Drew Ford’s It’s Alive! Press, an imprint of IDW, is about to release Red Range: A Wild West Adventure by Joe R. Lansdale with illustrations by the great Sam Glanzman, probably best known for his very personal efforts on his U.S.S. Stevens stories and at the tender age of 92 has not missed a step.
Joe R. Lansdale is no stranger to bold storytelling and last year a nice profile piece was done on the East Texas author that is an excellent primer for the uninitiated.
Joe is no stranger to the comic book world, either and this writer even reviewed Dark Horse’s The Steam Man here at Comics Bulletin, which is another of Joe’s efforts that is also set in the period of the untamed west with some twists. Staying true to the genre, Joe also had a run with Tim Truman on Jonah Hex in the ’90s.
Red Range puts the graphic into “graphic novel” beginning with startling and disturbing imagery. Klansmen led by the cruel man known as “Batiste” are torturing, murdering and raping members of a black family in the post-Civil War west when an avenging man on horseback, known only as the Red Mask, shows up with his Sharps rifle and other weaponry to take on the vicious group.
Throughout this story, various subplots and flashback sequences reveal the motivations behind the protagonist Red Mask and the antagonist known as Batiste, along with such social commentary including the rampant racism of the time period. The question is posed in a rather subtle fashion as to whether we’ve advanced far enough in our society and then things are thrown into a completely different element when the characters find themselves very, very far from familiar territory.
As I previously mentioned, Sam Glanzman’s artwork is impressive throughout and even brings to mind some of John Severin’s atmospheric work in Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder from Dark Horse.
Sam’s ability to take the reader into the old west with accurate period scenery and to bend the reader’s imagination into those places both natural and unnatural, not to mention the expressive facial expressions that lend themselves to a variety of themes is not to be missed. One can almost smell the musk of the horses and hear the crack of rifles and revolvers as they seek their mark. Sam’s many years of work at the artist’s table are on full display with myriad characters on both sides of the law.
Stephen Bissette offers a detailed and well-thought out Afterword (10 pages!) on the piece and following a Sam Glanzman written and drawn story, “I Could Eat a Horse!” as bonus material, Bissette further adds a 4-page retrospective on “Cowboys and Dinosaurs.”
Red Range offers plenty of bang for the buck, but is not for the squeamish. It is scheduled for release in June.