Let’s be honest, you’ve already judged this book by its cover. I’m not going to lie, I did the same thing. After all, it has clowns on the cover and they’re all creepy looking. The thing is, I took chance on it and I wanted to review it so that others might do the same. Please do not judge Clown Town by its cover… unless you’re into cover in which case we’re off to a good start. What I will say about this story is that it’s very serious. Even though clowns are the subject matter, it deals with a lot of real world every day terrors. If anything, the scary clowns are there to soften the blow of reality.
We begin by following Chelsea. She’s a young tomboyish girl that’s on her way to meet her friend Melvin. They live in the country and so the woods are their playground. When she finds him at their small fort, Melvin looks like he’s had the shit kicked out of him. Through their conversation we discover that Melvin’s father is very abusive. Chelsea is a great friend and actually encourages Melvin to go to the sheriff to report it. He makes all the typical excuses of someone that’s abused and begs Chelsea just play games with him instead. Around this time they hear a car and decide to check it out considering how rural the area is. The car resembles a clown and Melvin gets super excited by this because he’s going to the circus later. He’s even more excited when a clown named Stinkbomb appears from behind.
Chelsea is put off by the stinky clown, but Melvin is laughing and enjoying himself. Stinkbomb makes a balloon dog for Melvin that runs off towards his home. Stinkbomb follows him and Chelsea reluctantly follows behind the both of them out of concern for Melvin.
Back at Melvin’s house we find his abusive father gearing up to go a few rounds with his wife which really solidifies how much this guy sucks. That is until the clown car arrives at his front door. Out steps a clown named Stitches who has his mouth and right eye sown shut. Melvin’s dad is quick to act tough, but soon discovers that Stitches isn’t alone when a clown name Stumpy puts a knife to his wife’s throat. I’m not going to spoil the entire scene, but the end result is the clowns taking Melvin with them and Chelsea is left as the only witness. From there she must convince adults that Melvin has been taken and that it was the clowns that did it.
As evil as the clowns seem, they’re actually more anti-hero than villain. They don’t hurt Chelsea because she’s a good person, but later they go after a group home for pedophiles. From that group only one man makes it out alive and for the most of the story we’re left to decide whether or not we believe his innocence or not. Personally, I did not, but there were visual cues that factored into that until the final gauntlet came down.
The clowns were actually very well done. They don’t talk, but they each have clownish noises and misspoken words that they say. It actually gives them a lot of personality and gives the reader a sense of their personality without any real dialog. The story does get a bit crazy when the police get involved and other supporting characters join in. Other than Chelsea’s character there’s no one else you’ll really find yourself rooting for. There are some “good” clowns who are just normal people, but they didn’t really do a lot for the story itself. They’re really just there to safety net the ending. I think the narrative would have been stronger had Chelsea and one other character been forced to go through the events of Clown Town on their own, but it does work even if it’s a bit disconnected and clustered at times.
The art is definitely a strong contributor to the story. I was very impressed by the amount of details that each page had and the fact the speechless clowns had so much personality. There’s some gore to the book, but I don’t think that it was that heavy or even the focal point of the art. What parts there are, are pretty damn cool though. Some of the clown’s kills are very clever as they tie into their gimmick. The art is very consistent and maintains the creepiness of the story and yet still manages to friendly and inviting. The color is also very strong and helps with the visuals a lot. Also the creepy ass clown’s grow on you towards the end.
Now don’t get me wrong, this book still isn’t going to be for every comic reader, but I do think you’ll be surprised by it if you check it out. I had the benefit of a review copy and I’m glad I did because I would have likely passed right over this book. I thought it was going to be goofy and ridiculous, but instead it was an anti-hero team book starring clowns. It was hard for me to root against them considering how many sick bastards they killed, but that’s the way it is. The easiest way to get the book is digitally as it’s available through Comixology’s Submit, but also through Amazon’s digital store as well. Seriously if you dig horror and you don’t have an irrational fear of clowns then check this series out.
Writer: Kevin LaPorte
Artist: Amanda Rachels
Publisher: Inverse Press