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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Graveslinger. Shannon Eric Denton & Jeff Mariotte (Writers), John Cboins & Nima Sorat (Art), Chris Wood & Carlos Badilla (Colours). IDW. (2009)

An enjoyable Western/Zombie story that mixes up both elements effectively. Frank Timmons is on the trail of a group of zombies that rose from their graves in Gila Flats Prison when and the zombies stumble into a range war. They pick opposing sides in the conflict and story manages to combine classic elements from both genres without loss to either. The action is fast and furious, the zombies are suitably vicious, the climax is sharp and satisfying.
The greatest problem with this book is the jarring change in art style between the two halves of the book. The first two chapters are done by John Cboins, it is a bit harsh, the lines are angular and the colouring is concentrated on the figures with the backgrounds being essentially sketched in. It is a very striking style and gives a very distinctive flavour to the story. The final two chapters with art by Nima Sorat is an abrupt change as is the colouring scheme. The art is much closer to the mainstream of comic art, the figures are much smoother and the backgrounds have more detail. The colour scheme is much brighter and more varied, the more fluid art is better suited to the action in these chapters.
The writing clearly unifies the story, there is a clear appreciation of the structure and requirements for a classic Western story, the context of the range war where a large rancher is trying to drive out his smaller neighbours is a clever one to drop zombies into, they do not disrupt the story, they add nicely to it. It does gives an opportunity for the writers to add variety to the action and they use it to the full. The cast are vigorous, Frank Timmons is a deeply flawed hero, Alice Saylor, defending her home against the living and the dead is a great character, spirited and determined. Strong writing and strong art, well worth reading.

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