Thursday, 13 August 2015

Reviews - WesterNoir #1

Latest review from Reading With A Flight Ring over at


Eduardo Serradilla over at

Josiah Black had been lots of things in his life. Some were good others not so much. He assumed that, thanks to all the experience he had, he was ready to face any and all challenges. Having said that, just as the saying goes, “Fact is Stranger than Fiction” and after meeting Mrs. Anderson he will later bump into the elusive and enigmatic Mr. Caligary who will offer him the opportunity to see reality from a different perspective. From then on, Josiah Black will cease to be a lonesome gun-for-hire and become a hired hunter of strange paranormal phenomena, just like brothers Sam and Dean Winchester.

Thanks to the letters brought by Mr. Baylocke, Mr. Caligary’s courier, Black discovers the world is not the place he supposed it to be and that in it there are also nightmarish creatures, legendary beings and, in short, evil in all its forms.

As it tends to be the case, though, Mr. Caligary hasn’t told Black everything nor is Mr. Baylocke a trust-worthy person. This combination will take Black to a cold cell, charged with the murder of three sisters who apparently were not what they claimed to be.

WesterNoir, by Dave West and Gary Crutchley, is an amazing fusion between the classic Western stories and H. P. Lovecraft’s narratives. Supported by an elegant artwork which plays with white and black as Universal Horror Film movies used to do, Josiah Black’s adventures takes us to a world full with paranormal activities in a time-period in which this symbiosis does not usually happen (except for counted examples, such as Cowboys & Aliens).  
A voice from offstage is Dave West’s chosen tool to let us know Josiah’s thoughts which, in turn, intertwine with the other characters’ speech. This is another element the writer has placed a lot of care in as the characters express themselves with the linguistic characteristics of Coastal American English. Indeed, the characters in WesterNoir not only look like cowboys, they also sound like cowboys which makes this series even more believable.
WesterNoir is a well-composed, entertaining story which gets the reader hooked from the first moment, even though he or she is not a fan of Westerns. It is also proof that good stories can be published also by a small, independent publishing company, such as Accent Uk.

If you have some time to spare, I strongly recommend a visit to Accent UK’s webpage,  There you will find a short but selected collection of titles Accent UK offers to readers demanding high quality products.

The only question left to ask is, “When is Book Five going to be available, please?”

WesterNoir © 2014 Accent Uk Comics.


Dion_Scrolls on

The clue’s in the title, but I’ll lay it out plain for you – WesterNoir is a magnificent mongrel. The creative team behind it have clearly spent some time sneaking around the genre graveyard, digging up the choicest bits and pieces for their grand project. I can only imagine their maniacal laughter as they shot bolt after bolt of lightning into their creation until it leapt twitching from the slab – a mashed up monster-hunting myth set in the wilds of the American West, ruefully wrapped in the twisted plots of the bitterest noir. Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt you. Say hello to Josiah Black. T’ain’t his real name of course, but it’ll do for now. He’s running from a long history of blood and sorrow.

Trouble is, he spends so much time looking over his shoulder, he has no idea what he’s headed towards. When the woman with the dead eyes hires him to hunt down the fella who killed her family, he learns there are deadlier things than men abroad in those dusty frontier days. Ghouls, vampires, were-creatures – and who knows what else – hiding amongst ordinary people. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, stalking the innocent and devouring the vulnerable. It might be there’s no such thing as redemption, but if Black’s guns can take down a few of these monsters, save some folk that might have otherwise perished, well, at least he can begin to settle accounts. Join me after the jump where I’ll take you through each book briefly, then get into the overview.

Book 1: The Woman With The Dead Eyes introduces us to Josiah Black, Jim Wilson and the whole weird West. It’s a simple, harsh bounty hunter’s tale, made more interesting by its structure and the glimpses it affords us behind the curtain of normalcy. It’s essentially a pilot episode, but it has a distinctive narrative voice, reads smoothly and contains a couple of killer moments. The back up tale is a forgettable prequel, more mood piece than story. Book 2 is an absolute blast though, and easily my favourite to date. The Crocodile Tears of the Louisiana Swamp Men throws us into the midst of an horrific plot to create a new race. We flash back and forth between the action packed showdown and the beginnings of Black’s investigation. The narration is delightfully cynical and the black-hatted hunter is breathtakingly cool throughout. His choices may be less than admirable, but his single-minded determination makes him a compelling character to follow. What continues to draw me in as a reader though is the emotional underbelly of the anti-hero; his troubled past hidden behind an impassive façade. Book 3 brings this to the fore and, whilst it lacks much action, it makes for a more mature read. The Siren’s Song of the Mississippi Mermaids is a deep breath between adventures. Black considers the life he’s walked into, and the life he’s left behind. New opportunities present themselves and they are sorely tempting to a vulnerable man. It is gentle, gallant even, and an unexpectedly touching journey. The denouement is a little abrupt (but no real surprise) and leaves Black in a tricky predicament. I wonder if this is the true beginning of WesterNoir as an ongoing run rather than a series of one-shots. Time will tell. The provocative title to Book 4 is advertised on the final page, and I find myself itching mightily to get hold of it.

AccentUK are an independent comics publisher who place a great deal of value on intelligent stories told from unusual perspectives. Take the time to imbibe a few and you’ll be as blown away as I was. It seems to me their book covers have done them little justice in the past, but the WesterNoir series bucks that trend with their bold headers and dramatic imagery. The books are eye-catching, exciting and intriguing artefacts that demand to be picked up. You can practically smell the pulp oozing from them; and little visual touches like creases, peels and scratches complete the illusion of battered books, long-treasured. These wear-marks may be fake, but the love poured into the tales is true enough. Dave West writes with economy and style. Each 36 page volume tells a complete tale, expands the world and fills in touches of back-story too. The dialogue is peachy; ever developing character and plot while showcasing a fine ear for accent. Old-fashioned American dialogue may be formal but it’s chock full of subtlety, and West writes with considerable fluency. His greatest success is in Black’s narrative voice running throughout the stories. The cynical voice-over has long been a staple of film noir, commenting upon both the action and the dialogue to undercut (or throw dramatic new light on) what is happening. It lends a certain tone to a story, and depth to a character that could otherwise appear callous or cold.

Gary Crutchley does a similarly grand job bringing the world of WesterNoir to life with his astonishing inks. Facial features are expertly picked out, costume and scenery given recognisable characteristics and atmosphere without ever feeling overworked – which is a wonderful trick if you can manage it. This lush economy can be seen throughout the books in various forms, from both sides of the creative team and, for me, it defines the style of the book. The general sparseness of background detail chimes with the Western sensibility (as do the occasionally ornate splashes of detail, when appropriate), while the bold shadows and harsh lines occasionally evoke the nightmare noir of Sin City. He makes use of a couple of watery grey shades to bring out the intermediate depth, but little more than that is required. Sepia tones might have been more appropriate for this world, and a different colour palette would have been nice for those times we look through Black’s special glasses, but I guess an indie budget only stretches so far. The layouts are used to control the narrative pace as much as its direction, and this is so finely gauged that you only realise the sheer variety of panel sizes, density and dimensions when you consciously look for it. These are people who know how to grab you and give you a great ride. There are certain images that you do kind of expect; shots and angles that form part of the visual vocabulary of Westerns and film noir. I was exceptionally pleased to see so many of them worked in without once jolting me out of the story. WesterNoir may be a patchwork creature, but the needlework is very fine indeed.

I’ve picked up a new AccentUK title each year ever since I came across them at Thought Bubble in 2010. Needless to say, I recommend you start doing the same.

Overall Rating: 4/5  (Book 1: 3/5   Book 2: 4/5   Book 3: 4/5)
GS Blogger: Dion Winton-Polak


Patrick Scattergood on


'WesterNoir' tells the story of Josiah Black, a man who has seen and done everything but in this book, his life is about to get a hell of a lot more complicated and dangerous!


I've been reading quite a few western titles here and there ranging from the funny to the serious and everything in between.

After reading the book 'The 6 Gun Tarot' by RS Belcher, I was eager to read another western story but one with a difference and that is what we have here.

I'm not going to spoil the story for you but there's a really good supernatural edge to it but also a good and interesting twist at the end.  It left me itching to get to book two to see where the character is going to be taken next.

The story moves along at quite a fast pace but I liked the nods to Josiah Black's past but at the same time, leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader.  I've always enjoyed a title more when the writer takes the time to read the character in that style and doesn't insult the reader's intelligence.

As for the setting, the story manages to avoid the cliches that sometimes plague a western title.  In fact, while the writing does give a nod to the classic western style, at the same time it hurtles along to really get the reader in to the thick of the action.

The art here is superb.  The stark nature of the black and white art really makes some of the scenes look desolute and hopeless but in a way that makes the darker nature of the story come to the forefront off the book.  I also loved that some of the panels didn't go for the normal, bog standard angles to show us the action unfolding.  Instead the story had quite a cinematic yet subtle feel to it. 

At the end of the main story, you get an extra tale to whet your appetite named 'On Hallowed Ground' that shows a little bit more of the Jim Wilson character.  That adds a nice and unexpected layer to this book as it gives the character a little more depth than he would have had otherwise.  Once again the art is fantastic at conveying the dark and sinister nature of not only the story but it's surroundings as well. 

Add the art to the intelligence of the writing and that makes this a title that I will definitely be keeping up with.

Story 7.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Overall 16/20


by intheblackhall on

The woman with the dead eyes

Whenever I pick up something that has western in it’s title, review or description I’m hit with a ton of expectations. Mostly it is to do with the characters, the protagonist, the antagonist and everyone else that makes up and carries the plot and book 1 of WesterNoir doesn’t disappoint in the form of Josiah Black. Who immediately fits the other expectation, someone who is remorseful and possibly seeking redemption, when through his own narrative introduces a quick profile of himself and the stories told about him by others. In his own right he has already made you wonder about his origins and history within the first two pages, a story I hope gets its own book about how became this revered man who, “shot the wings off a hornet that bothered” him. He is then already a person of folklore who has already done things and we meet him slap bang in the middle of this “new beginning”.

This beginning is depicted through black and white art, I’m no expert on illustration in comic books or otherwise so my point of view is one of looking at the story and seeing if the art fits with it and compliments it. I think it does this and very well, for a western I think you need something that is quite “scratchy” and sets the story in a specific time, and the black and white art does just that plus it gives it that extra bit of grit alongside Black’s own demeanour.

What we learn quickly through Black’s interactions is that he doesn’t seem to be able to say “no” to a woman or to a plea for help, especially around cold killings that seem to have links to his own past. He is also as we quickly find out very handy with a gun but because of his quickness to accept the pleas of a woman, he doesn’t always see what is right in front of his face. A thought that is duplicated throughout this first book, things aren’t always what they seem.

What comes of this is a nice twist and revelation for Josiah as well as a new piece of kit to help him see things for what they are. It is when he is given this bit of kit that the front cover becomes part of the story and that little thought of “ah, that makes sense now” comes flooding in.

So on the hunt for a killer Josiah takes the job given to him by Mrs Anderson, which in turn gets him a job he wasn’t expecting that will continue in books 2, 3 and beyond. A job that thrusts the western and supernatural genres together as a fruitful relationship and by the end of this book you will want to know what Josiah is doing in Louisiana and book 2.

You will want to know because book 1 is a very good read, it takes you through the story at  a nice pace, introduces us to Josiah a man who grows on you as you get more and more snippets about him. A man who you think “yeah this guy is going to be kick-ass” and I want to stick with him. Mainly because, and I think this is what AccentUK do really well, he is human, no superpowers just a skill with a gun that he uses with great effect.

At the end of the book is a nice flashback to Jim Wilson, a character who I haven’t mentioned yet because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. What I will say though is now we’ve had one flashback I hope we get more as a way of delving further into things that were happening before we met Josiah Black.


WesterNoir gets the thumbs up from Starburst.

A great surprise this weekend as the latest issue of Starburst (issue 379) was delivered...

in that it contained a review of our first issue of Westernoir...

A great review (I must confess that Gary actually added a lot to the dialogue of Issue 1, which improved it and no doubt impressed Starburst... there... my conscience is clear :o), which I read before setting off to a great Convention at the MCM in Manchester, where we sold plenty of copies and artist/co-creator Gary Crutchley was on hand to show people the first 13 pages of issue 2.

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