One of my favourite small press series over the last couple of years has been writer Dave West and artist Gary Crutchley’s WesterNoir published by Accent UK. The series follows Josiah Black who hunts supernatural creatures in the Old West and to date the series has run to four books with the fifth due this year. The new Tales Of WesterNoir is an offshoot of the main WesterNoir books telling short side stories that add to the background of the main series and Book One tells two of those stories.
“Loose Ends” written by main series artist Gary Crutchley and illustrated by Roland Bird is an epilogue to WesterNoir Book Two in which crocodile men took women hostage to be their wives. One of those women escaped from her captivity aided by Josiah who then used her as bait to lure the creatures out. When he returned for her she was gone and in the main book was never heard of again. Here her story is taken up as the somewhat dubious Baylocke from the main books discovers her in the woods, listens to her story and helps her out. Roland Bird uses a smooth detailed art style that is somewhat at odds with Gary Crutchley’s more minimalist and stylised art that WesterNoir readers are used to. However they will be used to the style of the cover which is illustrated by Gary and which gets the series now standard distressed look by designer Andy Bloor.
The other tale in the book is “The Kiss Of Death” which predates the whole WesterNoir continuity by several decades as it depicts Josiah Black’s first use of a gun as a teen and shows that the character’s determination, and perhaps a little of his cold-bloodedness, was there from his earliest days as he sets out to rescue a his friend Cole from the clutches of the dangerous Miles Beauchamp. Written by main series writer Dave West this is a stronger tale than the first with some impressive artwork by Pedro Lopez that is more in keeping with that seen in the main series.
Calling this Book One rather than Issue One is perhaps pushing things a little. The main series is defined as books and passes muster on that score due to its 40 page length and perfect binding (ie the books have a flat spine) while Tales is a 28 page stapled comic. But that is a minor nit-pick which is more than made up for with three pages of behind the scenes information and sketches by Gary Crutchley.
Tales Of WesterNoir Book One is an interesting side piece to the main WesterNoir series that works on two counts – for dedicated WesterNoir readers it is an addition that builds onto the overall continuity of the main series, while for those who have not read any of the main series books it acts as a standalone sampler for what the main series is about.
There are more details of Dave West’s work on his blog, Strange Times.
There are more details of Gary Crutchley’s work on his blog, Driblin’ On.
The downthetubes reviews of each of the WesterNoir books are as follows:
Tales Of WesterNoir Book One will be available from the Accent UK sales table at the Birmingham Comics Festival at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Saturday 18 April 2015.