15th May2015

‘White Trash’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Gordon Rennie | Art by Martin Edmond | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardback, 128pp

WhiteTrash

White Trash was originally published way back in 1991 in Blast! Magazine, and you can probably guess the level of cult status it has by the fact that both Tundra and Heavy Metal have had a bash at publishing it also, before Titan Comics have come along and published this new 128 page collection.

White Trash was one of Gordon Rennie’s first ever published scripts, way before his successful time on 2000AD and Judge Dredd, and was the strip that launched Martin Emond. The art style and anarchic nature almost certainly got him his gigs on the Lobo comics he did at DC.

White Trash is a difficult comic to describe, but ‘anarchic’ is the one phrase that keeps springing to mind. You could either view it as wonderful, over-the-top humour, poking fun at the U.S (specifically the American South), racism, evangelical Christianity and pop culture, or an endless page count of offensive, pointless situations and characters that ultimately go nowhere and really have nothing to say. I probably fall somewhere in between those two opinions.

The plot, such as it is, sees us follow slacker Dean (basically 80′s Axl Rose) and former rock ‘n’roller The King (70′s Elvis) on a road trip in, of course, a pink Cadillac. The trip itself of course is just the hook, to let Rennie poke fun at a whole range of things he wants to satirise, and to do so in as extreme and over-the-top way as he possibly can. Extreme violence? check. Gratuitous sex? check. Offensive humour? check. I’ll certainly say this for Rennie, he lets the targets of his satire have it with both barrels.

Rennie’s biting satire though would not have quite the effect if it was not for the painted artwork of Emond. Again, way over the top but rendered in such beautiful detail you can’t help but like it. Emond can draw the beautiful and he can draw the ugly, but is so good at his craft, he can make the beautiful ugly and the ugly beautiful. We shouldn’t laugh at some of the hugely over-the-top violence he depicts, but we do. A lot. He is a very creative man.

Fun as it obviously is, I did find myself not enjoying it quite as much as I wanted to. What was perhaps groundbreaking in bringing almost a punk sensibility to comics back in 1991, now has a slightly stale air to it. We have seen this style of writing and art so often since (DC Comics’ Lobo character essentially monetized this style of story in the early/ mid 90′s) it does not have the same shock factor it once did. Also, after a while, it becomes a little wearing. 22 pages of this in a monthly comic book is perfectly fine, as we have a 30 day wait until the next installment, but 128 pages of unbridled mayhem slightly overwhelms the senses.

White Trash will always retain a cult status among a certain age group of fans, for its two fingers up at the late 1980′s/ early 1990′s conservative social climate, and it should always be applauded for that. I am just not sure if readers of today will get the same sense of anarchy and craziness Rennie intended when he wrote it. Titan Comics should be applauded for giving it a shot.

Sadly, the targets for the biting satire in White Trash (unthinking hero worship, vacuous pop culture, religious extremism to name a few) are even more in evidence now than then. Perhaps it is time for Gordon Rennie to write a sequel?

*** 3/5

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