cover of NAILBITER from Image Comics

NAILBITER is the first comic I have ever read or considered reading. Admittedly, I was skeptical of what I could possibly gain from reading comics as I had snobbishly resided in graphic novels, and refused to step into the world of comics.NAILBITER exceeded my expectations of craft, skill and storytelling. I came to appreciate the characters and commend Joshua Williamson for the agency he gives his characters to tell the story, rather than committing to an overcompensating plot that drags them along. The comic invites us and our preconceived notions of the “murderer,” into a world of serial killers. Slowly the text unravels these false narratives that enable the simplification of identity to one defining aspect. As such, it is with intent and great skill that Williamson sets us up with Finch, an army interrogator, to discover the truth about Buckaroo.

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Learning about the serial killers through Finch’s exploration soon becomes an experience of turning inward. I felt myself not only questioning the ways we, as a society, categorize people through their actions and our own obsession with getting to know the serial killer, but also the ways in which we distance ourselves from the type of human who becomes a killer. Media and enabling fictions of contemporary society tell us that the serial killer is a type of person, a person who can be pointed out in a crowd based on distinct acts and appearances. NAILBITER refuses to subscribe to these narratives and instead asks us to try to imagine the killer as someone like ourselves, thus uncovering the multifaceted nature of humanity.

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Speaking on this podcast has been a great experience. NAILBITER is simply one of those texts you can revisit and discuss several times and still have more questions and possible explanations. As we worked through the comic, I began to see and understand the many layers that compose NAILBITER but also the many layers of comics themselves. Having gained a newfound respect for comic books, I am very excited to delve deeper into their world.

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