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Freaks of the Heartland Paperback – July 26, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593070292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593070298
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 6.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,631,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Niles, a prolific writer of all shades of horror script, grisly to guffaw inducing, for several comics publishers, here offers an underdeveloped variation on John Wyndham's sf classic The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), in which mutant children are born simultaneously to a community's women, and it compounds failing to explain the basic situation with dialogue written in Beverly Hillbillies patois. All Niles gives artist Ruth to work with is an escape-and-chase scenario as one boy, after preventing Dad from shooting his monstrous brother, rounds up the other mutants and leads them in an attempted breakout from their home valley. Fortunately, Ruth rises to and exceeds the occasion. Working in pen and ink and watercolor, and limiting his palette to black, white, and sepia that he expressively alters with varying admixtures of yellow and red, Ruth creates one knockout panel after another. The night settings of many scenes allow Rembrandtesque lighting effects that Ruth exploits in tandem with the narrow range of color to deepen characterizations beyond anything Niles has written. A triumph of presentation over (lack of) substance. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By N. Durham HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Steve Niles is today's first name for horror comics, first gaining popularity some time ago with his first 30 Days of Night series. Since then, Niles has churned out many works for various companies, all of which ranging from solid to disappointing. Freaks of the Heartland is no different, as it features a teriffic premise and fantastic artwork, but ultimately fails in it's delivery. The story follows a small town community that finds it's women all giving birth to deformed or freakish children. Soon enough, all the children attempt to run away, with dire results (naturally). Niles doesn't offer anything fresh here, or even try to come up with any sort of inventiveness to the proceedings. The sad part is, the story is ripe to be played around with to make it something really memorable, but once again, Niles just delivers an average story, only this time around it's filled with stereotypical hillbilly talk. The only saving grace of Freaks of the Heartland? Greg Ruth's spectacular artwork is a sight to behold, with his innovative techniques and stark contrasts making for something really special. Ruth's art is the only reason to give Freaks of the Heartland a look, it's just a shame that such fantastic work got wasted on a mediocre story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Decker on July 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title of my review mostly says it all. The images in this graphic novel are breathtaking at times. Gorgeous and impossible simultaneously. I'm glad I bought it for that reason alone.

That said, the story is lacking. It doesn't really seem to go anywhere. Or, it does, but it ends right when you'd think it should be beginning. The concept is interesting and it had potential to pull something great out of such an artistically drawn hat. Unfortunately, it doesn't excel as well as one might hope.

But if you like pretty pictures, then go for it. I promise you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Pierce on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
....and then the ending is rushed without any explanation as to why the "freaks" came to be or what really happens after the most lack luster conclusion to a stories i have read. The art and 2/3 of the story are 4 star quality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maxine McLister on November 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Freaks of the Heartland is a graphic novel about family secrets, monsters, and brotherly love somewhere in the rural midwest. Young Trevor's life is a hard one - his father is a cruel bully and his mother has been beaten down until she is hardly more than a shadow. His six-year-old brother, Will, is a freak, monstrously huge and monstrously deformed. He is kept chained in the barn to keep him from prying eyes and to hide the family's 'shame'. But Trevor loves his brother and does his best to protect him from their father. So when he hears his father planning to kill Will, he tries to stop it. Unfortunately, things go wrong and Trevor decides that he and Will have to run away before the neighbours catch them.

My one problem with Freaks is the ending - it's too abrupt and, in a story which has the emotional impact of this one, you can't help but want more and to feel a little cheated when you don't get it.

That aside, however, Freaks of the Heartland is a pretty damn good graphic novel. The story grabs you; there is a strong message but it doesn't clobber the reader over the head; and the graphics are, to say the least, stunning.

As a tale of horror, Freaks of the Heartland is more Mary Shelley than HP Lovecraft. Its message is one of tolerance and acceptance and that sometimes it is hard to know who the real monsters are. if you're looking for a gorefest with lots of action and blood, you might want to give this one a pass. But if you like graphic novels with gorgeous graphics and an intelligent (albeit abrupt) storyline, Freaks is definitely worth the time.
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