Winnebago Graveyard

Steve Niles, script; Alison Sampson, art & design; Stephane Paitreau, color art; Aditya Bidikar, letters

Image Comics, 2017

Horror master Steve Niles created this four-issue miniseries with artist Alison Sampson. It's a classic road trip story: family pulls into a small town with a mysterious, horrible secret and has to battle their way out. The story opens at night by firelight. A large group of Satanists are performing a ritual human sacrifice to resurrect their leader. The guy literally erupts from the sacrifice's chest, so these worshipers aren't delusional: their necromancy actually works.

Scene shift to our family road trip. Things are tense, but they decide to attend a roadside carnival together. At nightfall they discover their Winnebago has been stolen, and they must walk into town to get help. The town looks deserted--including the police station. A deputy walks up and says he'll file a report, and directs them to the motel. They've barely settled in when they notice black robed figures with torches gathering outside (they look like the same bunch seen in the first issue). And the dash for escape begins.

Things are a bit predictable from here. But there is one interesting complication: the cult members summon a demon to find the family in the dark. The family meets a young ally named Deacon who offers to help them escape. The first place he takes them on the way out of town is the titular graveyard. It's a massive collection of RVs: apparently the town has been sacrificing tourists to bring evil things up from Hell for as long as anyone can remember.

The family's escape plan involves blowing up the whole collection of Winnebagos and wearing the demon's skin to infiltrate the Satanists. In the end the town burns, and two of the family escape: the usual bittersweet ending. At least it's not so dark that everyone dies. The story is ultimately too cliched to recommend, although it is very effective visually. The coloring is downright lurid, in a way that completely suits the story.

The end matter is especially extensive. There are character designs, sketches, pinups, and a number of essays about the horror genre, including four exploring Satanism in the real world (presumably one in each of the original monthly issues).

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I enjoyed this series in a very weird way. It was fascinating, and you really are drawn into these characters. It's horrifying in a way that, IMHO, works so much better in comics than in movies.

I think you liked it more than I did, Sensei. But I do think the story is far less cliched as a comic than it would have been as a movie. The theme hasn't been done to death in comics, and the visuals are stylized in a way that most movies are not.

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