Writer: Brian Buccellato
Artist: Hayden Sherman
WHAT IS IT?
One normal man's life is turned upside-down when he accidentally becomes involved with Russian mobsters.
Recipe: A big spoonful of We Still Kill the Old Way mixed with just a dash of Heathers.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Mitch is a family man and restaurant owner whose life is ripped apart when he unwittingly becomes involved in his business partner’s dealings with Russian mobsters. After an accidental but violent run-in with one of the gangsters, it’s a case of fight or flight. With nothing left to lose, Mitch goes on a rampage of revenge, but being suddenly swept into a life of crime without the relevant skills presents a multitude of problems.
Overcoming each new disastrous hurdle through a combination of luck, and eventually bloodlust, Mitch realizes too late that a one-man war with an entire gang isn’t something that he can just walk away from.
The things that happen to Mitch are horribly tragic, and this could easily have become a gritty and morose story. The humor in Brian Buccellato’s dialogue and each new situation keeps the tone fairly dark, but highly amusing.
The artwork by Hayden Sherman is rough, scratchy and in most panels besides close-ups, not heavy on intricate details. The resulting style works so well with the fast, loose, and coarse feel of the story being told.
Hayden Sherman not only drew this series, but colored it as well. The color choices are a tad unusual and contribute to that rough, grimy feel, giving so much texture to the art.
The shading is particularly tactile, rather than blending the colors gently, it gives the impression of being added on over the top of the base color, like layered paint.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s font choices for the lettering are unusual and interesting, leading to a more engaging reading experience than you would get from most comics.
The layouts and paneling in this book are wild and play with dividing the page in all manner of interesting ways.
Mitch’s evolution from in-over-his-head, bewildered every-man to trash-talking cold-blooded killer is extreme and rapid, but justified.
The pace of the story is just perfect. There’s no fat on this book at all, even the chicken restaurant stays oddly relevant to the overall story.
The ending serves as a twist ending, another comical misunderstanding, a cliffhanger and a setup for the next arc all at once.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content warning: There are some depictions of graphic violence in this book which might not be for everyone.
It's incredibly nitpicky and doesn’t detract at all from the fun of the book, but in panels in which we see characters from a distance, the faces become extremely simplified.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Chicken Devil is so much fun. It manages to take a story of tragedy, revenge, and gang violence, and somehow synthesize a genuinely funny book from them. Yes, it’s violent and yes, a lot of terrible things do happen, but the presentation and handling of those elements keep everything exciting and amusing.
Throughout his ordeal, Mitch remains likable and relatable, his motivations understandable and justifiable. Rather than immediately seeking revenge, gun in hand, he lucks his way through several encounters with the mob before coming to the realization that his only option is to fight back. His adversaries, however, are hounding him from the get-go, always giving the impression of being the “real” bad guys, which keeps Mitch from becoming a villain in the eyes of the reader. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but one that Chicken Devil manages to navigate gracefully.
There’s so much to like here. The pairing of art, colors and experimental paneling is stunning to look at, and a breath of fresh air for anyone looking for something truly visually engaging. Those seeking a gritty crime drama will find it here, but one that’s off-beat and quirky enough to stand out in the genre, while the blend of dark comedy and visceral bloodshed could easily appeal to fans of Kick-ass and The Boys.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Sons of the Devil by Brian Buccellato and Toni Infante
100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
Black Bat by Brian Buccellato
If you like the art:
Wasted Space by Micheal Moreci
Thumbs By Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman
Mazebook by Jeff Lemire
ABOUT THE CREATORS:
Brian Buccellato (@BrianBooch) – Writer
Polymath - Writer, artist, colorist and inker.
Based in L.A.
Hayden Sherman (@cleanlined) – Artist/Colorist
Has had work published with most major labels
Worked on Thumbs, which has a live action series in the works.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (@hassanoe) – Letterer
Based in the U.K.
Also a filmmaker
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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