Joshua Hale Fialkov & Noel Tuazon
A collection of Elk's Run, the acclaimed comic that was originally serialized by Speakeasy before the publisher went belly-up, came out earlier this year and I'm just now finally getting around to reading and reviewing it. I've actually been looking forward to reading it for awhile. I remember when the floppies were coming out, I sought them out, but never saw a copy. Then they released an issue that collected the initial three issues under one cover - still, a no show at the local stores. But the collections are the way to go nowadays with those hard-to-find books anyway, and I had no problem locating a copy of the paperback. In fact, we got roughly a dozen copies at the bookstore where I work when it first came out, probably because it was getting a bit of media attention and good write-ups from Entertainment Weekly and the like. But anyways, I read it and it was really a treat.
The story follows the inhabitants of the small town of Elk's Ridge, West Virginia, where some Vietnam vets have created a haven untouched by the evils of the outside world. Surrounded by mountains and with a single delivery bringing in supplies monthly, the people who live in Elk's Ridge have no access to television, magazines, radio - anything that could corrupt their precious little community and particularly, the children they are raising to be valued members of the township, who are now teenagers and whose male to female ratio is anything but balanced. When a citizen's wife runs out on him and he runs over a kid in his drunken stupor, the town turns on him, brutally executing him for the evil he's brought upon the town. Following a few other events, the town goes in full lock-down mode, and a handful of teenagers, fed up with their lives, try to escape the men hunting them with shotguns who they've known all their lives. Things slowly implode after years of dissent from within the community, leading up to a very satisfying conclusion. It's interesting to see how the men who'd been in the war, particularly the natural leader of the town, brought the horror and violence of the war with them when they created this sanctuary. Stifling people's freedoms, ruling with fear - these are a few of the themes found in Elk's Run. It's a rich, multi-layered work that I don't think has been examined enough. I can't say that I was a fan of the artwork when I flipped through the book initially, but it grew on me as the story went along, and ultimately the whole package was very satisfying.