Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber's Whiteout

posted May 2, 2003 by Jer


At the top of the world, it is said there are 17 words for the color "white." At the bottom of the world, there are none. It is in this desolate environment that a U.S. Marshal and a British Intelligence Agent must figure out why a crew of arctic scientists is being killed off. This is Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber's Whiteout.

When Greg Rucka wrote the script for a murder mystery in Antarctica, he knew that the art would make or break the project. The artist must be able to depict the monotonous cold of the south pole. The characters needed to be realistic. The settings needed to be well researched. "Most importantly," said Rucka, "we need an artist who can draw women. Not Bad Girls, not Pin-Ups, not Top-Heavy Genetic Aberrations, but women." Enter Steve Lieber. Lieber's mastership of ink makes Rucka's story read like an action movie. When something exciting happens in Whiteout, your heart is racing; when something horrible happens, you cringe.

The characters in Whiteout are brought to life in a way only the comic medium can. The story is told by two narrators, Carrie Stetko and Lily Sharpe. When Carrie is narrating, you are reading clean, printed words, as if her voice is the only rationality in this irrational world. In contrast, Lily Sharpe's narration is depicted as handwritten script, painting her as an observer taking notes in an alien environment. There are scenes where the two narrators are looking at the same event from two distant angles, and there are absolutely ingenious scenes where the two characters' inner monologues are actually arguing with each other. Rucka and Lieber are masters of character development through typography.

Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber's Whiteout was published in 1999 by Oni Press. was nice enough to post a sample of the collected story here. The pair later went on to write a sequel called "Whiteout: Melt." I'll be sure to let you all know if it's as good as the first. (Links are for reference only, We The People of Splurd don't get any money for posting them).