"Redneck #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Lisandro Estherren
Colored by Dee Cunniffe
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 19th, 2017
Family, vampires, and barbeque mix together in Redneck, a new series from writer Donny Cates, artist Lisandro Esterren, and colorist Dee Cunniffe. The Bowmans have been living in this small town for ages, running a local barbeque restaurant. Unbeknownst to most of the populace, they’re vampires. They don’t feed on people though. Instead, they’re fine to live off cow’s blood. All of this is about to change though, and more than bovine blood is about to start flowing.
Cates sets the stage for Redneck with family at its core. He spends time introducing you to the Bowmans, mainly through Bartlett. If you didn’t know they were vampires, you’d think they were your average Southern family. The child is rambunctious. The teenagers are rebellious. They share a different bond than blood. Or rather, their blood is shared differently.
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It’s this due diligence with character development that gives Redneck weight. You become so invested with these characters so quickly that when they’re put into a dire situation, you tense up, hoping they’ll come out alright. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if they all just lived peacefully. This issue builds to a final few pages that’s equal parts heartbreaking and terrifying.
Much of this care comes through in Esterren’s designs for the characters. Despite the fact they’re all vampires, there’s an innocence to the Bowmans. Bartlett is like your dumb uncle. At the end of the day, he just wants to have a good time, relax, and drink a few beers…or in his case, some cow blood. The patriarch of the family, JV, is similar, with his big cowboy hat and mustache.
The majority of the issue features incredible detail work. Coupled with Cunniffe’s colors, they convey a dark tone with the warm Southern heat baking off the pages, even during the night. There are a handful of panels where a character’s features are far less detailed, sometimes looking cartoonish. They’re just a little off. It’s not enough to take you out of the book entirely though.
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The solitary daytime scene uses shadows very well. Being that vampires don’t particularly care for sunlight, they lurk within the shade of anything nearby. This casts an ominous darkness over them, which amplifies the tension of the final pages.
Redneck creates a tangible emotional response to a family that feeds on blood. The characters are real and relatable, making you almost forget the monsters they could be. We spent time with them, seeing them on an average day. It just so happens that this day could be their last, as events escalate considerably. It’s a good thing they run a barbeque joint because something tells me they’re going to need a lot of wet naps.