Review: Winnebago Graveyard #1

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
June 15th, 2017

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: Winnebago Graveyard #1
Comics
0
Price:
Old School Horror

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On June 15, 2017
Last modified:June 15, 2017

Summary:

Steve Niles' Winnebago Graveyard is an ode to classic horror stories and a full to the brim with Cabin In The Woods still pastiche. The art and narrative will keep you engaged from page one.

Price:
Old School Horror

Reviewed by:
Rating:

5
On June 15, 2017
Last modified:June 15, 2017

Summary:

Steve Niles' Winnebago Graveyard is an ode to classic horror stories and a full to the brim with Cabin In The Woods still pastiche. The art and narrative will keep you engaged from page one.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Pagan rituals, late night slaughters and journeys through the wilderness for unsuspecting holiday makers; this is the meat of Image Comics’ new horror title Winnebago Graveyard. It’s a case of something new paying homage to something old as our contributor, Darryll Robson, enters the dark world created by Steve Niles.

Review: Winnebago Graveyard #1

The horror genre goes through waves of popularity, sometimes in fashion, sometimes not. It’s always there in the background, feeding into popular culture but occasionally it has its place in the limelight.  The last few years have seen a surge of comics play within the horror genre and some of the biggest names working today have have delved into the gore.

Last week saw Boom Studios put out a new, psychological horror entitled The Unsound by Cullen Bunn (and it is worth checking out if you can) and this week Image have two offerings. Kill The Minotaur is a retelling of the ancient legend of the Minotaur, obviously, and features some gruesome schlock moments in an entertaining but unsurprising story. However, it is Winnebago Graveyard, by master of horror Steve Niles, that is truly captivating and disturbing in equal measure.

Synopsis

In a seedy hotel on the outskirts of the small town of Acton, a hoard of robe wearing, flaming torch wielding, occultists drag a couple into the night. The semi-naked lovers are driven to an isolated spot where they are involved in a demonic spawning fuelled by violence and death. It’s a pure Hammer Horror of an opening.

Story continues below

Later: A Winnebago carries a young family through the wilderness on their vacation. The boy Bobby and step dad, Dan almost come to blows but the promise of a road side carnival heals all wounds. Unfortunately for the family, while they entertain themselves on the shoddy rides and amusements their holiday plans suffer a setback.

Stranded and with no help from the suddenly standoffish carnival folk, Christie, Dan and Bobby find themselves entering a very unwelcoming town.

Analysis

One of the beauty of horror stories are the twists and turns that lead people into the most unbelievable of situations. Many of the classic horror movies try to create reasons why a group of teenagers would be staying in a cabin in the woods or sleeping in a disused house. Almost all slasher style set ups are now clichés at best. Steve Niles knows this and this first issue of Winnebago Graveyard is his tribute to these groan worthy introductions.

After the initial video nasty opening, which could easily be from an early 80’s band movie, Niles toys with the reader by piling up the horror movie clichés like a barrel of red herrings. Long and empty dusty road, check. Freaky side show, check. Mysterious pickup truck, check. There is even an old wooden panelled house just screaming ‘Haunted’ out of the page. Niles weaves his disjointed family through the hazards like a trickster waiting to pounce. In some respects, it’s like the sequence in Cabin in The Woods where each member of the cast interacts with some supernatural object ready to unleash hell. Here, Niles pushes the family through a selection of eerie, horror story set ups.

Eventually they end up at the unwelcoming town which is great news for Steve Niles fan’s because everyone knows he has history of producing wonderful work based on people trapped in horrific townscapes; I am of course referring to 30 Days of Night.

The crazy clan od robed Satanists (possibly) are introduced at the beginning to set the tone, and it is horrific, and then the victims are led brilliantly into the jaws of death. It is text book stuff but with a huge tongue in its cheek. The positioning of the bloodletting at the beginning makes the reader uneasy enough not to laugh out loud at the later narrative even though it is very comical. Again, this pays homage to classic horror stories. Where would The Evil Dead be without the dark humour running beneath it? Even the original Dracula had elements of comedy and comedic characters.

However horrifying the narrative is the art work by Alison Sampson and color by Stephane Paitreau is so wonderfully suited to this story, and the horror gene in general, that it makes the reading experience complete. Visually it has a feel of the old Tales from the Crypt comics from the 1930’s but on a much grander scale. There is a graininess to it, a roughness to the lines and shapes that make even the mundane seem out of the ordinary. As with the story, nothing that Sampson illustrates makes the reader comfortable. There is danger everywhere something that is reflected even in the shapes of the clouds: one double page spread has a scene overlooked by a hippo, a snake and a crocodile, all rendered in cloud formations.

The characters are drawn with emotional precision, for example the fear of the first, helpless couple radiates from their faces as they are dragged towards the sacrificial alter and then, the cold dead eyes of the woman stare absentmindedly off the page when she is finally released from the horror.

Story continues below

Sampson scratches the horror onto the pages and then Paitreau soaks it in violent colours, sometimes hot blooded and sometimes cold and empty. Into the centre of all of this Sampson gives the victims, I mean family, a down to Earth, normal look. The boy is a bit awkward, the step-dad is a touch sly, and the mother is feeling the weight of the world. All of this comes out through the art work. The reader barely needs the script to tell us who these people are, it’s all there in the way the look, in the way they interact. This creates a much needed empathy towards them as they enter the horrific world. Within a few pages you are routing for them and fear for what is to come.

And we’ve all read enough horror to know nothing good will come in that dark and empty town-scape. Especially with Steve Niles at the helm.

Winnebago Graveyard is a triumphant opening to a horror series and so many elements have been introduced or hinted at that it’s not obvious where the story will take the reader next; which is exactly what you want from your horror.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson

Winnebago Graveyard

  • 5

Old School Horror

Steve Niles' Winnebago Graveyard is an ode to classic horror stories and a full to the brim with Cabin In The Woods still pastiche. The art and narrative will keep you engaged from page one.

(Visited 110 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Yes No