Winnebago Graveyard #1 (Image Comics)
Steve Niles has been making a name for himself as the "creepy comics creator” for quite a while now. As the creator of 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre, he’s pretty much one of the go to guys when you want a comic book to scare the crap out of you. After dealing with Vampires and other monsters, he’s turning his attention to Satanic Cults with Winnebago Graveyard, a comic that sounds goofy, but is anything but.
The main plot for this opening issue focuses on a family on a road trip that stops at a weird carnival in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve seen enough horror movies than you know what to expect next, but Steve Niles’ script does a fantastic job of really building tension and mood. This isn’t the bloody horror Niles that wrote 30 Days of Night, this is a Steve Niles that is really working to get under your skin and leave a lasting impression. There’s real sense of foreboding doom sitting just underneath the plot, and the fact that we know what’s coming only adds to the fear that we feel for this family.
Also adding to that fear is Allison Sampson’s art, which does wonders at creeping you out. Sampson is able to convey both truly unsettling images and really genuine family moments easily. Winnebago Graveyard is probably the only comic out that features both a human sacrifice and a step dad trying to reach his stepson, and Sampson is able to give both aspects of this story the care and attention that they need. Sampson also does a tremendous job of playing up the creep factor of the Carnival, especially when the sun goes down and the family’s Winnebago goes missing.
If there’s one thing about Winnebago Graveyard that’s a negative, it’s that it’s over way too soon. Just as I was really settling in to the creepiness of the story, it was over. But Niles and Sampson have really created something intriguing here. Growing up in a pretty secluded area of New Hampshire, I see a lot of similarities with Niles’ fear of abandoned places that are just off the main roads, and the tension in this opening issue alone guarantees I’ll be back for more.