A newlywed couple travels a dark Nevada road. A man steps into the road and is hit by their car. A man who doesn’t look quite right. The man is unconscious. They put him in the back seat. His face is twisted due to the car accident, maybe. It feels wrong. He looks wrong. The couple drives away in search of help, but this is a dark road for certain. The wrong turn has been made. The nightmare has begun, and there is no going back.
Not a single word is spoken throughout the entire book. Every chill received from these pages is produced visually. The slow methodical pacing builds and builds into an exquisite tension that makes you laugh at the most inopportune moments. Dark country perfectly captures the film noir style Thomas Ott has become known for.
Just in case you don’t already know, Thomas Ott is some kind of mad artistic genius. I’m surly not the first to say it, and I won’t be the last. His comics are wordless, silent, and creepy. He uses a scratch-board technique which gives his work an ominous quality. What I think makes his comics unique though is the sense of humor weaved throughout his dark images. The word whimsical comes to mind, it’s hard to explain why, but I think you will understand once you’ve read this book.
Ott’s work has a loyal following in every country. His wordless books translate seamlessly throughout the world. We all get it. His comics play on our emotions, our fears, and our desires. Dark Country is no exception. It gets under your skin and messes with your mind. It toys with you a little. If a picture is worth a thousand words, than Dark Country is comparable in length to anything written by Stephen King and that includes The Stand.
As of writing this review I have read this book 6 times, and every pass offers something new, some unexpected nugget of detail, an expression or reaction worth discussing with my friends. This book begs to be discussed, and argued over. Nothing is cut and dry. The story in many ways is left up to you. Who are these people? What’s really happening here? The book asks as many questions as it answers, and we are left with the joy of deciphering the truth. We are the private investigators in this supernatural world. Our story is as important as the one set before us. And that’s what makes it fun.
This is a modern comic book classic. There’s nothing like it, and I can’t recommend it enough.
In addition to Dark Country becoming available in hardback, the book includes a bunch of cool extras from the Dark Country feature film staring Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist). Included in the extras is the original Tab Murphy short story, which in itself is worth the price of the book.
Many people are unaware that Thomas Jane is a comic geek. In fact RAW Studios which produced and is publishing Dark Country was in fact founded by Jane and his good friend, Eisner Award nominated illustrator Tim Bradstreet (The Punisher, Hellblazer). I don’t want to gush here, but in my book Bradstreet’s artwork is the best in mainstream comics today.
Dark Country – The Graphic Novel
Adaptation and art by Thomas Ott
Story by Tab Murphy
Produced and directed by Thomas Jane
Designed by Tim Bradstreet
Production – Marshall Dillon