Written by Donny Cates
Art by Lisandro Estherren, Dee Cunniffe, Joe Sabino
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: April 19, 2017
Dammit, Donny Cates…why do you keep doing this to me?! Every week, I take a look at my giant pull-list and my endless backlog, telling myself it’s time to cut down on some books. But then, a new series come around and I find myself adding rather than taking away, and it’s all because of books like Redneck #1, a brand new series from Image Comics. Writer Donny Cates, artist Lisandro Estherren, colorist Dee Cunniffe, and letterer Joe Sabino really pack a beast of book, visceral and intriguing on every level.
This isn’t Donny Cates’ first rodeo with vampires. Interceptor, one of my favorite series from last year, explored vampires in space; that was a wild ride. With Redneck, Cates and Co. are giving vampires a southern drawl as he charts the story of an ancient vampire family living in rural Texas. The Bowmans, an old blood family of vampires have been living in small-town Texas for decades, hiding quietly behind a local barbecue joint with strict rules to keep out of trouble and drinking the blood of other humans. When the younger Bowmans go out for a night on the town, things ultimately end up being very problematic for their family, spurring a war beset for the impact of the century.
Cates has been pretty damned blessed when it comes to being paired with some amazing artists. Between Interceptor, the very popular God Country, and Buzzkill, among others, Cates has curated a frenetic display of energetic art. Redneck is no different, with Lisandro Estherren on art, a name I was not previously familiar with, but will certainly be following from this point on. Estherren’s style suits the southern grit, loose inks flowing around and through each character, every panel unique in the lining style. Despite the varied lining on the characters as they move through the panels, the characters are easily discernible as they emote carefully through the pages. Sometimes, linework as loose as this can be difficult to follow from panel to panel, but Estherren manages to balance the detail in each panel in a way that sets the characters clearly from the backgrounds way that bleeds vitality. What Cates has written here is raw with emotion, and every note of this emotion is captured viscerally in each panel.
The colors by Dee Cunniffe in this book are gorgeous, capturing the subtle dusks and twilights in an array of color that soothes the palette of this story. The colors, when appropriate, also blend the shadows of the despondence and fear instilled in this vampire family, portraying their hesitance to mingle with normal humans and the darkness buried within. Joe Sabino’s lettering also does well to balance the tone of this story, the imperfect outlines to the dialogue balloons creating a rough texture. The narration flows well, executing the story and speaking beats present in Cates writing. The letters also grasp the quiet nature of this small town, opting for less in-your-face text, and more considerate and mellow style.
Cates has crafted a wonderful story here, intriguing down to the last page. I’m left wanting much more from this story, ready for issue two so I can learn more about the family and the deep history hinted at throughout this issue. I want to keep reading and experience the brutality spread across the final pages. Cates has constructed an alluring story, littered with expressive and compelling dialogue.
Do yourself a favor, and snag a copy of the first issue before you can’t. This is not a book to miss. Filled with an exciting and building plot, appealing and complicated characters, and animated, but soothing art, Redneck #1 is the southern showdown you need to read.
The Verdict: 9.5/10