"Winnebago Graveyard" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Alison Sampson
Colored by Stephane Paitreau and Eiko Takayama
2017, 128 Pages
Trade paperback released on November 22nd, 2017
When a road trip goes horribly wrong, a family finds themselves stranded in a small town and hunted by cultists. These innocent, everyday people are fleeing for their lives. If they don't escape, they'll end up as part of a strange and dark ritual. Something tells me this won't make it into the scrapbook.
Dan, Christie, and young Bobby are stranded in the middle of America. They could be in any rural Podunk town. This quality is what makes Winnebago Graveyard so unsettling. You've probably driven through a place just like this and didn't think twice. Now imagine being stranded there with no car and no way of contacting the outside world...then you see the torches, and no, it's not a white supremacist rally.
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There's a tangible feeling of dread permeating through the entire comic. You know from the start that these characters are about to go through something horrible. If they make it out alive, they'll be thinking back on the creepy sideshow carnival they stopped at fondly in hindsight compared to the terror they witnessed.
And terror it is because, holy crap, is this some creepy stuff. Artist Alison Sampson makes normal, everyday people come across as disturbing monsters. In her hands, something as simple as a quick glance turns into a frightening stare. There's a ticket attendant at the carnival that's like something right out of Freaks. The townspeople are the kind that you would cross the street to avoid.
Sampson plays with perspective a lot in Winnebago Graveyard, creating a disorienting experience. This heightens the tension, particularly when the family is on the run. Are the cultists right behind them? Or further back? The panels seem to twist and swirl together as the action gets going.
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Colors from Stephane Paitreau and Eiko Takayama solidify the foreboding tone of Winnebago Graveyard. This is especially true with the cultists and their torches, casting an eerie light on everything they come across. Reds and oranges really pop off the page, which works wonders when the blood starts flowing.
My only real qualm with this book is that some of the plot points are a little too convenient. There's one sequence where the family hides under a handful of mailboxes to escape the cultists. They're out there in the open, but somehow the bad guys walk right by them. The ending feels a little rushed too, like all of the plot points are thrown together very quickly to wrap everything up.
Winnebago Graveyard is small town terror done very well. It hearkens back to classic horror movies set in desolate areas with little to no hope of reaching the outside world. There's a chilling feeling of isolation that sets in that quickly turns to spine-tingling scares when human sacrifice is involved.