COMICS: DARK COUNTRY Reviewed
Learn more about the Dark Country graphic novel, the inspiration behind it, and my thoughts on the graphic novel and short story.
Way back in July I had the opportunity to sit down with Tim Bradstreet and discuss several of the past, present and future projects that were happening at RAW Studios. One of the projects which we discussed in depth was the graphic novel for Dark Country. They had just released it in time for the San Diego Comic-Con and I was one of the first to get my grubby little hands on it!
Dark Country may sound familiar to some, especially fans of Thomas Jane, as he acted and directed a film of the same name that was released back in 2009.
What you may not know is that Thomas Jane's Dark Country film was inspired by the short story written by Tab Murphy. Thomas Ott's graphic storytelling in Dead End and Greetings from Hellville were also hugely inspirational when it came to directing Dark Country. The fact that RAW Studios was able to have Dark Country illustrated by Thomas Ott was a dream come tru, according to Thomas Jane.
"I decided to make a graphic novel out of Dark Country because the film itself is inspired by the work of Thomas Ott. I used to carry copies of Thomas Ott's graphic novels around with me on set, so I asked Thomas if he wanted to adapt the short story that we used to write the film into a graphic novel. He read the short story and he said "Yeah."
When he did it, he hadn't seen the film, so it's a pure take on the short story. ...There's different story lines in the short story that we left out of the film and that Thomas decided to use, and to great effect." said Thomas Jane, founder of RAW Studios, actor, director and long-time comic fan.
Tim Bradstreet, Eisner Award nominated illustrator, designer, art director and co-founder of RAW Studios, said that "It was like getting Frank Frazetta to draw your book. Tom [Thomas Jane] is such a big fan of his; it was like a kid in the candy store. It was a dream come true for us to do this book."
Is that enough history for you? Needless to say Dark Country has a cult following that not only encompasses films, but comics as well.
When I sat down with Tim, he was VERY excited about Dark Country, and the more I learned, the more excited I became to read it. The fact that it's a graphic novel, WITHOUT any words, is something that I've never experienced.
"It's a first person narrative. It's very gripping. It's something we couldn't do with the film because the audience can't be expected to be patient enough to be inside a guy's head for an hour and a half. So we felt compelled to do this graphic novel." said Bradstreet.
I picked up my copy of Dark Country, as well as a couple other comics and graphic novels from the RAW Studios booth, and spent the rest of my time surviving the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con. I only had a chance to glance at Dark Country, but meant to sit down and give it some serious attention as soon as I got home. And here I am, months later, and I've FINALLY been able to give Dark Country the attnetion that it deserves.
The Dark Country graphic novel follows a newlywed couple as they take a wrong turn while driving through the Nevada desert at night, and the unusual circumstances that ensue. The lack of dialogue was a challenge at first... You really have to study each panel to get the most out of the story. Thomas Ott's one of kind scratch-board illustrations are amazing to look at. The fact that they are black and white really ups the "creepy" factor of the story, espescially towards the end when things come around full circle.
The best part about the graphic novel is that it not only includes the original Dark Country short story by Tab Murphy, but it also includes pages and pages of artwork, notes and posters from the Dark Country film. After reading the graphic novel, or NOT reading it, as the case may be, I had to jump straight to the short story. It's a fun read all the way around!
The Dark Country graphic novel is a page turner and will especially appeal to Twilight Zone and horror fans.
Want to learn more about Dark Country and the other projects RAW Studios have in the works? Head over to their official site - www.RawStudios.com.
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