In the Pines
Five famous “murder ballads” reimagined as a spine-chilling graphic novel
Erik Kriek has taken five classic American murder ballads and reworked them in comic book form. His robust black ink strokes and ominous narrative style bring to mind the art of Charles Burns. The subject matter and narrative voice mesh seamlessly, emulating the greats— Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, and others.
Everyone knows at least one murder ballad. It’s a classic bluegrass or folk sub-genre halfway between fiction and reality, and deals with the great themes: crime, murder, betrayal, love. Every song is a story with a beginning, middle and end. And whether it is The Long Black Veil (made famous by The Band and Johnny Cash among others) or Where the Wild Roses Grow (Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue), the story behind the music is often just as poignant as the song itself.
Instead of giving us a literal rendition of the lyrics, Kriek went looking for the story behind the song. The result is a compelling collection of dark tales. This visual tour de force also comes with a CD with music from the Blue Grass Boogiemen, so that you can listen to the songs, some of them sung by the author himself (!). The book’s introduction is by Jan Donkers, an authority on American culture.
Erik Kriek’s distinctive style is one that lends itself richly to dark tales. He works in dramatic black ink; each story has its own distinctive background shade. With this new collection, brilliantly combining music and image, Kriek clinches his place as a master of the graphic novel.