Publisher: Image comics, Inc.
Writer: Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Review by PeteR
Redlands #1 starts scary confusing and ends crazy good. Redlands County is run by your archetype, red-neck, misogynistic, Confederate flag waving, back woods Sheriff. Lynching women for witchcraft and locking up people of color for breathing while black seems to be standard police work for him and his deputies. The problem with lynching witches is, sometimes all that does is make them mad.
Long story short, the morally corrupt police are killed. Their prisoners, who we do not know what, if any crimes they may have committed are released. The Sherriff doesn’t even have a name. He is more a symbol than anything else. The important part of the comic is towards the end when we meet the three witches, Alice, Bridget and Ro. Bridget looks downs at the defeated Sheriff and states “We’ve seen it for centuries. Kings like you take all you want and never give back. Your dynasty has come to an end. No one is left to take your throne. You’re already forgotten.” Remember, these comment are made to backwoods, sheriff. The kingdom she is relating these events to is a County in the rural part of any state.
Writer and colorist for Redlands, Jordie Bellaire, in an interview with Breeding Cool said: “Redlands is my sick, weird love letter to Stephen King, Florida and Riot Grrrls everywhere but ultimately, hate mail for everything else,” said Bellaire. “Inspired by the strange complexities of real world politics and crime, the characters of Redlands play victim and villain, attempting to understand themselves and others, through murder, magic and mayhem.”
There is a nagging feeling in the back of the mind when reading Redlands. Bellaire is trying to communicate something and its right on the tip of the tongue. What that concept is becomes apparent on the last page of the comic in the writer’s statement. Redlands isn’t just a horror comic. It’s a manifesto. A public declaration of principles. There are things going very wrong in today’s society. Redlands is going to rip away the bandage protecting accepted, yet unjust norms festering on the body politic.
Vanesa R. Del Rey’s art in Redlands #1 is raw, almost unrefined. Her art conveys more emotion than detail. This is not the polished styles of the likes of Steve Rude, Alex Raymond or even Howard Nostrand. It is also very different than Del Rey’s art in Hit 1955 which had more of an Alex Toth sensibility to it. I found the art in Redland to be ugly but the story is ugly so the art is deliberately consistent with the content.
Since the writer of Redlands, Jordie Bellaire is also the colorist, it’s safe to say that the pigments and hues chosen are exactly what the writer felt the story called for. I am looking forward to seeing her coloring in future issues of Redlands that do not take place at night lit by fire.
Clayton Cowles does the lettering for Redlands #1. What perked my curiosity was he is normally listed as VC’S Clayton Cowles. The typeface for the dialogue is not the standard comic book font. It is different than usual, slightly off. The words themselves suggest that something is very wrong with the events chronicled in this comic.
Why you should buy this book? Jordie Bellaire is known mostly for her prolific work as a colorist. It is apparent that she has a story to tell and has the ability to write it in a compelling and captivating manner. I am not a fan of horror comics but I am fascinated where this series is possibly going and how it’s going to arrive there.
WHAT IS THE HERO INITIATIVE?
The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit more than 50 creators and their families with over $950,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.