White Trash by Gordon Rennie and Martin Emond graphic novel review

Gordon Rennie and Martin Emond rampage through the American Dream in White Trash

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Originally released by the UK branch of Tundra, the publishing arm of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ co-creator Kevin Eastman, in 1992, White Trash could probably be read as a parable for the flipside of the ‘British Invasion’ of US comics in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

Armed with unashamedly adult storytelling and idiosyncratically punk-rock art, White Trash rampages over a exploitation cinema-like version of the American dream courtesy of a thinly disguised sociopathic Elvis Presley and his sidekick, a man who might as well be self-aggrandising Guns N’Roses front-arse Axl Rose. It’s Hunter S Thompson by way of Tank Girl with a hint of Mad Max and Preacher, but it’s lacking in the substance and meaning that comes implicit with all of those things.

There’s plenty of room in the world for a dirty little romp through the Deep South, battling grotesquely misshapen rednecks, Vietnam veterans, cops and Klansmen in Wacky Races-style jalopies, but the sheer volume of homophobia goes well beyond the generous levels set aside for acceptable satire, while the women are perhaps better off not existing at all.

Writer Gordon Rennie (Missionary Man, Caballistics Inc) is better than this, while the late Martin Emond plays to his strengths as artist. A recognisable sight on Danzig album covers and Lobo strips (Elvis even growls “Izzat so!”) with his frantic Bisley-like savagery, he’s in his element, scratching out a storm of frenzied detail, all misshapen muscle, cartoon action and bared teeth.

Alas, like the braying of the crowd on TFI Friday and the gurning sound and fury of Ace Ventura, White Trash is just all too obviously a product of its era.