Winnebago Graveyard #1
Curling up in a pile of blankets, regretting the horror movie you just watched, jumping at every noise in the darkness. Heading to bed, cringing at the dark hallway, dreading your nightmares. Welcome to your first reading of Winnebago Graveyard #1.
There are few comics that deliver the level of horror we are accustomed to in film. The media is more difficult to maneuver, and cheap jump scares can’t be relied upon when panels stay still. Turning pages don’t hold much momentum. However, this book transcends the medium and delivers a level of horror that is unexpected, though very welcome to fans of mind-bending terror and gore. Niles and Sampson have already made frightening, beautiful magic in this first issue. With three issues to follow in this mini-series from Image Comics, this is bound to be a summer that haunts your dreams.
Christie, Dan, and Bobby set off on a family vacation— a road trip in an old Winnebago, not an unusual Summer trip for a family. As the trip progresses, it is obvious that this adventure is much more sinister than anyone could have expected.
Niles is a man of few words, a style which lends itself very well to the haunting, subtle nature of this book. From the opening scene of satanic ritual to interactions between mother and son, Niles captures the nuances of horror that build suspense throughout this first issue. The buildup is so well-encrypted that you are terrified before you realize it, and without knowing quite why. To craft the sneaking, hair-raising feeling into a comic book is a beautiful talent. This book is haunting and intense. This is not a road trip you will want to miss, but come dark you may wish you had never joined this adventure at all.
In the backup letters, Niles says that he was struck by Alison Sampson’s art and that her style transformed the course of the book. I can’t blame him for feeling this way. This book was made for Sampson’s art; without it, the book would not have the same magic that makes it so memorable. Sampson’s art is extremely detailed and incredibly nuanced. The horror and gore is just as spectacularly beautiful as the wide landscapes, disturbing freak show scenes, and the family road trip vignettes. Her perspective changes from panel to panel and creates a level of movement and dynamic to the page that is so difficult to capture in print. Her characters escape the panels, lending an air of realism that brings the script to life. The fantastic balance between close-up perspectives and wide, scene-setting shots read like movie stills with a crew of cameras, and the dynamic movement brings the reader right into the horror of each scene.
Stephane Paisseau is the color artist for the series, and hi style shines in hie first series form Image. The deep, sunset color palette is somehow perfectly suited to the entire book, creating a thread to follow as the color story develops in calm road trip scenes, creepy carnival sideshows, and gory rituals. The ethereal coloring in this book brings the story together and creates a mood of horror and intrigue.
The lettering is done by Aditya Bidikar, and adds another level to the feel of the book. When the lettering style changes tone, it sets the stage for what horrors are about to come. The balloon style is often bold, but everything is easy to follow and feels seamless, so you are never distracted from the flow of the plot. The style and organization of the lettering had to be perfect to complement Sampson’s art and not take away from the detailed panels, and Bidikar nailed it in this first issue.
What we have in Winnebago Graveyard is unexpected and innovative. There have been horror comics, yes, and successful ones at that (just ask Steve Niles, his horror is legendary). Winnebago Graveyard #1 introduces something special. The fine line between nostalgic, familiar Americana and creepy, subtle horror is not often, nor easily, explored. Sampson and Niles have a winner on their hands.
It is both disappointing and exciting that there are only four issues to this series. Disappointing in that I know I will be left wanting more of the terrifying, beautiful book, but exciting in that I know there will be nothing but spooky goodness and unsettling horror packed into every panel of this series. If you are a fan of horror, Americana, feeling vastly unsettled, or just a good story, please read this series.
Don’t skip the backmatter! An impressive essay by Sarah Horrocks awaits, as well as beautiful guest art by Jen Bartel. Every page of this book, from Jordie Bellaire on cover colors to the guest letters in the back, add to the creation of this mind-altering series.
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