This week I’m reviewing the award winning and recently re-released black and white comic from Titan, Springheeled Jack, by David Hitchcock. The comic originally came out in 2006 and was also released in Judge Dredd magazine.
David Hitchcock both writes and illustrates this book and the first thing you may notice is it’s sketch-like lay out. This black and white approach lends to a beautiful victorian atmosphere that probably contributed heavily to it winning the Eagle Award for Best Black-and-White Brittish Comic.
The story centers around the character Springheeled Jack, a demon like creature who was often associated with a flashing light and the ability to leap over buildings as it terrorized the streets of London in the mid to late 1800’s.
The twist Hitchcock lends to this tale is out of this world. Litterally, it starts with a pondering of beings from the ether (that’s what they called space back then). It then goes into the protagonist, Sir Jack Rackham, and his obsession with tracking down the elusive and mysterious Spingheeled Jack. The creature haunts Sir Jack. Jack was the lone survivor in an attack where his love was abducted.
It’s a well paced and very gothic or steampunk black and white tale remnescent of Penny Dreafuls of the same era. The shadows in the artwork mirror the lingering mists of the tale and comes across very rich.
The thing about this story that sets it out amongst the rest, is the art. The art in this tale is absolutely breathtaking. While the story was well thought out and a very interesting approach to a tale that we may have already been loosely familiar with (as familiar as we are with the loch ness monster or Jack the Ripper I suppose), at times I found it a little slow. It is obviously a period piece and that may be the reasoning behind it’s measured strides. The art though, no matter what, brilliant. The amazing black-and-white with it’s deep cross-hatch shading and the fine details on every panel are inspiring.
If you didn’t catch it the first time around I recommend checking it out from Titan Comics.