"CWinnebago Graveyard #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Alison Sampson
Colored by Stephane Paitreau
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 14th, 2017
There is something undeniably American about a road trip. Cramming your family into an RV and driving across the country is a time-honored pastime in this country. It's also the beginning of so many horror movies. It's up there with a bunch of co-eds going into the woods. Winnebago Graveyard ups the ante by throwing in a creepy carnival. You just know that this family is screwed.
This is just part of the book. The first chunk is dedicated to a terrifying ritual involving human sacrifice. It hits the ground running with action and horror. You don't get a moment to breathe as these poor people are thrown on the chopping block by men in dark robes. Artist Alison Sampson delivers some absolutely brutal imagery. Blood and guts are flying every which way. A rip cage is torn open. Then something unexpected happens and it creates a number of questions. This is how you open up a story; right here.
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Stephane Paitreau's colors play nicely in these opening scenes. The light from the flaming torches casts eerie shadows over everything. It creates a haunting glow that makes the blood and gore pop on the page. This contrasts nicely with the stark daylight when we jump to the RV on the highway. Your eyes almost need a moment to adjust to the sunlight.
Writer Steve Niles goes on to introduce Dan, Christie, and her son, Bobby, in a very natural way. They come across as a perfectly normal family, looking for some bonding time on the open road. There's a moment where Dan insists that they all leave their phones in the RV for a little while so they can enjoy each other's company. If this weren't a horror comic, you'd think that would lead towards a great experience. Unfortunately, you know it's going to be a grave mistake.
This characterization makes the subsequent events all the more harrowing. These people could be someone you know or your next door neighbor. Hell, they could be you and your family. Now imagine the creepy carnival is the most normal part of your trip and things only get weirder and more unsettling as the day goes on. This relatability brings the scares in Winnebago Graveyard to a higher level.
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Sampson's designs for the carnival lure you into this false sense of security. By that I mean that you think this is the scariest thing the family is going to encounter. It's got to be, right? Look at that weird clown face and the strange man at the ticket counter. Obviously they're going to be eaten by the freak show stars or sewn into a human quilt or something, right? Think again! Something far more disturbing awaits this poor family.
Winnebago Graveyard feels like a modernized version of Stephen King's Desperation. There is something dark and wicked in this area and unsuspecting people walk unknowingly into it thinking it's an average American town. They only figure out there's something wrong when it's far too late. Maybe next time they'll just take a plane. Although, with the way some airlines are treating customers lately, it's probably just as scary to fly.