White Trash

White Trash
Alternative editions:
White Trash Graphic Novel review
Alternative editions:
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Titan Books - 9781781168219
  • Release date: 1993
  • UPC: 9781781168219
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Never has the Public Enemy line about “Elvis he’s a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me” been as scabrously realised as in Gordon Rennie and Martin Emond’s White Trash.

Dean is hitching a ride in the back end of the back end of nowhere when a pink cadillac with bison horn trimmings pulls up. This fine piece of pimped vehicular excess is driven by a greaser who refers to himself as ‘The King’, black Harley t-shirt barely covering a pot belly and jeans so tight they ensure his lineage will extend no further. The King is never identified as an Elvis Presley who somehow survived his globally publicised death in 1977, as after all there’s an estate extremely protective of his image, but if you want to believe that it’s your goddamn right as a free-thinking American, and there are a surfeit of hints encouraging you in that direction.

Rennie also ties in plenty of other aspects from the American underbelly, his caricature of the King representing every good ol’ country-lovin’ patriotic redneck with a worldview that doesn’t extend beyond the ‘You are now leaving Trumpsville’ sign on the edge of town. The King’s had enough of every pinko media faggot getting their say, and the time has come to head to Vegas for his comeback. After a stop off in Disgraceland, that is. As he heads North, the King picks up enough enemies to invade Eye-Raq.

Emond’s art is an unrestrained Bisleyesque exaggeration of explosive excess. He relishes the gratuitously offensive content, and defines it in apocalyptic fashion, delighting in adding the odd stray limb after a grenade attack or those extra bulging blood vessels on the steroid-infused militia men. His Dean is pencil thin wannabe, a geek in Axl’s clothing, and his King a preening narcissist, a perpetual lip curl away from dispensing a shitkicking. As designs they’re a woefully mismatched pair, but they serve the greater purpose of enabling Emond’s painted cartoon stylings.

Yes, there’s more than an element of the one note joke as the King and Dean rampage from South to North, but White Trash never strays beyond its defined limitations. There’s no hint of a duet with Bing Crosby or a five minute drum solo, just rock’n’roll mayhem. It’s a scattershot dissection via blunted chainsaw of what remains the worst of American attitudes and culture, and it’s still very, very funny.

A tip of the Magnum to Titan for getting this back into print.