. The book has a certain tone. It is dark, claustrophobic, the story essentially a post-apocalyptic tale of survival but grounded in reality a world away from the bigger scale books and movies. Issue one introduces us to a family learning to survive in the aftermath of some global catastrophe, yet there are no wastelands here which helps sell the immersion. Instead, we focus on the family who, as the story progresses reveal that dysfunctional would be too kind a word, especially when we learn how they have learned to exist in a savage new world.
The artwork in this graphic novel is phenomenal, and embodies the bleak nature of the story and is reminiscent of Alan Moore’s sublime From Hell but with use of colour, the world is shown to us in shades of green and brown, the details in the linework subtle and yet intricate at the same time. Long story short, this is a gorgeous looking product and all involved should be incredibly proud of the end result.
As with a lot of Matt Shaw’s works, the story told here jumps to different time periods, giving is a deeper look at the characters before the events set in the modern day. There is a certain sympathy, particularly for the son of the family, as we see his struggles to adapt to the new world and find his place within it amid the backdrop of depravity and horror that is never far away. The fact that we manage to feel sympathy for characters who should disgust us is a real strength of the story and one which I hope carries through into future issues.
All in all, Issue one of Sick B*stards is a triumph. The introduction to the story is paced just so that we learn enough to want to move forward and see what comes next. Matt and his team are currently raising funds to produce issue two, which I sincerely hope happens as it would be a shame to see this project die. If you want to support their efforts, you can do so by clicking HERE.
If you haven’t read the original book, you can pick it up via Amazon by clicking on the links below. Get it. Read it. And revel in the slightly dirty feeling it gives you.We all know you’ll enjoy it.
A rock solid 9/10 score for this one.
GET THE NOVEL THAT STARTED IT ALL, SICK B’STARDS BY MATT SHAW AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS: