If you grew up loving horror movies, then Winnebago Graveyard is your gateway into the comic book world. Most of this trade paperback, collecting issues one through four of the series, takes place at night. The darker illustrations, present with the classic motel “VACANCY” sign, instantly pull you into the moment – as if you’re waiting for the pulsating chase to begin.
As a family travels in their Winnebago on vacation, they decide to stop at a carnival. Even though this local fair appears to be in the middle of nowhere, it’s absolutely the perfect time to leave everyone’s cell phone behind in the RV, because, of course, “No phones. More fun.” This simple notion goes a long way for the reader, understanding that it’s a mistake and they will undoubtedly need a phone in the somewhat near future. There’s also a foreboding sense that these moments during the afternoon will be the last bit of daylight seen – by anyone – and there’s a dread that comes with that knowledge. Within a few pages, darkness will fill the pages of Winnebago Graveyard, in more ways than one.
The drawings, credited to Alison Sampson, Stéphane Paitreau, and Jordie Bellaire, are enhanced by variously sized panels, overlapping images, and a clever use of page space. When the family stays in a motel overnight and notices hooded figures carrying torches from their second-story window, the artists are able to clearly depict the view from the ground. It’s obvious that someone is looking at these satanists from the window. When you see it – the image of a cloaked individual holding a torch over the shoulder and pointing toward them – it goes beyond a sinking feeling, to terrifying, sending a shiver down your spine.
The depth of night would almost certainly drown the characters in absolute darkness, if it weren’t for torch fires, street lights, and a gigantic moon in the sky. The creativity added to clouds early on is marvelous, as they depict imagery of things you would want to run away from. There are also gory satanic rituals to further establish the fear factor associated with this cult, and what will happen if caught. Writer Steve Niles, along with Sampson, craft the story with the perfect amount of dialogue. There isn’t a need for a drastic backstory to fill the pages. They allow the readers to become consumed by the dramatic illustrations and add enough conversation to know there’s one goal: be captured by evil or escape. Aditya Bidikar is the letterer on this Image Comics title, intensifying scenes with different styles and sizes.
Winnebago Graveyard will disturb you in just the right way and is available in print and digital form.