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Before Dawn (2004)

Before Dawn TPB

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Take equal parts Evil Dead and Dead Alive, add a dash of Night of the Living Dead, and then pour into 64 ad-free (almost) pages and you've got yourself a copy of the new graphic novel, Before Dawn. It's the rotten (in a good way) fruit wrought from the minds of writer Wesley Craig Green and artist Jason Whitley.

In his introduction, Green makes no secret that two of his biggest inspirations were Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) and Peter Jackson (Dead Alive) and that Before Dawn is essentially a big "thank you" to both of them. Watching their early films has, and continues to be, a significant influence on horror fans and creators alike, and Green is no exception.

The story goes a little like this: Ash, his girl, and some friends head out to a cabin in the woods for a little vacation and end up awakening an ancient evil. No, wait.that's Evil Dead. Eugene, his woman, and some friends head out to a house in the woods for a little vacation, and end up awakening an ancient evil. I'm just guessing that it's an ancient evil. For all we know, it could actually be a "fairly recent" evil. There are obvious, glaring parallels to Raimi's film, but it's not a rip-off. It's an admitted homage. No need to worry though, there are enough unique twists to keep you turning the pages.

Tabby has recently inherited her grandparent's house (or as near as I can surmise) and invites her friends Adam, Eugene, Sara, and Leonard to spend some time enjoying the new digs. The fun doesn't last long as one of them walks down to the cellar and starts reading some crazy language from a book down there. No, I don't think it's the Necronomicon, but it certainly isn't Chicken Soup For the Soul either. Note to self: When my girlfriend is sitting in a cellar naked in the middle of the night, reading a book in a language I've never heard before, it's time to pack the bags.

It all gets a little crazy for the group as Tabby's family cemetery gets lively and graves start emptying. Then there's the tentacles that come out of a female's.(ahem) nether-region. I hate it when that happens. They've also thrown in a severed head that starts walking around on its own and an ending that evokes images similar to Stuart Gordon's film Dagon. Multiple buckets of blood are spilled (a la the aforementioned Dead Alive) on the latter pages as the friends fight for their lives. Can they survive the night? Or will they perish.before dawn?

As a huge fan of the Evil Dead trilogy, I can't help but like this book. The similarities are impossible to miss, but the differences are what make the book cool. In particular, Green's combination of zombies and a mixture of other seemingly unrelated beasties make for a great read. Possession, reanimation, invocation,'s all in there. The dialogue isn't as great as the actual story, but it's decent. Leonard's annoying character didn't sit well with me, but we've all had friends like him, so I'll give him a pass.

I wish I could say that Whitley's artwork blew me away, but it didn't. It wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't especially stunning. I will say that I liked his artwork much more in the second half of the book than the first half. Why? I'm not quite sure, but I suppose his style is a better fit for the action scenes, rather than the set-up stuff at the beginning. He does do a nice job with the zombies and the outside scenes, which is a big plus.

There just aren't enough good horror comics out there, so it's nice to find an indie effort that's worthy of putting on the comic book shelves. Though because it's not from a major company, chances are you'll have to buy it straight from Green Fly Productions. It's a shame that many won't see it on comic book shelves next to the likes of The Walking Dead or Route 666. That's where the internet becomes an amazing marketing tool, and your product can still find an audience among the comic book clutter. So go and support independent horror by buying a copy of Before Dawn! Sam Raimi liked it, so you know you can't go wrong!


(Out of 5)
February 2004
March 31 2004

At only $5.95 for a graphic novel, it's a steal. Especially since there's only one ad in the whole thing, and it's at the very back of the book.
1. Severing a head isn’t always that answer.
2. Never go down on a chick that’s speaking gibberish from a dusty book she found in the cellar.
- "Okay, cough up some beer money, cracker boy."
- "They look like corpses.from the graveyard, Sara."
- "Ah guys, where's the head?"

Green Fly Productions
Wesley Craig Green
Copyright 2003
ISBN: 0973246804
Trade Paperback Size (6.75" x 10.5")
64 Pages
Exterior: Color
Interior: Black & White
Cover Price: $5.95 U.S. / $9.95 Canada


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