By Donny Cates, Lisandro Estherren, and Dee Cunniffe
They don’t want any trouble, but sometimes trouble just won’t leave you alone. Redneck is the story of a family trying to lead a quiet life in small town Texas. It sounds like an easy enough thing to do, unless you’re a family of vampires. Donny Cates’ new book aims to tell the story of a family of monsters trying to change their future by leaving the past behind them.
The idea of familial redemption framed by a story about vampires is an amazing idea. We have seen vampire families before in fiction, but the Bowman’s are not the sophisticated clean-cut coven we’ve encountered in stories like Twilight. This family is a bunch of rednecks and if you have lived in or visited a small town in Texas, it might seem very familiar to you. Even if you haven’t been to Texas, the family dynamic is not that much different from a “normal” dysfunctional family. Everyone can identify with that. The first issue introduces us to the main players before immediately throwing their world into turmoil. The dialogue gives accurate voices to the characters and there is a good flow between the main character, Bartlett, inner dialogue and interactions with others. What gives this story added depth and heart is Cates’ reason for writing it. He explains at the back of the book that he has a connection to the situation (sans vampires.) This imbues importance and sentiment to the story, and gives the reader a vested interest in the characters. The reader will quickly find that the real monsters in the story are not the vampires.
The style of Estherren’s rugged artwork soaks the characters in that good ol’ boy country aura. The lanky, long-haired members of the family and rest of the townsfolk feel as if they moseyed right out of a Texas town and onto the page. Cunniffe’s coloring further adds to the atmosphere of the Bowman’s world. Since they are creatures of the night most scenes are done in the pale purples and grays of a gloomy night lit by cold moonlight. The inks develop a lot of the scenery’s texture; old wooden planks and twisted trees are scored by multiple lines. As you would expect from a vampire story, the inks provide lots of sharp shadows even in the lit indoor scenes. The combination of the colors and inks successfully add a lived in and worn out life feel to the entire book. Look for the final full-page splash panel in the book; it’s a drawn at a great angle and the orange-reds convey the heat of the coming day and monstrous events that are surely to come.
Overall, Redneck feels like it will be a successful book. Already, in one short issue, the creators have been able to communicate so much to the reader. The letter from Cates to the reader is a must read; it’s a key part to meaning of this story. Definitely pick up this book if you can relate to some of the themes mentioned above or want a different kind of vampire story. It will be interesting to see if the family can continue to leave their inner monsters in the dark.