This is not a new graphic novel but it is one I’ve been looking for for quite some time but never could find. The graphic novel adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s The Drive-In from Avatar Press is not one to be taken lightly. Avatar Press has had an up and down history especially with collectors because of late schedules and the constant (and over saturated) alternate covers that they put out (in a business stand point this might be good in order to boost sales but we collectors hate it most of the time). The one thing that Avatar Press has consistently done right is that they allow their creative artists and unprecedented amount of freedom which allows for some truly interesting and innovative series that just wouldn’t see the light of day from other publishers.
Lansdale is an author whose work has gone mostly unnoticed by the mainstream world but horror (and western) fans know his work well as he embodies his stories with quirky yet seemingly ordinary characters that get caught up in strange circumstances. I liken many of his stories to that of the screwball comedy (which is probably why I enjoy his work so much) with the touch of the strange, the weird, and the horrifying. It’s great to see one of his most popular works adapted to the comic book form and in black and white no less putting you into the atmosphere of being at an actual vintage drive-in theater.
The Drive-In concerns a group of friends who decide that they should spend one last hurrah together at the vintage drive-in of their small town just before one of them decides to leave for good. Their bad luck as a meteor passes over the drive-in creating a riff in space and time that traps them and everyone else at the drive-in in a limbo like place in which they cannot escape. When someone tries to escape their skin melts away and they become nothing more than a pile on flesh. As time goes by, food runs low and groups start divide amongst themselves in order to survive. Wondering too close to the edge of the drive-in lends itself to a twist in reality as some people become creatures that far exceed anything in the imagination.
The Drive-In is not just a story about people trapped in a drive-in by an unknown and possibly alien force but it is also the story about survival and who you can truly trust when all logical odds are stacked against you. This “sequential adaptation” (as it is called) is by Christopher Golden with artwork by Andres Guinaldo and it is a fine adaptation of Lansdale’s work. Golden does a great job of creating dread and horror not only amongst the characters themselves but the unknown that the characters are faced with and Guinaldo’s black & white artwork perfectly complements the story. Although the attention to detail that Guinaldo has does sometimes convolute the double page spreads give the story a grand canvas from which to see the world that the characters are trapped in.
Now if only some of Lansdale’s other works could be adapted the world be perfect (or as perfect as it can be from Lansdale’s perspective).