Friday, May 11, 2012

The Bloody Benders -- Graphic Novel Without Being Graphic

I know that I said the Axeman of New Orleans was the best in the series, but I lied! Bloody Benders is by far the best. The illustrations are far more complex and intriguing. The story kept me hooked and strapped to my seat. In all due honesty, I had never heard of the Bloody Benders so some of my excitement could have come from being introduced to the legend. Still, this adaptation of the legend is very intriguing and perfectly fits the mysterious story.

In case you're like me and don't know the story, I'll rely it here. In 1870, John Bender Jr. and John Bender Sr. staked their claim in Kansas along the Osage Trail. Within a year, they have built a house, a grocery store and have sent for their family. The parents speak very little English and count on their beautiful daughter, Kate, to help them survive. The family dabbles in spiritualism and holds seances that have the potential to become violent. Yet, it isn’t until dead bodies start appearing in nearby towns that the Benders become #1 on the suspect list. That is if only the authorities can find them.

I absolutely love the graphics in this book; they're stark and eerie. Though they're in black and white, Geary is able to solicit great emotion and depth. The illustrations are simple, but they're far from being dull or drab. The clean lines and use of black and white (even without any gray) work well with the subject matter and atmosphere of the empty and vulnerable prairie.

Illustration of the Benders' Cabin Contraption

This one is a bit different because from the rest of the series because the murders are clearly known. Instead, the mystery is where the Bender’s fled to and if they will ever be found. Still, like the other issues in the series, it is like watching an episode of unsolved mysteries with a little bit of a history lesson.

Similar Reads: The Rest of the Victorian Murders Series

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