Straw Gods is not like a lot of comics I read. I tend to gravitate toward strong female leads, and there isn’t one in this piece. I like historical work, and while Straw Gods is set during the Great Depression (which drew me towards it in the first place), this is not your run-of-the-mill historical comic. I like my comics to have artwork that’s bold and splashy, and Straw Gods doesn’t have that either.
What does it have? It’s got an interesting storyline envisioned around a single image: “a creature incubating in, and emerging from, a swollen stalk of corn,” as writer Sam Costello describes it in the front of the book. (It’s worth noting in passing that Costello wrote another comic based on the same image. I haven’t read it, but that one is entitled Straw Men.) It’s got stark drawings that convey the desperation felt by the central character, Vernon, as his farm slowly starts to decline into the Dust Bowl. Oh, and it’s got a creepy blood-drinking cornstalk that grows into a “god” after Vernon performs some pretty horrific acts to keep it growing so that his farm will survive. This is a macabre book, make no mistake. Think Stephen King mixed with…I don’t know, American Gothic.
It’s grimly riveting, even if it isn’t exactly my cup of tea. I checked out a bit when there was some violence with animals, because I can’t handle that, but another person might not have that same sensitivity. It’s worth a look. I give it 3 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
Writer: Sam Costello
Artist: T.J. Kirsch
On Sale: June 04, 2014
Publisher: Tent City Comics