Seven Costumes of Comics: Serial Killers

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and there is something about the state that just feels like home. It could be the rolling corn fields or that one-of-a-kind Midwest nice everyone always talks about that makes it feel so welcoming. But, the Diary State is also home to real life nightmares embodied in abandoned industrial towns, urban legends springing to life, and horrendous murderers.the_texas_chain_saw_massacre_1974_theatrical_poster

From Ed Gein, the Mad Butcher, body snatcher and fabricator of human flesh to Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal with 17 deaths to his name, these Wisconsinites have provided the template for many modern movie serial killers. Leather Face, Norman Bates, Freddy Kruger, and Jigsaw draw upon these real life murderers for inspiration and continue to fuel the human fascination with the macabre and morbid.

It’s one of the reasons that people continue to don a hockey mask or industrial jumpsuit at Halloween and why our next costume to comics is the serial killer.

Two years ago, Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson released Nailbiter, a new Image title which is still a continuing series. Buckaroo, Oregon is home to sixteen of the world’s worst serial killers. Each killer has their unique style and modus operandi; The Blonde, a woman sick of men’s catcalling and only too happy to silence them forever, and The Book Burner, responsible for the arson of two libraries and five murders, and a personal affront to my sensibilities as a librarian and decent human being. The main plot of Nailbiter is about an NSA agent who comes to Buckaroo in search of a friend who was investigating Buckaroo and Edward Warren, the Nailbiter, a murderer who is known for biting the finger nails off of his victims. But, when the investigator goes missing, the FBI and NSA will stop at nothing to discover the truth and reasons behind the Buckaroo Butchers.

nailbiterNailbiter is not only a gruesome horror comic, it is also a story that deftly examines interpersonal relationships and how people to change over time. Sharon Crane, the sheriff of Buckaroo and high school sweetheart of Warren, must assist the authorities out of duty but has lingering feelings for Warren. FBI Agent Abigail Barker, sent to look for the missing agent, begins to absorb some of the Buckaroo vibe after staying in town for too long. And Nicholas Finch, our main character, is an NSA agent whose job it is to make people talk through any means necessary, heads to Buckaroo after his friend Eliot Carroll tells him he needs his help solving the Buckaroo case.

What is it about Buckaroo and why do people continue to live there? Is it something in the air or the water that continues to make serial killers? Nailbiter is an in-your-face study about why we are fascinated with serial killers and why people continue to dress as our most notorious killers, real or fictional, for the scariest night of the year.

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