Lets be very clear about something up front, I love Joe R. Lansdale. I love his books, I love his short stories, I love the movies that have been made from his source material. Ever since Hap Collins and Leonard Pine “Rumble Tumbled” their way into my heart, I have actively sought out his books. I consider him one of the best genre writers of our generation. He essentially does for westerns and horror what Robert E. Howard did for the sword and sorcery genre, he adds something new while not changing it so drastically that you no longer recognize it.
Specifically though Lansdale does something amazing when he combines the two genres. The horror western is always fun for me (having grown up on Kit Colt and Swamp Thing), and when executed correctly can be just balls to the wall entertainment and joy. Obviously with the first issue of any book it is hard to tell if it is going to be the best thing ever or totally horrible, but I’m going to make the argument for, “This is Going to be Awesome.”
Lets start with the format, I love my horror comics in black and white. There is a feel to the black and white format with comics that gives me the sense that I’m entering into a world populated by the Universal Monsters, Vincent Price and Rod Serling. There is a dark foreboding that haunts in the darkened corners of the pages. The black of night is sold thick black which brings stark contrast to the terrified whites of the character’s eyes.
In the capable hands of Brian Denham the story comes alive in a line heavy style. The detail is amazing, the texture of the wood, the lines on the faces, each page brilliantly displays the ruin and rot of the sagging town of Wood Tick, and with four pages of silence we watch as the icon horseback preacher rides into town, a town that within another page has revealed its dark side to that preacher. A man in stocks, a whore, the offer of horse meat for lunch, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. It would seem that the young man (Norville) in stocks has been put there by an over zealous sheriff that thinks he is crazy. Norville has a story to tell about love and releasing some kind of creature from an old abandoned well. With the story the Preacher gets the young man out of the stocks and on his way towards whatever has been released.
It is a promising start as far as a series goes, and I can’t wait until the next issue comes out. This is exactly the kind of thing that I expect from Lansdale. This isn’t his first foray into the comic genre either. With some adaptations of his short stories in By Bizarre Hands, and a four part series of The Dunwich Horror (both of which I’m working on putting together full sets of), I’m loving Lansdale’s work in the comics just as much as I love his novels.
There is an x-factor here that I haven’t mentioned yet. Keith Lansdale is credited as one of the writers, I know that Joe and Keith have worked together on several other projects, but I don’t know the full capacity of Keith’s work. I’ve been looking for some interviews with him, or about their working relationship, but I’m coming up with nothing. I think it is time to dig in and come up with some more information on Keith.
This series excites me. The first issue is a great introduction to the Preacher and the story, and I can’t wait for more.