There are a lot of comics out there but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we look at the southern fried vampire drama “Redneck.”
Who’s This By?
“Redneck” is written by American comic book author Donny Cates. Cates has been working in the industry since making his writing debut at Dark Horse Comics in 2013 and he has been on a steady climb of both quality and quantity since then. Working on smaller independent books like “God Country” and “Buzzkill” before making his way to IDW Publishing to head up titles like “Star Trek Waypoint.”
He is now a superstar at Marvel Comics. Crafting wonderful new stories with “Venom,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Silver Surfer Black,” “Cosmic Ghost Rider,” and more. Cates has a way of playing in those existing sandboxes giving readers an incredibly enjoyable read with characters they know and love while expanding on their mythology and creating new ways to follow these heroes and villains in new adventures. He uses his love for the unknown and horror within his more mainstream titles and its that talent he uses when starting a series like “Redneck.”
Artist Lisandro Estherren is an Argentinian illustrator who is known mostly for his work on Boom! Studios’s “The Last Contract” and Red5’s “Spook.” He co-created “Redneck” with Cates. His work ranges from soft, cartoon-ish characterizations to surreal and brutally exquisite styles. He brings both an every day beauty and nightmare aesthetic to this series. It is perfect for a plot about a family of vampires in midland Texas.
Dee Cunniffe is a colorist working out of Ireland. He is a widely versatile artist who brings his A game to not only a variety of styles, but a slew of genres. His work on books like “Paper Girls,” “The Wicked + The Divine,” “Runaways,” and so many more is what makes him an artist to pay attention to and should boost your expectations when you see his name on a cover.
The series is lettered by Joe Sabino. Sabino is a production artist, formerly at Marvel Comics, and now letters for VC on a huge number of comics. With nearly 1800 titles attached to his name, he is an absolute pro and his talents are just another piece to what makes this puzzle come together so perfectly.
What’s This All About?
“Redneck” follows the Bowman family. A mixed family of vampire sires, their brood, and actual offspring, as well as some human familiars who help keep them alive without the need of harming or killing humans. The Bowmans run a local BBQ joint and feed on the blood of the animals they slaughter for the restaurant. While they lead a mostly peaceful existence, the Bowmans have been waging a secret war with another family – the Landrys. This blood feud has been going on for generations with no signs of stopping and things are only going to get worse.
The story is centered around Bartlett, a vampire who was brought into the Bowman family many years ago, who has a plenty of secrets of his own. As the series progress we learn exactly who Bartlett is and what events and choices landed him in the middle of Texas co-owning a BBQ restaurant.
The first 24 issues of this series are a whirlwind of blood and emotion, and it is truly one of the better horror, and specifically, vampire books hitting shelves. There is plenty of familiar vamp material throughout, but the creative team knows how to mold it in their capable hands, keeping things fresh and thoroughly engaging.
So, Why Should I Read This?
Those looking for a gritty and violent vampire story should look no further than “Redneck.” It checks off all the right boxes. It has truly scary moments, heartfelt character drama, and all the blood (and some guts) you could want. Outside of the vampire sub-genre, the main selling point is Cates’s writing. His knack for putting his own creative spin on a heavily walked path is at the forefront as he continuously weaves an intriguing plot with plenty of surprises. Those who still have a fang-shaped void in their heart with the absence of “American Vampire” will definitely want to sink their teeth (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry) into this series. It’s an absolute gore-tastic blast.Continued below
Cates gives us plenty of classic vampire lore with some of his own takes on it. He also writes a huge ensemble cast of characters that are all interesting and fully engage the reader on an emotional level. You will want to know what happens to each and every character, whether or not you are rooting for them. One of the best things about the narrative as a whole is that Cates never really falls into the trap of having to make the plot drive towards an apocalypse moment. The events that play out really only effect the main characters and those around them. Towards the later half of the series he begins to dabble in the greater world of supernatural elements, but quickly subverts expectations by working his way out of being stuck in some ridiculous epic like a war between heaven and hell. These are just some poor Texan vampires and maybe the fate of all existence doesn’t have to rest on their shoulders.
The writing is quick paced and lays out all necessary exposition and dialogue without ever allowing for boredom to seep in. Readers are given all the information and history needed as the various plot threads unfold over the entire series. The mystery and character growth and evolution throughout is what carries this series from issue 1. Although a fairly streamlined plot, there is so much story given within the first 24 issues, that it would be impossible to fairly summarize its weight and quality.
Lisandro Estherren’s artwork is gritty, nasty, unsettling, and all at once, gorgeous. The energy he brings to this story is quick and brutal. His lines are kinetic and scary, but still fun. His artwork is a visual soulmate to Cates’s script. His character designs give us a list of everyday, mundane looking people with just a hint of the otherworldly side to their nature. And when it comes to designing the horrific creatures within this story, he gets it right every single time. The first time you lay your eyes on Grandpa, you will understand why.
Dee Cunniffe’s color work on this series hits every nail on the head. In this story about vampires, the dirt, blood, and sun burnt nature of midland Texas are on each and every page. Even when the story is set at night, everything feels sun bleached and raw. His work is perfect for this series and he truly brings this Texan vampire story everything it needs to be. His palettes move between the inky blacks of night, the earthy hues of midwest America, and the various shades of sunrise and sunset. Oranges, reds, and blues dance on nearly every page. It is all gorgeous and devious.
How Can You Read It?
For those looking to catch up quickly, you are in luck. Today marks the release of issue #25, but the first 24 issues are collected in four trade paperbacks available now, anywhere comic books are sold. Thus far the series is a neat and streamlined vampire story that is easy to follow a quick book to fly through.