Advanced Review: Clay County Graphic Novel – Rednecks vs. Aliens with a dash of Strange Brew

Written by: Bruce Brown & Chip Christell
Art by: Adam Mrozowski
Letters by: E.T. Dollman
Published by: Arcana

CLAY COUNTYClay County is like Tucker and Dale Vs. Aliens (circa 1950). Haven’t seen Tucker & Dale vs Evil? Then think Squidbillies with a dash of King Of The Hill. Basically its tongue in cheek rednecks drinking their way into and out of trouble. In this case it’s while an alien invasion of Earth is happening. The aliens are cruising around in flying saucers and kind of look Kang and Kodos from the Simpsons. They’ve invaded and took over the planet nearly three years ago and are just not getting around to conquering the backwoods podunk Clay County.

The plot synopsis on the back of the book does it more justice than I ever could:

“Now three years after their invasion the merciless aliens have crushed the resistance and annihilated all freedom fighters but one: Sgt. Coleman. Coleman is the Earths last hope, if he can find the mysterious power source known only as SF-92…

Together with the unlikely allies of Clay County citizens Bake, Vern, Hot Dog and Root; Coleman set out to find the SF-92 before the Earths otherworldly overlords do, save mankind, and drink a few cold ones along the way.”

Ok so this is something I probably wouldn’t pick up on my own. Since I scored a review copy I’m glad I gave it a go. It’s a light-hearted romp chock full of redneck colloquialisms, alcohol slapstick and fart jokes. Some of it is actually pretty funny too. “Gawd Dammer!” “Summabitch!” Granted there is a few times I feel it was trying a bit too hard, but some of humor wore me down and actually got me to laugh out loud at it. There’s a running gag where the rednecks never call Sgt. Coleman by his proper name. They call him “Coalmine”, “Kauffman”, “Coldsore”, “Codpiece”, “Cornfield” and so on. It’s starts out as funny, then it gets old, and then they run the gag into ground so much that you can’t help but laugh at it in the end. Frankly I like that kind of commitment. While this is a far-cry from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Larry The Cable Guy (that’s a good thing IMO) it definitely has the comedic charm of the Three Stooges and Strange Brew with a redneck slant. Dumb luck and buffoonery with a touch of restraint rule the day here. Oh yeah and one last thing. They battle the aliens with a killer pumpkin chucker, straight from the Mythbusters spin-off series on the Discovery channel. That my friends, is worth the price of admission right there.

CLAY COUNTY PAGEArt wise, this is a loose syndicated news paper-style in the vein of Calvin & Hobbes, Rose Rose, Bloom County and Mike Luckovich political comics but with a Johnny Bravo design sense. Eyes always seem to truly define the syndicated style, and the ones in Clay County are either bug-eyed, beady or squinty. Everything seems to have a bit of 1950’s atomic age swing to it, but very loosely. For the most part its colored in a duo-tone digital water-color/airbrush, with the foreground being either olive or blue and the background being the reverse of that (blue or olive). Honestly I think a straight flat duo-tone could have helped enhanced that 50’s style a bit. The digital airbrushing/watercolors were really sloppy in some areas that it was distracting and pulled me out of the story. That’s never a good thing. You know the saying, K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple, Stupid. I also didn’t like a photoshopped cover or the crappy graphics between chapters that look like they crawled out of MS Paint. I guess that’s my main beef of the art. That aside, the interior work services they story in a whimsical way, and adds to hilarity of it all. Mrozowski nailed the expressions of Bake, Hot Dogg and Root and really made them stand out as characters.

This is one of those books that you have to the appreciate dumb humor that’s going on to get in to it. That isn’t to say the book is dumb, or that you have to be dumb to enjoy it. It’s just either you get it or you don’t. I liked it. I thought it was funny. I had a rough couple of days and it brought a smile to my face. At the end of the day that’s what it’s really all about isn’t it? That you enjoyed something you read. You had fun with it and felt good after reading it. Clay County just might be that PG-13 redneck comedy relief that you need. It’s currently available to pre-order in comic shops thought Previews or on pre-order on Amazon.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10

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Matthew Sardo
Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.