Sunday, May 18, 2014
Review: SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
WRITER/CREATOR: Bart A. Thompson – @ApproBAT
ARTIST/COVER: Kevin Richardson
COLORS: Russell Vincent Yu
LETTERS: Bart A. Thompson
EDITOR: John P. Ward
84pp, Color, $19.99 U.S. paperback (2014)
Several years ago, Bart A. Thompson created and wrote and horror comics anthology series entitled, The Evil Inside (Approbation Comics). The Evil Inside #1 opened with the short story, “Southern Hospitality.” Thompson eventually reworked that short story as an original horror graphic novel, also entitled Southern Hospitality. As a bonus, the new graphic novel reprints the original story in color for the first time.
Southern Hospitality focuses on two groups of travelers that unite after crossing paths only to cross paths with a brutal scythe-wielding killer in rural Alabama. Southern Hospitality is one of the few original graphic novels that is based on an original slasher horror concept and is not a licensed comic book based on a property that originated in other media (film, video games, books, etc.).
Southern Hospitality opens as Pebble Collins, California lingerie supermodel, and her boyfriend, Zach, drive through Boons Creek, Alabama. They are on their way to an industry party in Florida. They never make it.
A week later, New York City co-workers, Todd and Nate, have stopped in Louisville, Kentucky on their way to Florida. The two thirty-something guys meet three young women: Rebecca, Irene, and Chrissy on a road trip to Florida. The three friends are stranded after their car broke down. Nate and Rebecca convince their friends that the two groups should unite as a quintet for the trip. These five companions also travel to Boons Creek, where they find the locals strange, even unfriendly and danger.
On the surface, it seems as if nothing is original in Southern Hospitality. After all, the notion of star-crossed companions on a horror movie road trip appeared as recently as the 2013 Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot, Texas Chainsaw. What is original is Thompson’s approach to characters and dialogue. He mixes Quentin Tarantino-like banter with characters that would fit in a screwball comedy, which makes for a lively story. Also, the story’s execution and resolution are the opposite of what one would expect from this familiar slasher horror scenario.
While not a draftsman and lacking in polished compositional skills, artist Kevin Richardson is a good storyteller, and his art captures both the story’s brutal and comic natures. Richardson knows when the story means business (screaming, running, and dying) and when Thompson is being humorous.
I wish Thompson and Richardson would deliver a Southern Hospitality sequel, but I realize that (1) there would be a new cast and (2) maybe there is nothing in the story that needs a revisit. I want one anyway, and readers looking for an original horror comic book will want to experience some Southern Hospitality.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.