"Feeding Ground" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Archaia Entertainment
Written by Swifty Lang
Illustrated by Michael Lapinski
2011, 184 Pages
Graphic Novel released on October 11th, 2011
The story of the werewolf is one that has been run into the ground for the most part. Guy gets bit. He turns into a wolf man during a full moon and then gets shot by a silver bullet. The scary part isn't necessarily the fact that the man turns into a horrific monster; it's the fact that he has no control over his own body. Once you've done this story a few times, what else is there to say? Fortunately, Swifty Lang has come up with a unique twist on the lycanthrope tale with Feeding Ground.
Set on the Devil's Highway, the stretch of desert that's used to sneak into the US from Mexico, Feeding Ground centers around a family struggling to make ends meet. The father, Diego, works as a coyote, transporting people across the border to the states. He's encountered werewolves during these treks before and realizes how dangerous they are. Meanwhile, back home his daughter Flaca is bitten and starts to transform into one of these beasts. As it turns out, Blackwell, the businessman responsible for the poverty in Diego's town, is a werewolf himself, keeping others nearby as a pack. When he senses Flaca, he'll stop at nothing to make her part of his group as no woman has ever survived the process.
Michael Lapinski's art has a washed out look to it, almost as if you found this comic on the side of the road, aged and weathered. I say that as a compliment as the story makes references to the rising temperature with each change in setting, so it fits. Those sun-dried colors help cement the desperation that this family is going through. The characters and werewolves are well defined, but the art direction is superb. The covers of each issue are top notch and I could see them easily used as posters. They have an iconic look to them.
I don't usually say much, if anything, about the lettering in comics, but the sound effects in Feeding Ground are great. I don't know if Lapinski handled them or letterer Chris Mangun did, but they really jump out at you, more so than your average comic. They help move the story along. For example, one of the opening scenes has Flaca looking in the refrigerator for food and finding none. She hears a dog outside with an "AROO!" sound. It practically pulls her toward it, pointing her towards the creature that will eventually turn her into a werewolf. Similarly, when Flaca screams for her mother, the scream carries on to a second page, making a good segway into the next part of the story.
Feeding Ground breathes new life into the tired, old werewolf genre. It was released both in English and in Spanish too, which is a smart move by Archaia considering all of the main characters are Hispanic. I would have liked to see more of the story, such as the further origins of Blackwell and his pack, but as it stands, it's still a great story with some fantastic art.
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