Adapted from his imaginative and thrilling novella anthologized in “Son of Retro Pulp Tales,” Joe R. Lansdale, his son Keith, and artist Brian Denham (“The X-Files”) deliver the Weird West goods with Crawling Sky #1. Reverend Mercer features, once again, in this irresistible tale of terror, only instead of confronting zombies, ghouls, and werewolves, this five-issue miniseries sees him dedicated to solving the mystery surrounding an isolated cabin where a savage creature lurks in the shadows.
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale, Keith Lansdale
ART BY: Brian Denham
PUBLISHER: Antarctic Press
RELEASE: January 16th, 2013
As far as supernatural, Wild West horror tales go, both Lansdale’s seem unhindered in the process of writing cross-genre fiction. “Crawling Sky” is the wildest of Wests and the epitome of the monster–horror sub-genre; but with elements of entertaining adventure, terror, and humorous asides, it’s hard to categorize this series as anything but “Lansdalean.”
The first issue of the series begins with Reverend Mercer’s ominous introduction, “Nothing good ever took place under a crawling sky.” The words scribed onto the first page of the book are as daunting as Brian Denham’s black and white illustrations accompanying them. Opening with our first look at the aforementioned abandoned cabin, Denham cloaks the setting of “Crawling Sky” #1 in darkness, and emphasizes the forthcoming significance of a rundown well nearby. He does so, effectively, by utilizing perspective drawing techniques to depict the night sky being viewed from the bottom of the well. Whether the artistic intention is to showcase the sky through the eyes of the reader, or a cryptically symbolic character, I’ll leave that up to your interpretation. In either case, it’s remarkably clever, and writing about it makes me giddy.
We are introduced to a young man named Norville, a key player in the series, as he and his wife Sissy happen to be squatting in the isolated cabin near the abhorrent Texan town of Wood Tick. A town so vile, yet charming, that you’re left to commend the Lansdale’s and Denham on their envisioning of the characters. Unbeknownst to Norville, he accidentally sets free something ancient, dark, and evil from the well; but when tragedy strikes and the villagers of Wood Tick cast him aside as a loonatic, his only hope is Reverend Mercer who happens to be passing through. Turns out, Mercer has some business to attend to at the cabin himself; business that will be revealed in Part Two.
“Crawling Sky” raises my interest for horror-western fiction in a strangely surprising way. Coming into the series with no expectations, I’m left craving the next installment. Though, I’ll admit that it’s probably hit or miss for consumers, both Lansdale’s and Denham’s ability to simultaneously shock and charm readers with their writing and art, is a good enough reason to check this book out.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd