This is the latest offering from what’s been a largely good slate of comics from Image recently. That Texas Blood has been crafted by Criminal colourist (now first time solo artist Jacob Phillips and writer Chris Condon, a new, ongoing crime thriller with supernatural elements.
We very quickly meet our protagonist Joe Bob, the local sheriff of a small Texas town. Waking up on his 70th birthday, he exclaims “Don’t feel different….thought it’d feel different.” This seems to perfectly sum up this beautiful book. It feels similar, comfortable, and yet you know something's not quite right. After getting an insight into what should be a normal day on the job, dealing with all the locals who know you, things take a sudden turn into the supernatural, and Joe has yet to find out and figure out what’s going on in his community.
In an incredibly revealing afterword, Chris Condon explains that this was originally supposed to be a screenplay for a film. As much as I would love that, I can’t think of anything better than sitting down with a good comic and building a relationship with characters over many issues rather than a 2 hour film. The movie struggled to find backers, and was in development hell. He even says himself that this book is the first third of the original screenplay, and we won’t get the next two thirds until they are ready “to close the curtain on Ambrose county.” I read this to mean that this could develop into a compilation book where we could get stories from more people and more counties. This could bring something completely different to the book, although that would be speculation on my part, misinterpreting their wording.
The first thing that I noticed about this book was the art. Phillips does a fantastic job of blending some truly visceral colours, like bright reds with the subdued, slightly muted, realistic colours of general life. This despite being his first solo outing shows how good his artwork really is. A true talent and a fantastic display of different page layouts.
The writing has a poetry to it. Flowing perfectly over the course of Joe Bob’s day. We get a sense of true community within the book, with each character we meet having something to add to the story. Where I think the writing is at its strongest is the very dry humour. For any book to do comedy...well, it’s difficult...it’s all about timing. For a crime book to have comedy in is great, yet to make it not draw away from the overarching story shows that Chris Condon has both a natural talent for comedy, and a respect for the story he’s telling.
As harsh as it may sound, I’m glad that it wasn’t picked up as a screenplay, because I’m fully into this and I’m ready to keep going with it each month. I’m especially excited to find out more about the supernatural aspect and see where that takes the story.
If you enjoy films like No Country For Old Men or you’re into crime thrillers, this is a must-have.
That Texas Blood by Image Comics, is on sale 24th June, available from your local comic shop or comixology