Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, October 03, 2010
Over the last couple of days I read Matt Spraudlin's Graphic Novel 'Bad Kids go to Hell', which was kindly given to us to check out. I really glad I got a copy as it is probably something I wouldn't have found otherwise and it's really great to read something original. I tend to spend a lot of time reading graphic novels, I read a lot of Garth Ennis, who is definitely my favourite comic writer for creating 'Preacher' and 'The Boys' and the new 'Punisher'.
I think a main reason why I enjoyed Bad Kids Go To Hell is because of the dark humour similar to Ennis' that is underlined in the book. For example, the pure moral indifference of the character of 'Veronica' she has a stereotypical goth apathy, which as the story progresses, becomes stronger and shows her secrets and ambition. The structure of the story propels the novel, it made me want to read on to understand the characters better, especially by using the flashbacks to previous events in the school. These also added in a bit of comic relief, showing the bad luck that 'Matt' suffered as being the new kid, which in a way, makes him seem quite likeable and might even allow the reader to side with him (Especially at the end)
Each character seems really well built, no-one in the story is lacking a past or personality. This comic is great timing considering we're going into our character unit now, and this novel shows how crucial it is to give a character a background. For such a short story, the character design really is fantastic, it builds on the foundations of high school stereotypes but pushes them further. I liked the 'Final Destination' vibe that the book had, with the theme of 'fate' running through each event, it really helped pull the story together and gave the reader a reason to believe the events. I'm always up for a bit of volence in a comic, and this didn't disappoint, the art had a lovely gruesome vibe in some panels and the action was well drawn. The background story of the library being built on a Indian burial ground added that classic horror story set-up, similar to 'Poltergeist', the great thing with this was that the comic didn't take it too seriously, it had the characters believing it less than the reader.
Sure, a lot of the characters died, but in convention of horror, nobody is going to say they didn't have it coming. Just like in the film 'Scream', the rules have been laid-out- if you are the 'bad kid', doing drugs, heavy-petting or even just being a bit of a dick, death is coming your way. Whereas if you are the 'pure' innocent one (Which could be argued in this case is Matt? but only compared to the rest) then chances are you'll survive.
The ending was really entertaining, it was sort of a double-twist and finished the story really nicely. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, it gave me a break from work and the art quite inspiring for the storyboarding stage I'm at. I'm definitely going to be recommending this to friends who I'm sure will appreciate it.