Malevolence Review

malevolence cover

Written by: Hugo Boylan @Hugoboylan

Art by: John Quigley @johnquigley209

Colors by: Dearbhla Kelly @Dearbhlala

Lettering by: Kerrie Smith @pocketkerrie

Sean O’Connor has carried out a spate of child murders spanning decades in America. Detective Sykes, convinced of O’Connor’s guilt is powerless to convict him. Even with eyewitness reports, the bodies have never been found. Sykes snaps and decides to take the law into his own hands…

Malevolence is a creepy little triumph of a book.

Boylan’s  script is excellent. At no stage are we ever in doubt that O’Connor is guilty, yet the way the story is handled we feel nothing but empathy towards this obviously tortured soul.

Spanning across three decades the story manages to instill a real sense of time and place. Anti-Irish feelings ran high in the USA at this time period and Boylan conveys this through his sharp dialogue with authentic slurs and the clear dislike Sykes has for O’Connor.

Dearbhla Kelly’s colors here tell the story every bit as much as the art work or dialogue. The story is not depicted in a linear fashion, it jumps around, each decade has a colour code. This key unlocks depth that wasn’t outwardly apparent on first read and really accentuates the story. I’ve only seen this technique used once before to such note  – The fantastic Number Cruncher By Si Spurrier, PJ Holden & Jordie Belaire.  It’s superbly done in Malevolence, the colors and palette choices are subtle, nuanced and quite beautiful in places.


John Quigley’s light, scratchy style really suits the grittiness of the story. It reminds me of Jae Lee’s work on the Marvel Stephen King Dark Tower comics. Again as with the script it compliments the time period and details like vehicles, clothing, buildings are bang on.

This book has a surprising amount of violence. Now I’m not new to violence in comics but Quigley’s visuals have a real kinetic ,visceral quality to them and I found myself hours after reading the book thinking back to some of the scenes. Any artist who can achieve this is doing something right.


The cover is great, but it shouldn’t be… A cover should tell you exactly what to expect inside, draw you in. This does the polar opposite. Until the last few panels you have no idea what’s going on in the cover. THIS is what makes it great here. It’s fantastic. It flies in the face of conventional covers because it’s a reveal when you do get to that point in the story.

The lettering by Kerrie Smith is exactly what good lettering should be – unnoticeable. I mean that as a compliment. A lot of small press books fall at the lettering stage, sticking any old lettering in to scrimp on costs. Not so here. Smith does a stand up job. In particular the scenes featuring the fairies are excellently lettered.

Malevolence is a book that courts multiple readings. Every time you do read it you’ll find something new. It creeped the bejesus out of me and I’m not someone that’s generally easy to do to. I want more in the Malevolence world and my radar is now set to seek out other work from it’s creators.

Malevolence is available to buy @ Thoughtbubble Festival , 5th & 6th of November 2016

Malevolence Review
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