Grindhouse Horror Collected – Steve Niles’ And Alison Sampson’s Winnebago Graveyard

by Brendan M. Allen

An American family traveling on vacation finds themselves stranded in a small town with a sinister secret.

Steve Niles isn’t the type of writer to beat around the bush. Straight out of the chute, Winnebago Graveyard delivers a deeply disturbing depiction of a Satanic sacrifice followed by an unholy resurrection. It’s abundantly clear from page one we’re dealing with some seriously otherworldly business.

The very next scene, we’re traveling cross-country in an RV with a small blended family. Step-Dad Dan is trying desperately to connect with his wife Chrissy’s teenaged son, Bobby. Just when tension’s about to snap in the Winnebago, Dan gets the brilliant idea to stop at a roadside carnival so everyone can blow off some steam. He further decrees that everyone should leave their cell phones in the RV so they can fully immerse themselves in the recreation at hand.

Listen, folks. I’m no travel planner, but over the years I’ve gleaned a few pro tips for successful road trips. Never, ever stop at a roadside carnival. If you do stop, don’t leave all your cell phones in the RV. In the likely case that your RV is subsequently stolen from the parking lot, don’t ask the carnies for help. When the toad-faced carny pulls a gun, promptly hoof it in the opposite direction from the town he directs you to. Simple stuff, I know. It will save loads of headache down the road.

Seeing horror films in the theater is one of my favorite pastimes. I love hearing the sharp intakes of breath, seeing popcorn fly out of people’s hands after a sudden pop on screen, and, yes, I even love the guy who narrates and yells at the screen. Winnebago Graveyard reads like a love letter to grindhouse cinema.

Alison Sampson’s art has a very cinematic feel, without the limitations of current special effects or budget. Her scratchy line work is unsettlingly visceral. Sampson’s background in architecture comes through in the settings and backgrounds. What surprised me were her emotions and ambulation. It’s easy to empathize with these characters because they look and act like real people.

The art is completed by Stephane Paitreau’s color. Flames, blood spatter, and moving light sources are all insanely difficult to portray accurately. There are loads of all three in Niles’ script. Paitreau nails the mood, brilliantly tying the script to the art and heightening the sense of impending doom.

I absolutely loved this book. There’s a campy throwback feel to some of the elements, but also the introduction (and disposal) of technology. There’s an unsettling familiarity that draws the reader in before tightening the screws. With horror comics’ current surge, Winnebago Graveyard is a standout in a field of standouts.

Winnebago Graveyard TPB will be released by Image Comics on the 22nd of November 2017. Final order cutoff is the 8th of October 2017. Let your local comic shop know you want to order using Diamond ID: MAR178456.

Winnebago Graveyard is written by Steve Niles. Art and design are by Alison Sampson. Stephane Paitreau provides color art, and letters are by Aditya Bidikar. Cover color is by Jordie Bellaire.