White Ash #1

Writer: Charlie Stickney
Artist: Conor Hughes
Colorist: Fin Cramb 

Review by Anelise Farris

White Ash #1 is a fantasy horror comic (suggested for readers 15 and older) that is an entirely independent, creator-owned masterpiece. And, I do not use masterpiece lightly—this is a whopping 52-page long debut that delivers in both story and art.

In this first issue we meet Aleck, a miner’s son, who is in love with Lillian, the mine owner’s daughter. Yes, a story of forbidden love is a familiar plot device. However, Stickney and his team give us a story that feels both innovative and familiar—thanks to a family secret that completely shakes up the rural Pennsylvania town of White Ash.

Right from the beginning of the issue, you get the sense that not all of the characters are who they appear to be (that is, well, human). However, although we are quickly invited into the mystery, the creative team works to slowly unveil the secrets—much like a good episode of Supernatural. One of my favorite parts about White Ash is the unique setting. So many comics are city-based, and it’s always refreshing to see a new locale like this rural coal-mining town.

The writing is both poetic and “country” as Stickney includes local dialect where he can. The story moves along at a swift pace and manages to provide a lot of information without feeling clunky or dense. And with the fantastic array of panel variation, emotive expressions on the character’s faces, and the consistent use of clean lines, White Ash #1 proves that indie comics can hold their own.

Verdict: Buy it! I love fantasy and I love horror, but rarely do the two merge together as well as they do in White Ash #1—with just the right amount of teen angst and budding romance. This is an impressive first issue that gives readers a perfect balance of character development and plot progression. You can check out a trailer for the comic here, and White Ash #1 can be purchased digitally or in print from www.whiteashcomic.com.

Anelise Farris
I'm a doctor that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not researching or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

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