Donny Cates Bloody Little Secret
By: Eduardo Texidor Jr.
Donny Cates. A name, that is as synonymous with Venom as the name Todd McFarlane recently. A name that is now associated with The Mighty Thunder God Thor (current King of Asgard). A name, that is in the annals of Ghost Rider legacy, with his creation of a Cosmic Ghost Rider. Those three accolades have pretty much cemented his status in comicdom for generations to come. Though don’t forget his dabbling in Dr. Strange, Marvel Knights and those Inhumans as well. He began writing Venom over two years ago and has made the series one of the hottest reads in not only Marvel Comics, but Comics in general. With his time on Venom, he has created many new characters that have not only played a factor in Venom but also in Thor and the rest of the Marvel Universe. So from that small amount of time he has shown talent that will be around for a long time.
Photo Credit: Megan Hutchison-Cates
But before all of that “Marvelous” madness, Donny was writing for the indies and was making the name for himself that would entice Marvel to hire him. He had Buzzkill, The Paybacks, Babyteeth and the soon to be live action God Country. God Country was the indie title that seemed to have brought him to the forefront and attracted Marvel’s eyes. Doesn’t hurt that it was optioned….lol. That all said, what I love Donny Cates for and what you should, in my opinion, be reading is Redneck from Image Comics.
Photo Credit: Image Comics
Redneck the series
I remember hearing the title around late 2016 or early 2017 and thinking “What could this book be about?” I knew Donny Cates from Paybacks and God Country, but who knew what this book was about, let alone would it be good. Then I heard the brief synopsis:
The Bowmans are VAMPIRES who have quietly run the local barbecue joint in their small town for years, living off cow's blood. Their peaceful coexistence ends as generations of hate, fear, and bad blood bubble to the surface--making it impossible to separate man from monster! Critically acclaimed writer DONNY CATES (GOD COUNTRY) and artist LISANDRO ESTHERREN serve up the tale of a DIFFERENT kind of family just trying to get by, deep in the heart of Texas.
Ok, so you got vampires that’s nothing new in comics. Wait! Hold on! You have what?? You have redneck vampires living in the heart of Texas….well dangnabbit I am sold!!!
I put my preorder in with my LCS (Ontario Street Comics in Philadelphia, PA—site of scenes from Unbreakable and Glass, yup cheap plug..lol) for issue number one and waited for it to be released. Months later, I had the first issue in my hot little hands and it was phenomenal, so much so that I offered it to my Mother to read. She read that first issue and she was hooked too. Now you may say, some country vampires selling BBQ in Texas is no big deal, but this series is more than its teaser suggests. The characters were still unknown, but enough was known to pique my interest. Plus the first issue ended with a semi-cliffhanger that had you wondering, what would happen next issue. If the story wasn’t enough to get you though, the art just push you over the edge to add it to your monthly pull, which I did that same day. Lisandro Estherren and Dee Cunniffe, who were unknown artists to me, captured the tone of the story perfectly with their art. Mr. Estherren’s art styling was simple when no detail was necessary but very detailed when it would add to the feel of the panel. Mr. Cunniffe used blue tones to filter the panels through like Wizard of Oz used sepia tone to filter the first scenes of the movie. They wanted to get across the story for Dorothy’s present life before she is whisked away by a tornado, while the Redneck art team seemed to want to show the lack of light needed in the life of the vampire family.
Photo Credit: Image Comics
Photo Credit: Image Comics
One issue in the series has no words, just art to tell the story of one character that is introduced and that story with no words had my mouth wide open the entire time.
So far, I have talked about the creators now how about we briefly introduce some of the characters:
JV: The patriarch of the Bowman family and the one who keeps the family safe. He has to watch over his children and maintain a peace with humans in the town. As the story progresses, things are not easy for him and you learn some of the secrets that he hides from even his family.
Uncle Bartlett: If JV is the Yin, then Bartlett is the Yang. He is someone that JV depends on, but often wants to just be left alone. He may have one of the wildest evolutions in the series as he has to learn to stand up. Though we do learn why he has become this way and how his past molded this current personality.
Perry: She is the quiet shy little vampire girl, that you would never be afraid of if you met her. Though we see she has some other abilities beyond the typical vampire abilities. She will have some life altering changes throughout the series as well.
Grandpa: He is a mystery from the beginning, since he is locked in the attic. I won’t even say anything about him, because well you need to read the series to believe it.
Besides those four, we have other vampires, some familiars (one is named Evil, what else can I say about him…lol), a vampire council, some ancient vampires, crazy vampire hating humans, some demons. Then add in that stories take place in the present and the past, all around the globe.
This comic series is coming up to its 30th issue and I just don’t see it ending anytime soon, well at least I hope not. This series has top notch writing and I feel it should be optioned for a television show right now. Through 29 issues so far, we have seen people die, evolve and found out that some people just aren’t who were thought they really were. I see more things happening on the horizon and each time and arc ends and it goes on hiatus, my comic reading is not as much fun.
Now I think I have pretty much provided a concise background and description of the series, hopefully you see why I love it. If you aren’t reading, maybe ask Izzy’s Comics to pick up a trade paperback for you if they are still available. If you are reading this series, well you are one of the lucky ones and to borrow the ending from Redneck comics as you will know…..