Behind every Clarabelle the Clown, there’s a Pennywise lurking in the shadows. And, if Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT scared you, the clowns from Inverse Press’ new graphic novel collection, Clown Town, will definitely give you nightmares.
In Kevin LaPorte’s rollercoaster thrill ride of a comic book, a young girl named Chelsea hunts for her best friend, a battered boy named Melvin who’s been taken by the clowns of Clown Town, after they slay his abusive and neglectful parents. But, these clowns aren’t made for laughs. These are avenging angels, quick with the blade and heavy-handed with the guignol, but even more frighteningly, just as heavy-handed with their judgments.
The book starts off fast and doesn’t pull back much in Chelsea’s quest to find Melvin. Enlisting the aid of a former rodeo clown, Bennie, and his girlfriend, Berniece, and reluctantly allowing a recovering pedophile, Darren, Chelsea and the Police converge on Clown Town seeking answers but find out that what’s really going on is deeper and more frightening than they could ever imagine. I guarantee that you’ll never look at Wheel of Fortune the same way again after this.
Amanda Rachels’ artwork is strong and confident, and her attention to detail and layout is stellar. But, while each clown has its own unique look and characterization, multiple reads may be needed to keep them straight once the blood and body parts start flying.
Two short stories originally created for Indie Comics Forum are also included here and give a welcome sense of history for the grease-painted vigilantes. The slight “Toying” is a small piece about the power of storytelling as rescue. But, it is the last piece, “Your Nose, So Bright,” that deserves special attention. A poem about an abandoned girl on Christmas Eve, this piece carries the same shivery power and energy as some of the vintage tales from Tales from the Crypt or some of the later Warren Publishing titles such as Eerie or Creepy.
Take Danny Elfman’s theme for PeeWee’s Big Top Adventure. Add a gang of recovering child molesters. Throw in a bunch of vengeful, pissed-off clowns. And, some knives . . . some really BIG knives. And, a total lack of conscience. That’s what you get in Clown Town.
VERDICT: Four Poisonous Cotton Candies out of Five