Written by: Steve Niles
Art by: Alison Sampson
Colour art: Stephane Patreau
Lettering by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover by: Alison Sampson
Published by: Image Comics
I’ve liked horror auteur Steve Niles’ work for a long time. He gave us truly terrifying, predatory vampires at a time that they started to sparkle. What’s not to like?
With this series, Niles and artist Alison Sampson and colour artist Stephane Patreau tackles two classic horror tropes- satanic cults and creepy carnivals. After a horrifying prelude that involves demonic ceremonies and blood-stained resurrections, we meet our heroes, Dan, Christie and Bobby- a family taking their Winnebago across the country. They decide to take a break at a roadside carnival, which leads to their camper getting stolen, along with their phones. It’s clear that things are about to go very very bad for them, and exactly how bad is exactly the point of the story.
Niles goes for a classic horror movie set-up here. It really feels like a movie on the page, in the best way. Sometimes stories like this feel a bit more like a movie pitch disguised as a comics, but that isn’t the feel Niles is going for. The opening is of such a huge grotesque scale, that I don’t think it could be put on film. But it feels like it’d make a great movie, if that makes sense.
Another great thing Niles does is build the suspense. The horrifying set-up, the creepy carnival, the stillness as the family hikes into town all give the story a chilling introduction. The only complaint I can think of is that the issue’s end is rather abrupt.
Sampson’s work really helps the feel that Niles is going for in his script. Her style feels just photo referenced enough to feel very real, but it adds a sketchy line not unlike comics legend Bill Sienkiewicz. It makes the characters feel real, but truly unsettling. Patreau’s colours are amazing too, adding a painted palate to the unsettling scene we’re walking into.
All together, this book feels like a grindhouse movie with a massive budget, while also doing some great things that really have fun with the comics format. It’s a great book that needs to be picked up.
Overall: 8.5 out of 10