Shuddertown issue #1 by Nick Spenser and Adam Geen – review

shuddertownThis may be a stupid thing to point out but I’ll say it anyway so there won’t be any confusion for those heading to the store. Shuddertown should not be confused with the title Stumptown. They are two different titles. By all means you should pick up the issues of Stumptown when you are there getting Shuddertown but they are different.


I think after reading Forgetless and Shuddertown Nick Spencer is on his way to becoming one of my favorite crime comic writers. Shuddertown has a dark and moody vibe thanks to the art of Adam Geen. The story has a strong noir vibe with, so far, a hint of supernatural. Fresh bodies are turning up and its looking like old vics are the ones who committed the crimes. It’s hard to say how far down the supernatural path the story will take after the first issue but either way I think that it will be handled with a deft hand. The protag, Isaac Hernandez, is not whole at the start of the issue when we meet him. I don’t know if I’m ready yet to call him a broken man but its clear that he’s not now who he once was. He should prove to be an interesting character as the layers get peeled back.

My only complaint is one I’ll throw out there for conversation/debate purposes for the comic readers. There is an art technique that is used in Shuddertown that I generally dislike because it throws me from the story. I don’t know what its proper name is or even if it has one but I’ll call it photo reference art. Artists use models or photos of real people all the time to try and add a layer or realism to the art. When an artist uses a picture of their Uncle Bob its fine because I don’t know who in the hell Uncle Bob is but when an artist uses someone famous as the basis for their art its obviousness is apparent even to the most casual eye. In other and more specific words if I’m reading this really cool noir comic I don’t want the protag to meet up with James Gandolfini unless it’s really James Gandolfini.

Bottom line is that Shuddertown is an atmospheric crime story with an intriguing mystery at the center.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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