By Jonathan Edwards
Many years ago, my parents opted to buy an RV, and we went on a cross country trip across America. We actually all flew to Florida to buy the damn thing to drive all the way back to the West coast. We actually had that RV for an absurdly long time for only going on, I think, one other trip with it. And then, they sold it. I don't really know what the moral of that story is, but it's part of what made me want to check this book out. See, I was a skittish kid for a long time. So much so that I flat out refused to even watch horror films (although, some gradual encouragement in my teens eventually got me to break out of that). So during that RV trip, I was pretty frequently scared of someone or something "getting" us. Winnebago Graveyard is that fear turned comic book, or at least it endeavors to be. And when I saw Steve Niles's name attached on top of that, I knew I had to at least give it a try.
The issue opens with some good old-fashioned kidnapping and ritualistic sacrifice. It does a fairly good job of showing us where things are ultimately going to go, both in terms of story and gruesomeness, and it does create some intrigue around the exact nature of the cult of assailants. However, it does feel like it drags on for a bit too long. It's hard to put my finger on exactly why, but it seems like the whole sequence would land a lot better if dropped even just a page or two. Maybe it's the fact that there're two sacrifices when, really, the first one was all that was needed to drive the point home.
The rest of the issues sets up the characters we're going to actually be following, and to be honest, this is where the book started to lose me. It's not bad per se, but all we really end up learning about them is the particulars of their family situation. The kid is the only one that gets a specific characterization. However, "asshole adolescent" isn't the type of character that I'm all that interested in rooting for. It's another example of things feeling like they could be more condensed, and too much time and space is devoted to nothing in particular. Granted, it could seem innocuous now only to eventually be revealed as foreshadowing, but I'm not sure I'm hooked enough to want to come back and find out.
I'm not all that crazy about the art either. It worked pretty well in the first sequence, and the backgrounds are overall nice. But, the characters have this weird, constantly off-model sense about them. Sometimes it looks alright, while other times I was reminded of those botched tattoo depictions that make people's kids look like demons. That's mainly due to some sketchiness in the linework that feels a lot more amateur and accidental than I'm sure it was. Honestly, I'm more inclined to believe that's a matter of preference more than anything else (not dissimilar to the works of Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt, both of which work a lot better for me).
In the end, it's hard for me to call this book bad. I don't know if I'll come back for the next one, but I could easily someone enjoying it. As for recommending it, if you're a really big Steve Niles fan and/or the premise sounds particularly intriguing to you, I'd say maybe pick it up. Otherwise, I'd maybe look elsewhere to satisfy your horror fix.
Winnebago Graveyard #1
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Alison Sampson
Colorist: Stephane Paitreau
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics