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Speak of the Devil Hardcover – October 28, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Originals (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595821937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595821935
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,635,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Recently, Hernandez has become as prolific as he is proficient. Besides maintaining his half of the Love and Rockets franchise, he has produced compelling original graphic novels, including Sloth (2006) and Chance in Hell (2007) as well as this book, which begins as a quirky tale about a devil-mask-wearing Peeping Tom terrorizing a bland suburban community and escalates into a grisly account of brutal serial murders. If high-school gymnast Val, her busty young cocktail-waitress stepmother, Linda, and moody classmate Paul aren’t as well-developed as we’ve come to expect Hernandez’s protagonists to be, they’re fascinating in their quiet perversity. It goes without saying that any effort by Hernandez, even a relatively minor one such as this, will be marked by deft visual storytelling and pictorial panache. If the suburban setting doesn’t provide the flamboyant vistas found in his Heartbreak Soup stories (Palomar, 2003), its B-movie milieu offers its own expressive opportunities. The worldview here may be dark and cynical, but its over-the-top violence and exorbitant body count suggest a cannily knowing, slightly tongue-in-cheek slasher film. --Gordon Flagg

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lieder on December 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book begins with Val, a high school gymnast, putting on a devil mask and looking into her own window at her stepmother as she undresses. This begins a series of events as Val and her stepmother both get off on the voyeur/exhibitionist relationship. The stepmother has sex with the father with the curtains open in hopes that the Peeping Tom will come back. Val wanders throughout the neighborhood looking in on neighbors and learning their secrets. In the first half of the book, the main plot point seems to revolve around when Val will get caught as she even needs to fake an ankle injury on the balance beams in order to cover up her real injury from looking in windows.

Then her friend Tom catches her and it turns him on to the point that he decides to take on her mask and do his own peeping. This quickly leads to a creepy triangle between TOm, Val and the stepmother (who works as a cocktail waitress) that brings out the knives. Then the book takes a very grisly turn as these three go from breaking privacy taboos to breaking even more rules and living outside the norms of society in every way possible.

These characters aren't fully fleshed out and that appears to be part of the narrative. After all, many murderers when caught can never explain themselves. The history of violence is full of exchanges like "why did you kill the family? THey were home." Truman Capote stresses how the killers in In Cold Blood had a very clear and logical set of reasons for killing the entire family if you ignore the basic immorality of murdering an entire family. These characters begin as creepy people who are devoting themselves to a hobby that many have indulged in (if not purposefully - but who hasn't passed an open window and taken a look in hopes of seeing people having sex inside?) to outright murderers. It has to remain a mystery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GraphicNovelReporter.com on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Gilbert Hernandez's Speak of the Devil is the kind of book that challenges its readers to understand it; it may even challenge its readers to actually enjoy it. I've never read anything by Hernandez (or his brother Jaime, with whom he produces Love and Rockets), so part of me wonders if my own lack of enjoyment may somehow relate to my lack of previous exposure to the creator. In the end, I found much to appreciate and interpret from this disturbing graphic novel, though it's difficult to recommend based on reading pleasure alone.

A brief summary without giving much away: There's a devil-masked peeping tom in town, who first appears by terrorizing gymnast-protagonist Val Castillo's busty stepmother. The twist (offered on the back cover): Val herself is the peeper. The ensuing story delves deeply and unabashedly into dark places of the human psyche; characters give in to lusts of eroticism and of violence, and more than a little blood spills in the process. By story's end, readers are left feeling vulnerable and a little unsatisfied. Personally, I tried finding a plot-motivated rationale for the story itself, but this may be missing the point. The book doesn't look to answer questions; rather, it revels in the simple raising of questions, forcing readers to examine their own feelings regarding social and societal taboos.

A literary theorist might see expressions of Mikhail Bakhtin's Carnivalesque concept at work; essentially, during carnival time in medieval Europe, repressed and oppressed peasants wore masks and costumes and were able to subvert the usual hierarchy of their society, and images of the grotesque (signifiers of the human body and its protrusions and biological quirks) were emphasized and glorified.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth D. Kellogg on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I my be a little biased but I like everything Gilbert does. Each new book is a night of reading well spent.
This tale was daring and of course crazy. Sometimes I have a moment where I think, this has got to be a dream sequence. And then I find out it isn't and the story moves on to new weirdness.
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By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A young girl gymnast takes to putting on a smiling devil mask during the night and spying on her father and step mother. Word spreads in the neighbourhood that there's a peeping tom prowling the streets after dark and soon the girl finds herself being chased one night, leading to an ankle injury and her ejection from a gymnastic championship. The boy she's seeing becomes enamoured with her stepmother and during an explosive encounter, the girl finds her boyfriend and stepmother together and then the story goes off into a darker direction.

It's an interesting story about contemporary society and the layers of otherness we clothe ourselves with, hiding our true selves. The drawing style is satirical too: Gilbert Hernandez's women are all shapely, big breasted, big hipped women, pin-ups of male fantasy while the excessive violence of the third act feels exploitative as well. Hernandez seems to be riffing on our fascination with the two things.

Well written and leaves you thinking about it long after you've put the book down, this is another successful book from Hernandez who has recently been on a creative run with other excellent books "Sloth" and "Chance in Hell". "Speak of the Devil" is at turns funny, disturbing, and ultimately thoughtful. A good read from one of the masters of the comic book genre.
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