Slash Them All

Fantagraphics. Sept. 2022. 152p. tr. from French by Jenna Allen. ISBN 9781683966579. $29.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
DEBUT Cartoonist Maillard fuses elements of noir and 1980s slasher films in this chilling, emotionally complex thriller. Residents of a seemingly idyllic seaside town are shaken when a brutal serial killer begins preying upon the populace, starting with a pair of girls who are found bludgeoned to death outside the high school. A teenager named Daniel seems morbidly excited that something so profoundly awful has happened in his hometown. He’s soon drawn into a tentative romance with a classmate, Pola, whose plan to make enough money selling drugs to escape her awful home life is threatened by the increased police presence and media furor created by the killer, who comes to be known as The Bloody Batter. Maillard’s greyscale pencil illustration emphasizes shadow and texture to convey his teenage cast’s fragility and a sense of impending doom that heightens to stark terror whenever the Bloody Batter appears.
VERDICT Maillard’s debut arrives in English having already won the 2022 Best Crime Graphic Novel award at the prestigious Angouleme International Comics Festival. A skillfully crafted, uncommonly insightful, and genuinely disturbing horror story.
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