Freaks of the Heartland

 FOTH   (Dark Horse, 2004-2005)

™ and © 2004 Dark Horse Comics, Inc.

Written by the prolific Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Freaks of the Heartland is a bleak, stripped-down tale of child abuse and horror set on a lonely farm in the Midwest. A boy lives a life of quiet desperation with a mean, alcoholic father and an ineffectual mother. His chores are those of a typical farm boy, with one major exception: he must tend to his pathetic younger brother—a gigantic freak who lives, chained to the wall, in the barn.

Greg Ruth’s darkly sketchy, moodily creepy art evokes the great Gene Colan (Tomb of Dracula) and fits the disturbing story extremely well. Ruth is especially effective in depicting the windblown crops, the grim supper table with dysfunctional family gathered round, and the darkened, secret-bearing farm house. The “monsters” of the story—the dad and his younger son—are both angry, but in obviously different ways, and Ruth portrays this variance in expression with skill.

Dark Horse refers to the writings of Shirley Jackson in its house ad for the issue, and this is apt to some degree, but fans of Wayne Allen Sallee, Steve Rasnic Tem, and other like-minded masters of the modern horror short story will enjoy it, as well.

— Brett Weiss

Jump to issue:
  NotesWriterArtist

#1

  1/21/2004
  $2.99
  $1.50
4 copies available from $0.88
 Steve NilesGreg Ruth

#2

  3/24/2004
  $2.99
  $2.50
4 copies available from $1.20
 Steve NilesGreg Ruth

#3

  5/1/2004
  $2.99
  $4.50
4 copies available from $1.99
 Steve NilesGreg Ruth

#4

  7/1/2004
  $2.99
  $4.00
5 copies available from $1.75
 Steve NilesGreg Ruth

#5

  9/1/2004
  $2.99
  $5.00
6 copies available from $2.50
 Steve NilesGreg Ruth

#6

  11/1/2004
  $2.99
  $4.00
7 copies available from $1.99
 Steve NilesGreg Ruth

Book #1

 
  $17.95
  $17.95
No copies available
Die-cut cover; Collects series; ca. 2005Steve NilesGreg Ruth

Book #1 Hardcover

 
  $29.99
  $45.00
1 copy available for $38.80
Hardcover; Collects Freaks of the Heartland #1-6; ca. 2012Steve NilesGreg Ruth