||King Tractor Press
||November 7, 2007
FAMILY BONES is based on the TRUE STORY of the oldest married couple on Missouri's death row, as experienced one summer by their unwitting nephew.
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Sean is stuck, literally. As the heat simmers his skin to a full boil, the neighbor's beautiful daughter walks up. Sean's blood rises up to match his crimson skin. Could this beautiful stranger save him or will she be the death of him?
Based on the TRUE STORY of the Copeland murders in Missouri, Family Bones tells the tale of a young punk trying to survive his elderly serial killing family.
Volume 1 collects the first half of the comic book series.
Shawn Granger's Family Bones
Paperback Reader, David Bird
"Family Bones tells the story of Sean, an urban teen sent to live with his grandparents while his parents deal with problems at home. Unfortunately, his grandfather’s poor health means that he ends up staying with his aunt and uncle, Ray and Faye Copeland. He quickly discovers Raye to be mean, violent, and perhaps dangerous.
This is based on true story of Ray and Faye Copeland, and this story got me curious about just what their story is and I couldn’t help but look into it. I don’t just how closely Granger intends to stick to the Copeland’s story, so if you’re trying to avoid spoilers don’t read the next paragraph.
Ray and Faye Copeland were the oldest people to ever be sentenced to death in the US. Raye was a thief and forger who had been in and out of jail many times. He’d write bad cheques for livestock at auctions and then turn around and sell them. After getting caught he decided to get others to write the bad cheques; drifters who’d be out of the area soon. When one of them testified against him he varied the process again. He made sure none of them could testify against him. One that got away called the police. Five bodies were found on their farm and as many as seven more may have been killed. The murder weapon, a rifle, was found in the Copeland home; as were quilts Faye made from the clothes of the victims. Both were sentenced to death. He died while waiting. Her sentence was commuted to life, and, after suffering a stroke, she was paroled and died in a nursing home.
In issue two of Family Bones we meet Wendy, a young neighbour who has moved to the area with her mother, and gives the issue elements of sexual tension and humour. Actually, this issue introduces a lot of elements. We know that Raye and their hired hand are up to something, and that the hired hand is getting the short end of whatever it is. And we learn that Fay is quite proud of her quilts. An element of mindless violence and bloodshed is also foreshadowed.
A different artist is onboard, and, while I have nothing against last issue’s, I have to admit I prefer Bellido. Family Bones will have a new artist with each issue. It will provide a good experience for each of them, but there is an inconsistent look among characters. The two versions of Sean, for example, look nothing alike. Issue two also has a lot more dialogue. Granger is a strong enough writer to let the artists tell his story, so I think this change can be attributed to Wendy’s introduction (she gives Sean someone his own age to tell to)."
Review of Family Bones
Broken Frontier, Bart Croonenborghs
"Boy meets girl, girl meets redneck family, boy and girl are coerced into a family power struggle with possible violent ramifications. Just another day in the life of social outcast Sean and his gruesome struggles with the infamous Copeland family.
And the ass saw the angel. Behind a haunting cover by Dimitar Bochukov lies a similar tale of uneasiness and violent subterfuge. There's something unsettling that rustles throughout this comic and it's to the creators' credit that I noticed it on a first read.
The barebones scripting hounds the reader as much as the open plains and the dialogue rings true and is snappy. It is clear who these characters are and what makes them tick (at least up to a degree, it is part 5 of 8). The storytelling has a nice beat and the rhythm of the comic in general is pretty good. It makes for a nice spacious reading experience.
The scripting gives rise to a similar spacious feeling in the art. The wide-open plains of Missouri lend itself to a very open type of rendering, enabling the artist to focus on the characters. Pablo Agustin Lordi makes good use of this. His raw underground type of drawing is clear and focused while still establishing different looks for all characters. It is in the mise-en-scene that he still needs some work. His camera tends to do two things. Either he takes note of the happenings from a safe distance or he goes in for a half body shot. Nothing else much happens in regards to camera viewpoint. This leads to more registration and alienation than is good for the story. More variation in camera viewpoints and choosing the right angle while looking at the script and the emotional resonances should clear this problem right up.
Towards the end of the comic, backgrounds seem to diminish and it looks more like an omittance than a conscious design decision (due to time constraints?). You should be careful with the white spaces, they seem to dominate certain pages and it acts like a phantom zone, absorbing all the attention the characters are supposed to get.
The main theme of the issue is the confrontation of Sean's girlfriend (her name is never mentioned) with the Copeland family. The two lovers get in an awkward - potentially violent - situation due to Sean's uncle Ray Copeland’s redneck attitude and the inner and outer world of the characters come nicely together in one explosive and character enhancing scene. The Copeland family itself does not seem to evolve much in this issue, but the focus is clearly on the two young lovers.
Keeping the old adage in mind that every comic is somebody's first, Family Bones #5 doesn't provide much back-story in regards to the real life events. Keeping in mind that the preview-pdf had the inside-cover and advertising omitted, I sincerely hope that King Tractor Press divulges this excellent sales hook to their potential customers.
The real life horror story of the Copelands finds a worthy counterpart on the comic pages. This underground-styled comic shows promise in the handling of its setting and dialogue and delivers something fresh in a superhero stuck field."
Family Bones Review
Cover Fire, Byron Jackson
"Honestly I think this book could lay the foundation for a major motion picture. Writer Shawn Granger gives us a view into one of the most bizarre serial killing tales of this century and he does it in true Indy book fashion. Granger spins this tale in a realistic fashion starting on the 1st page and he doesn't stop until the last page…Bravo Shawn…Bravo…Pencils by Orlando Baez and inks by Ken Landgraf both accentuate and compliment the storyline with a very cunning blend of traditional comic art and a splash of Indy roughness."
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