Graphically Speaking: “Dark Country” graphic novel review


3 out of 4 stars
Written by Tab Murphy
Illustrated by Thomas Ott
Published by RAW Studios

In 2009, Thomas Jane adapted Tab Murphy’s short story “Dark Country” into a film. Starring himself, Lauren German, and Ron Perlman, Jane’s visually stunning directorial debut was unceremoniously dumped on DVD, despite being filmed in 3-D for a theatrical experience. Luckily, it has found a second life through RAW Studios, the production company run by Jane and prolific artist Tim Bradstreet. RAW has adapted Murphy’s original short story into a graphic novel illustrated by Thomas Ott. I haven’t read anything like it in a while.

The noir-inspired “Dark Country” starts as 2 newlyweds accidentally run over a man on a dark, desert road. They bury the body in a shallow grave, but their troubles have only begun. The set-up is familiar, but the execution is surprising and engaging. Ott draws with rough edges in black and white, without a single line of dialogue. Don’t let that be a turn-off, as the story is never hard to follow. The expressive faces of the characters just add to the horror of the situation.

The twist ending was so unexpected, I thought Rod Serling would pop up somewhere. I’m not sure I understand entirely what happens, but I’m still trying to piece it together. It sticks with you as your brain tries to puzzle it out.

“Dark Country” is a solid exercise in storytelling. It’s easy to see how Thomas Jane could visualize a film from Murphy’s story (also included with the hardcover). His film was inspired by the art of Thomas Ott, so it’s nice to see everything come full-circle with the release of this graphic novel.

“Dark Country” is available now in hardback, and is available now in comic book stores and online. It even has bonus features, like Tab Murphy’s original short story and almost 50 pages of behind-the-scenes material. The film version is also available now. For more information, check out RAW’s website at www.rawstudios.com.

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 20:53 by Lowell Greenblatt · Permalink
In: Uncategorized